June 23, 2022

Higher Ed in the US Is Broken—Guild Wants to Fix It

CEO Rachel Carlson on creative disruption in the education biz

Nora and Scott chat with Rachel Carlson, the founder & CEO of Guild Education, a company that partners with employers including Target, Walmart, Disney and Chipotle, to provide debt-free college degrees to employees. According to a profile in Forbes published last summer, the 32-year-old founder raised money for her company at a $3.75 billion valuation in June, boosting her net worth — and landing her on Forbes’ new list of America’s most successful self-made women. For more info on our presenting sponsor, check out grayscale.com/businesscasual.


Hosts: Nora Ali & Scott Rogowsky

Producer: Bella Hutchins 

Video Editors: Mckenzie Marshall and Christie Muldoon

Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus

Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder

Fact Checker: Kate Brandt 

Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop

VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer 


Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm


Rachel Carlson: I was a community college advisor and fell in love with this work, but also fell in love with the idea of productizing it, because I answered a lot of the same questions all day. And the most invigorating conversations I had were the deeply cognitive ones, the emotional ones, the ones where somebody realized, "Oh god, I have some shame about my learner journey and I've got to get over that D I got, or that high school counselor who told me I wouldn't amount to anything, or that person in my community who said, you're not a white collar, you're never going to work in an office, and there's no dignity in that but you don't really deserve dignity." Everyone has these stories, because in America we declare people dropouts. And so what I'm really passionate about and why I try and listen to and learn about five to 10 of our students every week is because you have to ground it in the lived reality to actually understand what a seismic and cultural and systemic issue we're trying to attack.

Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that reveals the unexpected business story behind everything. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you conversations with creators, thinkers and innovators who can tell us what it all means, and why we should care. Now, let's get down to business.

Nora Ali: Scott, I think a theme in a lot of our conversations is that the system is broken.

Scott Rogowsky: The system...damn the system.

Nora Ali: And this time it's the educational system.

Scott Rogowsky: Oh god, yes. But it's not every episode where I get prompted in my brain to sing, "We represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild." And I say that because we're talking to Rachel Carlson.

Nora Ali: That's the company.

Scott Rogowsky: Founder of Guild, yes. Who's looking to disrupt the system.

Nora Ali: Yes, she's trying to fix it. But I think you and I should probably both acknowledge our own privilege—at least from my perspective, my parents were able to pay for my college experience, graduated without any debt, so I feel so thankful, and we have to remember that is not the case...

Scott Rogowsky: No.

Nora Ali: ...for the majority of Americans. So getting higher education at your current employer or while you're working is that much more important. So that's what Guild is trying to tackle, and I love that.

Scott Rogowsky: It's truly an honorable mission. And I really respect that Rachel, who also acknowledges her privilege. My father always says, and I think it's a Spider-Man thing, "With great power slash privilege comes great responsibility."

Rachel Carlson: Yes.

Nora Ali: Uncle Ben said that, in fact.

Scott Rogowsky: Uncle Ben!

Nora Ali: Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: Which my dad passed on to me, but that is very true, and not everyone acknowledges that in places of privilege and power, but Rachel certainly has. And she looked at her own family, which as she explains was this great AB testing for the benefits of higher ed. And she said, "I'm going to use my power and position and privilege to try to fix this for so many others."

Nora Ali: We got schooled in this episode, Scott. So today we are hearing from Rachel Carlson, the cofounder of an ed tech company called Guild which creates tuition benefit programs that help employees get college degrees funded by their employers. We'll hear from Guild's cofounder, Rachel Carlson, next after this quick break.

Scott Rogowsky: Rachel, you cofounded Guild Education, but obviously this idea did not happen in a vacuum. I know there was something called Student Blueprint even before Guild. I did a little digging there to find that out, but I want to hear more about your background personally, and how you became interested in the education space.

