This fall I am going to launch a Gap Year program to confront this problem. This program will provide individuals with skills and experience that will launch them in their career better than any college education. It will consist of the following phases:
(1) Launch Pad - The Gap Year starts with a ten week residential program in San Francisco. Participants live together in a shared house, and pursue a set of challenges designed to develop the skills necessary for lifelong self-directed learning. Members of my team provide one-to-one assistance and mentoring.
(2) Voyage - Participants spend three months in a country they have never been to before, and where they do not speak the language. Whether it’s working on an organic farm in Spain, teaching English to kids in Nepal, or learning karate in Japan, my team will help organize their voyage and give them $2,500 towards expenses.
(3) Internship - Drawing on my network of contacts in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, our team will help participants secure an internship with a company or NGO that is looking for dynamic young people. We’ve had companies like Google and IDEO reach out to us to find people who aren’t constrained by the mindset of school.
(4) Project - Finally, the biggest challenge of all – create a real project that someone pays you for! Whether it be a mobile app, an art exhibit, or an event, if you can get someone to pay you for it, that’s a sign the project has real world value. That’s more impressive than getting a degree.
I have put together a team to develop a curriculum for this project and we are already accepting applications. I have put together a financial plan to make the program self-sustaining. I believe this program will provide a superior alternative to a college degree by giving participants the skills and experience necessary to succeed in their chosen field.