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Minerva: A new college that's even more exclusive than the Ivies

Bernice Napach

This September thousands of students around the country will be starting college for the very first time. Thirty-two will be enrolled in a new for-profit online college called The Minerva Project, based in San Francisco.

Unlike institutions that offer MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), Minerva will offer only seminar-based online classes with less than 20 students each. Professors will use a live, interactive video platform to teach classes. And unlike most colleges and universities, Minerva won't have any introductory, large lecture courses.

Related: Former Yale professor takes on elite colleges: They’re 'exacerbating income inequality'

"The way we teach isn't just to deliver a course or disseminate information," says Minerva CEO Ben Nelson, himself a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "All of our classes are advanced level. All of our courses require the close interaction between a professor and small group of extraordinary students [and] the classes relate to one another," he explains in the video above.

After their first year in San Francisco the students will move en masse to different world capitals for each of the following six semesters, to develop new perspectives on learning and the world. And they will each be assigned an agent to manage their careers at school and afterward in the working world.

Related: Think college is out of reach now? Just wait

This first class of students will attend Minvera for free but subsequent students will pay $10,000 for tuition and about $20,000 room and board -- about half of what Ivy League and many other non-profit colleges and universities charge.

The trick is getting into Minerva. The acceptance rate for its first class was 2.8% -- about half the rates at Stanford, Harvard and Yale.

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