I’m not anti-college. College is the right path for certain individuals and for certain specific career choices, yes. But…. college is not the be-all, end-all; and college is not the path for everyone; and a college degree should not be a status symbol. It’s a tool (an expensive tool), and the decision to go shouldn’t be taken lightly. The antiquated notion that *everyone* should aspire to go to college baffles me. There are many many different paths one can take to a happy, healthy, and productive life, and many of them do not involve college at all.
—  Jennifer McGrail, The Path Less Taken
I left college two months ago because it rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning and theory rather than application. Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.
—  Dale J Stephens, UnCollege

20-year-old Dale Stephens talks at TEDxAshokaU about his UnCollege movement.

People seem to frequently make the mistake of thinking that because something is meaningful and helpful in their own lives, then it must be meaningful and helpful in everyone’s lives. Which means everyone should do X, Y, or Z important thing as a Right of Passage or a Way to Find Yourself.

Sharing what’s worked in your own life can be really helpful and inspiring to others. But don’t make the assumption that just because it worked for you, it’s going to work for most (or even many) other people. We’re all individuals with different paths to pursue.

Reasons I, personally, have not and don't plan to go to college or university full time
  • I certainly like learning, but most of my interests are not super academic. I prefer to learn and explore things in very hands on ways, ways that feel immediate and real, which is probably part of the reason I’m so drawn to cooking and baking and fermenting and gardening… Even my writing is almost always for blogs or magazines! That’s what feels most exciting and most relevant to me.
  • Mostly the way that most university professors approach teaching is just the same old outdated lecture style of teachers as depositors and students as depositories, which I believe to be a bad approach to education at any level.
  • On that note, the thought of sitting listening to lectures sounds extremely boring, and also like something that would be very difficult for me to absorb. I might occasionally attend a talk or lecture, but often just listening to someone speak feels very hard for me to absorb.
  • Having to have any type of regular class discussions or group projects with people not of my choosing would feel very scary and unsafe for this introverted anxiety ridden Idzie. I’m perfectly fine with this sometimes. But for my positive mental health it has to be only when I’m feeling up to dealing with that and stretching myself in that way!
  • All my friends in university find it enormously stressful and for the most part not very enjoyable. I’m not eager to add something to my life that will likely bring a lot more stress than pleasure!
  • I don’t have much money, and I can think of a whole lot of things I’d rather spend it on than university.

“University experiences” that I can and have gained outside of university

  • Talks, discussions, lectures, events, and workshops put on by or through university organizations or clubs (this has included education discussions and conferences, fermentation and canning workshops, talks on environmentalism and radical politics, clothing swaps, artisan fairs, dance classes…)
  • Making friends and going to parties, music shows, drag shows etc. (though only occasionally, as I’m really not a big party person!)
  • Learning, obviously, in all it’s myriad forms and venues, from classes and events (both university affiliated and not), discussions with friends and new acquaintances, skills workshops, the library, the internet, the writing work I do, my time spent in the kitchen…

Basically? I feel like my time, at this point in my life, feels best spent in life learning, not attending school!

So You Want to Leave College. Now What?
Advice on unschooling the college years.

I want to leave college–or just not go to begin with–but how do I start? Is a question I get fairly frequently.

As a lifelong unschooler, my transition into life learning in the college years felt like a natural progression, which has definitely coloured my view of college free learning, and how I’ve approached it. In light of that, I wanted to share the things that have been most helpful in my own journey thus far, just tailored towards those who haven’t come from the same background I have.

So, you want to leave college. Where do you start?

Find Uncollege Inspiration
Read books and blogs about learning without school. Watch TED talks on the subject. Google away, learn about the experiences of other college free learners, what they found worked and what they found didn’t, and from all that you’re taking in, focus on what sounds best for you. My choices might not be your choices, and you should never feel the need to follow advice that sounds like it doesn’t meet your needs or reflect your situation. Get inspired, and go with what sounds like a great college-free experience for you.

