In January we launched the Nanodegree Plus program, our moon shot “job guarantee” that directly connects students to jobs. Come to Udacity to get an education to get a job or receive 100 percent of your tuition back.

Today, we are continuing in this direction with our launch of Udacity Connect. Udacity Connect, or UConnect, is a brand-new program where Nanodegree and Nanodegree Plus students can visit physical locations weekly in their neighborhood to work with peers and get face-to-face guidance with goal setting and hitting key milestones.   

We ran a pilot program a few months ago that showed encouraging signs. Students who combined their online education with face-to-face study sessions were more engaged in the program. Compared with similar Nanodegree students who did not participate in the pilot, UConnect students had a 30 percent increase in project submissions and were three times more likely to complete their Nanodegree program. The goal setting, group accountability, personalized mentoring, and social interactions with others galvanized students to move faster and be more vested in their education.

As Fernando, a construction worker whose first interaction ever with programming was through Udacity’s “Introduction to Programming” Nanodegree program said, “I could interact with students who were far ahead of me and get past roadblocks which I could not have done on my own.” He’s so charged up about his experience that he enrolled in the Android Nanodegree Plus program to pursue a new job out of construction.

Vivek, a computer hardware engineer wanting to work in software, said “The fact that I had to report to my session lead each Saturday drove me to work faster on my Nanodegree. The discipline and motivation pushed me to get my work done.” After starting with Udacity Connect, he finished his Nanodegree program in three months.

As we rapidly scale our ecosystem, we have become active participants in the “Gig Economy,” which today includes almost 22 percent of the U.S. workforce. Our global grader network, which is now over 400 people strong, gives people the ability to earn extra money for rapidly grading Nanodegree student projects. Today, they return student projects in an average of three hours, get an average star rating of 4.8, and can make up to $28,000 a month.

Udacity Connect builds on that program, where top Nanodegree graduates are selected to be Session Leads, are rated by students, and can make up to $11,000 a month—double the average salary of a high school teacher in the country.

Udacity Connect launches in three cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, with first sessions starting on May 9, 2016.

Nanodegree students who sign up for Udacity Connect between now and June 30, 2016 will receive one month at no cost. After that, the cost will be $99 per month.

What are you waiting for?