Rachel Carlson: I often talk about my life for Guild as having two flavors, one personal, one professional. On the personal side, it's easiest to describe my family as an A/B test on higher education. My dad is one of seven, my mom is one of nine kids, and so I have 22 and 23 cousins on each side. Perfect for an A/B test. On my dad's side of the family, my grandpa and grandma both were depression babies but went to college, which as we all know was not that rare especially for middle class white families at the time—obviously, it was not uniformly distributed or racially equitable, but for their background. And then they paid for 22 of us grandkids to go to college, which is pretty remarkable. On my mom's side, my mom and only one other went off to college of the nine, but it sort of didn't matter.

This was the '60s, '70s, '80s, where you could go get a great unionized job. You could go enter the middle class whether or not you went to college. It wasn't this stark contrast. But then tune into gen three—my cousins on that side and only a handful of us went straight to college—and that became the predictor of who got the launchpad into our twenties of an easier life, the chance to have children when we wanted to, the ability to buy homes, so many things that I think are really unfair in terms of the disparity. And so I just got sort of obsessed with the fact that I had cousins with even higher, honestly, IQ on one—my mom's side is smarter. I've said that on the record, my cousins are okay with me saying that. But those cousins have had much harder lives, but for one reason which is they didn't have the money to go to school in these last two decades, when it's gotten so, so much harder to do it. And when it's become the barrier to the middle class. So that's the personal I can say.

Nora Ali: Yeah. We'll get to the professional, but it's so interesting that you have this empirical evidence to show the impact of access to education. And you decided to do something about it, to offer access to those who might not have it. So you had decided to approach this issue of educational access from this three-sided marketplace, which is a challenge. A two-sided marketplace is tough, but there's three entities now you're dealing with: universities, corporations, the learners slash employees. So explain to us in the most basic terms how Guild works and how you get all of those entities on board.

Rachel Carlson: Yeah. Well, safe to say, I didn't mean to build a three-sided marketplace; that wasn't my life goal, build some super complex business structure. So, like my cousins, there are a hundred million Americans, which is two thirds of the workforce, by the way, who need education and skilling to have a chance at the middle class before they retire. It's really quite dire—the American dream has become the exception, not the rule, and that's really problematic. So that was the problem I was obsessed with. We started looking at all 7,000 schools—this all came out of research at Stanford's various graduate schools, the school of ed and the business school like Scott mentioned. We looked at the 7,000 schools in the US to figure out, "Okay, if you are one of these hundred million Americans, where should you go get reskilled?" It turns out not everybody should go to Harvard Business School, and they won't let everybody in.

So what should people do? It turned out there were only about 300 schools serving that population well. So much of higher ed in America was designed for the 18-year-old who's upper middle class, who mom and dad drop off in the minivan, and then he lives in a dorm and goes to a frat party and a football game. That's fine, but that's a very distinct experience that he's having college for. Our students, this 33-year-old mom, often woman of color, often works more than 40 hours a week. So there's only about 300 schools that serve them well, and we tried to figure out why weren't those schools scaling? Because it turns out in 2014–,15, a lot of them were stuck at the size they were. And the reason was they couldn't figure out how to meet the hundred million Americans they wanted to serve because the cost of digital advertising had skyrocketed in the '80s, '90s, early 2000s.

And like so many things, there was a big tech monopoly, duopoly, call it whatever you want, that made it really hard and cost upwards of $5,000, $10,000 to meet a single student on the internet to convince them to go back to school. So all these great public and nonprofit institutions said to us, "If you can help us meet the hundred million workers who are already in the workforce, who we know we need to reskill, good lord, we could fund all the things that you know we need to do." And I had been a community college advisor; that was my professional inspiration for the work, and so that's how we got to the third side of the marketplace, was we realized, "Oh, my gosh. Do you know who knows these hundred million workers?" The Fortune 1000 companies.

Scott Rogowsky: So you saw this void, this problem of people who potentially want to go to college, get that higher education, get that skilled training, who didn't have the means or didn't have the access, who didn't know where to start. And on the other side, colleges looking for more students, and then companies looking for higher skilled workers. So all these people are looking, but there's no central location to meet up and match. So is that in a nutshell what Guild is offering here?

