BY: ALEX BROWN
High tuition costs and disappointing career-returns from university degrees have lead many to seek an alternative to mainstream education. The problem with a lot of universities is that the programs are more theoretical than practical, lacking the hands-on approach that students need to thrive in the “real world.” Some, like Elon Musk, have developed what are known as “unschools,” which simply means student guided learning, with a hands on approach. But MIT and UCLA dropouts, Jeremy Rossmann and Ashu Desai, believe in an approach that is not only hands on, but easy on the students wallets.
Rossmann and Desai developed the Make School in 2012 at the age of 23. With help from a start-up funding program, YCombinator, the pair of dropouts was able to move into Silicon Valley, America’s start-up capital, and get their project off the ground. As of now, they’ve already taught over 500 students.
Perhaps one of the most interesting components of Make School is that it does not require any upfront tuition. Instead, the school takes tuition cuts from students’ salaries, only after they’ve earned quality, steady employment. “It means we can only stay alive if our students get the best education and great employment,” Rossmann said to Seeker Stories. This is also perhaps why the school has such a low acceptance rate. At a mere 10 per cent, Make School encourages competition between applicants, to ensure they only let in students who are committed and hungry.
Once these students get in, they can look forward to a curriculum that has no grading, tests or problem-based homework. Instead, everything that the students learn in Make School is applied directly through hands-on work. Rather than write a test, a Make School student would build an application.
This style of learning wasn’t just born from the influence of alternative schooling leaders like Musk, but rather generations of students looking back on their educations and wondering when they might actually find a practical use for that unit on logarithms. The answer, many have found, is never.