DV alumnis' startup tackles academic burn-out
Joe Belsterling and Evan Beck launch VersedU to bridge gap between classroom and 'real world'
Two DV teachers, Mr. Blaum and Mrs. Cosentino (Matz), “really demonstrated that one’s education should transcend beyond the classroom. Both were inimitable in my education and truly did and continue to influence my journey.”
By Heather Adams
MILFORD — Two Delaware Valley graduates have started VersedU, an online-based platform designed to "reinvigorate higher education."
This venture by Joe Belsterling and Evan Beck was selected for 4 School's Launch, a summer incubator program that invests in educational programs seeking to innovate the way we learn.
Focused on supplemental and experiential learning, VersedU offers two approaches. The first is to develop custom courses that enable students to turn their experiences into credit, working with the student and partner institutions to compliment their existing educational structure. They offer a tailored curriculum and a mentor in your field, leading to a pass/fail grade submitted to your institution.
The second approach is their library of sponsored courses, which will be developed solely by VersedU. The first of these is a two-week, free course on Online Journalism that will cover topics not generally included in a English degree. Belsterling says it will include "search engine optimization for articles, building and growing online presences and followings, engaging in online communities, microblogging and social media, and much more. It also gets students writing and publishing articles online right away, to start bridging that gap" to the world outside the classroom.
Low graduation rates
VersedU was founded this past winter by Belsterling while designing his own personalized education program at The College of William and Mary to turn experiences into classes. When other students expressed interest, he found that higher education graduation rates were merely 46 percent in the U.S., the lowest of 18 peer countries.
"Nearly one out of 10 college students are dropping out because they feel burned out, disengaged, and disconnected in their education," he said.
Focused on bridging the gap between the real world and the classroom, he brought Beck on board, who is currently attending Roger Williams University. They pursued the resources offered by 4 School.
They underwent three rounds of vetting by 4 Schools to earn funding for their launch. Belsterling and Beck are the first college students to be accepted by the educational investment organization.
Belsterling sees VersedU as filling a niche in the education market, integrating with higher education and offering credit while offering a supplemental experience. He said the closest analog initiatives don't "fill the void that is leading to students dropping out due to academic burn out," which he intends VersedU to accomplish.
While at Delaware Valley High School, Belsterling was a member of Future Business Leaders of America and was named Mr. PA Future Business Leader. He says that two of his teachers are now his mentors, and "really demonstrated that one's education should transcend beyond the classroom: Mr. Blaum and Mrs. Cosentino (Matz). Both were inimitable in my education and truly did and continue to influence my journey."
For more information on VersedU, visit their website at www.VersedU.co.
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