Figure Out the Practicalities

If you’re not going to college, what will your life basically look like instead? Will you live with your parents, rent an apartment, travel the world? Do you need to work, and if so, how will that tie-in with or be balanced with your uncollege pursuits? What resources (universities, community groups, maker spaces, libraries, art studios, etc.) are available in your community (or in the community you plan to relocate to)? Know the confines you’re going to be working within, so you can figure out how you want to proceed with your life learning over the next little while.

Find YOUR Inspiration
So you’re not going to college. What do you want to do instead? You can focus as broadly or narrowly as you want, on as academic or as hands-on pursuits as can be imagined. This can be overwhelming, which is why I think a great place to start is just free form research into whatever you’re interested in–or think you might be interested in. Read books on paleontology or writing, watch videos about dog training or coding. Reading blogs by people doing something you might want to do can be one of the best ways to see if you want to pursue something similar, in my experience. You don’t have to immediately find your “passion,” you don’t ever have to settle on just one thing. Just come up with a few ideas that you like, then see what books are at your local library, what activities you can get involved with in your local community, or who you might want to approach for mentorship.

Build a Support Network

If you’re going to skip college, you’re going to need some support. How much or how little will depend on your personal needs, but whether it’s supportive parents or friends, online communities, mentors in a chosen field, or a great local group who share a common interest, finding people who want to cheer you on and help you out is invaluable. Otherwise it’s just too easy to get bogged down in disapproval from less positive corners who think you should really just get a degree instead.

Un-College: The Backstory

The story behind this blog is quite stereotypical; I must say. Growing up, I loved school and I was good at it. Everyone has a niche and academics were mine. I ended highschool with a 4.2 GPA, a report completely comprised of AP classes. In addition to that I worked nearly every day after school at a nursing home. It was tough but knowing exactly what I had to do to get into college, I managed to squeeze a few extra curriculars in there. Eventually I get accepted to all the schools I applied for and in the excitement of acceptance season, I was quick to commit to a nice out of state university. Housing deposit in, schedule done. I’m ready to go & then my financial aid package comes in. Surprise surprise; I got nothing. Well, thats not true, I did get a few academic scholarships but what’s 5,000 a year when tuition is 5 times that? When it comes down to it, taking out the amount of loans I would’ve had to take out to fund my education would’ve been reckless and financially irresponsible. As someone who’s not all that interested in the social aspect of school, I figured I would fare well at a community college and that my friends, is where I realized how (searching for an eloquent way to say fucked up) ridiculous college is.

Never in my life have I felt more like a carbon copy of everyone else. All through elementary/middle/highschool I was told what I had to learn, I would quickly memorize the material only to spit it back up in the form of a test. I get it, due to time constraints and restrictions put on teachers it’s what has to happen. College is no different, except in this case you’re paying thousands of dollars. It’s essentially a one size all system that already isn’t meant for everyone. While in school you have to buy a ton of books. Hundreds of dollars worth and the thing that gets me about this is the fact that publishers can go into the book, change 2 words and then put that nice little new edition stamp on it. Bye bye resale value! Then you have the pre-reqs, that have nothing to do with your major but of course you have to take these to be considered for your program. These are just the issues that I observed first hand at a community college. Universities are a whole other story. Since universities, do need to make money it’s essentially a rat race to see who can have the most attractive campuses aka who can attract the most students. Gyms, pools, spa’s, coffee shops. All amenities that you may not use hidden in your tuition. I mean those things are put in to benefit students, right? Wrong. As I mentioned before I refuse to deal with student loans. No consumer protection, no thanks. There’s no reason why a person should be able to go out and blow money on who knows and get a second chance but people with school loans, cannot. After all this, there’s not even a guarantee that you can get a job. If you do get a job, chances are you will still require on the job training, proving that a good majority of the time you spent at a higher education institution was unnecessary. Sick, isn’t it?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Education is so so so important. I just think that there’s other ways to educate yourself. Ones that don’t require you to put yourself in shambles. If you’re a person who knows deep down in your heart and soul that you need to become a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, an engineer or anything that you absolutely need a degree for then by all means, do what you have to do. If thats not the case or you’re just not sure what it is that you want to do, then I urge you to take some time to think about the real ramifications of attending college.

