- Just about three dozen higher education institutions offer competency-based programs now but hundreds more are developing them, indicating explosive growth is on the way for the nontraditional approach.
- University Business reports that lessons from early adopters include offering mentoring to keep students on track, adapting program elements like start dates to meet financial aid requirements, and working with industry partners to ensure such programs meet workforce needs.
- New programs should also keep finances in mind, setting subscription model fee structures at levels that will be sustainable in the long-term.
One challenge of competency-based programs is the pass/fail nature of the coursework. It is harder to identify students who are struggling when records of achievement only fall at the extremes. Designing competency-based programs with targeted assessments could help faculty members and counselors identify students who need additional support. Similar early warning systems have improved retention in traditional programs by alerting students and faculty to problems before it is too late for students to recover.