As COVID-19 changes the course of our country’s education, what will be left behind when the dust settles? How can we use the pandemic as a springboard to incite changes that have been on the verge of existence for a long time? The value of cultural norms such as a college degree is changing by the day, alongside the way in which institutions deliver those norms. In Episode 5, Nick talks with Jessica Mitsch about how the education system in America needs to change, how technology is changing it, and what the real value is behind what we are currently doing.
Jessica Mitsch is a major entrepreneurial powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with in the triangle. With a passion for education and equal access to the tools and resources people need to be job-ready, she is the CEO and Founder of Momentum Learning, a schooling system to provide coding skills training focused on the needs of the modern workplace. We are guided by the belief that education creates opportunity, and that knowledge has no bounds. We give career changers the skills and support they need to find meaningful work and see our role as a catalyst for positive life change.
Rewind a few months ago- Fresh off raising money, getting set up, and launching a new immersive code school, the pandemic hits, and everything gets thrown out the window. Luckily for my good friend and guest on our latest podcast episode Jessica Mitsch, she could get through the freak out moment and get her business pivoted to a highly active and successful remote service for her students. In the episode, we discuss many things, including but not limited to how to shift to remote even when you built your entire business around in-person interaction, the future of education, being an entrepreneur in the triangle, and more.
Rewind a few months ago- Fresh off of raising money, getting set up, and launching a new immersive code school, the pandemic hits and everything gets thrown out the window. Luckily for my good friend and guest on our latest podcast episode Jessica Mitsch, she was able to get through the freak out moment and get her business pivoted to a highly functional and successful remote service for her students.Check Us Out On Instagram
JM: How is business in a world going with this whole situation?
NJ: It's great. We've the first two months were weird. I mean we were travelling we took our family to see my in-laws and Park City Mark sick, and they're like the 6th to the 13th or 14th. I can't remember so the week before it was weird. And then when we flew it was like uncomfortable like oh shit, probably and bring it back was definitely like, let's just hold on the lounge and not yet. No. No, it's like panic and just like, I don't know everything's on a lot of uncertainty. There's no anyone who said it was like business as usual like really just full of shit or they were to like, you know absent of the actual business or they were just telling that they tell themselves that wage. Cause it wasn't mean I don't know what industries were going to just stop or they'll market go to zero and why would you be mailing checks? Would there be male men male women like delivering stuff? Like it was kind of odd. I didn't know one knew what to do really? It was like should we just fight pause our business? Should we just a close close?
So we keep going most people were pretty good about you know clients forget about returning our calls and saying hey, yeah, we're doing this or actually knowing you to pause so we could get a good, you know grass but also running towards where is their new opportunity where they're you know, new Choi funding sources. It was just like and then, you know on top of that child care and stress about Healthcare. It's just about like the system in the world. I like late nights and you know trying to just get out staying up late as heck just to like get quiet time, you know, just the kids asleep and like yeah. Oh nothing good happens after I fill in the blank 11:00 midnight one, but you know a lot of my Ubereats bill went up. That's great line collection three kids right off. Yeah. Okay. That was right. Yeah. So what are you all doing for childcare watching them? So, you know, I don't work on Tuesdays woman accounting practices, but I'm pretty much watch them Tuesday. So my wife can work her business and then Wednesdays my mom kind of steps in and we'll watch the kids for a little bit but we only like my mom is was like five minutes away, but we didn't see her until others day. So he was like two months. Yeah, we're going to half of just being like we don't know like yeah, so yep.
Little so we're kind of the last week of school for my old everyone else is out of school. Is it youngest is in pre-school middle one is in regarding they're done the oldest in third grade. This is last week. So like a month after that we can sort of like make our own schedule. But you know the schooling for that you have to administer. It's not like, oh you'll be busy for the day. You got to be like, what are you doing? What are you doing? Don't you know get a chance forget to log in or like you said, they weren't used to using computers all day. Yeah, you have a charger like we luckily I had these old laptops I gave, you know, let them have a laptop. It's like I'd be like hell no, you're not using my computer. Right touch my keyboard. Would you like little sticky snack hands, right? Yeah
JM: I you know, I don't have kids but I live in a neighborhood where a lot of people have small kids and it's been so entertaining two doors down from us is good friends. And when they I guess it was like the second week of March, but I still felt like very temporary at that time and the dad of that family jumped out of his side window cuz he was on a conference call and his kids were so loud that we saw him like jump out of the window to go from this kid so he could take a call.
NJ: So it's like well, these are the times that we're living in now. No, it was like a I'm just making an exit to take a call because I was like nothing including like what the hell had that window like I would jump out like my kids are Jeremy to that but that's cool. Well, I guess let's you know given maybe your overview bio and what you're you're on currently. Yeah, so starting with just generally what momentum dies.