Rachel Carlson: We say college, but it's really—that's less than half of what we do. It's credentials, it's certificates, it's high school completion, it's English as a second language. But think of it as postsecondary learning, or adult learning of all sorts. If we matched the 300 best nonprofit and public institutions as well as certificate providers, et cetera, if we could introduce them to the hundred million workers they wanted to serve, that would free up a lot of funding that would lower costs, cut digital marketing out of the equation, who owned about a third of the cost in this whole equation, free up a ton of money. That was our first aha.

Our second aha—and these were not overnight ahas, these were two years of research. Our second learning was that employers would not only introduce their employees to these great programs. They would actually fund them. And it started off with them funding the majority of the tuition. And then as we proved out more and more of the ROI, almost all of our employers today fund 100% of their employees' education, because the return on investment is so fantastic, and because the costs are quite low.

Nora Ali: So what then is the learner experience? Because it's clear that there's incentives for employers to offer these reskilling and upskilling courses and opportunities to their employees. But let's say you're an employee at Chipotle, it's something that Chipotle offers. How do you decide as a learner? What courses you want to take, with the nature of work changing so rapidly? How does that whole process work for someone who wants to get involved?

Rachel Carlson: If you're 18 and you go back to school, the question is, "What do you want to learn?" Not "What do you want to do?" And that's been the liberal arts tradition, and there's nothing wrong with that. I as a privileged 18-year-old benefited from that. That is not what the working adult wants; they want to start the conversation about career, so you have to actually flip the whole thing. And so our students talk to a career coach at the beginning of their experience; they use our products exploring their career before they ever step foot in the class. It's this idea that career services shouldn't be the last mile—it should actually be the first mile. And so let's pick Iris, one of our students at Chipotle who comes to mind. When we first met her, she knew she loved people, she was working in the restaurant. She had moved up pretty quickly and was making more and more money. She wasn't yet a general manager but she ultimately ran the whole store.

But she knew people were her passion, so she wanted to get into HR and recruiting. So with a coach and with a lot of product discovery, finding out her strengths and figuring out what classes had she already taken—she had tried some, dabbled in some, as have close to half of Americans have taken some college classes—they just don't have a certificate or a degree. And she decided a Bachelor's with a focus in Human Resources was the right fit for her. So it's an exploratory process, it tends to take a couple months. We're not a product, we're an experience, which is the word you used which I love.

Scott Rogowsky: Are you personally, Rachel, getting to know all these people, or are there just too many to get everyone's story, but it seems like you're tapped in?

Rachel Carlson: Today we represent and are able to serve over 5 million Americans who have access to our platform and our coaching. It doesn't mean they're on classes at any one time—that would be wild. So I don't know all 5 million, but I was a community college advisor and fell in love with this work, but also fell in love with the idea of productizing it because I answered a lot of the same questions all day. And the most invigorating conversations I had were the deeply cognitive ones, the emotional ones, the ones where somebody realized, "Oh god, I have some shame about my learner journey and I've got to get over that D I got. Or that high school counselor who told me I wouldn't amount to anything, or that person in my community who said, you're not a white collar, you're never going to work in an office, and there's no dignity in that but you don't really deserve dignity."

Everyone has these stories, because in America we declare people dropouts. And so what I'm really passionate about, and why I try and listen to and learn about five to 10 of our students every week is because you have to ground it in the lived reality to actually understand what a seismic and cultural and systemic issue we're trying to attack.

Nora Ali: All right. Let's pause for a moment, take a quick break. More with Rachel when we come back. Rachel, I love this conversation we're having around being really intentional about your career journey and not just thinking about what are the courses you want to take, what specifically it is you want to learn. But looking a little bit more into the future of work, with more automation especially, how much do you think reskilling and upskilling is going to be focused on management and people skills versus technical skills, and how does that fit into the portfolio of offerings with Guild?

