Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Getting a degree used to be a passport to a well-paid job but not any more. When well over half of all school leavers go to university a college degree is anything but exclusive. Furthermore students all over the world are putting themselves in serious debt to pay for this not so exclusive commodity. Employers are less and less impressed by degrees and increasingly interested in soft skills like creativity, teamwork, initiative and grit (as mentioned in my last post). Many students do not feel that traditional educational institutions foster these soft skills and prefer to drop out and go their own way.

One such student is Dale Stephens, featured in an article in the Dutch web magazine SURF (September 2012). He represents the concept of uncollege, a variant on the unschooling model, where you take charge of your own learning and development but in collaboration with peers both in your neighbourhood but mostly on the net. He has founded the site Uncollege which features advice on alternative educational paths, networking skills, reading lists and the chance to join the Uncollege Hackademic Camp in January 2013.

Stephens isn't against universities and schools and isn't planning a revolution. He simply wants to show that there are other roads to a fulfilling career than via your nearest university. Those who don't fit into the often narrow path of higher education need relevant new alternatives. Maybe universities can reinvent themselves to create learning environments more tuned to fostering creativity and entrepreneurship.

"Colleges should provide access to opportunities. My ideal college looks like a gym – it’s not something you drop out of, but rather a physical space you drop into. you go there when you want to learn something, you can take out a subscription to use a laboratory, you can meet your professor, who acts as a life coach and points you in the right direction. ideally, universities should provide directories of people with similar interests, they should focus on forming communities of students around topics. in short: they should serve the student as a user."

Here's a TEDx presentation by Stephens from last year.

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