JM: I'm Jessica, we've known each other now for over six years probably so I my background is I've been in Tech my whole career started at Red Hat downtown Raleigh North Carolina when that company was about three thousand employees when I left that company, which was I was only there for about 3 and 1/2 years. They were over two thousand employees worldwide. And of course, we all know how that story ended. They're now part of IBM. So that was how I got my butt in the tech industry and jobs. I've been in the code School space since code schools existed really at least since they existed on the East Coast. So started working in the code School space in 2014 starting with working with you next with the first Iron yard campus in Durham North Carolina, which that was up and running for about four years and had a blast doing its job.
It really just understood that this is what the education like, we're in a time are a lot of things are changing right Technologies enhance all sorts of things in the world are changing and education is going to be one of them and so I just feel like I'm in this like really sweet spot of getting to see what that looks like and trying to make a contribution to it every day as we think about the future of Education in the future of work. So momentum founded momentum along with Clinton Dreisbach my co-founder and late 2017 after the iron yard arm wrapped up operations, and we've been running now ever since and we've had a really big year. This is actually probably one of the biggest months for the company because we are we are doing a lot of new and different things and we are giving it all trying to a new space everybody's getting used to with the pandemic. So it has been challenging and rewarding and a lot of work and a lot of work. I'm working at the back end of my dining room table. And so it's been some back pain to Growing Pains back pains. I have like a yep knee pain because I'm like actually using the Peloton bike that we've had at home and our basement for like three years not used it. It's not like I was refusing to use it but I'm like, okay, this is real like like it's cool to you spell bow. It's not just those thing that sits over there. That's cool and commercials. I mean, I guess that that sort of there's a lot of threads there.
NJ: You made the leap from kind of being the the campus leader to an entrepreneur and there was a little bit of a gap. But from what I know there was really no doubt in your mind of what you want to do. But what what kind of gave you the confidence to make that leap? And what was that like?
JM: Goodness, I don't know if you ever fully have the confidence to make that leap. I mean every single day. It's like a new you have to find a new source of energy I think for it. But I just feeling like on the right path the right time and really having a big Community people to help out and advise me. I was actually telling a friend that their day in a conversation with the mentor of hers and got a piece of advice that was very different than advice that she'd gotten in the past and we were kind of just talking about that looks like it was like well when we started off, I literally talked to everybody I knew in town that had that were entrepreneurs that had good business advice and they all gave me really great advice and a lot of the advice was contradictory to each other off and that's when you kind of just realized that like nobody really there's no right answer to this. You just have to follow your gut and get a lot of smart opinions and then you have them they have to make your own decision. But we when we started momentum, it was very much a community-driven efforts. We had people that as our previous company was rapping down he was just approached myself and Quinta and were like are you all going to do this? It was kind of like this imaginable next step. I remember Doug Kaufmann who former CEO of trans Lok entrepreneur in town sat in his office to let him know when the iron yard was closing and he just looked at me and he smiled and he was like, so are you ready to be CEO? Are you ready to do this thing? And so there are just a lot of assumption. I think when people in the community that we were going to do it and I think that matched with where with our heart and what we thought we would be doing and so it all came together and it's like very natural way. I think I'm just very thankful that the path that just kind of laid out.
NJ: That's awesome. And then what about you know, what about your kind of DNA your story? I don't know. If you've sort of undergone the study of knowing your your story or any of those kind of like business and Leadership exercises, but what you know kind of in your you know birth to now do you think informed or influenced or had a positive effect on your kind of decision to be an entrepreneur and then also to the success that you guys are having?
JM: It was for me my education experience really informed what I'm doing now. I am dyslexic and was diagnosed as diagnosed with dyslexia. When I was thirteen or fourteen years old after having gone through a lot of the steps in our public education system of going through an individual education plan, which is a federal mandate and all these things and had had diagnosed with a undiagnosed learning disability when I was a child and then had to go through, you know were from I grew up in the area. So very thankful for education programs and all the research that's done in our higher in our University system around here. So it had access to a lot of tools but it wasn't until I was like early high school that was identified that I'm actually just log.
And so a lot of things came together for me that created two things that are still in place today. And what I do the first is it had me it gave me a perspective on education in the way people learn. I never owe at the time. I felt dumb but looking back on it. I wasn't, you know, any smarter or less smart than any other kids, but you feel that way and when you feel that way you get kind of look at the system as we have it and you can see I think any entrepreneur is born from looking at something that they think that can make better or they see a gap and so I saw that as a child and then the second thing it enabled me to do is when you have a federal IEP or individual education plan in Kate in your K through twelve system as a student you were required at the first week of class with every one of your teachers, and this was everywhere from my middle school high school through college. You have to go get the teacher to sign this form.