Rachel Carlson: For some reason, we've saved most of what you just mentioned—management, people leadership—for graduate school. I went to business school, I know a bunch of people who did, and then a bunch of them became hedge fund managers and they don't manage anybody, they manage portfolios. The person most likely to manage is the 21-year-old who just got a promotion from individual contributor to supervisor at a retailer, or a person who just got promoted to kitchen manager of a restaurant. Those folks tend to be in their early twenties, and suddenly they're managing a team of eight for a shift for the first time, so we flip that on its head. We believe you should be able to learn management skills at the very beginning of your higher ed journey. And actually, one of our most popular programs is a frontline management certificate. So think coding bootcamp, but for management. And why that's so important is that becoming a people manager is often the fastest path to the middle class across a variety of verticals in the US. But nobody tells young people that.

Scott Rogowsky: You mentioned the frontline workers as being a segment that you aim to serve specifically. This is a phrase that we've only recently started hearing about in the wake of the pandemic, but of course, there's always been frontline workers. We just never label them that. Who are those workers? How do you define that category?

Rachel Carlson: It's funny, we've been saying that phrase for 10 years in the research, and it's like, Covid suddenly...we were like, "Oh, everybody knows what we're talking about now." It does look different by vertical, so you can't slice it just by salary or by education level. But it tends to be the entry-level role or what we call the launchpad role in any vertical. So in a hospital it's your medicists; they are often at the technician level. They are often that frontline person, but it is not a job that requires no training. It often requires a certificate or an Associate's degree. In retail, it's your cashier. In restaurants, it's your cashier and your cook. In manufacturing, they work on the factory, not above on the second ring managing. So it takes on a different flavor, but it's the entry-level role in any vertical, and it's often the group of folks who have been most left behind, and that's why I care. When we were doing the work on Guild as a research concept, I was obsessed with education as a tool for distributing opportunity.

And I talked to a lot of people who were starting coding boot camps at the time, this was 2014. Those were very in vogue, and a bunch of them said, "I got into this work because I was really passionate and now I help graduates of liberal arts schools get a second degree because they couldn't figure out what to do when they moved to New York at 23." And that's fine, I'm building a business, but it just gave me a sense of, if I'm going to fall in love, if I'm going to get to do this work the way I want to do it, I want to do it for the most needing and the most deserving population that isn't being served by other products and technology or experiences.

Nora Ali: Rachel, you've brought up some really good points about maybe the systemic issues in our broader educational system. So I imagine you're very intentional about the universities that you get on board to participate with Guild. So I was listening to another interview of yours where you said it was difficult to be respected as a young person who didn't have a ton of experience, as you were initially reaching out to universities, as you were building the company. So you hired your dad to be that face, that trusted gray-haired face that people might pay more attention to. I'm curious, what lessons did you learn in terms of knowing your own strengths, your own weaknesses, and maybe adjusting to how people perceive you? Speaking of people skills, that's a great people skill to have.

Rachel Carlson: Yeah. It was so interesting, and actually, Covid and the Zoom life has been really interesting on that dimension as well. I learned to play the game early on, because when you're early in any industry, you don't get to say, "Hey, I want to change the game." You have to just hack the game. So I dressed older and I wore my hair differently and I wore glasses, even though my eyesight's pretty good. I played the game. We can all laugh about it, and I remember laughing with the minority of women who were also at business school with me at the time about the game. Now, I feel empowered because Guild has a little more leverage in the university space, and I'm like, "I'm not playing the game anymore. I'm changing the game."

And so being blunt about it, talking about it, having those conversations, I didn't tell people he was my dad for a really long time. I stopped using my maiden name and exclusively used my married name for that reason. Now, I'm like, "Screw that. I'm going to talk about it." It's not always fair to ask a minority group to change the game, and I think we do that a lot in America, like, "Why don't you just...?" And the reality is when you're in an unempowered position, you can't always. But once you get into a position of power, it's pretty fun to say, "Oh, I'm not playing by your rules anymore."

