The beverage aisle

If higher education was an aisle in the grocery store, it would look like this. 

Colleges in a can. While each can has a unique identifier that attracts people for different reasons, cans they are. 

They each have 

  • The same amount of product, 12fl oz on liquid
  • The same Ingredients  
  • The same cost

In college terms:

  • They each require 4 years of study (although the average graduation rate is now 6 years)
  • The same approach. They are all formulated on the same premise. They each have quads, they each have the “poly sci” building, etc. They all are based on the same pedagogy, read any school’s mission statement, it’s the same formula. Pay attention to the HOW, I’ll even bold it for you. The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. We do this through our commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education.
  • The same cost. No matter what you major in. No matter what your hopes and dreams are, you pay the same.

And like colleges some cans of coke  are more rare than others. Still looking for the”Abby” Coke can (anyone have it?!) However, how rare or common, on the inside, they are all the same, a can of coke!

But as Coca-cola and others have discovered. One product does not fit each consumer’s needs. Consumers needed more choices. Some want/ need more liquid. Hence, the expansion of its product to different sizes.

In addition,  it turns out we choose our beverages to satisfy specific needs.  That not everyone drinks for the same purpose. Some look for caffeine, energy, sweetness, refreshment, etc. Enter coke zero, and even coke infused with vitamins! 

And of course, Coke recognized that not all coke’s are equal. The price needs to reflect the individual product (size and ingredients). Even prices fluctuated as to where the beverage was sold. They differentiated their products to meet the market. To serve our drinking needs.

This may seem common sense to you. It’s not your first time down a beverage aisle. 

I find the beverage aisle beautiful. It is quite remarkable! Look at all the choices. 

And new categories continue to arise. Almond milk didn’t exist a few years ago and a dear friend of mine just invented a new beverage. Turns out that hard liquor seltzers are not only in demand, but there are customers who are looking for ones infused with electrolytes! What will be the next beverage?! Who knows. But we can bet there will be new ones to address the new needs of drinkers of today and tomorrow. 

But yet, when it comes to answering the call of helping our children find their purpose and future livelihood? Coke for all.

The current model has one product to meet all needs. 

  • 12fl oz Coke for Sara who wants to be a social media manager,  that will be $1.50 please
  • 12fl oz Coke for Ethan who wants to be an app developer,  that will be $1.50 please
  • 12fl oz Coke for Faith who wants to be a traveling nurse,  that will be $1.50 please
  • 12fl oz Coke for Brad who wants to be in cryptocurrency, that will be $1.50 please

If only it was really $1.50. We all know the reality. It is $100,000+ with a side of debt. Congrats Sara, Ethan, Faith, and Brad you have graduated and off to the world you go. Just ignore the ropes that tie you down, you can still run right? 

And let’s be clear that college debt is not just a student issue. I’ve spoken to three students this last week who can’t afford college because their parents went into too much debt with their older sibling. The price of college doesn’t just hurt the student, but the entire family.

And no matter what your earning potential is on the other end- you pay the same. How is that fair? I went into education, my peers went into finance, but yet I pay the same?! I have 1/18th the earning potential they do. My classes did not require labs nor fancy spaces like auditoriums, but yet I paid for it all. Actually I was given no transparency into my tuition. Just one lump price. What was I paying for?! What part costs $200K?

In addition, there is no difference in amount (time spent in school), ingredients (4 year college requirements to a liberal arts degree). Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of a liberal arts education. I am a graduate of one. That said, I am one of the minortiy (14%) that are successfully served by this model (and that number is SHRINKING). 

 And it must be said aloud that there is no research behind 4 years being the optimal learning time.  Nothing. It is arbitrary and with the increasing popularity of the 3 year degree and micro degrees (coming from Harvard & MIT) it is clear that the secret is out. Four years is random and people are beginning to question it, including the students!

Just maybe not every outcome requires the same amount of time?

 Wow! How revolutionary!

So- I challenge you to name a product that can make you a successful astrophysicist, a photographer, a social media manager, a nurse, a basketball player, a content creator, a writer all in one place, for the exact same amount of time and money. Each of those careers and the skills to find success are so unique. So different. 