I'm like Federal Form. They gotta sign it but they say I acknowledge that you have this learning disability and these are the accommodations that you and I put in place so you can be successful in this class. So what that meant as a high schooler in the public school system in a big public school is I had to go meet my teachers every week the first week of class and that's not something everybody does you know the Bell Rings you suck last bell rings, you leave class not everybody has that personal relationship with adults, but I had to do that as a kid and so I became a self-advocate and I also had to learn I think these tools, entrepreneurship right you have to you have to Butte on afraid to ask questions. You have to be unafraid to make friends. You have to ask for what you need what you want and all of those things. I learned as a a young teenager and they've been around ever since so that's kind of origin of me looking at education, but me also having that grit dead.
And that ability just to have to adapt really quickly and have to understand that you need to have a network. You need to have Partners. You have Champions to be successful. I think that's a big part of Entrepreneurship is making sure you have those champions in your in your life. And so that started for me at a young age. And then really what started momentum the the true foundation of it is. I had a a college major at the end of my senior year asked me what what is it that you want to do? What is it that you want to contribute to or have an impact on in your career? And I thought about it and I was like one. I really want to start a school. I want to start a school that's going to change the face of Education or help change the face of education and in my head that was a something maybe when I was in my sixties and retired from a career in business and had resources to contribute to it that I would do it was all this always just like long-term pipe dream. And then I landed at a job at Red Hat two weeks after I graduated from undergrad.
Learned a lot about the tech industry. I had knew nothing about the second degree before that job and fast-forward three years. After that. I met an entrepreneur who was starting a first Coatesville on the east coast and he asked me if I wanted to leave red hat and help him get this campus lunch and dinner home and essentially started school. I was like, oh my goodness. This is actually exactly what I set out to do. I just had this Broad and tension. I just wasn't married or didn't have any specific, you know Detachment to specifics and that was how I kind of got into the code School space and sure enough wage code schools are helping us figure out what the future of Education looks like. They're helping us figure out how do you do read training and re-skilling with adults there, which is where where education I think is going to go off a big way and we just launched our first ever official partnership with a university. So we are now really officially in the tradition.
NJ: Higher ed game as an addition to what we do in Durham, which is trying to people from all sorts of people that come to see us to learn to that's great. That's an awesome story and faith in what about you know, who's who do you surround yourself with now and you have a you have a peer group or do you have other kind of accountability Partners or how are you kind of keep an eye on track?
JM: I have a couple of different groups of people that I seek out. I have a really close group of friends and women that I have is going on yoga retreats with once a year since I think I went on my eighth fear Yoga Retreat this year and those women keep me kind of spiritually grounded and grounded and and just what matters most in life. So they we have this constant thread and a couple of this women are entrepreneurs, especially when this whole month they were headed to go to people and like okay, let's talk about how to handle this in a really in a way where we can be observers of it. Not just participants in the chaos and everybody had to go through the process of determining. Are you going to speak like PPP and all of that? So they've been really helpful to me and that sense also just other entrepreneurs and town the folks that came and helped us get momentum off the ground. I'm good friends with the guys at full City Venture Partners. Jason Kaplan has been a huge help him and I went on a hike last weekend through the own said forests and just kind of talk shop and I think we've got this really great community in Durham of of people, you know that can just come together and we all kind of know a little bit about what he does and that that is really helpful. Yeah, and we had an annual tradition yet. I have I would see at the airport when you're about to go to like Costa Rica exactly at least like three times. I think I saw a dog. I was like, you know shuffling kids I think so. Yeah, I feel like you're always going somewhere cold and I was always going somewhere warm the backpack.
NJ: Yeah, I think that's true. Well, yeah, I mean my in-laws live in Utah, so I think maybe we're like going to go there or whatever. Yeah, that's so funny. What you know, how important is it? Like as a woman entrepreneur to have women Pier networks versus non women versus just hybrid.
JM: It's a good question. And I think it's when it's obviously a lot of people are asking those questions right now and I think about it a lot I would say for me. I'm very grateful to have had a lot of male leadership great male leadership and a lot of male entrepreneurs have helped me get to where I am today. And for for me, I think what women tend to bring to the table in my life is just like a real, New Jersey.
What does work-life balance mean as an entrepreneur and they there tends to be more of those like emotional the ability to have emotional conversations as far as like, how does your team feel how are you handling those things and that those are conversations that I find a really great space with with other women entrepreneurs. There's a group gets together. It's called like the ladies that do lunch like get together once a month and we just talked about all sorts of just really running our business what everybody's dealing with and there's a lot of conversations about how to manage your team. Especially right now through the pandemic. How's everybody doing? How do you make sure everybody is you know in a mental space and checking in with just off?