Am I taking a risk by not going to college? Absolutely but for the first time in along time, I think that the risk of not going is smaller than that of doing whatever it takes to get a degree.

People will never stop asking you if you’re eventually going to go to college.

And unless you’re clairvoyant, you will never be able to answer this question, which doesn’t stop people from asking it all the time. No matter what you’re deciding to do with your life, your answer will never seem good enough for some people. You have to learn to mentally flip the bird to them as you respond with something light and pithy, like, “Oh, who knows! Maybe one day.” These are the same people that will eventually plague your life with questions like, “When are you going to get married?” or “Don’t you want to have a baby?” What they’re really asking is, “So where exactly do you fit into this framework of social acceptance that I have bought into?” They are judging you by their own standards, and you shouldn’t be made to feel inferior as a result of not conforming to them. Even with a college degree, you’ll never know how things are going to turn out for you. Legions of songs about the long and winding road that is life exist for this very reason.

-Rookie Mag

Goal In Life

Be happy with what I’m doing.

As corny as it sounds. All I want to be is happy.

I want to be happy with what I’m doing no matter what I’m doing.

This helps weed out what I hate doing: being unhappy.

So… yeah. People are gonna be rolling their eyes at me but who cares as long as I’m happy.

It's my life. MINE.

And I’m going to live it.

As the market becomes completely degree-saturated you will soon need a Ph.D to succeed as a janitor. In fact, a report last October found that 5,000 janitors in the United States have Ph.Ds.

The UnCollege Manifesto

(Report they sourced; here)

anonymous asked:

Can unschooling/self-directed learning be done at a post-secondary education level? It seems almost impossible because of the requirement of degrees and formal education for a lot of career jobs, but various disabilities and financial needs make formal post-secondary education an almost impossibility for me too.

Self-directed learning can absolutely be done at the post secondary level! For some professions, such as lawyer or doctor, you obviously need a degree. But for many others, you can do things differently. That’s what I’m doing.

Some resources are Zero Tuition College, a community site that lets you connect with others self-directing at the college level, and the book Better Than College (by the same guy who started the ZTC site), which you can download for free. I’d also suggest the blog College Rebellion, and the resource page on that blog. The Unschooler Experiment, though mainly for/about grown unschoolers, definitely has some stuff about “uncolleging” as well.

Those are the resources I’ve used myself. But when it comes to ones I just know about, but haven’t read/used myself, or have read but am not personally fond of, there are a slew more:

UnCollege and the book Hacking Your Education. The Edupunks Guide. Don’t Go Back to School. Here’s a list of three free ebooks on the topic.

Then there’s countless articles out there. Just searching “learning without college” brought up a bunch, I’m sure there are some other search terms that would turn up a bunch of stuff as well.

I’m sorry that you don’t have the option of going to post-secondary schools, that really sucks, but I hope you can find some ways to pursue education outside of school that feels good and helps you pursue the type of work you want to. Best wishes!

Also, if anyone has more resources to add, please do!!

You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.
—  Will Hunting

Dale Stephens Michael Ellsberg - TEDxSF - Debating Higher Education


Help me make this dream come true!

CALLING ALL WHOVIANS!!! (And Sherlockians, Potterheads, Merlinites, the Supernatural Fandom, and any other fandom you can think of)


I got in to an amazing program recently, the UnCollege Gap Year Program, and I’m set to start in just a few weeks. The only problem is tuition. My father lost his job not long after we made the non-refundable $1,000 deposit, and we can no longer afford to pay for it.

It’s really an amazing program, 3 months in California learning entrepreneurial, organizational, and networking skills, followed by 3 months in a foreign country (where we don’t speak the language), then 3 months doing an internship in an area of out choosing, then 3 months doing an independent project of our own design.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I need your help to make it happen.

Reward for your amazingness: CIRCULAR GALLIFREYAN!!!

So please Fandoms, you’re my only hope!