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Checklist for Starting Your Own PelotonU

Starting a blended higher education program is a lot easier than you might think.


Unlike launching a traditional college–which can take more than five years, millions of dollars, and dozens of people–you can have a fully-functioning blended higher education program up and running in six months and for less than $250,000

The core things you’ll need to be ready to launch

  • ORGANIZATIONAL LEAD.* Appoint someone who is willing to commit 5-8 hours a month to leading the initiative.
  • BUY-IN.* Get approval from relevant stakeholders in your organization.
  • RESOURCES.* Reserve $250,000 for program launch and the first twelve months of operations.
  • PERSONNEL.* Hire a full-time employee to lead recruitment and student support.
  • SCOPE. Identify a pilot community to launch the program in.
  • LOCATION. Find a space for student co-working.
  • STUDENTS. Recruit 30 students to enroll in your first cohort.

*You’ll be ready to partner with PelotonU as soon as you have these items.

The Five Essential Functions for Long-Term Success

In addition to core logistics of launch, there are five areas that are essential to running an effective blended higher-ed program. We’ve created a checklist for each area so you can review your organization to see where the biggest areas of strength and opportunities for growth are as well as where PelotonU can help.

1. STUDENT SUPPORT

Effective student support is at the core of what a BHEP does. We define student support as a proactive attentiveness toward a student’s academic, professional, and personal needs and an appropriate engagement with those need as the student needs it. Depending on your context, student support likely involves many or all of the following elements.

✓ A clear and actionable coaching philosophy.

✓ The degree-awarding institution(s) you will to partner with.

✓ Well-defined boundaries and expectations for students, with ample freedom within those boundaries.

✓ The specific resources your program will provide students.

✓ The design of your coworking space.

✓ What student data you plan to track and the system you will use to track it.

✓ Visual aids that celebrate and track students progress.

✓ A student orientation academic onboarding period.

✓ Specific routines, celebrations, and traditions for marking the student journey.

2. RECRUITMENT & ADMISSIONS

Student success begins with finding, recruiting, and enrolling the right students. The particular characteristics of your target student and the ways in which you reach them will be specific to you, but there are specific aspects of recruitment and admissions that every blended higher ed program must define and have in place to ensure they’re reaching as many of the right students as possible.

Here’s what you’ll need to pay attention to:

✓ The demographics, needs, and characteristics of the student you plan to serve.

✓ The value you offer your students and your key messaging to them.

✓ Marketing collateral to attract and educate potential students on the value of your program.

✓ A step-by-step admission process that includes a student application, interviews,

✓ The person(s) who will be responsible for decides which students are admitted and the criteria they will use.

3. OPERATIONS

You’ll also need to keep the organization moving. Operational responsibilities involve all the internal or “back office” tasks needed to support the student-facing functions of the organization, including:

✓ A system for tracking organizational learning and managing staff responsibilities and tasks.

✓ Accounting and payroll systems for managing finances.

✓ A hiring plan and employee philosophy, including compensation and job responsibilities.

✓ A yearly operating calendar that marks application deadlines and cohort start dates.

✓ Setting up and managing operational resources, including office supplies, broadband wireless internet, and cleaning supplies.

4. FUNDING

A sustainable funding model ensures your program has the kind of impact you aspire to. Blended Higher Ed Programs can have multiple revenue sources and varying expenses, defending on the size and complexity of your program. Here are the critical elements for funding a program:

✓ The amount for tuition you plan to charge students

✓ A working financial model that defines the relationships between tuition amount, cohort size, cohort frequency, drop out rates, and time to graduation in order to determine your monthly expenses and the number of students you’ll need to enroll to cover them.

✓ A scholarship criteria and process

✓ A budget for initial startup and operation costs

✓ A plan for any additional fundraising you’ll need outside of direct service revenue

5. GOVERNANCE

Finally, thoughtful governance makes it much easier to do the work of serving students.

✓ A board of advisors with the specific skills needed to help your program succeed.

✓ A mission and vision statement to align your work and clear impact measurements.

✓ Whether you plan to organize as a separate entity, and if that entity will be for-profit or non-profit.

✓ Clear contracts with students, employees, and partners, including with your degree- awarding institution.

PelotonU partners with organizations to design and launch blended higher-education programs that get working adults through college at rates five times greater than other college options. We walk partners through every aspect of their program launch.

RESEARCH & PLANNING

We discuss your community’s academic and economic needs, timing for your program’s launch, and co-design program goals and outcomes.

PROGRAM DESIGN

Building on our years of experience running a BHEP, we work with you to design a program that is custom tailored to your community, including designing a financial model, deciding staff needs, creating onboarding and support curriculum, and building and refining your growth plan.

MARKETING & RECRUITMENT

Working with the program lead, we will provide you with resources for every aspect of program and marketing and student recruitment.

LAUNCH

Our staff will be side-by-side with you through your first weeks of launch to make sure your program launch goes flawlessly.

FIRST-YEAR SUPPORT

Through the first fourteen months of your program, PelotonU will be on-hand to advise you on important milestones, continuous program improvement, and how to overcome challenges.

Interested in Learning More?

To ask questions or get started, contact Sarah Saxton-Frump at sarah@pelotonu.org.

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