You know people's emotional state, which is nice. Yeah, that's great. Yeah. I mean I think you know, I guess I've definitely seen, you know, tunnel vision of a group think uh in different groups that I'm in and it's easy to sort of be like, all right, there's more perspectives to this and it's not I think it's like male-female but also AIDS also, there's a whole lot of you know kind of things that go into each person and if you have sort of a kind of a mono plastic group, you're you're not you're doing yourself a disservice for sure and I've taken off like a lot of the business stuff. I've learned end up applying at home. So communication Styles understand, you know, having empathy putting yourself in the other person's shoes, like knowing, you know telling your story, but I'm trying to understand their story gaining a shared understanding, you know, and then having being able to The crucial conversation whether it's that or or just like like the wage.
Grand like what's your communication style and like yeah, this is what's going to resonate you. These are what's important to the person on the other end. But you know, yeah again, I think it's good to have people around you that speak your language as well as people that don't write which is cool.
NJ: So I mean education, you know, you kind of stole my next one which was going to be like, what are you? Where are you at with like mental health right now and what are you doing?
JM: I was thinking to myself, you know, the yoga retreats, but yeah, maybe speak to that more excess kind of a stressful time to be an entrepreneur. Obviously, is it always and now even more so as it hurts everybody and all walks of life, but what are you doing to stay mentally healthy and keep your well-being I would say it comes and goes in waves, you know, when we first moved in this whole thing first happened, I kept up my workout regimen and I kept I was able to keep my routine and then once it kind of became clear that we were going to be doing this for a long time some of those things it was dead.
I just change my routine but I still getting it up early in the morning. I still try to prioritize moving my body in some sort of way whether I have a little mini trampoline. I'm one of those people that's doing the trampoline workout song. You see them on social media. Um, so I'll do that or I'll try to do yoga or stretch and have my me time early in the morning before I get online. That's been a huge help. But I also just cut out a lot of the the extra Zoom calls the first month of this like everybody at my aunts and uncles and all sorts of people just like when all of a sudden get on Zoom Zoom party and after a day of you know being online because this is what meetings look like right now. It just got a little overwhelming. So I'm just kind of cut it out and I tried to turn off my screen as much as I can on the weekends, of course, I do work on the weekends, but I keep it minimal and I tried not to take anything extra on right now. I'm just use this opportunity to like have you know. Too quiet and reflection time.
NJ: Yeah, that's super awesome and healthy and you know, it's easier said than done. So you're doing it like you just made it sound really he's like, oh, yeah, you just get up the gym and keep your whatever and cut your zooms out. But man, it's like it's impossible. Like I've got so many zooms and because I want to do I want to connect more with people and I want to get this job. I had the plan to start these kind of conversations as content as experience sharing as gaining insights from the people. Like you said, we've got a great Community but this is a plan before this happened and I'm like, wow, you know, I can't just sit still so I'm putting more zooms on my own calendar so good for you for what kind of creating the space that you need to to be your best self. Freely what else I want to go into education, but I kind of like love staying it's like other kind of like Elaine of you know psychology or whatever it might be but what's like, what are you scared off?
JM: Right now or if you think about like vulnerabilities where you're kind of like this is something I've questioned that you feel comfortable sharing obviously, whether it's because of the situation and some of the uncertainty or just in general as a business leader. Yeah, I think for for me as far as I try not to frame it as what I'm what am I scared of but I think I mean you probably can relate to this especially when you're we're still in our first few years of running this company and there's some days like we're like the end of the day I'm like, yeah, we got this we got this great product we're doing so well like this is going to take off and then like a couple hours later, you know, some of the numbers will come in or we'll be looking at something and I'm like, oh my God, this is never going to work you have both options and the same day. Yeah. Yeah, and so I'm definitely living in that right now because for we so this happened in March we were in the last three weeks of running off.
Program and we teach full-time and which zip code school programs. So we were in the last three weeks of one. We had gotten to know the group of students really. Well, they were awesome group of students. They had Gel really well grouped and so we had to take them from there in person experience and go virtual and they adapted really well. It was actually pretty good timing cuz they were entering their final projects. And so it was fine the newest really. Well, we knew them very well, so it wasn't really much of an adjustment to put them on Zoom to have a conversation. Once you already knew their personalities. And so that was easy and then it became clear that we were going to continue to have to be on line even after that class ended and we were going to have to welcome a new group of students and have to get to know them doing this and so that was a real big experiment. We enrolled we hit our enrollment numbers of 15 students, which is what we had am to do in April and we got there. So the beginning of this we were kind of like, oh, maybe the pandemic won't have that busy.
