Without (or Beyond) College: 22 Tools For Success

resources to skip college, careers with no college, collaborative success,

Free to explore options. Image: iateyourbubbles.deviantart.com

What doesn’t add up

It’s easier to teach an old dog new tricks than it is to change old mindsets. Like the one that insists that all the years up to 18 are preparation for college. After that a bachelor’s degree or higher must be obtained because college is THE ONLY route to success.

This dusty way of thinking relies on old figures showing that college leads to high-earning careers. That’s true for people who become doctors, engineers, and lawyers. Oh wait, that’s not so true for lawyers now either. New law school grads can’t find jobs  and their average student debt hovers close to $100, 000.

Equating college with success doesn’t take today’s realities into account. In thirty years the consumer price index has increased two-and-a-half times while the overall price to attend college has risen sixfold.  Today’s students can’t simply work their way through college. This was possible back in 1970.  A student could easily work 14 hours a week at a minimum wage job to pay for an education at a public institution. Today a student would have to work full time at minimum wage, leaving very little time to fit in those classes.

So students go into debt. The average graduate gets a diploma along with more than $25,000 in debt. Payments are expected to begin right after graduation or the student will begin accumulating additional interest as well as penalties and damaged credit. The pressure is on to find a job.

Except the job market sucks. While a greater share of 18- to 24-year-olds are in school than ever before, the employment rate is worse. Half of today’s young college graduates are either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t require a degree. Since the 2008 recession, the largest job growth has been in the lowest paying jobs. Some of the biggest projected employment openings are in low paying, lower-skilled positions such as home health, waste hauling, and transportation.  The problem isn’t just in the U.S. Twenty-five percent of young people are unemployed in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 50 percent in Greece and Spain.

What does add up

In the real world, grades and tests actually don’t correlate with adult accomplishments.  We know there are fresher, more interesting ways to learn. Our experiences teach us to pursue success on our own terms. That has to do with crafting a life based on our passions, our integrity, and the unique vision each of us brings to the world. That’s true whether we’re lifting a hoe or a conductor’s baton.

The college highway is actually one of many roads to the future. People everywhere are finding ingenious and collaborative ways to flourish, with or without a degree. Here are some of those ways.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Learning Empowerment Tools

1. ZeroTuitionCollege (ZTC)  is an online community of self-directed learners. If that’s not inspiration enough, it offers information for travel, building a portfolio, finding a peer community and much more. ZTC was founded by Blake Boles, author of Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree, a manual with thought-provoking and empowering information on each page.

2. It’s My Life: A Guide To Alternatives After High School is a free e-book put out by the American Friends Service Committee. It includes a rich array of information about apprenticeships, service work, travel learning, and careers both inside and out of the mainstream.

3. EdupunksGuide is the brainchild of Anya Kamenetz, author of the resource-rich book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
and a free e-book The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential.  The site provides step-by-step prompts to kick start your DIY education.

4. UnCollege is packed with information and advice, like “How To Learn Anything” (complete with downloadable sheets to write your own personal learning plan). UnCollege was started by Dale J. Stephens, whose book Hacking Your Education will be published next year.

5. Intern Match helps you locate paid and unpaid internships in your area of interest.

6. BackDoorJobs connects you with short-term job adventures around the world.

7. Volunteer Match helps you get experience doing what you care about.

8. Idealist lists all sorts of internships, volunteer opportunities, and jobs.

&&&&

Learning Exchanges

9. Trade School is a barter-based learning space, meaning you don’t have to pay to learn.

10. Citizen Circles are small groups of people who meet to learn together, with an emphasis on collective learning and action. No fee.

11. (un)classes are casual ways to meet and learn from people in your area.

12. Skillshare is like the eBay of local education. You can learn what you want from someone in your community as well as teach others what you know. Fee. 

13. P2PU is a grassroots global community working together to learn by completing tasks and providing feedback. Free.

14. School of Everything, based in theUK, connects those who want to learn with those who can share what they know. Some instructors charge for classes, others do not.

15. FreeSkool is what participants create. Some are informal gatherings to share knowledge, others are networks brimming with activity happening in parks, living rooms, and community centers. All are devoted to learning freely.

&&&&

Collaborative Solutions

16. Share or Die: Voices of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis is co-written by 20-somethings who are developing collaborative consumption networks and connecting via “lattice” rather than scrambling over each other to climb the corporate ladder. Get this book for free by “paying” with a tweet.

17. Generation Waking Up empowers young people to connect and create a thriving, sustainable world.

18. The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community This book helps people find practical and legal solutions for scaling down their work hours, possessions, and expenses by sharing everything from childcare to cars to living space.

&&&&

Free and Nearly Free College Online

19. Coursera pairs with top universities to offer full courses to a global network of students.

20. Khan Academy has a free and ever growing library of 3,200 videos in the sciences to humanities, along with exercises to help learners practice what they are seeing.

21. University of the People is oriented toward awarding degrees to students all over the world, using online courses and charging only an admission fee. It has accepted 1,500 students from 130 countries

22. Academic Earth offers free online classes using video lectures from leading university professors. It’s possible to sign up to earn an online degree, fee unknown.



The Future Belongs to the Curious from Skillshare on Vimeo.

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is a writer and editor, perhaps due to an English professor's scathing denunciation of her writing as "curious verbiage." She's the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. (lauragraceweldon.com) She's working on her next book, "Subversive Cooking" (subversivecooking.com). She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she is a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, talk to chickens and cows, discuss life’s deeper meaning with her surprisingly tolerant offspring, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art.
This entry was posted in collaboration, college, learning, school, success, teens and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Without (or Beyond) College: 22 Tools For Success

  1. Carol J. Alexander says:

    Thanks for such a comprehensive list, Laura. I’m printing this off for my rising high school senior. Also, spreading the word for others.

    Like

  2. Nancy Grundy says:

    THank you for sharing your knowledge with the community. That is education!

    Like

  3. Kimerly Wagstaff says:

    Laura, this is amazing and so comprehensive! I can’t wait to explore all of your recommendations. (after my daughter’s wedding next week!)

    Like

  4. Colleen says:

    I just stumbled upon this interesting concept for a redesigned college experience. It’s still in the developmental stages at this point, but it’s an intriguing idea. Check it out: http://saxifrageschool.org

    Like

  5. Laura Weldon says:

    Here’s another free resources. Udacity http://www.udacity.com/

    Like

  6. sgaissert says:

    Thank you for this, Laura. It’s bookmarked in my “Unschool” folder, for future reference for Kiddo!

    Like

  7. Laura Weldon says:

    An in-depth look at the number of highly educated people receiving federal aid. http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/06/19/the-number-of-phds-on-food-stamps-triples/

    Like

  8. A couple other great resources from friends in India:
    1) Swaraj University – an exploratory “gap year” – http://www.swarajuniviersity.org
    2) Shikshantar – The People’s Institute for Re-thinking Education and Development – http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar – lots of “unschooling” gems here!
    Thanks for the post!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s