Training Young Adults
to Thrive through
Project-Based Education

Training Young Adults to Thrive through Project-Based Education

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What is Ascend?

Ascend is a remote-hybrid, 1-3 year leadership and professional development program. Ascend students gain a network and community for life, develop practical skills through resume-worthy projects that put them ahead in the job market, and have the opportunity to earn high-level certificates and (if they need it) a college degree. 

FAST FACTS

How Does it Work?

Projects & Teams

Ascend's team structure and ambitious project requirements challenge students to build critical life and professional skills while gaining hands-on experience in fields that interest them. Through the coaching and accountability of their teammates and the real-world challenge of projects, students hone relational and professional skills every day.
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Explore student projects by clicking the button below!
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Courses & Certificates

Ascend offers three enrollment options including a certificate path, a still-deciding path, and a debt-free degree path. For students who don't want a degree or are still deciding, there are also Specialty Tracks available as add-ons, providing skill-specific training that equips students to monetize their creative interests.
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Jump to the enrollment options by clicking the button below!
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Community & Network

Through four live student events, monthly team meetings and subject-matter expert (SME) webinars, and daily interaction with their fellow students, team leaders, and staff, Ascend allows students to build meaningful, life-long community and a nationwide network that includes not only their current class but 10,000+ alumni.
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Hear directly from Ascend students in a recap video for the 2022/2023 year! Click the button below.
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THE GUARANTEE

What are the Results?

When an Ascend student completes the third and final year of the program, having successfully earned each Ascend certificate, they graduate with the official Ascend employment guarantee. We do not believe a successful Ascend student will graduate from our program, move into the job market, and not be able to find work. If we’re wrong? All your money back, guaranteed. 

Click here to read the Ascend employment guarantee.

NEXT STEPS

How to Get Started

STEP 1

Book an Admissions Call

The admissions process for Ascend starts with a consultation call to determine if your student is a good fit for the program. These calls typically last 20-30 minutes, give both you and the counselor a chance to ask questions, and wrap up in one of three ways: enrollment, scheduling a follow-up call, or sending you in a direction better suited for your student.

STEP 2

Enroll in Ascend

Enrolling in Ascend is simple. Your admissions counselor will walk you through two steps: scheduling your student’s academic coaching call and taking payment for a $1,000 deposit. After your enrollment call, you will receive an enrollment form in your inbox to complete your student’s profile. Your student’s academic coach will provide all the details your student needs for their upcoming academic and life courses.

STEP 3

Team Assignment
& Access to Slack

Leading up to the beginning of the Ascend year in August, your student will receive their Ascend Team assignment and get access to our private chat platform, Slack. Slack is where your student will connect with the rest of the class, the Ascend Team Leader (ATL), and Unbound staff. Ascend Teams are comprised of 8-10 other Ascend students and led by an ATL. Your student’s ATL will be a 2nd or 3rd year Ascend student or an alumnus who has completed all of the elements of the first 1-2 years of Ascend and been intensively trained in coaching, leadership, and academic support. 

STEP 4

Attend
APEX

In August, Ascend will kick off with the first live event of the year, APEX. APEX is held in Carolina Point, North Carolina August 11-15. For year one students, APEX is an orientation for Ascend and the student community of Unbound as a whole. As a highlight event that takes place before the semester even starts, APEX is where students are first introduced to the key principles and relational culture behind Ascend. 

Click here to watch the recap video from APEX 2023/2024!

STEP 5

Attend Team Meetings
& Expert-Led Webinars

Each month in Ascend your student will attend a Subject-Matter Expert (SME) webinar and an  Ascend Team meeting. On Ascend Team meetings ATL’s help students set and achieve educational and personal goals for the year. Your student’s ATL will be their first line of contact for questions and support over the next 10 months.

For each SME webinar, students hear from an intentionally selected field expert. These webinars are attended by all Ascend students and provide opportunities for field experts to share their experiences, lessons they have learned, and personal perspectives on student questions.

STEP 6

Start Your Courses & Project Brainstorming

The first course your student will take in the Ascend program is Unbound’s life purpose course, Navigate. This course runs from late August through early December.

As the fall kicks off, students begin brainstorming their Ascend Project and start their second course. Depending on whether your student is enrolled on the certificate, still deciding, or debt-free degree path, they will begin with either a general education course or the first Signature Leadership Course. As your student begins brainstorming their project, they will complete two specific steps:

  1. Submit initial ideas and rough research to their ATL for feedback
  2. Submit their final 2-3 ideas and initial research to their ATL for feedback

STEP 7

Attend Basecamp

In late October/early November, students attend the Basecamp event in Florida or Alabama. Basecamp is a 5-day hands-on practical skills intensive where you will learn to strategically manage your time and tasks. Basecamp is also an orientation to the execution phase of your Ascend Project. 

