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Here’s Something Better Than College

Higher education is in crisis with few alternatives in sight. Students want an experience after high school that prepares them for life. Instead they get the modern college. The result: Learning is lecture-based. Good luck if you don’t enjoy sitting for hours in a classroom. Students leave wi…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Higher education is in crisis with few alternatives in sight. Students want an experience after high school that prepares them for life. Instead they get the modern college. The result:

Learning is lecture-based. Good luck if you don’t enjoy sitting for hours in a classroom.

Students leave with an average debt load of $37,000 that restricts their ability to dream and take risks.

70% of students lose their faith.

Students need a customized experience that connects them to opportunity, but get a mass-market product.

With the current paradigm so broken, what’s a young person to do? 

A year and a half ago, I decided to embrace the issue and try to pioneer a solution. I wanted to know if it would be possible to give young people the kind of experience they might dream about – one that prepared them for life by equipping them with skills and a Kingdom perspective.

The dream

I talked with Josh Owen, a young entrepreneur who had completed the World Race. We dreamed about the kind of higher education experience we would have wanted as students. 

Such an experience would equip us with the skills we needed to start new enterprises, encouraging us to learn by actually becoming founders of a passion project.

It would teach us to program computers, a skill that gives you a big boost over your peers, one that pays well in the marketplace.

It would provide us with mentors to help us custom design our learning experience and ground us in faith and a biblical worldview.

All this without requiring us to go into debt.

We wondered if such a dream could possibly happen. We prayed and last September, we launched Global U with our first class of 19 students! We recruited an amazing group of mentors and staff and began in Spain by hiking the Camino.

The experience blends equal parts equipping, community and adventure. Every month, we send the students on an Adventure Weekend. They took trips to Fez, Morocco, a jungle in Thailand, and the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Along the way, we encouraged students to ask beautiful questions and become the answer to the world’s problems.

The results

How has it gone? The students are in Nicaragua now. They’ve started five businesses and nonprofits, have become a family,  and are loving the experience (to read some of their stories, go here)!

Typically, the first year of a startup is hard. Josh and I and the Global U staff have poured ourselves into it. But we’re thrilled to see what a difference it’s making. None of the students have incurred debt, they are deepening their faith and have grown so much. They’ve loved their year!

As a result, we expect to take two classes next year. If you know someone 18-23 who has the passion to follow Christ and change the world, I believe there’s no better preparation to do so than through Global U.

Feel free to reach out to me about this – it has become a passion project for me.

Comments (13)

  • Seth
    Are you attempting or have you brought these young people back?

    Just wondering how to pray for this ministry?

    Jon

  • Seth, thanks to you and the leadership for giving your lives to this. It’s the right thing to be working on! You have, and will continue to see great fruit! Love you guys!

  • Charles J Paparelli

    This is what I love about you Seth. You see the problems this generation is facing and the institutions promising to help them. Then you track the results and show us all these institutions are failing them. In fact, they not only fail this generation, they lock them into the very system which failed them. Debt and no God.

    Then you step in and take a stab at solving this big mess. You just trust God and go.

    And just look at the result. These blogs, these young men and women, are amazing. You are building Christian leaders who will change the world. God, no debt, skills, and the encouragement to go and do it.

  • Thanks, Charlie. I remember sitting with you last year and wondering if I had enough gas in my tank to do this yet again. Your encouragement helped me to follow the call of God. It’s amazing how we all need encouragement just to do the things that God has gifted us to do.

  • This is so good! I love that they’re learning to create their own options with the Lord, vs just accept those before them. What a tremendous life lesson that is in itself! They are so blessed to learn from you both how to dream and how to choose and plan and pursue and fulfill and multiply the dreaming. This is so beautiful, and I’m so glad it has life. And so will they!

  • I appreciate the encouragement, Zihna. You see the potential that the model has.

    Hey – I’d love it if you’d consider joining us as a mentor to the students on a trip! You’d be a natural.

  • Yes – we brought them back to GA. Will be finishing out the year here. They are in quarantine for a few weeks, but we are continuing to pour into them. Would be great for them to talk to you, Jon.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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