Jan. 9, 2023

Upskilling Employees with Debt-Free College Degrees

This entrepreneur believes the US higher education system is broken


Let's revisit a June 2022 conversation where Nora and Scott chat with Rachel Carlson, the founder and 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’s new list of America’s most successful self-made women. 

 

Hosts: Nora Ali

Producer: Bella Hutchins 

Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus

Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder

Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop

 

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

Transcript

Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, bringing you convos with people you know, and some you may not know yet, to make business less intimidating. Because money talks, but it does not have to be dull. I'm your host, Nora Ali. Now let's get down to business.

In America, it's still widely accepted that the path to success includes a college degree. But as we know all too well, college is getting more and more expensive. So many would-be grads are forced to work instead in low-income jobs, and without a college degree, their career path can hit a ceiling. Thankfully, reskilling and upskilling is a growing trend at workplaces. That is where Guild Education comes in.

In June 2022, we spoke with Rachel Carlson, the founder and CEO of Guild, about how they work with companies to revamp their tuition benefit programs, to connect frontline workers with participating colleges. Think of them as like a higher education broker.

This conversation is super important today, as upskilling may be a way to avoid or bounce back from that thing that's been going around in 2022: layoffs. All of that is next, after the break.

Scott Rogowsky: Rachel, you co-founded Guild Education Inc., six years ago when you were still in your twenties, just after graduating from Stanford. 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 "why" 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, right?

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah, good sample size.

Rachel Carlson: Yeah, exactly. That's what the statisticians tell me. 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, right? 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 20s 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 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 more about the professional, but...

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/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: 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? And 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 hiring college for.

Our student's 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, really hard and cost upwards of $5k, $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 have 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, didn't have the means or didn't have the access, didn't know where to start. And on the other side, colleges looking for more students and companies looking for higher-skilled workers. So all these people are looking, looking, but there's no central location to meet up and match, right? So is that in a nutshell what Guild is offering here?

Rachel Carlson: We say college, but 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 post-secondary 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 cost, that would 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, but 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 set 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 that 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 five million Americans who have access to our platform and our coaching. It doesn't mean they're all in classes at any one time. That would be wild. So I don't know all five million.

Scott Rogowsky: Okay.

Rachel Carlson: 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 gotta 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. We don't say, oh, that's a dropout factory, which unfortunately is the case for close to 50% of American schools. 3,500 of our schools, you shouldn't set foot in; they have negative outcomes on day one. You've wasted your time if you've spent an hour there. But we call everyone dropouts even though 90% of our community college students don't earn a certificate or a degree. We blame them.

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 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 20s, 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: 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've just never labeled 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 med assists. 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 rung, 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: 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 dot, dot, dot. 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."

Nora Ali: Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: You had some fighting words for some of the institutions of higher learning earlier in this conversation. What, you said 3,500 of them are just dropout factories, you're wasting your time? 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 to 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 students' 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 in 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 in, 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 serve, 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. It is a public benefit corporation. So that means it's for-profit, but created to generate social and public good. What exactly does that mean, and why was that the model you chose for Guild?

Rachel Carlson: So the crux of how we get paid is when we went to those schools I told you about, those great nonprofits and publics that were outperforming with really great outcomes, like 80% graduation rates for Latinas, 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 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.

Scott Rogowsky: I didn't even know about this public benefit corporation entity. What are some other examples of these? Do you have any? Do you know who's operating in this space? And when you started out, was this something you were aware of, or oh, you've learned about public benefit corporations, this could be a good way to go?

Rachel Carlson: So you may have heard of a B Corp. If you've walked in Whole Foods you have, because it's a certification you can earn as a sustainable, thoughtful, ethical business model. I think the easiest way to describe any B Corp is a company that's agreed to a constrained version of capitalism.

I think the issue that we struggle with in today's era is that capitalism has run amok. It's the short-term earnings gone crazy. It's the idea that profit at all costs. It's that idea that all that matters is the shareholder and the profit.

