EdTech startup, Upswing CEO Melvin Hines says Twitter took a significant step forward in underscoring the demand for non-traditional students by launching the Twitter Engineering Apprenticeship Program.
According to Twitter, “Through this program, we hope to grow our technical workforce of next-generation leaders from non-traditional backgrounds and those underrepresented in tech.”
Hines, the co-founder of Upswing, knows a lot about the hurdles of going to school as a non-traditional college student.
Growing up in southern Georgia, he watched his Mom go to college when he was in middle school, and the experience showed him the value and hurdles of being a non-traditional student.
Years later, Hines’ experience inspired him to create Upswing, and its innovative education software to provide students with an education support system and help them from dropping out of college while improving retention and graduation rates for colleges.
Hines says it’s crucial to help non-traditional students succeed and cross the finish line, but even more critical to help students of all backgrounds achieve success.
Twitter’s Inclusion and Diversity
He says the Twitter Engineering Apprenticeship Program and its focus on generating a stronger pipeline for diverse talent is an essential step toward creating next-gen leaders from non-traditional backgrounds currently underrepresented in technology.
Non-traditional backgrounds include self-taught coders, veterans, caregivers returning to the workforce, and the underrepresented include minorities such as women, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.
“It’s critical that non-traditional students succeed, and providing them with the educational support system they need, more students can cross the finish line and graduate,” said Hines.
However, he says it’s equally essential helping students from all backgrounds achieve the social mobility that comes with earning a college degree.
“Twitter’s Apprenticeship Program is a fine example of how we can grow our technology workforce with next-gen leaders from non-traditional students, ensuring the U.S. remains competitive in the 21st-century economy,” he added.
Upswing is doing its part targeting non-traditional students for academic success with its education software that is designed to make learning accessible, flexible, and tailored to the way students live and work.
The company is providing students with interactive chatbots, online student services, and a virtual assistant named ANA for scheduling tutoring or advising sessions as needed.
Hines sees a synergy between Twitter and Upswing's visions. Twitter’s Engineering Apprenticeship Program pairs applicants with dedicated coaches and mentors to set them up for a successful career in engineering, and Upswing pairs non-traditional students with tutors and advisors to help them succeed at earning their degree.
“It’s critical we tap the incredible abilities that exist among non-traditional students. Also, by doing so, we’re creating a vast pipeline of diverse talent in the workforce,” he saod.
Non-traditional Students, The New Norm
Nearly 75 percent of today’s students have at least one characteristic that qualifies them as “non-traditional,” according to Upswing.
Non-traditional college students include online, first-year, and adult students, and, according to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), each share these characteristics:
—Not immediately continuing education after graduating from high school
—Attending college only part-time
—Working full time (35 hours or more per week)
—Being financially independent
—Having children or dependents other than a spouse
—Being a single parent
—Having a GED, not a high school diploma
Surveys show that most college students have jobs, and 46 percent are the first generation in their family to go to college, 37 percent are age 25 or older, and 42 percent are people of color.
“Online and non-traditional students include someone who might be the first generation, who’s going to college after working for 10 or 15 years, taking care of a family, or working at the same time,” said Hines.
Graduating 50,000 Non-Traditional Students by 2020
Upswing is focused on attaining an ambitious goal of preventing 50,000 non-traditional college students from dropping out of college by the year 2020. Thus far, Upswing says it has helped prevent more than 20,000 students from dropping out of college.
Upswing, like Twitter’s Engineering Apprenticeship Program, is doing its part to reflect the diverse voices among students and growing the workforce of next-gen leaders from non-traditional students.
“Our workforce needs to reflect what’s going on in the world right now, and I’m proud that Upswing is doing its part to ensure that our workforce is more diverse and inclusive with people from all backgrounds,” concluded Hines.