Where we started
It’s almost two years ago now that my friend Dale Stephens invited me to go on the UnCollege company retreat. We were in Carmel, California for a couple of days of brainstorming and reflecting — I was excited by the curriculum he was building for people looking for a college alternative program.
Every day since then has been eye-opening for me. I have seen young adults dedicate time to themselves and take steps to become a better version of themselves — something everyone should do in their lifetime.
Dale’s vision for a college alternative program was before its time. UnCollege sent students abroad, had them up-skill in San Francisco, and intern in a field of interest, all while working with a coach who pushed them to be their best selves.
UnCollege to date has graduated 150 fellows from 20 different countries. The projects they’ve worked on, startups they’ve built, and colleges they’ve attended after the program are inspiring. They have left with a sense of confidence and clarity that many people search for their entire lives, and I am proud that we are able to support them as they continue to grow.
Where we are now
I took over for Dale as CEO a year ago. Our transformation as a company in this past year is a testament to the staff he hired; their dedication to our fellows is what has propelled this company forward.
Over this year we’ve done some personal development of our own: we’ve doubled our class size, signed college partnerships, launched new international locations, and hired some amazing people. We’ve also asked ourselves some difficult questions. Amongst them has been: why are we only focused on students looking for a college alternative program? Our curriculum is applicable to all high school graduates and we realized we could have a larger impact if we widen our scope.
So today, I am proud to announce: Year On
Year On gives students the confidence and clarity they need to succeed in their next step: college.
Did you know?
- 60% of students report not being emotionally ready for college
- 30% of students don’t make it to sophomore year of college
- Only 40% of students graduate in four years
We want to put a dent in these numbers. Students who take a gap year have higher GPAs, are less likely to transfer, and are more likely to graduate in four years. High school students are starting to realize the benefits; more than 50% are now thinking about taking time before college.
As for our program, a student’s Year On with us will not be a year off. While a traditional gap year might be considered a year only to travel, our year will be focused on personal development. This will be a year of pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones, setting — and exceeding — their own goals, and creating things they didn’t think they were capable of. They will work with a coach who will help them build out a support network and make sure they are prepared for the exciting and uncertain journey ahead of them.
Where we are going
Let’s be honest: everyone should subscribe to personal development. Whenever I tell people what I do the response is usually: “I could’ve totally used this before I went to college!” or “Do you have a program for adults?”
What does this look like when we create this program for students in between college and the workforce, or for people bored with their jobs, or for mothers coming back from maternity leave, or for soldiers coming back from deployment, or for newly minted retirees?
I’ll tell you what it looks like: we would have a happier world. We would have a place where people feel confident, have a sense of purpose, and look forward to the future. As my best friend’s mom always says, “if your chalice isn’t full, you can’t give much away.”
Let’s start with ourselves. Let’s start with young people who are about to make one of the most important decisions of their lives and give them the support they deserve.
If you know someone who is graduating high school next spring and could use a program like this, please have them email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first cohort will be launching in October 2018 and Early Action applications are now open and due on December 15th.