Anybody signing up to be a B Corp and then public benefit corporation is the grownup B Corp. You actually reincorporate; you are no longer an S corp or a C corp like most businesses. You become a public benefit corporation. You have to have the B Corp certification to do that, and it's as you grow up. And it's companies like Warby Parker, Allbirds, Patagonia, some of the cooperatives like REI. A lot of us have signed on to these, what I think of as constraints and guardrails that we believe ask us to hold ourselves to a higher bar than capitalism would on its own. We all believe in capitalism; we just all believe in some constraints on today's version of capitalism. That's how I think about it.

Nora Ali: That's a great explanation. And Rachel, 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: You're hitting on two parts of our B Corp application. The first was, we said, hey, we want to be paid out of displacing this thing that we think adds no value: bad digital marketing. Check, that worked. And then two, we want to be paid in a way that aligns us with the learners' outcomes.

So there were schools willing to just pay us up 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 cash flow 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 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 to 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 mind-blowing 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, right? That's 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. 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: We're not profitable yet, mainly because, as I'm sure you all know, the trade-offs 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, we have a hundred million Americans we need to serve and we've got five million with access to Guild. 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 ask the company to focus on with me. And we've accelerated that journey a bit given the macroeconomic climate.

Nora Ali: 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: And now it's time for Quizness Casual, the Business Casual quiz...

Rachel Carlson: I'm nervous.

Scott Rogowsky: ...with Rachel Carlson. Don't be nervous. You have...

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

Scott Rogowsky: It's fun. And guess what? It's multiple choice. All the questions are going to be about higher education in the United States.

Rachel Carlson: Ooh, okay.

Scott Rogowsky: You probably already answered a few of them in the course of our conversation. And you also have Nora here to help you out. All right? She's going to be your co-student here. I'm just trying to come up with a...

Rachel Carlson: Okay.

Nora Ali: Co-learner.

Scott Rogowsky: Co-learner. Co-learner.

Rachel Carlson: I like that. Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: 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. 

Scott Rogowsky: It helps when you go there, right?

Rachel Carlson: Ho, ho, ho, ho.

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

Rachel Carlson: Oh, I was a Stanford tour guide.

Nora Ali: Nice.

Rachel Carlson: So there you go. We both claim that slightly embarrassing elitist badge.

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

Rachel Carlson: I was quite good at...

Nora Ali: Yep. Yeah. That's important.

Rachel Carlson: Yeah, I was pretty good at that. But we mostly made jokes about Harvard in our tours. So it was...

Nora Ali: Oh, come on. I give that to you. That's fine.

Scott Rogowsky: Okay, I'm sensing some Ivy envy here, but we're going to go on to Q two. 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 were right.

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

Rachel Carlson: Yeah.

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 college and universities awarded two million bachelor degrees in 2018 and '19. 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.

Nora Ali: Nice.

Scott Rogowsky: We're two for two here.

Nora Ali: Woo-hoo!

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 of couple years ago it was University of Chicago. So I was surprised...

Scott Rogowsky: And I thought NYU. 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?

Nora Ali: Let's go with Columbia. Yeah. 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 U.S. News & World Report.

Rachel Carlson: Okay, only because we've done that one, I have to...

Scott Rogowsky: Is it worth it?

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 pre-tax," but the average school is less than $6,000 a year, and so I wanted 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.

Scott Rogowsky: Or with Guild, where it's mostly paid for.

Rachel Carlson: Or go work at one of our companies, there you go, but I thought I wouldn't stand on my soapbox since I was already being kind of preachy, but there you go.

Nora Ali: That's just 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: Teamwork makes the dream work.

Nora Ali: It was teamwork, yes. Thanks for joining us on the pod, Rachel. We appreciate it.

Rachel Carlson: Thank you. This was awesome.

Nora Ali: This is Business Casual, and I'm Nora Ali. You can follow me on Twitter @NoraKAli, and I would love to hear from you. You can also reach the BC team by emailing businesscasual@morningbrew.com, or give us a call. That number is 862-295-1135. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And if you like the show, please leave us a rating and a review.

Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop, Olivia Meade, Bella Hutchins, and Raymond Luu. Additional production, sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus, Rosemary Minkler, and Nick Torres. Kate Brandt is our fact checker, and AB Silver is our senior booking producer. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. Keep it business, and keep it casual.