Impact we we didn't lose any of the incoming students because this is not going to be an in-person experience any more on this is great. And we're going to learn how to get to know them over Zoom instead of impersonation on a campus and that went pretty well and so we were like, okay this actually might be fine for our business right we're able to do things online people were able to adapt really quickly. It's nice to be okay and then probably a couple of weeks into that we started realizing now as we look at and rolling more students this summer people are starting to have these questions of hey you all life, you know and been accepted to this program. I really want to take this class that I have health care benefits of my job right now and those health care benefits cover my family and I just simply can't give that up to take a month for month class. And so I wanted to delay my enrollment and those kind of things are starting to pop up that are really pandemic specific that we just you know, we're learning as we go along.
We're kind of in this period of time or we we just know that the to expect the unexpected but we didn't have that, you know a couple of weeks ago and I I think what's happening is people are really getting settled with the idea that this is going to be a long haul so that's been interesting and and so my co-founder and I had a conversation yesterday like do we need to change our model right now and it just feels like we just went through the process of doing that cuz we did we went from a twelve week program to sixteen week program that rolls every month and you were so excited about that and it's going really well from an academic experience. But you know, we've got to be able to enroll enough students to make the business work. So that's where we are right now, again, some days we have conversations with people and like yeah, this is great and some days, you know, we get enough of those conversations of hair really want to do this, but I need to wait until 2021 because of health care because of whatever else like.
NJ: That's right. Yeah, that's so funny. I think there's this one Simpsons episode and I'm not like a watch all the old show reruns. So I probably watch this like one of those actually launched as like a kid and you know, there's like Krusty the Clown or whatever so there is some like weird scene and and like Homer steps on the skateboard goes down as major off ramp and it's like any like launches off. He's like he sees the other side is like I'm gonna make it. Oh my God. I'm actually going to make it and then like boom doesn't make it completely crashes and I like both ways think of it like all the time where I'm like is it the it was hilarious cuz The Simpsons and you're like and then use okay, cuz he's like he's like wait a minute. I'm actually going to boom crash. That's sort of like entrepreneurial life, which is so funny you go between like this is going to work. This isn't going to work multiple times. Okay? Yeah, like I'm going great slack like that deposit check clearly like shit like man, we haven't so that's always fun times. So yeah, I guess I want to talk about the future of education.
JM: So, that's huge and I you know, so our backstory I'll try to recap in the intro or in the notes of course, but you know, I was simultaneously trying to get a code to go off the truck when I met Peter who's the guy the entrepreneur out of South Carolina was starting started the code school there had some campuses and we decided to do a joint venture here in Durham and you were the campus League home so our joint venture took off and was doing really great and and obviously then the anger and got acquired by private-equity and then once that happens sort of thing just run its course and they kind of read focused the business elsewhere couple years later.
And now those are provided the opportunity in the market place for you guys to step right in and do it. So I'm super happy that exists but I have a deep belief that this product should exist years after my own kind of multiple personal stories. One is as an employer needing more Supply as an employer interviewer, seeing not said Supply and local amazing institution the universities in the triangle and being a student a long time ago not having really much practical experience to do anything and just hoping that like a Fortune 500 investment banker consulting firm hires me and then I worked there for a few years and go get an MBA was like that didn't feel like the Great Value after four years and I was lucky I went to a good school went to the business school cuz I got advice from like early classmates and they had you know, and I actually I got my job through my like my mom's cousin was at a company that got acquired by Bloomberg and I am
So she lived in Iowa or something. I can't remember they live. But so and and we're Bloomberg in New York City selling Financial software out of happenstance. It wasn't even known. It was my mom's cousin's was like my third cousin. So I end up having to go deep into my own network to get like, oh you should look here and I applied and got to get internship and you know, so it's like so what did I get out of college? I love you know u n c and all that but I I wasn't practical and I don't know what I feel about that going forward. But so maybe what do you think about yeah the commissioner of education and how we need to embrace kind of the thoughts and philosophies that you guys are advocating for. Yeah. So similar to you all set some context. I have a Bachelors of religious studies and from the College of Charleston. So liberal arts school, South Carolina. I was one of those people about my parents are executive coaches another context of my story so they were already in the place of coaching meme
You will to follow follow my passion you're going to do well in school. If you are you like what you're studying and I love people and religious studies is really the study of people and so many ways every discipline from history to philosophy to psychology all kind of in one and so I studied religion in college. I studied abroad in India. I I focused and Eastern traditions and Buddhism. It was an amazing time. I loved College. I was one of those kids that like actually loved College. I loved my classes. I was fortunate in that my I didn't have any college debt my parents were in a position where they had saved and they paid for my schooling. And so when I graduated I actually still have two giant tupperware container just like, you know those big big ones that you stack with every College notebook all of the notes. I took from my degree because I was like, well my parents paid a lot of money for these notes, so I'm going home.
