UNITED STATES, February 17, 2021 - Top Rock University announced today the virtual ribbon-cutting of the university and the launch of its first bachelor's degree program, the B.S. in Business Administration. The university, a nonprofit headquartered in Hawaii, operates its program entirely online.
The launch of the university and its affordable program, priced at under $6,000 for the entire program, marks a turning point in higher education today.
"If you started a university from scratch today, what would it look like? That's what we asked students and employers," said Top Rock University President, Ryan Jenkins. "It turns out there's a huge gap between what traditional colleges offer and what students and employers want."
According to Jenkins, students want more affordable and faster pathways to good jobs. And both students and employers want practical curriculum that prepares students for successful employment and entrepreneurship.
"We were delighted to see so many students wanting to start their own businesses," Jenkins continued. "It's not that they're interested in starting a giant company, but they do want to start small with the ultimate goal of financial freedom. Our program focuses on that type of entrepreneurship."
After years of research and development, the University piloted its first program: a flexible and practical bachelor's degree designed to develop entrepreneurial skills in future business owners and employees alike.
Steve Cohen, CEO of Sync Learning Experiences and Trustee at Top Rock, has had a front row seat to recent college graduates in the workforce. "There's a disconnect between what recent graduates have and what employers want. We built Top Rock to fill the gap," said Cohen. "Students are taught to solve problems, request feedback, iterate, and work independently. Not memorize what you can Google or do what a robot can do better."
Top Rock's program is 100% self-paced, which means students work independently. Among other requirements, self-discipline is a must.
Unlike most universities, Top Rock does not use the credit-hour system. Instead, the university uses an innovative competency-based model recognized by the Department of Education and used by other four-year institutions, including the popular Western Governors University. Once students prove competency, they move on, regardless of the time it takes.
"This is not a standard lecture-based curriculum. Students find themselves in the shoes of a business consultant and develop knowledge and skills by completing real-world projects," said Cohen. "There's a lot of doing. Most of the learning is active and not passive."
But it's the low cost of the program that's raising eyebrows in higher ed, said Todd McLaughlin, Chairman of the university's Board of Trustees. The all-in tuition cost for the program is just under $6,000 ($499 per month for twelve months), regardless of how long the student is enrolled. And the university charges no additional fees.
"People are shocked when they hear how affordable the program is. We've removed the most expensive parts of college. There's no campus. No tenured research faculty or rooms of administrators. No football stadiums or entertainment complexes. Everything at Top Rock goes directly to providing the best learning environment for students to get a job or start a business as quickly as possible."
Top Rock University is a non-profit and a legal degree-granting institution, however it isn't accredited by a federally-recognized accreditor and may never be. McLaughlin says that's a good thing.
"Behind closed doors, college administrators have told us they would never go through the hassle and expense of accreditation if it didn't unlock federal aid. If they're not accredited, they can't accept student loans. And without loans, no student could afford to attend. Top Rock is priced low enough so students don't need loans," McLaughlin said. "Other accreditation requirements, like requiring theoretical courses instead of practical ones, also prevent students from getting positive outcomes from their education."
"We're entering a new age of higher education where knowledge and skills are more important than the degree," McLaughlin continued. "Many of our students want to start their own businesses, and it's tough to find accredited programs built for that."
But it's not just future entrepreneurs applying at Top Rock. Innovative employers like Google, Apple, and Ernst and Young don't require degrees anymore. There's a rising trend of employers more interested in skills than degrees.
"As a young, nimble university, we have an advantage in this new world. We built this for successful student outcomes and aren't encumbered by massive costs and bureaucracy like traditional schools. Let students compare Top Rock to other business schools and see which one helps them accomplish their goals quicker and more affordably," McLaughlin added.
The University encourages students of all ages and backgrounds to apply at TopRock.org.
"We have quite the waitlist already, and we'll be ramping up enrollment as we go," President Ryan Jenkins said. "While we can't enroll students in every state yet, we encourage everyone to apply early to save a spot on the waitlist."
"Higher ed is undergoing a massive change right now. Students are demanding more from their education. Top Rock University is proud to lead the charge in putting students first."
ABOUT TOP ROCK UNIVERSITYTop Rock University is a nonprofit digital university focused on delivering practical competency-based business education online. At Top Rock, students earn their bachelor's degree from their computer, tablet, and smartphone by completing flexible and self-paced business curriculum. Top Rock University was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
As a condition of operating in Hawaii, Top Rock is required to include the following disclaimer:
Note: In the United States, many licensing authorities require accredited degrees as the basis for eligibility for licensing. In some cases, accredited colleges may not accept for transfer courses and degrees completed at unaccredited colleges, and some employers may require an accredited degree as a basis for eligibility for employment.