Scott Rogowsky: You had some fighting words for some of the institutions of higher learning earlier in this conversation. Is that an issue you see with the institutions themselves, or with the cost of these institutions? And when you look at the marketplace of potential learning centers for your Guild clients, how do you choose which institutions to partner with so that you're not sending them into one of these, quote, "dropout factories"?

Rachel Carlson: It's a highly systemic issue. It's not the faculty's fault, it's not the administration's fault. It's definitely not the student's fault. So a couple issues: One, we don't let schools die. I believe deeply in creative innovation and creative destruction. Those are some of the core tenets of a healthy evolution of any system and design, whether that's capitalism, democracy, civilization, families. For a bunch of cultural reasons, we don't let institutions die, but we create new ones all the time. There's no reason America needs 7,000 universities. You could have argued that you needed that before the internet, you needed one within driving distance of every human, that's how many Walmarts we have in America. But now with the ability to be a learner online and the fact that most adults would rather learn online, the community in community college is sometimes a bit of a misnomer, because they're commuter campuses.

And so when you talk to an adult learner, if they own a car, they try and work out their shift schedule. They drive to the community college. They park, they go and they take a class, and they leave. Nothing about that says community to me, and when they don't have a car it's even worse, with bus schedules and transport and childcare. The average person we served, I told you, she's a single mom. She wants to take classes after she puts her kid to bed. And so I think it's time that we allow for some creative disruption in the higher ed sector. And I think it's a funding problem. We need to let the schools with low-performing outcomes and the programs with low-performing outcomes, we need to let them go to bed and retire.

Nora Ali: And to tackle this creative disruption of the educational system that you mentioned, it involves a creative business model too. We've been talking about nonprofits, for profits, so let's get into what Guild's business model is. Can you walk through the flow of revenue and where the incentives are for Guild? Because it doesn't feel like it's a volume game. You are incentivized to have the learners complete their courses, actually gain something from their educational path, so what does that revenue stream and process look like?

Rachel Carlson: So the crux of how we get paid is when we went to those schools I told you about, those great nonprofits in publics that were outperforming with really great outcomes, like 80% graduation rates for Latinas, like data that was just so exciting. We said to them, "Hey, we want to provide you coaching, advising, all these career services, all the things we knew worked in the community colleges where we had been piloting. What could allow us to do that?" And they said, "Well, if you can cut our marketing costs, the Google, Facebook spend out of the equation, we can do it. And we could also give a discount to the learner or the employer who ultimately now pays." So that's what we did. We effectively displaced the marketing and acquisition cost from the equation. And that allows the schools to pay for all of our career services, the product and technology that fuel that, and then most importantly, the coaches who are the backbone of that experience.

And that mattered to me because I had become so passionate about coaching and just career discovery and career services. But the community colleges I had been doing that work with really were struggling to pay out of pocket for it. So there were schools willing to just pay us up front, because right now they pay Google and whomever up front, or they pay any career services they might pay for up front. But we said, "Thank you. That would be good from a short term cashflow perspective." But I always say, if we were robots, if you paid us up front, what would we be incentivized to do? We wouldn't be incentivized to coach you all the way to graduation, we wouldn't be incentivized to ensure that you got the best job. Instead, we said, "Hey, pay us term over term as the learner proceeds."

If they take a break, we're not paid. If they drop out, we're not paid, and it's then our job to help them get back on their feet at the right time. And so it's not perfect, but it aligned us far better than any other model with ensuring that we were serving the learner. And this comes up too, because people say, "Oh, employers want to do this just to attract the talent, just to get people in the door at their companies." It's like, "Well, sure. But they're agreeing to let us ensure that talent then goes all the way through school." So it aligns the incentives of the employer, the university or learning provider, and then us at Guild.

