About Us

Alternatives to College is one of the most important subjects in America today. Traditional higher education is fine for some, but not all; it is those who turn to us daily to connect them with training, education, certification and preparation for a faster, cheaper and often more effective pathway to a their future – costing significantly less and taking far less time than traditional college and university programs.

Student debt has penalized millions of Americans who have lost a big piece of their future. Many aren’t even working in the careers or areas for which they spent tens of thousands of dollars in pursuit of a degree. It is the combination of this financial devastation with the speed with which our economy and its core components have been uprooted that played a big factor in our creation of Alternatives to College.


This comprehensive, regularly-updated directory came out of work done by Ryan Craig and Cassidy Leventhal for Ryan’s most recent book A New U and the initial collection of college alternatives curated by Cassidy. They are both co-founders of Alternatives to College, and their extraordinary sense of the market and it’s direction serve as a guiding path for us.

Ryan is Co-Founder and Managing Director of University Ventures (UV), one of the most important investment groups in higher education. In addition to A New U, Ryan’s commentary on where the puck is going in higher education regularly appears in the Gap Letter, Forbes, TechCrunch, Inside Higher Education, Fortune, HR Dive, and VentureBeat, among others. He is also the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), which advanced today’s accelerating shift toward competency-based education and hiring. Prior to UV, Ryan led the Education & Training sector at Warburg Pincus where he was the founding Director of Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI), one of the largest online universities in the United States. His prior experience in online education was at Columbia University. From 2004 to 2010, Ryan founded and built Wellspring, a national network of boarding schools and summer camps for overweight and obese children, adolescents, and young adults. He began his career at McKinsey & Co.

Cassidy is a Vice President at University Ventures. Prior to UV she was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she served public and private sector clients across strategy, organization, and technology initiatives. Key experiences included developing a cost strategy for a leading global education company, managing an agile website and mobile application development team of 10+ as a Digital Product Owner (DPO), and leading McKinsey’s women’s recruiting efforts across multiple college campuses. Cassidy received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Alternatives to College Founder and CEO is L. Joseph Schmoke. Joe conceived the vision and is the principal executive leading our important work with Alternatives to College. Most recently, Joe also served as managing founder of a higher education recruitment and information platform that includes What’s Best for Me, College Lead Exchange, and the Best Value College Awards. Previously he was chairman and CEO of Andrew Jackson University (AJU), an accredited for-profit degree granting university. While at AJU he cofounded and spun off ProctorU, now the world’s premier online exam proctoring organization. A longtime entrepreneur, Joe started in the investment industry, acquired his first company in 1974, and followed that acquisition by founding multiple online-related companies. He is a published author (Dow Jones- Irwin) and has been designated Distinguished Lecturer by the Graduate School of Business, Florida Atlantic University.

Barry Layne serves as President for Alternatives to College, as well as the higher education platform that includes What’s Best for Me, College Lead Exchange and the Best Value College Awards. Barry has served in founding and senior executive roles across all aspects of the digital and analog media and marketing universe, including Ketchum Communications, FasTV, About.com, ArtistDirect and National Lampoon.

Alternatives to College is headquartered in Boca Raton, FL with principal offices on the campus of Florida Atlantic University’s Research & Development Park.