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Campus Innovation Through Program Sharing: 2024 Impact Report

Megan McCorkle
June 6, 2024
12 mins

It’s no secret that American higher education is facing a pivotal moment. A demographic cliff compounded by declining public confidence in the value of a college degree is causing historic declines in enrollment. Meanwhile, growing inflation is pushing up the cost of running an institution. The broken business model of higher education is under a national spotlight as colleges are now closing at a rate of one per week, negatively impacting thousands of students. The declining demand for degree programs paired with an overabundant supply of providers is unsustainable.

Forward thinking leaders have seen the writing on the wall and are leaning into innovative ideas to reshape their institutions for the future. The Lower Cost Models Consortium (LCMC) is a consortium of small private liberal arts colleges and universities committed to lowering the cost of higher education while improving student degree return-on-investment. Through program sharing powered by Rize, over 90 institutions in the consortium have dramatically lowered instructional costs, increased enrollment, and delivered exceptional educational experiences that have translated into better student outcomes. Today we're releasing our 2024 Impact Report, which contains a high level overview of the impact to students and institutions embracing campus transformation. You can read it below or download the PDF.

Developing Best-in-Class Courses

In our survey of over 3,000 students, we asked students their ideal number of online courses to take each semester, ranging from 0 to 6. The average answer? 2.5 courses. Asynchronous online courses provide students the flexibility to manage their own schedules for other priorities like athletics, campus jobs, and family obligations.

But the online learning experience is fundamentally different and historically had a reputation for being lower in quality. We set out to change that by creating a new course development framework for the online modality, focused on clarity, outcomes, and engagement. Our in-house instructional design team and teaching institution instructors are experienced specifically in online learning and use the framework to update courses every semester based on student feedback.

Each Rize program has a dedicated curriculum committee composed of leading faculty and industry experts in the subject area. The committee ensures that courses meet learning objectives and prepare students to excel in their chosen career field. This collaborative approach creates cutting-edge online courses that are professionally relevant.

Read about our framework, The Online Students’ Hierarchy of Needs.


         

“Do the real work, for the good life”


         

‎Starting with Computer Science in Fall of 2020, Reinhardt University has launched a total of 20 programs powered by Rize in 10 academic fields including Digital Marketing, Cybersecurity, and Information Technology. Importantly for Reinhardt, launching new programs with Rize did not detract from the core Reinhardt curriculum and high standard of academic rigor. Program Director Kelley Roberts expounds, “Rize was able to complement what we already had in place. It was an actual fix that was completely doable and really helped me believe that we were maintaining our rigor and diverse knowledge.” Dr. Joe Mullins, Dean of McCamish School of Business and Professions, adds, “A student in Digital Marketing earns four or five certificates. That adds a lot of value to a resume. They can see what they’re achieving, and that’s powerful for students.”

Read Reinhardt’s partner spotlight.


Supporting Student Success

Students are more than a number to us. Utilizing data from hundreds of courses and thousands of registrations, we personalize support and empower students throughout their educational journey at scale. We actively monitor student performance through weekly and ongoing student success and engagement reports, then leverage the data to proactively identify students who need additional support. Instructors and our support team collaborate closely with on-campus advisors to ensure that every student thrives. Students have access to Student Support Assistants in select programs to provide peer support. That means most students have access to three additional sources of support outside of their on-campus support structure when enrolled in a Rize course. This year our new support chat feature within our learning management system (LMS) reduced the average time to resolution for student support tickets to under an hour.


         

How UMHB added Cybersecurity and Neuroscience programs with a Christian worldview


         

In order to remain aligned to its Christian values, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor worked with Rize to pair each of its 3 new programs with a Christian seminar taught by UMHB faculty. One such faculty, Dr. Griesemer, describes the student support he receives from Rize: “I get emails every week about attendance and who's passing and not passing. That is helpful for me because I can zero in on those students a little bit more than I would otherwise. I find it's very convenient to just go into the Rize website and actually see the grades of everybody in the program all on one page.” Overall, Dr. Griesemer’s experience with Rize has been “a relief and has made my job easier and enjoyable.”

Read UMHB’s partner spotlight.

I've taken online classes [at other institutions]. And I would definitely say Rize has been the best experience I've had with online classes. A couple of times this semester I've submitted a file incorrectly and before I even realize, my Rize professor has already emailed me. I definitely see a level of personal attention with Rize that I see on campus as well.

Andrew
Junior Cybersecurity student at UMHB

Improving Student Outcomes

Earning a college degree is no longer a guarantee of economic mobility, even in high demand fields like Computer Science. Our mission is to provide every student with a pathway to fulfilling employment. Helping to expand access to high demand degree programs is only the first step. Our programs are built with outcomes in mind with real-world assignments, embedded professional certifications, and are reviewed by industry professionals to ensure what students are learning in the classroom is applicable to their future careers. In a survey of recent graduates, 91% of students who graduated from a Rize program indicated they were satisfied with their first job.

We also met with current students and administrators to uncover where students need more support on their path to career success. We created 5 new career navigation courses to help close the gap. In these courses, students explore career and salary outcomes, learn the skills they need to navigate the job market, and build confidence in their ability to secure an exceptional career after graduation. Students also gain insight into what a career or job in their chosen field would actually look like day-to-day.

Read the Career Navigation Discovery Report.