Gave them some point. I have intentions of digitizing them and we'll see if that ever happens but that was my experience and then like you I'm a big believer and your network is how you get work. And that is something that we really expressed our students. They have assignments about networking when they're in our program. I had a friend who had gotten a job out of NC State with red hat and was recommended me. She referred me into a job. She said, hey my friend Jessica's got you know hard worker and so two weeks after college. I had a great job at a tech company. So I'm very very very lucky and I realized you know that that is is, you know, not an easy story for people and I work hard and I get along with people so that makes a difference too long, but I prefaced that and saying as soon as I started working I realized
If you look at what has happened in my life span, so I'm thirty years old in nineteen eighty-nine year that I was born same year as Taylor Swift. I like to remind people of that so they can like understand the scope of age of what this has happened when I was born was when you've got mail AOL came out, right? So the You've Got Mail that was Nineteen eighty-nine. So email happened when I was born fast forward to that. I graduated from high school in 2007. 2007 was the year. We're Facebook really took off Airbnb got off the ground Twitter had really started taking off between like 2006/2007 Hadoop came out cloud computing came out all of this came out as I was graduating high school and during college and found if you look at what has happened since 2007 to now the world has really changed in a big way a huge huge way, right like these didn't exist when I was in high school.
They existed when I was in college the world the way we work has all shifted involved and I set that also in the context of when you look at the way we work right now with the nine-to-five American workday is is an American invention. It was created by Henry Ford in 1910 Ford automotive company created the nine-to-five workday. Right and we've been working in that work day and that framework Monday through Friday nine-to-five ever since we have also been educating people for that type of work every month and that's what the education system as we know it has been built off of then something else happened in the eighties since the day the time that I was born. So going back to like AOL started off end of the eighties early nineties from that time until now.
Higher education has increased at a rate of 160% on the cost. So it's a rate that is way higher than the curb inflation in the past thirty years and there's a lot of reasons that that has happened. But I think what you're seeing right now, is this great bubble burst because You needed a college degree at some point to get a white collar job or get a really an office job if you will. That shifted probably four or five years ago. We started seeing these announcements come out of Silicon Valley say you don't need a college degree to work at Google. You don't need a college degree to work at Facebook because wage rate of which coding and the accessibility ability to learn how to code has shifted so much in the way that we needed people in the workforce that could do that and these companies that's really needed that people that could do that. School started to coming about there was a way to find education in a way to find people that were trained for the skill set that didn't exist before and so these big companies that are really controlling our economy. If you look up Amazon Google Facebook all these companies top companies controlling the economy. They all said several years ago. You don't need a degree to work here anymore. So what you see happen is the rate of tuition to go to our traditional four-year university has gone up 160% in my lifetime and in the past five years people are now saying you don't need this off.
And so we're at this weird time where a lot of the parents out there who have kids that are going into college or the the soon-to-be college-aged kids are still in this package time where they they fake and they believe based off of years and years of data that they need to get that degree in order to have a certain career outcome. Whereas the same time the sector that is really break has the most economic power right now is saying you do not need that to be able to work here and it's going to take some years for that adjustment to happen and I thought it would be take maybe 5 months by this year's for people who are really comfortable with the fact that you don't need a college degree right now, but then the global pandemic happens and now all these college campuses to your points that provide this experience. It's so much Beyond what's happening in the classroom are now turning into like Zoom University and experience is gone and I talked to people every single day that I'm not sure.
I send my kid to college in the fall. We're going to defer I was thinking about going to grad school and not going to do that right now. Look as a pandemic and people are really questioning. What is the value of school? Why is it so expensive and then all these colleges because of that enrollment issue are starting to break down and say our business model is working anymore this this tenure system of professors school that we were closed right now, like say that tenure professors that have been around for forever and they might only enroll five students in their program every year but they're getting tenured salaries and they haven't been an industry and a long time they've been in the academy for a long time. And so I think what you're going to see happen is more collaboration with colleges that have really good brands or there's no longer going to be these Elite Education institutions, which by the way is like total just marketing right, but we have this
Came out. I think a couple of months ago. There was starting to be these reports. Do you remember who was the woman who stole house that just got in prison? Her paying for her daughter to get into school Laurie
NJ: Yeah, Lori, Laughlin Laughlin Laughlin and my uncle Jesse.
JM: Yes, exactly. So when all of that came out, you know, the other thing that gives that we these College University brands have had this brand of scarcity, right and that's how they Justified those tuition. Oh, we only accept X percent of our applications and we only accept this as soon a point of Pride and if you think about it, it's like why is that a point of Pride? Right that's saying that you're not you're not providing what you do for math groups of people that's another piece of Education that we're when we think about our admissions process it no mention that we're very cognizant of it. You should not be creating like the Hermes brand if you will like an education and that determine borrowing from Scott Galloway who I don't know if you follow Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher pivot podcast, but there is this artificial.
