Recently, Michelle and I have joined a team working on a project called the Wayfinding Academy. It’s a new college we are helping to start in Portland, Oregon that will provide students with a 2-year hand-crafted, personalized college experience.
Why are we doing this?
In another life, I worked as a college Admission Counselor. My job was to identify and recruit potential students for the university that I worked for. It was my job to help the students learn about the school I represented, help them determine if we were a good match, help them understand the admission process and requirements, walk them through the financial aid process, and hopefully, welcome them to the next year’s freshman class.
I loved my job.
I loved my job because I had a great college experience. It was everything I could have hoped for. I made amazing, life-long friends. It helped me grow personally and professionally. It challenged me to look at the world with new perspectives. I had great professors and mentors who challenged, supported, and inspired me. I was part of a school that believed in helping students discover their vocation. I loved my job because I got to share with potential students about my personal college experience. It was my hope that they would love their college experience as much as I did, that it would be a transformative experience.
So why would someone who loves higher education, who loved their college experience, want to start new model for college?
As an Admission Counselor, I saw that the current higher education model was great for some, but not for all. In addition to the rising cost of higher education (making accessibility difficult or increasing incurred debt), I have talked to so many people that did not feel the current model best served them (maybe you or someone you know can relate).
They took classes that didn’t interest them or didn’t help them discover their passion.
They had to choose a major before they knew what they liked or were best at. Or they changed their major so many times, they had to pay for an extra year of school.
Some are now working in jobs they don’t like, to feel like their degree was worth it or led to believe that success is about money, prestige, and owning things.
Others graduated but have never worked in their field of study. Some even end up working in a trade they love that doesn’t require a traditional degree in the first place. They wonder why they paid so much money for an education that wasn’t applicable to their work. Did they just pay for a piece of paper?
Then there are the stories of students who felt they were forced to go to college by convention, pressured to take part in some sort of rite of passage unnecessarily or before they were ready.
On top of all this, there’s the out-of-control rise in the cost of education; students are leaving college with so much debt. They’re told that going to college will get them a job after graduation, but there’s really no guarantee.
The Wayfinding Academy will be another option. Not a replacement for the current model, but a different way. It will help students explore options and discern their own path to follow, while providing a core curriculum that will prepare them for life, no matter what field they pursue.
Some students will continue on to a four-year college afterward, but some won’t need to. Instead, they’ll pursue a trade, become an entrepreneur, or master an art. Either way, they’ll have chosen their path thoughtfully (intentionally) and started to gain real-world experience outside the classroom.
We were fortunate to have a great experiences in higher education both as college students and as professionals. It’s from these experiences we believe that a different form of college should exist. We want to make that happen. We believe that college should be transformational, personal, customizable, and accessible. There should and hopefully will be a better way to serve all of the students that the current higher education model is not working for.
Can you relate to the frustration that many feel with the current higher education model? Are you interested in learning more or helping us get the school up and running? There’s three ways you can help us.
- Subscribe to the WFA newsletter: We have some exciting plans we will be announcing soon. This is the best way to keep up-to-date with all the latest news: Subscribe here
- Follow WFA through social media: We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Share WFA with someone else: This is the best thing you can do to help us.
What do you think about the current higher education model? How was your college experience? Do you know someone that can relate to this? We’d love to hear any of your thoughts in the comments below.