Scott Rogowsky: Wow. We have to take another quick break here. I don't want to, but we're getting into a really great conversation here with Rachel Carlson. More of that conversation when we return. Just thinking about this whole model, thinking about this whole segment of the population that hasn't been served in a right way, is truly mindblowing for me. I mean, I come from a background where I was fortunate enough to have my education paid for, but certainly, the things I studied aren't applying to what I'm doing now. There is some argument maybe that people don't need college, you don't need to have that expense. And I guess, you maybe share some of those things when you talk about these expensive, not-good schools. Is it still a challenge to convince some people to get into the higher ed flywheel?

Rachel Carlson: College means two things in America, and it's really important to separate them: skill and signal. Skill is the component parts of whatever you got and you can put those component parts in any bundle. You can call it a credential, you can call it a certificate, you can call it a degree. And there's lots of people who get some of those skills and then don't get the degree with that, so a dropout. Then there's signal, which is like, "Well, I went to college, so therefore I'm capable of something." I'd argue that for 22-year-olds, we mostly use signal to hire. You go ask—name your favorite investment bank or consulting firm. Were they hiring from the top 10 ranked schools in the US because they knew which classes they took or how rigorous those classes were? Speaking as a Stanford undergrad, we know that's not true.

It was that Stanford admissions had already vetted you and so there was a signal attached to you, and there were alumni and powers that be. It didn't mean you were going to be bad at the job, but it wasn't a skills-based process. What the low-income American knows is that they need skills. And we deliver that to them. Now, today, what the data still says is that if you are low-,income and you want to move into the middle class, a degree is the most powerful way to get there so long as that degree is made up of skills-based component parts. Probably shouldn't be all electives, probably shouldn't be a unguided journey; it should be a structure of skilled courses. But that might change in the next 10 years, in which case you'll see Guild offering a lot more certificates and credentials, but we don't really care what the container is. We care about the rigor of the skills within the container, because that's how you help people move up.

Nora Ali: Rachel, lastly, let's do a little bit of a vibe check on the company itself. So we saw, congratulations, that you raised your Series F funding round at $175 million. Are you able to talk about your path to profitability? Are you profitable yet? Is that on the horizon? What's the status right now?

Rachel Carlson: Yeah. We're not profitable yet. Mainly because, as I'm sure you all know, the tradeoffs are always growth versus profitability, and the way most investors think about that growth path is how big is your total addressable market and how far along are you in serving that? And you should be investing up until you start to run out of market opportunity. I mean, you have a hundred million Americans we need to serve, and we've got 5 million with access to Guild. We haven't even served—we haven't convinced them all yet to get whatever training they need, so we have a lot of work to do. And so we're still in growth mode. That said, the economy has obviously shifted and so we're being pretty thoughtful about improving towards profitability every quarter. It doesn't mean that profitability is a milestone, the same way I don't think an IPO is a milestone. But progress against getting better and closer to profitability, or having sustainable funding and getting more independent, are the journeys that I asked the company to focus on with me. And we've accelerated that journey a bit, given the macroeconomic climate.

Nora Ali: Yeah. It's a big problem to solve, and it's a very archaic system. So we understand it takes time to get to that total addressable market.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, Rachel, we've been talking about the market opportunities for your company, but now it's your opportunity to show us what you know, because it is time for Quizness Casual, the Business Casual quiz. With Rachel Carlson—

Rachel Carlson: I'm nervous about this.

Scott Rogowsky: Don't be nervous.

Nora Ali: Don't be, it's fun. There's nothing at stake.

Scott Rogowsky: It's fun. Guess what? It's multiple choice. All the questions are going to be about higher education in the United States. You probably already answered a few of them in the course of our conversation, and you also have Nora here to help you out. She's going to be your co-student here. I'm just trying to come up with a—

Nora Ali: Co-learner.

Scott Rogowsky: ...co-learner. All right. Here we are, qumero numero uno. Which institution claims to be the oldest institution of higher education in the United States? Is it A) Princeton, B) University of Pennsylvania, C) Harvard, or D) Rutgers?

