ABCs to ATMs - The Case for Paying Students to Learn

Chapter 14: Academic Head Starts

The opportunity for students to take and get paid for college courses is a major part of Outstanda. We believe in a seamless transition in education from early childhood to lifelong learners of advanced topics. This prepares students for higher academic success in a complex world

Early Years: A Foundation for Lifelong Learning

We adhere to the philosophy that early childhood is a critical period for cognitive, emotional, and social development. For this reason, we advocate delaying formal assessments until a child reaches the age of 7, unless there’s a clear indication that the child is exceptionally gifted and would thrive with earlier academic challenges. 

Prior to embarking on their academic journey with learning gigs, students must complete a series of readiness assessments. These assessments, typically taken around the 1st or 2nd grade, cover fundamental skills such as basic reading comprehension, elementary math, and rudimentary logic and reasoning. The aim is to set students up for success from the beginning, thereby avoiding the negative impact that early failure can have on self-esteem and future academic endeavors. 

Summer Learning Gigs

Early success lays the groundwork for a lifetime of achievements. With our model, students can utilize their summers for academic enrichment, making gains of up to 25% in learning—a stark contrast to the ‘summer slide’ phenomenon seen in traditional educational systems.

College-Level Courses: Not Just for Future College Students

By the age of 16 or even younger, many students are ready to take on college-level courses. These courses come with higher financial incentives, given their complexity and specialization. However, it’s important to note that embarking on these advanced courses doesn’t pigeonhole a student into a four-year college track.

We recognize that college isn’t the end goal for every student. Yet, taking a few college courses provides more than just academic enrichment; it’s about preparing students for a complex and rapidly evolving world. Even students who opt for a different path—like entering a trade or going straight into the workforce—will find that the additional knowledge and skills acquired give them an edge.

Academic Flexibility and Future Choices

Our model’s flexibility allows students to make informed choices about their academic future. They can decide to continue their education, enter a trade, or join the workforce. But regardless of the path they choose, they will be better prepared to face a world that demands more from its citizens in terms of skills, adaptability, and knowledge.

There is also an easier path to continue learning lightly. By this, we mean a student can study and take one or two classes more easily at their own pace while working.

A Stepping Stone to Higher Education or Skilled Work

The availability of college courses within the system serves as a gateway to various pathways—be it higher education or skilled work. Those who do opt for higher education will find that they can complete their degrees faster and at a lower cost, thanks to the college credits they’ve already earned.

Ultimately, our academic model prepares students for a world that increasingly values both specialized skills and adaptability. Whether they choose to go to college or opt for a different path, they are better equipped to navigate the complexities and opportunities of the 21st century.

It is human nature for us to be motivated by incentives in order to encourage hard work and dedication to a cause. That statement holds true for students as well. Money is a great incentive to provide to children to help them to stay focused, determined, and interested in continued learning and personal growth.

Kyndl Oliver

Assistant Director, The Green Inspiration Academy

The best way to combat educational inequality is to make education equally accessible and profitable for everyone.

Ron McDaniel

Founder, Outstanda

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Author of “ABCs to ATMs”
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