Click here to watch the recap video for Basecamp 2023/2024!

STEP 8

Project Execution

Ascend is a project-based education program, which means that it is all about helping students translate their academic and nonacademic studies into practical, actionable steps that equip them for life. The Ascend Project is one of the most powerful ways your student will do that. 

In the spring semester students bring their Ascend Project to life and put their plan into action through three steps:

  1. Submit their project proposal to their Team Leader
  2. Receive final approval for their project and begin executing
  3. Submit three project status updates to their ATL in February, March, and April

STEP 9

Attend an All-New Ascend Event

Starting in the 2024/2025 Ascend year, students will attend four live quarterly events, instead of three. The new Ascend event will focus on what it means to live a resilient life and will be held in late January. Location and exact dates coming soon!

 

STEP 10

Attend Capstone

As the spring semester begins to wrap up, students will attend Capstone, held in Colorado at the end of April. Capstone is not only the final event of the year, but it is also a critical part of the final Signature Leadership Course. Your course instructor, Dr. Jeff Myers, will attend live, present several lectures, and run a live coaching and mentorship practicum. 

Click here to watch the recap video for Capstone 2022/2023!

STEP 11

Project Completion

In May your student will complete their Ascend Project with three final steps:

  1. Complete a peer review and make all final edits
  2. Submit their final project report to their ATL
  3. Receive a final review and notes from their ATL

STEP 12

Course Completion & Earning the Ascend Certificates

At the end of May or beginning of June your student will complete any final assignments for their courses and attend the final Ascend Webinar. For all students who complete each aspect of the program, they will earn two high-level certificates in leadership and professional development. These certificates will set your student apart from their traditionally educated peers and ahead in the job market.

And if your student continues in Ascend? They will have the opportunity to earn an additional 3 certificates to highlight all the experience, training, skills, and education they received through the Ascend program.

How it Works

Ascend students attend three live student events held in Michigan, Alabama, and Colorado. These events happen in August, January, and April. Event registration, room & board are all included in tuition for Ascend students. Plus free travel to APEX, the first or final event of the year depending on when your student enrolls.

Read more about Live Student Events by clicking here.

Your student’s Ascend Team will be comprised of 8-10 other Ascend students and will meet once a month for coaching, support, and accountability. Each team is led by an Ascend Team Leader (ATL). ATL’s are Ascend alumni who have been intensively trained in coaching, leadership, and academic support.

Read more about Ascend Teams and ATLs by clicking here.

Each month in Ascend your student will attend an Expert-Led Webinar in addition to their Ascend Team meeting. These webinars give students a chance to hear from intentionally selected field experts and see how what they are learning is realistically and successfully applied in the real world. 

Read more about Expert-Led Webinars by clicking here.

During the first 4-weeks of their Ascend enrollment, your student will brainstorm ideas for their Ascend Project and submit final ideas to their ATL. During the Spring semester, your student will begin executing their project, submitting status updates to their ATL along the way for feedback. At the end of April, they will submit their final, completed project to their ATL.

Read more about Hands-On Projects by clicking here.

Over the course of the year, your student will complete a series of life and leadership courses that cover topics including life purpose, decision-making, how to find work you love, and how to develop and practice critical leadership skills, all from a Biblical perspective.

Read more about Life & Leadership Courses by clicking here.

Upon successful completion of their year in Ascend, your student will receive two elite certificates: one in leadership and the other in professional development and life skills training. These certificates signal to employers the kind of real-world education your student received through Ascend and their qualification for bigger challenges. 

Read more about the Professional Development opportunities through Ascend by clicking here.

FAQs

Basecamp is held in Gulf Shores, AL January 20-24, 2024.

Capstone is held in Estes Park, CO April 20-24, 2024.

APEX is held in Brevard, NC, August 11-15, 2024.

All dates and locations are subject to slight changes.

Ascend Teams are led by Ascend Team Leaders (ATLs). ATLs are Ascend alumni or older students who have applied for, been accepted, and are specifically trained to lead a team. ATLs complete ongoing training throughout the program as well that enables them to continue building and improving their leadership skills.

Ascend teams meet monthly via Zoom to discuss the monthly webinar, support each other through their courses and projects, and receive coaching and mentorship from their ATLs specific to where they are in life and what kinds of decisions they are facing.

