Our intention is that Sphere College Project is a community-run, community-driven educational program. Anyone from the community is welcome to participate in the design, delivery and evolution of this initiative, as a part of our advisory and steering committees. Accordingly, we consider Sphere’s policies, procedures, budget and guidelines as perpetually works in progress, meaning that published strategies may be updated when it is determined that new strategies may better meet the needs of the Asheville and Sphere communities.
Is your school accredited?
No. We offer a certification for students who complete our 3-Phase Program and pass a competency assessment by professionals in the field or discipline of choice. We are always open to the possibility of seeking accreditation if the Sphere community chooses to do so; however, we believe that at this point that our creative freedom would be compromised by it.
What is the legal structure of Sphere?
Sphere is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, currently seeking tax exempt status which will allow us to accept tax-free donations. Sphere aims to be worker-run non-profit, which means in our case that students, teachers, mentors and staff participate in steering the direction of the organization, with board oversight. Our aim, in terms of structure and decision-making, is non-hierarchical, as we believe in the equal distribution of power among the people who are running and participating in the program.
Who teaches at Sphere College Project?
We invite any adult with a passion for a particular topic and a desire to teach others to propose a course to teach. Some of our teachers may be current or former university instructors, retired coaches, consultants, and business owners. Anyone from the Asheville community is invited to propose a course. Individuals with an enthusiasm for improving their skills as well as a desire to experiment with new teaching methods and share best practices are an ideal fit for Sphere, as we are committed to the highest quality of teaching. Read more about teaching at Sphere.
How much does it cost to attend?
There are two ways that students can participate in classes: They can simply take individual classes as the interest arises, or they can enroll in Sphere’s 3-Phase Program – the only difference being that a student involved in the 3-Phase Program works regularly with a mentor who helps them navigate toward a particular goal in life, such as creating a business, or finding work in a new field. There is no one set price to attend Sphere – all participation is based on a class price, which is the same for all students.
Can I just take courses without enrolling?
Yes. You do not need to be enrolled in Sphere’s 3-Phase program to take courses. All courses are open to any adult in the community, so long as they meet any course prerequisites. (Note: prerequisites, if they exist, are noted in our course descriptions. Furthermore, if it is determined that a student is not a good fit for a particular course, for any reason, Sphere will do what we can to assist the student in gaining the knowledge they want in other ways.)
Why do you price your classes the way you do?
We offer students the opportunity to pay the course price outright, or to pay more (when they can afford to support other students) or less (when they cannot afford the course price). We selected this structure to support us in our mission to provide high-quality courses for adults, regardless of financial means. Today’s education model does not serve a good portion of the adult community – the ones who would not qualify for financial aid. Furthermore, we believe that the current average student debt ($37,000) is both a hindrance and a deterrent to the education that is necessary for leading a fulfilling life, and contributing to solving many of our nation’s current problems. Since we do not ask students to justify the amount they choose to contribute, we are hopeful to inspire a consciousness of caring based on need and the value to a community that makes education available to all.
Where do you hold your classes?
We will hold our classes in various locations in the community. Sphere is committed to a model of sustainability, which means keeping our footprint low, and maximizing the available space within the community. Not only does this help us minimize our costs, it helps us support other business and organizations within the community.
How do I enroll?
If you would like to enroll in Sphere’s 3-Phase program, please send an email to info AT spherecollege.org.
Where do you get your funding?
Sphere funds its operations in a number of ways. Course tuition, private mentorship and tutoring, and student sponsorship are sources of income for Sphere. We also seek private donations from individuals and organizations in the community and throughout the country and grant money from foundations. Sphere College Project is a 501(c)(3) organization seeking tax-exempt status. Currently, donations are not tax-deductible; however, it is our hope that this will be in place in early 2017. Anything that you give will help us make education for all adults a reality. Visit our donations page for more information.