September 8, 2016

Today Da Vinci Extension took one step closer to unboxing the opportunities we offer students. In addition to our partnership with UCLA Extension, we are excited to announce a new partnership with Southern New Hampshire University's College for America. Education has long been entrenched in a system that defines students grades and academic movement through one lens. This partnership expands the college choices our students have, and offers diverse opportunities to see our students as the unique individuals they are. We have been thrilled by the innovative lense UCLA staff and professors have taken to change the college model, and we believe this new partnership with continue the trend toward giving students access to relevant, highly personalized degrees. 


We have learned so much in the first year of Da Vinci Extension, a 13th year university transfer program designed to bridge the success gap for first year college students. While many barriers to student success became evident throughout this journey, the lack of flexibility in the traditional college system became the greatest challenge to overcome. A death in the family, a need to work more hours to support loved ones, and general life challenges have all threatened our students college path. One life event lasting a week or two often meant a student was forced to drop their college courses for that quarter and hope life didn't get in the way next time. 


The entrenched definition of college success assumes that if you are gritty and dedicated, you will overcome these obstacles and find success. This assumption is wrong, and it is highly biased toward students with a complex support system. Currently, low-income students have a 11% chance of graduating college - demonstrating the failure of this traditional system to support underserved students’ needs.


Additionally, typical higher education often rewards students who "get it" the first time, and predetermined seat time often trains students to believe there is no value in continuing to try past their first submission or the time allotted to the course. Rarely is professor feedback used to encourage revision and growth, rather it is used as a measurement and ranking tool. Often, in this model, you are only seen as successful if your work style and schedule matches the professors, and the faster you get it, the higher your grade.


When we first heard that College for America offered a project based, competency based, affordable college model, we assumed it was too good to be true. This model comprehensively addresses almost all of the barriers we found  most detrimental to our students success. After an in depth look into the model, the projects, and the people behind the movement, we are convinced this is an unboxed model, poised to change what it means to become an educated, highly competent learner – ready to take on the real world.


DVX is poised and ready to become part of this monumental movement toward rethinking the college experience. We will be joining forces with College for America at Southern New Hampshire University and offering a comprehensive support structure to get students through their SNHU Associate’s degree and/or Bachelor’s degree and into careers they love.


If you are interested in more information about the 2016-17 DVX – CfA 2016-17 pilot, please contact kmerritt@davincischools.org or fill out this contact information form.

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