The University of Everything

Over the last few weeks, I've told a few people that I was thinking of starting a campaign to encourage teenagers to think twice about going to university. Not because I think it's a waste of time, but because I think a lot of young people end up at university without really knowing why they are there. (There are also too many young people who feel like their options have been closed down for life because they didn't make it to university at eighteen - and a lot of well-meant advice aimed at teenagers reinforces this misconception.)

One place I found myself thinking out loud about this was on this post from Tsheko. He made a reasonable response: "I wouldn’t be encouraging my sons to rethink tertiary education unless there was something to replace it."

I was still thinking about that, when I came across a post from Jeff Thomas Cobb at Mission to Learn, talking about Seth Godin's recent offer of an "apprenticeship/not-internship/graduate school/charm school track-changing opportunity" with him this winter.

Jeff points out that there's no reason why there shouldn't be a lot more opportunities like this:

Whether your goal is to start a business, learn a trade, or become a better artist, writer, or musician – just to name some of the possibilities – there are people out there in your community who would be willing to mentor you for some period of time in exchange for your labor or perhaps modest payment. Find them through Craig’s List, local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, or perhaps by using a site like School of Everything.

I love the idea that School of Everything can contribute to opening a wider range of paths through life - or just making the other paths that were always there more visible.

And I'd love to carry on this conversation, on this blog or elsewhere. Do we need a "replacement" for higher education as it currently exists? If you work in a university, what changes have you seen - and where is the system heading? What would a University of Everything look like?