Webinars are held a set time each month. Typically, they are scheduled for 7:30pm EST on the second Tuesday evening of the month. Webinars are also recorded and made available to students following the live presentation. However, students are required to attend at least 6 webinars live.

Past Ascend students have:

  • Planned and hosted a fundraiser masquerade ball for a local anti-human trafficking organization, raising $52k. Click here to watch the story.
  • Wrote, filmed, and produced a short-film to raise awareness for depression. Click here to watch the film.
  • Built a skin-on canoe for a four-day river trip.
  • Trained for and ran a Tough Mudder obstacle course. Click here to watch the story.
  • Organized and ran Bible study intensives for their local communities.
  • Built and launched a local pet and house-sitting business.
  • Choreographed, performed, and recorded a dance piece depicting the story of Revelation 11:3–13.
  • Hosting an outdoor survival camp for 5–6 young men, teaching the four essentials of wilderness survival.
  • Studied for and obtained their Real Estate license.

And many more!

It depends on the project. We have students complete individual and team projects every year and both are options.

Request More Information About Ascend

Sign up to receive 5 emails in 5 days that explain how Ascend works and how your student can get started.

“The leadership training and opportunity for my son has been excellent. It is impacting his career and ministry plans. The relationships he has formed are also very impactful.”
Tracy R.
Ascend Parent

Enroll Today

Ask your admissions counselor how you can get your student’s travel included in their enrollment!

Certificate
Path

$616/month
  • Paid over 15 months
  • $1,000 deposit due upon enrollment

    Or $9,235 paid in full

Still Deciding
Path

9 or 15 College Credits
$650 or $720/month
  • Paid over 15 months
  • $1,000 deposit due upon enrollment

    Or $9,755 or $10,785 paid in full

Debt-Free
Degree Path

30 College Credits
$857/month
  • Paid over 15 months
  • $1,000 deposit due upon enrollment

    Or $12,845 paid in full

Optional Specialty Tracks

Give your student the training they need to monetize their creative interests!

Available for students enrolling on the Certificate Path or Still Deciding Path.
Prices listed are the additional fee for adding a track to your student’s enrollment.

Writing Track

$1,250
  • Details coming soon!

Art Track

$1,250
  • Learn to make money from your art medium, whatever that may be
  • Learn how to seek out resources, develop an achievable plan to improve your craft, and consistently level-up your skills
  • Develop a strong theology of art
  • Learn how to be a healthy artist: develop emotional resilience, avoid burnout, and create sustainable habits
  • Receive customized coaching and feedback from an art professional
  • Collaborate with like-minded artists
  • Apply what you learn through a hands-on project or internship

Videography Track

$1,250
  • Substantially improve your videography skills through practical, hands-on instruction about storytelling, production, and editing.
  • Receive customized feedback and instruction from a video professional
  • Collaborate with like-minded videographers
  • Apply what you learn through a robust set of hands-on projects, including professional videos for YouTube and Social Media, event recap videos, and/or documentaries
  • Develop a portfolio of completed projects
  • Complete a guaranteed internship with Unbound’s media team or with another organization of your choice

Hear from Parents

Hear from Students

Ascend was the perfect program for our daughter who wanted to. . .seek leadership opportunities and be immersed in a community which espoused a Christian worldview. I have enjoyed seeing my daughter build lifelong friendships while gaining self confidence and discovering new gifts.

Nicholas C.,

Student Parent

As I read about Ascend, I knew it was exactly what our son needed. He has thrived! It is a fresh perspective on how to train up young people to be resilient overcomers in the world, as well as a brave outlook on education. Our son has become better with managing his time and encouraged that God has a purpose for his unique talents and interests. . It has been one of the most challenging things he has taken on, but he loves it.

Sarah B.,

Student Parent

I love when my girls talk about what they’re experiencing and I also enjoy overhearing the teaching! The result of being challenged in a Christ-focused direction has great value. Love the leadership, thoughts and relationships cultivated.

Dawn S.,

Student Parent

I have watched my Ascend student grow in her leadership abilities, take on new challenges with confidence, and expand her understand of people dynamics through the content. Ascend is a very wise investment to make, and will yield results in all areas of adult life, not just career prep.

Tracy K.,

Student Parent

There are plenty of programs to teach information and knowledge, but precious few that teach life application and wisdom - especially from a Christian worldview.  I have seen my six children all grow through this program - each of whom emerged uniquely stronger (intellectually, emotionally, spiritually) and better prepared for life than the other young adults I see all around me.  Initially, I was a skeptic - now an enthusiastic advocate!