         

How Hartwick ensures career-readiness with FlightPath + Rize


         

‎With a future-focused approach towards career-centered education, Hartwick College launched 5 new programs with Rize. Together, Hartwick and Rize’s Academic Partnership Team chose career paths that tapped Hartwick’s faculty expertise and strengths in business and computer science. Faculty, administration, career development and network engagement staff worked collaboratively with Rize’s Partner Success Team for each subject area to ensure the courses would make students very marketable in the workforce. Moreover, Hartwick developed a FlightPath program, which offers wraparound support for students to ensure they succeed when they graduate. Every student has access to a guidance team that helps them throughout their tenure at Hartwick College to build a network, tap into advanced technology tools and define personal and professional goals.

Read Hartwick’s case study in our story with Higher Ed Dive.

The programs we developed with Rize give us a robust narrative to share with future applicants and their families, who are trying to decide which institution to attend, or whether this major investment in their education is even going to result in a successful career. It is crucial to offer programs in emerging careers that will meet future workforce challenges.

Gail C. Glover
Vice President for Strategic Communications,
Hartwick College


         


Growing Enrollment and Retention

Developing high quality programs that deliver exceptional student experiences and better outcomes is central to our mission, but another area of focus is growing enrollment and retention for our partner institutions. According to Lumina Foundation research, 93% of students say majors offered is the most important priority when choosing a college. To maximize the enrollment impact of new programs, our in-house enrollment marketing team works with partners from day one to develop a personalized launch plan, provides a robust content portal of customizable marketing assets, as well as ongoing support and training for admissions teams. Institutions that worked with our enrollment team saw two times more enrollments than those that did not. In Fall ‘23 our partners enrolled and retained over 1,300 students* in a program powered by Rize and over 5,000 students took a Rize course.

*Only including enrollment from 51 partner institutions who share performance data


         

“At Newberry, every student counts”


         

Newberry College, a small private institution in South Carolina, prides itself on making a significant impact in the lives of every student that enters its community. With 9 new programs in high-demand fields, Newberry has been able to attract prospective students such as Grayson who shares, “The reason I chose Newberry was they had the major that I wanted to pursue a career in. I was really interested in Computer Science.” Moreover, though not immediately apparent, Dr. Bret Clark, Dean of Sciences, Mathematics & Pre-Professional Studies, has found that jump starting programs with Rize also creates a potential option for more faculty opportunities. He states, “Now that the Computer Science program has grown, hopefully next year we can bring somebody on campus to possibly teach some lower level classes and be advisors for all these students.”

Read Newberry’s partner spotlight.

In a very short period of time, 3 of our top 15 majors are Rize majors. We already have 165 admitted students who declared a Rize major and 22 deposited. That number will grow by the time of actual enrollment for the fall 2024 semester.

The partnership with Rize adds a degree of breadth and program relevance that we could not achieve on our own. Rize is a game-changer for Newberry College.

Dr. Maurice Scherrens
President, Newberry College

Achieving Financial Sustainability

Partner colleges see an average of +5x ROI on Rize programs through increased enrollment, generating nearly $29M in additional tuition revenue over the last year. In addition to revenue growth, partners are also dramatically lowering their instructional costs to one tenth of the traditional cost. With instructional costs accounting for nearly 40% of campus expenditures, this cost reduction, for even a small proportion of programs, is impactful.

Long time partners leveraging Rize as part of a program portfolio management approach are experiencing campus transformation. Career-focused programs developed with industry leaders have led to better student outcomes which further fuel enrollment growth. More than 1,900 students at Adrian College, our longest standing partner, have taken a Rize course. The partnership has generated over $13M in new tuition revenue for Adrian. When paired with the instructional cost reduction, Adrian has improved their College Financial Index (CFI) score by nearly 3x.

Visit our ROI calculator to see how much working with Rize could benefit your institution.


         

How Adrian College drives financial stability


         

Adrian College is situated in a part of Michigan that is dense with large, public universities. By the start of the Fall ‘23 enrollment cycle, Adrian’s faculty had approved 24 academic programs, including a combination of majors, minors, certificates, and one concentration. With these 24 high-demand programs, Adrian was able to attract 210 incoming freshmen. Just as meaningful, 72 students responded in a survey that they would have transferred if not for these new programs. An important determining factor of these results is Rize’s delivery of excellent course experiences. When asked how Rize courses compare to their on-campus courses, 81% of Adrian students responded that they are as good or better than their on-campus courses. When asked how likely they would be to recommend their course to a classmate, the most common rating was 10/10, representing about one-third of all Adrian students.

Read Adrian’s case study.

The days of annual cost increases in tuition have to be over. We can no longer assume that the incremental rising tuition costs will continue to be sustainable for families in the decades to come.

If college leaders can come together in the spirit of collegiality and innovation, we can appeal to student demands and ensure the long-term financial future of our venerable institutions. In doing so, we also will ensure that today’s wonderful young adults can also experience the transformative college experience that was so important to all of us.

Dr. Jeffrey Docking
President, Adrian College


Conclusion

We fervently believe that the future of higher education lies in lowering costs while more reliably producing better career outcomes for students. Reimagining the academic programming model can solve for both. A more flexible, hybrid approach to starting new majors and maintaining existing ones will allow the cost of higher education to come down for institutions and students, while more reliably leading to the types of jobs that are most important to our modern economy. With program sharing and a suite of support services through Rize, colleges can improve the financial condition of their campus quickly and reliably with minimal risk and long term “future-proof” campuses amidst the shifting landscape of higher education.

Our goal is to build a world in which future generations of college students still have that formative four years on campus in a community of scholars at a fraction of the cost and ensure every student learns a skill set that's going to set them up for career success. We’re proud to partner with 90+ institutions reshaping the future of higher education in this way and we look forward to continuing to serve students during their educational journey and beyond.

Download the 2024 Impact Report.

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