NEW YORK – JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) today announced the launch of JetBlue Scholars, an innovative new program that offers crewmembers an opportunity to earn a fully accredited college degree from Thomas Edison State University, with JetBlue covering most of the cost.
The program takes an unconventional approach to employer-sponsored education by providing alternative college credit options for crewmembers, going well beyond standard tuition reimbursement and providing college advisement and resources to address the needs of those working full-time.
“Crewmembers asked for help earning degrees and we knew we could take a big step beyond tuition reimbursement,” said Bonny Simi, head of JetBlue Scholars. “We rethought the employer’s role in investing in education. Utilizing the alternative credit model to unbundle the higher education process, we’re eliminating some of the complexity. We hope to inspire other employers to adopt this model which will help dramatically increase the percentage of Americans who have access to post-secondary degrees.”
Thomas Edison State University worked with JetBlue to create alternative credit pathways to several of its degree programs that utilize online courses evaluated by the American Council on Education, select JetBlue training programs and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifications evaluated by the university, credit-by-exam programs and open courses.
“We are honored to partner with JetBlue to help its crewmembers complete their degrees and achieve their personal and professional goals,” said Dr. George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State University. “JetBlue Scholars is an innovative program that leverages the core competencies of our university – delivering flexible, high-quality collegiate programs to self-directed adults and assessing college-level knowledge that has been acquired outside the traditional classroom. We are very excited about our role in the launch of this unique and important partnership.”
Traditional paths to higher education can be overwhelming. Through a pioneering partnership model, JetBlue has unbundled the higher education system, step-by-step, to make it easier for crewmembers who have some previous college credit but do not know how to move forward to complete their degree. JetBlue Scholars provides a clear path to convert aviation and military training and other professional certificates into college credit.
JetBlue will cover most of the cost of the program for participants. As part of the initial launch, more than 400 JetBlue crewmembers are currently working toward earning their bachelor’s degrees. The program’s first graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place this September with more than 50 crewmembers slated to receive their degrees.
The JetBlue Scholars model has removed some of the costs and elements that are common in traditional higher education, such as classrooms, dorms, sports teams and hardcover books, and focuses on a cohesive curriculum of self-contained online courses and e-books that lead to a degree.
JetBlue Scholars opens periodically for crewmembers to enroll. After registering, crewmembers are assigned a success coach to help them map a pathway to a bachelor’s degree in aviation, liberal studies, information technology or business administration from Thomas Edison State University. They will also work with their success coaches to incorporate their education background, including transcripts from previous course work, copies of professional licenses or certifications held, transcripts from military, law enforcement or fire training and any other experiences or documentation that demonstrates college-level learning. Many crewmembers already hold special licenses or FAA certifications.
“When it comes to mapping my college degree path, my journey has been one of discovery, excitement and pleasure – thanks to the guidance I’ve received from the JetBlue Scholars team,” said Bonnie Merritt, supervisor relations at JetBlue and a JetBlue Scholar. “I love being able to see where I’ve been and what I need to reach my end goal.”
Course work is completed primarily through three innovative learning technology platforms – Sophia.org, StraighterLine.com and Study.com. Courses offered by these providers have been evaluated and recommended for credit by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service and offer a variety of online videos, lectures and other content that provide for flexible schedules and self-directed learning.
JetBlue is also developing new courses internally utilizing open source material from providers such as Saylor.org and OpenStaxCollege.org, which will prepare crewmembers to earn credit through college-level exams provided by the College Board and Thomas Edison State University.
“It actually dawned on me when I started getting my transcripts, that I had a lot of credits. I had never seen my military transcript either. I was surprised to see how close I was to getting my bachelor’s degree. I want to finish what I started and I’m doing it through JetBlue Scholars,” said Roxanne Hawkins, dispatcher and system operations at JetBlue and current JetBlue Scholar.
JetBlue is New York's Hometown Airline™ and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Los Angeles (Long Beach), Orlando and San Juan. JetBlue carries more than 32 million customers a year to 96 cities in the U.S., Caribbean, and Latin America with an average of 900 daily flights. For more information, please visit JetBlue.com.
About Thomas Edison State University
Thomas Edison State University provides flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults. One of New Jersey’s 11 senior public institutions of higher education, the university offers associate, bachelor and master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study. The university is a national leader in the assessment of adult learning and a pioneer in the use of educational technologies. The university is home to The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. The New Jersey State Library is an affiliate of the university.