The Urban Land Institute’s new online Foundations of Real Estate (FoRE) curriculum is targeted to undergraduate students at liberal arts colleges and universities. FoRE is a key part of the Institute’s efforts to identify, diversify, and broaden the pool of young people interested in a real estate career. The curriculum is offered through the ULI Learning program, which includes a variety of digital education courses as well as topical webinars provided to ULI members and prospective members.
The opportunity to create communities that are more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, through a real estate career, is a timely message and mission that can be delivered through FoRE.
FoRE, which debuted at Colgate University during the 2019–2020 academic year, is designed to provide students not pursuing business studies with real estate fundamentals in an easily digestible format that is accessible, convenient, and that can be completed on an individually determined basis.
The curriculum consists of five modules:
- Foundations of the Development Process;
- Foundations of Pro Forma Modeling;
- Foundations of Commercial Real Estate (with a specific focus on multifamily and office sector valuation);
- Foundations of Real Estate Finance and Investment; and
- Introduction to the Foundations of Real Estate.
Upon completion of all the modules, participants receive a FoRE certificate confirming that they have finished the course successfully and have a basic understanding of the industry.
The introduction of FoRE at Colgate allowed the institution to provide a far more structured process for students to learn about real estate, explained Teresa Olsen, assistant vice president for career initiatives at Colgate. “The world of real estate is so vast, and this was a fantastic opportunity for us to offer a guided process for students to learn about all that it entails. We were impressed with the quality of the content and the robust, holistic thinking within ULI. FoRE is perfect for students who are looking at tackling problems in a cross-disciplinary or cross-functional way, who are considering how they can take the liberal arts component of their education, put it to work, and have a forward-facing, fulfilling career.”
More than 100 students pursuing studies as varied as economics, sociology, geography, psychology, humanities, and political science signed up for FoRE during the fall 2019 semester. While many initially approached the experience with the assumption that real estate is about “putting up a building and then being done,” they learned that it involves “creating a community and thinking about the ethical and social impacts of what you will create,” Olsen says. “Our students were surprised to learn that real estate could be an arena in which one can address social issues or sustainability challenges or find a ‘green’ career. There will always be students who are into brokerage and investments, and those are excellent careers, but we were also excited to help students conceptualize a different career path involving real estate, to see real estate as a way to connect all their other professional ambitions.”
The online format for the FoRE curriculum was particularly suited to the virtual learning environment necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of in-person classes during the spring 2020 semester, she notes. Colgate is planning to offer the curriculum during the upcoming academic year.