Have you carefully crafted a rigorous, college prep high school education for your children?
Is every decision you make about their curricula, community service, and sports or clubs weighed against the holy grail of a letter of admissions from a prestigious university in mind?
Are you dutifully making sure that they follow the scope and sequence of their lessons,
nagging , ehem, “gently encouraging” them to strive for excellent grades now…so that they can get into a good college later…where they will then again be “gently encouraged” to get good grades…so that they can graduate and land a good job?
Do fears that maybe you haven’t done enough to prepare your children for college and thus a successful life as adults keep you up at night?
If you said yes to those questions, you’re in good company. Most parents I know, regardless of where their children are getting educated, will answer those questions in the affirmative. The idea that a college degree is the golden ticket to a high-paying job and success in adulthood has been deeply ingrained in the American psyche.
Once upon a time, that may have been decent advice. The problem is the world our children will inhabit as adults has changed, but the advice we give our kids collectively hasn’t…yet.
Change will come slowly, if at all, to institutionalized K-12 education, but individually, there are some outliers like me who see the writing on the wall and are changing the advice we’re giving to our own children. That doesn’t mean we don’t still have high hopes and fears for the lives our children will lead as adults.
It means we’ve redefined how we assess the risk and rewards of higher education and its role in preparing young people to participate and compete successfully in the economy after graduation.
It means we’ve sought out the advice and resources of other outliers, who are challenging the status quo and changing the landscape of continued education and opportunity after high school. One such outlier, an educational entrepreneur, is Isaac Morehouse, the founder and CEO of Praxis, which offers young people an attractive alternative to college.
Now, before we go any further, I need to let you know that I don’t get anything for promoting Praxis. I’m promoting it because it resonates strongly with me as an advocate of self-directed learning. Additionally, as an outlier who sees the writing on the wall, I don’t want to see other people get left behind – wondering what happened, what went wrong when their children’s college degrees don’t open up the hallowed gates of success. I see Praxis as a game-changer for our young people, so much that I’ve encouraged both of my teenagers to strongly consider it.
According to Morehouse, “When we created Praxis we did it to fill a large and growing gap in the option set facing young people. So many smart, ambitious, curious individuals are languishing in fluorescently-lit cinder-block classrooms. Bored. Racking up debt. For no clear purpose.
The myth they are steeped in is that they have to do this. There is no choice. The options are presented: Be a loser, or sit around for 4-6 years at a cost of tens of thousands.”
Despite the attractive sounding siren calls for greater access to higher education and “free” college for all, the counter-intuitive fact is that too many people are already going to college. The fact is that young people don’t have to go the college route, and most shouldn’t. It’s near blasphemy to say these days, but it’s past time to start slaughtering Big Education’s sacred cows.
“If you want to break out of the educational rut, it requires new ideas and new experiences,” Morehouse says in his free e-book The Future of School. “We mustn’t only talk about new approaches, we must build alternatives…You can take your own path right now, and by so doing not only improve your life, but serve as an example to others of what’s possible outside the status quo. Educational entrepreneurs, not just intellectuals, will change the hidebound approach to education. It’s already happening.”
It’s already happening.
Whether you like it or not, it’s already happening.
Whether you change with the times or stubbornly dig in your heels and cling to advice leftover from the Industrial Age, it’s already happening.
As I type this, my son is upstairs on his laptop, filling out his application to Praxis, and you can follow his progress through the process here on my blog. If someone had told me even as little as four years ago that I would be actively discouraging my children from going to college, I would’ve thought them insane.
So what changed?
I opened my eyes and opened my mind to the possibility that maybe college isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anymore.
As I started entertaining that notion, which struck me as absurd at one point, I confronted cognitive dissonance head on. I read books and articles about the condition of higher education and the status of graduates after earning their degrees. My findings were demoralizing.
For your reference, these are some of the books I read while I was in the information gathering stage or am planning to read in the coming months. These are affiliate links, and if you choose to make a purchase through one of them, I will earn a very small commission. It won’t cost you anything extra to do, and it’ll earn you my gratitude. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
It was then that I began redefining how I assessed the risk versus the reward of encouraging my kids to apply to college after high school. As the risks stacked up, I started searching for alternatives.
I’m not afraid to buck the system – clearly; I do it every day with what I believe about education and how that influences my children. I wasn’t going to blindly keep parroting antiquated advice to my kids, hoping that following it would yield different results for my children than it seemed to be providing for other people’s children.
One of the alternatives I found along the way was Praxis, which I discovered – to my delight – shared many of the same foundational beliefs about education as I do. Only later did I learn that Morehouse himself was unschooled as a child and is unschooling his own children now.
So what exactly is Praxis?
Watch below as Morehouse explains the concept to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Essentially, Praxis is a startup apprenticeship program. Participants will partake in a three-month long professional boot camp to prepare them for success. This boot camp will include things like building personal websites, populating those with blog posts, creating something known as a pitch deck, and learning skills specific to the participant’s apprenticeship. The Praxis curriculum guides participants through the process.
Following that three-month long professional boot camp is a six month paid apprenticeship. Participants bypass the classroom and learn in the real world. They start creating value and building their personal brand from day one. At the end, they get a full-time job offer.
Praxis currently has over 250 business partners and an active community of over 140 participants and alumni. Additionally, Praxis is boasting astonishing results! 100% of participants are employed, with an average starting salary of $50,000 per year, and carrying no student loan debt.
Weighing those impressive results against the results many young people are struggling with after investing years of their time and tens of thousands of dollars (or more) into a college degree is precisely what I am talking about when I say that redefined how I assess risk and reward as my teenagers and I discuss their options.
Imagine the wild possibilities!
What could it mean for your child to begin adulthood with marketable skills, a salary that matches or beats what many of us are bringing home now, and no student loan debt? It would be life-changing, for sure.
Even if your son or daughter has no desire to be an entrepreneur, real world training actively engaged in the marketplace is still important. Morehouse insists that thinking and acting entrepreneurially, regardless of whether or not someone actually strikes out on their own and builds a business, is “…becoming vital. You don’t have a job; you are a company – regardless of where you get a paycheck…Nothing is more valuable than someone who knows how to create opportunity and create value for others, whether in someone else’s company or their own.”
Now, I get it: opting out of a system as deeply ingrained into our collective psyche as the benefits of attending college has been is scary. These are our kids! Our hopes and dreams for them. The burden of making sure that we’ve done everything we can to send them off into the world ready and prepared to achieve their goals and live successful lives is heavy on our shoulders.
But consider this as well: “First movers have big advantages,” Morehouse declares. “If you know that you can create opportunities for yourself without a degree before most other people know it, not only do you have a head-start but by being a first-mover, you are way more interesting and special. You’ll have all kinds of advantages being one of the very few who do X without a degree. As it becomes more common, you won’t be as special.”
We live in exciting times. Things are changing at an astonishing pace. As homeschoolers, the flexibility we have to adapt our ideology and our methods quickly to keep up with the pace of change – if we’re willing to do it – is our ace in the hole.
We don’t have to view life through a lens of scarcity and fear. We don’t have to keep giving our kids outdated advice because we’re afraid that if we don’t, we’re dooming them to financial hardship and unsuccessful lives as adults. There are viable alternatives available now.
If this was enough to get you thinking about whether or not college is everything it’s cracked up to be, I’ve created a free, downloadable file with links to 30 different blog posts that challenge conventional wisdom about college and the value of degrees so you can start doing your own research.