I am so inspired by the new movement in education where students ditch the traditional classroom model and instead spend their high school or college years traveling the globe.
I came across this article on nytimes.com about college programs where students change global locations throughout the year instead of being tied down to one particular campus. How cool is that?!
As a mom who is determined to raise a global citizen I was instantly intrigued. First off I wish this existed when I was in college! Second, I started doing some research to see what other programs may be out there that were similar. I particularly was intrigued by two options, Minerva Schools which is a college program and Think Global School which is a high school program.
Minerva Schools is a 4 year college program and was featured in the NY Times article. It was established in 2012 by Ben Nelson, a former tech executive, who wanted to create a school whose goal is to provide an Ivy League education at a fraction of the price. It is based in San Francisco, CA which is where students begin their journey for year 1. After that they live in 2 cities per year while continuing their education as explained in the Students section of their website.
From what I have gathered there is no physical campus. There is housing for the students and that acts as a homebase for sleeping, learning, etc… The classes all happen online and in the real world, not within the shelter of a traditional college campus. I love this focus on exploration, I remember feeling very isolated and like I lived in a very homogeneous “bubble world” when I went to college, so I think this would be a welcomed change! Certainly it would ignite more adventure and curiosity. The tuition for Minerva is only $10k per year and housing is $11k per year, and then once you add in food and a couple other things they have the total at $28,450.
Obviously significantly lower than the Ivy League colleges they are comparing themselves too. In fact, this is less than most private schools in my city of Los Angeles.
The second school I found very interesting is the Think Global School, which I found from Googling “global schools”. It is a 4 year high school program that is based in New York City. It is a boarding school style program, where the students live and do in-depth study in 3 different countries each year. The tuition is STEEP! $79k a year! Yikes! On one part of the website they say this includes everything, but then on another section it said it does not include travel to the 3 destinations each year. So who knows. They also say they have a sliding scale of tuition based on your income. I think fancy traditional boarding schools are usually around $60k a year in comparison.
The website shows students “living like the locals” in the various cities they explore. Teaching students to go out of their comfort zones and learning self-sufficiency. Also the student to staff ratio is 2:1 which is incredible.
I personally can not imagine sending my high school aged child off to boarding school. But I love the concept behind immersing students in other cultures from such a young age. Learning to adjust and adapt and get outside of the privilege of everyday life in the U.S. is an invaluable skill I think many people lack in our country.
Education needs to evolve and I am happy there are groups out there finding new ways to inspire and teach students how to collaborate and problem solve. My daughter’s school in Los Angeles, The Incubator School, is designed around “Starting Up Students” and creating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs today. Every student starts their own business in the real world and learns along the way everything that goes into that kind of endeavor. It is a free pilot school which is part of LAUSD and the founder, Sujata Bhatt, is a game-changer in how she approaches education.
There is also a lot of excitement behind XQ and their Super School Project which is spearheaded by Steve Jobs’ late wife, Laurene Powell Jobs. They have issued an open call to reimagine and design the next American High School. At least five schools will be supported with $50 million in funds to turn their ideas into real Super Schools.
All of this energy and innovation around education gets me excited! I live my life outside of the “norm” so it isn’t really a surprise that I am all for education that doesn’t fit in the standard box of the traditional school system. I believe the world’s next generation of leaders will be people who explore the world around them, collaborate with people who have completely different opinions and upbringings as themselves, and solve problems through a truly unique global lens.
As a parent I will continue to keep my eyes open for schools such as Minerva and will encourage a less traditional path for my daughter as she moves through her educational journey.