You know luxury brand around colleges and it was around these admissions scores. And when all this Scandal came out at the end of last year about celebrities who were to get their kids in school. It also came out that all these schools had been paying the college board for data student data on students that have the SAT or ACT scores that are right under their admissions acceptance scores and they would send these kids all of this information about applying encourage them to apply to help them artificially increase or decrease the number of accepted students, huh, and so that so they could justify this raised into position and and have Desperate parents pay for it. And so all of this I think one is coming to light and the pandemic is like massively accelerated and put the, you know, put the foot on the pedal when it comes to this change and I think what we're also dead.
Experience Nick like you and I know this cuz we've seen it. Now over the past five six years, especially when we started the first code schooling around people that went through college even five years ago ten years ago. They did not have access to Computer Science Education that is relevant to what today's Workforce needs. So we're seeing a lot of people have to cycle back in and walk into education. I don't think that's going to change. I think we're going to be doing this for the rest of our lives because the way that technology the the increase in the curve of technology is such that way. We're all going to have to constantly be res killed. And so I think what you're going to see is people coming in and out of education and then not having to take on this mass amount of student loan debt. Yep dead man. Well, you just said everything and I think you know, our oldest is nine and since ten years ago, we've been saying the same thing like birth this is future look like and I think it goes further back than College to frankly and it's very archaic system. And it's not it's yeah, it's bad. I don't I don't like it but stay on the colleges for 1 SEC, you know, I I feel like there's an opportunity for them to Pivot and focus on things that they could do. Well focusing on like value-based outcome almost like healthcare, like let's not make education in a college like fee-based. Let's make it like value-based especially if the state's funding and our funding the debt wouldn't you're going to fund the debt wouldn't you at least want to return on investment meaning like some stuff needs infrastructure or if it is Sciences based or Computer Sciences or there's labs and Equipment, you know stuff that needs to be like a wired and procured and they're neat and you want think about even the tooling and the retooling like you still need some central body of expertise and Excellence like google.com is great, but you can't log.
Early get the guidance. You need to truly gain Mastery over all trades not at some trade, you know, there's a place for that somewhere and they're so big and they've got so much. They're so embedded into like State budgets and like they've got endowments. I mean these bill I mean the private school community and do is get one of the largest public school endowments. I mean just I don't know how big induced took a very large private endowment. I mean way smaller than Harvard and whatnot, but these are billions of dollars. So they just they just have too much money just to kind of like whoops. We we folded like, oh, hey that's not worth it or folding. We're out, right and there's value to be added to society. But like how do they get cross that hurdle? How do they yeah retooled or they need to just break down the entire bottle and build it back up with them. Yeah the right incentives and yeah, where are your thoughts are yeah well to your point on like the K through twelve education experience having a nine-year-old. We definitely learn off.
And I think there's a lot that's out in the in the space right now about what we had. What we used to do was a memorization game. Can you pass the test type of game that's because Google and the internet that you don't need that anymore the skills that young people need are going to be entrepreneurial skills are they they're going to have communication skills as hard things like computer can't teach and so definitely starting to shift that way and I think colleges universities have probably at least in my I can only speak with to my apology experience, you know have done that already has like a critical thinking skill is a communication skills that debate skill. The liberal arts institutions have done that. I think the problem that we're we've gotten into a bad situation is just coming around the cost and making sure that the cost of getting that skill matches what you can make in the market and it make sure that you don't get you know, em.
Peter we've got a generation in like I think it costs a trillion dollars of college student loans higher than credit card debt in this country student loan is higher than credit card debt in the United States and and that is going to be the problem. I think it's how do you incorporate some of those skills that the liberal arts teaches you and make sure you also have practical skills alongside of it and do we need to rethink does it take for years, you know for you to get a credential and what are we actually saying with that credential? I have what there's big companies around around the area that for a long time wouldn't hire code School grads because they would only hire people with a college degree and I've had conversations phone conversations in like it's like over the past couple of years. We finally like chipped away at some of those institutions. But what I started realizing is what they were saying by oh we need to do the college degree was we need somebody that's a culture Fit club.
To our company and in the bad sense of what that means is like we we just want to know that somebody can fit into our office culture that they have similar backgrounds is US page actually care what your college skill was you could have like me a college degree in religious studies.
You know, they just believe that you can come figure it out that you sit with the culture. And so that's something that's been challenged recently as well. But I don't know if that I think I just started rambling now bring me back into where what we were talking about. Yeah. I mean, how do they how does the University system sort of like pivot to be more value-based and is it off, you know, is it just like ripping out the tenured professorship system so that you're always able to re staff and retool. I think that's a big part of it. I think there's we're going to happen. Like the college experience which is so valuable that you get to stumble along as a young adult with your peers through some more life experiences. I do think that's a valuable so I'm not quite sure how we replace that yet. But I I do think that we need to get rid of this this admissions process that we have in place today.
