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The College of the Future: Benefits of the Hybrid Campus

Megan McCorkle
May 1, 2024
5 mins

First and foremost we want to preserve everything that makes American higher education so unique.”

This is a quote from our CEO, Kevin Harrington, that often rolls around in my mind as we look to establish how Rize is positioned within the edtech space. It’s a sentiment that stood out from my very first conversation with Kevin before I even joined the company. 

Having spent most of my career working at universities before transitioning to edtech, I’m well versed in how typical vendor conversations go on both sides of the table. Much of the rhetoric in the space is: You’re doing things wrong! You need to move faster! You need to go around the obstacles on your campus!

But refreshingly, Kevin’s message is one of understanding and respect for the incredible student experiences happening on college campuses across the country. The bucolic campuses, connection between faculty and students, and well rounded approach to developing future thought leaders through the liberal arts are just some of the ways that make the collegiate experience compelling. While alternate forms of education are plentiful, from bootcamps to terminal certificates to apprenticeships, 4-year colleges are ultimately the credential holders that matter most in landing great jobs after graduation. Instead of going around institutions and traditional degree pathways, Rize looks to complement that experience in a new way through program sharing

The College of the Future

Rize’s founding story began with two roommates at Harvard, Kevin and Connor, who experienced first hand the transformative effects of higher education. After working in finance in New York City, they were committed to helping other students make the most of their college experience and discover pathways to fulfilling employment. Through an unlikely series of events (including a random plane ride and a shared love of NCAA sports), Kevin and Connor met President Jeffrey Docking of Adrian College, a small liberal arts college in rural Michigan. A short time later, they moved to Adrian to shadow and learn from President Docking and the Adrian campus community. During that time, they also worked alongside the colleges that make up the Lower Cost Models Consortium, and their dedicated presidents, provosts, faculty, staff and students.

After deeply researching the challenges facing small private colleges and their students, Kevin and Connor incubated and built the first iteration of our model on Adrian's campus. What also came out of that time was, The College of the Future, a blueprint for colleges looking to innovate with a student-centered hybrid campus model.

What is a hybrid campus?

Hybrid campus can be a confusing term. You’ve likely heard of hybrid work, where employees spend some of their time remote and some in person. In the context of hybrid courses, you’ve likely heard about courses with some students in person and others virtual or where some weeks the class meets in person and others are online. We think about the hybrid campus in the context of programs, where some courses in the program are held in person and some are online-only, giving students a blended educational experience.


The notion of a hybrid campus is not new. The Innovative University by Clayton Christensen introduced us to the concept, but Jeff Selingo’s reporting across a variety of mediums was illuminating. This quote from a report by Selingo encapsulates the future vision of higher ed, 

“The hybrid campus reimagines residential education in a tech-enabled world….This is not only hybrid instruction, but rather a blended, immersive and digital residential experience that fuses the online and physical worlds across campus.”

Rize’s program sharing relies on the hybrid campus model. The foundation for all programs powered by Rize are courses already offered by an institution. In most cases, students take their institution’s liberal arts core classes in person alongside and average of 5-7 courses online across the entire degree program powered by Rize. 

Cybersecurity Program Example

Benefits of a hybrid campus

Previously, dissatisfaction with the online modality made a hybrid campus not viable. Improvement in online learning has set the foundation to allow colleges to meet broader strategic priorities and better support students. Today, students increasingly want the flexibility and convenience of online learning while still enjoying the benefits of the residential campus experience. The power of a hybrid campus is much greater than delivering flexibility and convenience. At a deeper level, students are asking for better outcomes and a reduced price point. A hybrid campus can help colleges better meet these needs, which in turn can generate enrollment growth. Achieving these priorities is often an impossible triad in unison, however program sharing makes it possible. 

Sharing programs with a consortium of other small institutions with a centralized curriculum designed especially for the online modality enables institutions to deliver high quality hybrid programs while significantly reducing costs. Our programs are developed with industry experts to ensure students are learning the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen career field, helping students see better outcomes and a positive return on investment from their degrees. They also help institutions respond more rapidly to evolving student demand for cutting-edge degrees and in turn capitalize on new enrollment opportunities. 

Leveraging program sharing to realize a hybrid campus is delivering results for both students and institutions. We now partner with 90+ institutions, who see 5x ROI on average. The additional revenue generated can be used to invest in other campus initiatives and lower costs for students. Ninety percent of students rate their Rize courses as good or better than other online courses and positive student feedback continues to reinforce the value of the model. 

If you are interested in reading more about the hybrid campus, check out the resources linked below or schedule a call with our Academic Partnerships team.

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