And remember that this can of coke sold to all has only a 14% success rate of successfully quenching thirst. 

Only 14%! But yet- coke for everyone!

It is imperative that we create a new category. We need to give choices.  We need to personalize learning to meet the individuals. We need to take a lesson from the beverage aisle.

And the best part of it all…do you remember one coke from another? Most likely not. Just like you don’t remember anything from your classes. I know this for a fact as I spent years studying it. You do not recall much from your college classes. A generous estimate would be 10%, but most likely single digits. 

But what do you remember?! You remember college well. You probably are smiling thinking about those years.  The experience! You remember the dorm. You remember the friendships. You remember being on your own for the first time. You remember getting your heart broken. You may remember a professor that said you have talent. 

And that is why I only remember the cokes I’ve drank or purchased in a speciality “named” can. I don’t recall a traditional coke at all. As we only connect and recall things that have meaning (that is just proven fact on how our memory works). The experience is the meaning. 

The experience is crucial. 

So I created a new category with the learnings of the beverage aisle. 

Now imagine this parent…

Your student is  treated as an individual. Not as another “freshman” Your student gets a customized course list based off of his/her interests and constraints (time and money created  next to an expert whose pure job is to help them find their way. They may need a year, they may need four. It depends on their goals and talents. 

This personalized course list has immediate returns on learning.  We can actually expect a few things, but the most important one is engagement! Turns out students need a WHY to learn. They are more likely to complete things they care about.

Duh. It kills me because it is so obvious, but yet schools continue to teach without it.

They need to see the meaning and the answer “just because” or “because it is required” does not go well. We know that.  Majority of students drop out after freshman year. They spend their days in seminars, requirement classes, and in their own words “I just felt like I was throwing money down the drain. I was not getting closer to what I wanted to do.” (McKenzie, 20 years old).

And when you stop being a “freshman” and control your learning you also control the price. Let’s look at McKenzie’s course load this coming fall at MYX.  She is taking a course from each of the following universities. Each course picked because it is the LEADER in that particular skill she needs to write screenplays. That is what McKenzie wants to do. 

How much do you think that costs? And how much time? 

Come on guess! 

$425 and ONE semester! 

Yep. Welcome to the future of higher education. 

BUT BUT BUT! We know that class is forgettable. That is a fact. So how can we change that to make it memorable? To get a stronger return on an investment.

We use what we know!

 People learn from doing!

So what is McKenzie going to do- she is coming to the MYX to get the experience and also the opportunity to apply her learning by getting the opportunity to write for a script and work with a screenwriter. She walks away with not just the skills, but the experience too.

And the best part is its low risk and high reward. McKenzie can try this vocation on and see if she likes it for a total of $8,425 (room and board + classes). She won’t have the issue of the “sunken cost fallacy” that is rampant in this country. Students staying with majors they hate “because they already spent so much time and money and its’ too late.” McKenzie can make an informed decision. If she wants to roll those credits into a full degree she can. She has course completion credits from the top leaders in the field. Or she can get out there and shop her writing around as screenplays are not chosen on certifications, but on words. 

And before I drop the mike here…there is more.

McKenzie gets for slightly more than average room & board at college (average is $7500 per semester, MYX average $8200)…

  • 1:1 life coaching where she will walk away with a purpose plan on how to execute her dreams
  • Life Hacks Course: McKenzie will learn everything from financial literacy to how to change a tire as there are skills are required to be independent, but yet, schools don’t see the need to teach
  • Live in locations that inspire! #1 biggest academic intervention is study abroad and gap years. Those who study abroad and take gap years outperform by more than 1 standard deviation.
  • Be one of 100 instead of 1 of 6,000. 
  • Weekly dinners with speaker series to network

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY. McKenzie will not be online in her parents basement, but living amongst a community of peers.

She walks away life ready.

Feels obvious to me.

There is a new beverage in town, it’s called MYX. 

Come join our mission.

Contact me:

About Author


Leave a Reply