Technological advances have unlocked so much opportunity in our society, opening up new employment opportunities for millions and contributing to our overall productivity, prosperity and global competitiveness as a nation. The shift to more sophisticated technological jobs in the 21st century knowledge-based economy has also created a new educational imperative that has contributed to the rising numbers in college enrollment and post-secondary school completion in the US since 2001.
But there is a growing divide between those who are able to reap the benefits of a college education in this new world and those who are falling further and further behind. The widening gap in college access and degree attainment for adults 25 and older, racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college and low-income students is driving an accelerating earnings gap between those with and without a college degree. Even more concerning, the effects can echo for generations: Children from low-income families have only a 10% chance of graduating with a 4-year college degree by the age of 24, perpetuating a cycle that will only continue to worsen over time.
This 21st century educational imperative is uniquely critical for adult women, who even today earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. The value of a 4-year degree for women from these underserved populations is clear; after all,the median earnings of adult women with a bachelor’s degree are 87% higher than their counterparts with a high school degree or less. While the incentive to pursue a degree is compelling, the barriers to accessing and completing a college education for adult women can seem insurmountable. For too many women, the competing priorities of full time jobs, childcare, even caring for parents, combined with financial constraints and lack of adequate childcare, are barriers to enrollment and completion too big to overcome.
Empowering and advancing women through higher education has been at the core of Bay Path’s mission and vision for over 100 years.That’s what has driven us to become innovators in online education tailored specifically to underprepared, underserved and low-income adult women.
SOUL, Social Online Universal Learning, a revolutionary, award-winning model built on evidenced-based practices and adaptive learning strategies, is at the heart of The American Women’s College at Bay Path University. This proprietary technology adapts to individual student learning styles, enabling students to access course materials 24 hours a day. When the technology identifies a student who is struggling, predictive models set proactive outreach in motion to help get them back on track.The creation of SOUL leverages 18 years of Bay Path’s direct experience in providing this population of adult women with accelerated programs that are designed to propel them to career success, and the guidance, tools and support to reach the finish line of their college education.
By enabling adult women to move more quickly and successfully to graduation, SOUL also means the cost of attending college becomes affordable. And our graduation rates, well above the national average, show its working. This cutting edge approach to the delivery of accelerated online baccalaureate degree programs has created a much needed paradigm shift in the way state-of-the-art online education can be delivered in the 21st century to address the growing educational divide.
We believe that the time for a revolution in women’s education is now. At Bay Path we are determined to do whatever it takes to find new ways to support the needs of a growing female student population for whom education is the difference between thriving and falling hopelessly behind. We know that empowering one woman to reach her educational goals echoes to those around her and to all who follow her, short-circuiting the cycle that has kept so many from benefiting from the knowledge-based economy.
So our commitment is not just to the students of today or even tomorrow, but to generations of women to come.