Michael S.,

Student Parent

As the parent. . . I can honestly say this community has been life changing for my son and our family. . . No matter who you are you will find friends and support in this group. And you will receive a fantastic education in both academics and life.

Rebecca L.,

Student Parent

Hear from Students

I’ve realized what leadership actually means, and I have been able to gain confidence in my ability to plan, coordinate, and execute projects. It’s an amazing program that teaches real-life skills that you won’t learn anywhere else.

Faith S.,

Ascend Student

Ascend is a program where you learn to have a question-based mindset, where you learn to ask questions and grow more in your understanding. Ascend has helped me realize that in order to be extraordinary at the ordinary, I need to learn to seek discomfort to grow, learn to ask questions to further my understanding and knowledge.

Andrew C.,

Ascend Student

Ascend has helped me to come out of my shell and not be as afraid to try new things. This is a place where you can be yourself and almost always find someone to laugh with you. They challenge you to do things that grow you and challenge you in new ways. It's also a great way to make friends and build connections.

Alexandra F.,

Ascend Student

I chose Ascend because it sounded like it incorporated an in-person community. . . and had much more of a life application emphasis than other programs. Connecting with people from around the country gave me a much higher motivation and encouragement than I would have otherwise. Also the leadership courses had a ton of impactful reading and discussing it with the others was very thought provoking and developed how I see and move in the world.

Jesse K.,

Ascend Student

Ascend has introduced me to some of the most extraordinary people in the world. The friendships I made in this past year are not fleeting or superficial; but rooted in a love for Jesus and passion for living life which promises longevity. I couldn't be more grateful.

Briley C.,

Ascend Student

Ascend changed the way I view my abilities. . . the way I view leadership, and the way I view time management. You seriously need to do Ascend, it'll change you for the better in many ways, and you'll never find a better community.

Colton J.,

Ascend Student

Ascend has pushed me outside of my comfort zone within a supportive network of friends. My critical thinking skills have improved and the relationships in my life have flourished because I have been given tools that have grown my character.

Tim F.,

Ascend Alumnus

The Ascend program has been a great fit for me. Ascend is not just a typical online college program. The community involved with the program is supportive and helpful! Ascend has been beneficial for me where I am right now and for the future. You're not just a number, you're a part of a community!

Madison T.,

Ascend Alumna

The Ascend program was an awesome experience! Not only was the content from the webinars amazing, but the in-person events were so valuable! The students on my team and in the whole class are still some of my closest friends. It was an honor to graduate alongside such genuine, intelligent, and exceptional people.

Tamma P.,

Ascend Alumna

Ready to Get Started?

Schedule a call with our team to get your questions answered and find out if Ascend is the right fit for your student.

FAQ

Enrollment in Ascend costs $7,995. Tuition covers your student’s Ascend Team, Ascend Project, monthly coaching and webinars, registration to three live events plus travel to the first, access to the online Navigate life purpose course, registration for the online Signature Leadership Course Series, and daily access to their coach, teammates, fellow students, and program staff via Slack.

This depends entirely on the student. Each year we have a mix students who are finishing high school or already graduated. The best way to determine if your student can manage Ascend alongside high school is to talk to an admissions counselor about the time commitment. Click here to book a call!

Nope! Ascend is a remote program that give students the opportunity to build a network and form connections across the country while continuing to invest in their local communities, families, and churches.

Yes! We offer payment plans that allow you to pay for Ascend in up to 12 installments depending on how early you enroll. 

While ultimately it comes down to each individual student and their schedule, the vast majority of Ascend students work part or full time while completing the program. 

Each Ascend Team includes 8-10 students and one Ascend Team Leader.

Of course! While Ascend is not first and foremost a gap year program, it is designed with easy exit points after each year. 

Just one: that your student wants to enroll. It’s very important that each student who enrolls in Ascend wants to be here. We tell all students that their experience in Ascend is very likely to be extraordinary, but whether or not that happens is up to them and their willingness to show up and invest. 

As Seen or Heard On

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Keep Exploring

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The Be Unbound YouTube channel shares actionable tips for students and chronicles the adventures of Unbound students and alumni.

Video Highlights:

Read what’s happening in higher education and informed commentary on the topics of life preparation, education, and Christian leadership.

Article Highlights:

  • How Community Enhances Project-Based Higher Education – Read Now
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Download a FREE Guide to Ascend

Read the full, definitive guide to the Ascend program and learn how to get your student’s journey started. This eBook explains what Ascend is, how it works, what academic opportunities are included, and what the community experience is like.