The quick rise and equally sudden fall of a college alternative
- Less than a week after being featured in a Wall Street Journal profile on higher education alternatives, for-profit credentialing program MissionU will discontinue enrollment just one year after launch and will be acquired by for-profit co-working space curation business WeWork, according to EdSurge.
- MissionU leadership will have a role under the WeWork acquisition agreement, and will help the company to establish a network of K-12 schools under a new for-profit secondary school development banner, WeGrow.
- Billed as a key player in the disruption of the traditional higher education model, MissionU charged tuition costs to graduates only after they had secured solid employment, requiring a three-year commitment of 15% of graduates earned income in jobs grossing more than $50,000 annually. But according to Inside Higher Ed, the company suffered from a decrease in applications, despite building significant brand awareness secured through appearances by founder Adam Braun on traditional media outlets like CNBC and the Today Show instead of through advertising.
Acquisition and merger is a commonly used tool in startup culture, which thrives off of finding and building synergy between similar platforms and tools in order to build loyal audiences. But higher education, which could also benefit in many ways from similar approaches, has historically been hesitant to adopt this philosophy of business continuity.
Partially, institution leaders grapple with mergers and the consequences they can create for their faculty members and staff and community identity, and the effectiveness they really yield for students. But the prospect of consolidations will soon become an increasing reality for many campuses. Pennsylvania and Ohio are just two states that are actively discussing potential mergers in higher ed and K-12 spaces, and budget shortfalls in Connecticut could force the issue on similar changes in just a few years.