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The UnCollege Blog

What Is UnCollege Anyway?


Earlier this week, we hosted our first ever UnCollege Ask Me Anything (AMA). We decided to broadcast the event live on the Internet after receiving the same question from young adults all over the world for the past several months via email, Twitter and Facebook – What is UnCollege Gap Year all about?

In preparation for the event, we accepted questions related to our program from people all over the world. Below, we listed out 5 of the amazing questions with their corresponding answers to give you a brief idea of how our program isn’t your typical gap year.

Note: At the bottom of the page, you’ll find the whole AMA recorded with in-depth answers and more Q+A.

Question from John R.

Is your program only for entrepreneurs? If not, what are some examples of fellows who weren’t entrepreneurs?

GabeGabe (UnCollege Program Specialist): We’ve had people come through and focus on writing. One of our former fellows, Taylor, writes a blog that just got its millionth view. We’ve had people who focus on music, marketing and graphic design. Our general philosophy is that we’re suited to help with any field where a body of work speaks louder than a certificate.

Question from Sarah L.

On the website, you guys talk about coaching instead of teaching. What’s the difference and what are coaching meetings like?

Gabe: The most striking difference is that coaching is done one-on-one. It’s exclusively lead and driven by the interests, curiosities, and passions of the people we’re working with. Rather than being a lecture or “content dump,” coaching is much more about having someone in your corner who is going to push and hold you accountable to the goals that you set. Coaching is highly tailored to the individual and operates on a more meta-level than teaching. It’s really about developing the person. A coaching relationship starts with a personal relationship. That’s what the relationship is based on, really knowing a person in a really meaningful way and helping them grow.

Jon Gordon photo Jon (Program Specialist): It’s our job to take an interest in where you’re going and help you get there. There’s a lot of research behind what we’re doing, but it boils down to us doing our best to give our attention to you.

dale_uncollege_6_web Dale (Founder): Coaching is certainly something I wish I had had more of both as an unschooler and homeschooler. It was something I missed most when I went to university; just the idea that there is one person whose full-time job it is to think about you and your growth and development.

Question from Anonymous

What kind of person do you accept into the program?

Dale : I think it’s easier to speak to what makes a bad fellow. One of the stand out things is someone who isn’t willing to be proven wrong or take feedback. We really look for people who have evidence of being self-directed, and who are self-motivated and self-aware. I’ll let Jon and Gabe tell you what they like most in a fellow:

Jon: The things that UnCollege Gap Year fellows have in common are that they like to bet on themselves, do things differently and ask important questions. As a coach, I like people who are motivated, someone who questions things, who likes to know why and is willing to work, but isn’t just going to trust. There’s a little bit of cynicism and there’s a whole lot of passion. I love that.

Gabe: I think the big thing for me that makes fellows most enjoyable to work with is a really genuine desire to improve, whether that is through a hard skill or through personal or professional growth. Everyone who is in this program is doing it because they want to push themselves, be ambitious and set big goals for themselves and go far. Working with young people who want the best out of themselves is inspiring and makes my job easier.

Question from Carl B.

How are the workshops during the launch phase different from a class or lecture?

Dale: Our workshops during the launch phase focus on three areas: creation, curiosity, and self-advocacy. All the workshops are designed around good pedagogical principles, which means that they include breaks, they’re personalized, and we’re constantly asking fellows how the material applies to them individually.

Gabe: What I would add is that the workshops in the launch phase are more focused on learning skills and are less focused on theory. The skills that we teach are things we think are really important to being successful, but are never explicitly talked about; things that you’re expected to pick up along the way. Everything you learn in a workshop, you’re going to use that week.

Question from Mateus R.

Don't know about the situation in the US, but here in Brazil we continue to see companies that should theoretically be "open minded", "paradigm breakers", etc, stuck to the idea that a traditional college degree is the only option to the ones who want to apply for a job, based on that I have two questions:

How do you guys handle this?

what is the situation like in the US today?
Dale: The reality - at least here in Silicon Valley, and increasingly across the country - is that employers are understanding that in order to hire the best talent, they have to look beyond a college degree. Every resume that they’re getting has someone who has a college degree, and it doesn’t say much beyond that they went to college, showed up and stayed there for four years. Over the course of the last year I’ve been increasingly invited to speak to employers and HR managers who are actively trying to figure out how to evaluate talent in a world where everyone has a college degree.