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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

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.

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