NJ: I think that we need to start looking at people's future potential. I think colleges need to start taking a pride and being able to accept more people and figuring out and infrastructure where they can take on more students money, especially for going to start doing classes like this over virtual means even if it's live from we have momentum have found that this is actually is a good tool. Right? Like we we had a some place before this first experiment called covid-19 that the the online learning or the I shouldn't call it online learning but this lives over Zoom type of platform wouldn't be as effective classroom and we're finding that that's not true. It's just as effective as the classroom. In fact, there's some benefits to that the classroom doesn't have like this is a flat. This makes the classroom flat, you know, when you're in an actual physical classroom, there's always somebody that's going to be sitting in the back corner, but on Zoom, you can't sit in the back corner. Yeah everybody there on the screen. So I do think the ability to put these like great fun.
JM: Calculate is a great example of this professor at NYU Stern School of Business. I would sign up for his class tomorrow, you know to open his class thousand two thousand people get rid of just like artificial admission standards. It's just been useful for marketing and let people come and get this education, you know, and and and let people do it while they work and while they're bringing in income. So people aren't taking on debt and that enables schools to make the price lower per student, but still be able to make great money and then what you're really wrong on is the people that are pretty really good teachers which means people that aren't great teachers are probably not going to have much of an opportunity in that world that that's okay. Probably that's right. So, I mean, it sounds like you know, what are you bringing the opportunities are for, you know technology to continue to disrupt multiple spaces with specifically education.
NJ: Yeah, I do think we'll see more and more virtual education. I think the pandemic just force everybody into that experiment and people will be doing that with potentially like smaller group Gathering is kind of like booked up to those kind of things. I do think people will still be hungry to have some impression dialogue, but I think you can get a mass mass group of people learning the same subject through a really really great teachers online and then have smaller break-out groups in person. So I think I think we're going to see see Innovative colleges get get online and pick up in open classes up for people of any age group get outside of that demographic of traditional folks that go through master's degrees or go through undergrad. I think that's really important. I think they're going to be great institutions if they're able to do that. I also think we need to hire more people from industry. There is a school I won't name it but in a part of our state not local page. Reached out to us and they were like, hey, we would really like to hire one of your instructors to teach a coding class at our at our College this summer The part-time coding class and then they said the requirements are met that person has to have a master's degree in computer science.
Funneled into these doors and then not funneled and how like how much progress is being stopped how much like, you know population health and population wealth and income gap would be closed like if we had a better system, you know, like mean it's like man if you democratize it's like yeah sign up for this class this class this class and all of a sudden it's about the class and with the quality and the outcome not like going to bite exclusive funnel and then you're part of this institution, which is the well in about like that's Unity from their commercials, but and I like it too but like if it's just what kind of what would that feature look like if it's really about get the skills you want to be able to I mean, it's just like politics in the 90s or 80's of like healthcare that crosses state lines or whatever. I mean, I don't know like yeah, I can go get a class from anywhere build my own portfolio of subject matter expertise that I want to grow and that's relevant and in eight years of I need to retool I can go right back and do that job.
Super efficiently and just sort of like scaffold it together like and now bam. I've got a new new game plan. Yeah, that's more jobs and it's like what's the difference between UNC and Community College like wage is really maybe like that Professor that they recruited great. Well, they still make money by recruiting in promoting the best people but if no one takes their class because higher price in this other thing. Yeah, it's more of a market-based system on out come down and I think it will make the costs get reasonable again because there was a point in time and our history and not that long ago that higher ed and the United States was affordable that more people had access to it or could figure out access to it or their their loans could be paid off in a couple of years after school instead of taking a life time to pay back. So, you know, it's not that long ago that we had that and then I think you'll also I'm a big believer that industry is going to have to start paying for some of the skills that they want which is is again, that's like kind of Back to the Future that did happen. I have a job.
Yeah and Faithfully, you know, this is a good lesson in like, you know, let's not fight change for the sake of change. That's all be willing to adapt fast the faster we get over that first hurdle the faster we can be thinking about Solutions and risk mitigating. We don't want to just be all like, you know wild wild west on things as important as health or education, but you know, we gotta get over some of these big blockers quicker so that we can be a more resilient society and and you know human human race humankind whatever that's a great story and you're you know an inspiration also entrepreneur awesome person and thank you for doing this.
NJ: I appreciate you and good luck. Keep fighting the good fight and yeah bring a bunch of Education to to all yeah.
JM: Thank you, Nick and hopefully next time I won't see you on my standing desk. That is an ironing board. Who knows, you know? We'll see. I just take care to see if I can get away.