UW Flexible Option: Subscription Structure Brief
Describes the Subscription Structure of the UW Flexible Option program
Subscription Structure for the UW Flexible Option Degree Program
A cornerstone of the UW Flexible Option education model is its singular focus on the student experience. The target audience for this competency-based program is nontraditional – working adults who are highly motivated to complete their college degrees at their own pace. A majority of these students pursued a college degree earlier in their careers, but they withdrew without completing degrees. Reasons often cited by students for not completing degrees include financial constraints, job responsibilities, family responsibilities, etc. For many students, the primary obstacle to completing a degree can be summarized as a lack of fit between their daily lives and traditional academic structures. Students who juggle an array of responsibilities simply cannot commit to typical academic terms in which assignments and exams are rigidly prescribed and to which students must adhere in order to complete their studies.
One of the hallmarks of the Flexible Option is scheduling flexibility for students. Instead of a term-based structure, the Flexible Option is a subscription-based structure. Once accepted into a program, students may begin studying on the second day of any month. They then have three full months in which to demonstrate mastery of as many competencies as they wish, with the subscription ending on the last day of the third month. (Alternatively, students can enroll in a single competency set for the period.) Students progress through content and assessments at their own pace with guidance and encouragement from Academic Success Coaches, and faculty, with access to tutors, and support personnel. Students who receive financial aid must maintain a more structured pace, as they may be required to participate in educational activity at least once per week to remain compliant with federal regulations governing aid eligibility. Academic Success Coaches will help students structure plans of study that maximize flexibility but meet compliance requirements.
As with any subscription model, the Flexible Option allows students to maintain their academic activity and access to materials and supports without interruptions by making the required payment for the next subscription period. For example, a student who enrolls on the second day in January is eligible to study through the last day of March. The student may make the required payment for the next three-month subscription period at any time prior to the deadline to avoid interruption in his/her access to the program. Once a student does that, he/she may continue to seamlessly study without any lag or interruption to his/her studies.
The data required to run administrative processes, i.e., assessment grades, are collected throughout students’ subscription periods. Service standards are in place that set timelines for timely review of assessments to facilitate the gathering and posting of this information to students’ records. Some administrative processes, such as financial aid reporting of satisfactory academic progress, occur only at the end of each subscription period, though Academic Success Coaches and students should have an idea of a student’s outcome based on the real-time updates posting to student records throughout the subscription period. For students continuing their subscriptions from one period to the next, these administrative services will be processed by the withdrawal deadline, the 10th day of the new subscription period, so that the student can withdraw without academic or financial penalty if he or she is required to pursue additional action before continuing in his or her program. For example, for the student who begins one subscription period on the second day of January and re-subscribes for the next period that begins on the second day in April, his/her financial aid reports will be processed by April 11th, and before the withdrawal deadline for the next period. After the withdrawal process, students who do not make satisfactory academic progress will have time to create a plan with their Academic Success Coach, or submit an appeal if they so desire.
Students may plan to take time off between subscription periods, but breaks must be taken in one month increments. To make a planned interruption, a student must clearly indicate the date of his/her return and notify his or her Academic Success Coach, who will direct the student to the relevant operations areas that must also be informed of these plans.
Once a student begins a subscription period (i.e., the tenth day elapses), he/she cannot interrupt it. In other words, once a subscription period begins, a student has full access to resources and assessments for the duration of the subscription period. If the student needs to take some time off during that period, he/she can do so (as long as the appropriate amount and intervals of educational activity is maintained for financial aid purposes, if necessary); however, the subscription duration will not be lengthened to accommodate the break. As noted above, tuition-free time off from studies may be planned only between subscription periods.