Dale Stephens thinks there's no reason why home-schooling can't extend to college.
The young entrepreneur, currently a freshman at Hendrix College, is developing a community of self-directed learners he calls UnCollege -- a site offering support and guidance for students who would prefer a non-conventional learning experience to study at a traditional college, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Stephens was home-schooled and believes that his independent experience taught him more than formal courses. He told the Chronicle: "I don't feel that I've learned things that I couldn't have learned on my own." Stephens also questioned the worth of a traditional degree -- on his site, he writes, "With 70.1% of high school graduates going to college, a college degree no longer guarantees success. School no longer requires analytical thinking or independent thought. In a traditional college setting the joy of learning is easily lost."
UnCollege, which is slated to enroll its first class in fall 2011, still contains traces of a more traditional institution. Although it will not grant degrees, UnCollege costs $100 per month to attend and has a few required assignments, including edicts to "write about why you're participating in UnCollege," "find a mentor," and "live abroad for three months." UnStudents are encouraged to complete at least fifteen projects in three different "learning domains" -- introspection, experience and application -- before a non-official graduation.
Boston University professor Hillel Levine, who is among Stephens's personal mentors, said that he is intrigued -- if not entirely convinced -- by Stephens's mission. He told the Chronicle that colleges should take experiential learning more seriously, adding "the problem is real, but I'm not sure [Stephens has] come up with the solution."