Rachel Carlson: My gut is Princeton, but I'm not sure. Nora, what do you think?

Nora Ali: It's Harvard, 1636. Yes.

Rachel Carlson: Oh, look at you.

Nora Ali: I mean—

Scott Rogowsky: It helps when you go there.

Nora Ali: I also gave tours, I was going around campus saying "1636, the oldest institution."

Rachel Carlson: I was a Stanford tour guide, so—

Nora Ali: Nice.

Rachel Carlson: ...we both claim that slightly embarrassing elitist badge.

Nora Ali: Totally. Are you good at walking backwards, Rachel? Because that's what I had to learn.

Rachel Carlson: I was quite good at it. I was pretty good at that.

Scott Rogowsky: I'm sensing some ivy envy here, but we're going to go on to Q2. What is the most popular college major in the US—Communications, Business, English, or History?

Rachel Carlson: I think it's Business, but it depends if it's Bachelor's degree or Associate's degree is included in your data.

Scott Rogowsky: Go with your gut here on this one.

Nora Ali: Okay. This is when Scott hints to us that we're right.

Scott Rogowsky: Bachelor's. Let's go with Bachelor's.

Nora Ali: All right.

Rachel Carlson: I think it's Business.

Nora Ali: Business.

Scott Rogowsky: Good at Business. Yeah, according to data from the National Center of Education Statistics, US colleges and universities awarded 2 million Bachelor's degrees in 2018 and 2019, more than half of those concentrated in just six fields of study, and of those, Business, the number one. So you're good on that one too.

Rachel Carlson: Nice.

Scott Rogowsky: We're two for two here.

Nora Ali: Woohoo.

Scott Rogowsky: Down to the home stretch. What is the most expensive college in the US according to 2021–22 tuition data? Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, or Tufts University?

Rachel Carlson: Oh, I thought a couple years ago it was the University of Chicago. So I was surprised, I thought—

Scott Rogowsky: I thought NYU would be on the list, but—

Rachel Carlson: I would bet Columbia. I don't think it's Cornell. It could be Tufts, but I would bet Columbia. What do you think about that?

Nora Ali: Let's go with Columbia. It's New York City, it's expensive. Let's go with it.

Scott Rogowsky: That's it. Real estate, real estate, location, location. Columbia, $63,530 annual tuition, most expensive according to US News and World Report.

Rachel Carlson: I have to tell your listeners, what everybody needs to know more about is the average cost, because the problem is low-income Americans hear that and they think, "No one in my family's even ever made that in a year pretax." But the average school is less than $6,000 a year. And so I want to...I love that you asked the question, and the main thing we need to do from a media perspective is change the conversation so that low-income Americans know there are feasible paths to get a credential or a certificate or a degree that don't require putting out a second mortgage—if you even happen to own a home, let alone going into hundreds of thousands in debt.

Nora Ali: Great information. Thank you for pointing that out, Rachel.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. And thank you for being a guest on the show and for going three for three here on Quizness Casual. Phenomenal work.

Rachel Carlson: Thank you. Nora saved me.

Nora Ali: It was—

Scott Rogowsky: Team work makes the dream work.

Nora Ali: ...team work. Yes. Thanks for joining us on the pod, Rachel. We appreciate it.

Rachel Carlson: Thank you. This was awesome.

Scott Rogowsky: We love hearing from you, our listener, our beloved Business Casual family. What did you think of this episode, huh? Pretty impressive, right? Is Rachel going to be president one day, or at least governor? Maybe. Let us know. What do you think? Send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.com or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod, that's B-I-Zcasualpod, with your thoughts.

Nora Ali: You can also leave us a voice memo on our website, businesscasual.fm, or give us a ring and leave us a voicemail. Our number is 862- 295-1135. And as Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners, old and new. Drop us a line, and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from, so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual is proctored by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus, Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia. Kate Brandt is our fact checker. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get nasty for that podcasty. And we'd love it if you'd give us a great rating and a review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.