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Wayfinding Academy 052117

May 17, 2017|

AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE JONES, FOUNDER, PRESIDENT, AND CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER AT WAYFINDING ACADEMY AND HAILEY MILLER, A STUDENT AT WAYFINDING, ABOUT THIS NEW, NON-PROFIT 2 YEAR COLLEGE IN PORTLAND AND THE PROGRAMS THEY OFFER TO STUDENTS.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is me first go out and Entercom radio Portland public affairs program. I'm Gary blocks and on the program this time we are gonna learn about a new and very inventive way of going to college. On this Osama like to welcome Michelle Jones Michelle is the founder president and chief academic officer and wait finally got to meet. And also we are going to be speaking with Haley Miller she is a student that we finding look at the maps complete. Thinks it's nice to be here. So I think they're concerned review what is what are you finding academy we've heard this until you reached out to me. They asked what we're brand new college churn Portland's we are a two year nonprofit college. According to most of our researcher research done by a few journalists who have covered us really only college are tight in the nation at this point hopefully that'll change soon. But as of right now so we are essentially community college regret associates degrees. And into the cheer program steered students earn a degree in self and society and they have spent the past two years focusing half aren't understanding who they are what their passion about what they want to contribute to the world. And half of their time understanding what the world needs of society needs and where there's two things come together. So. It's a unique kind of college I spent fifteen years as a college professor in the traditional higher education system. And ended up concluding it feels like the way we do college these days is backwards and it's not mostly focused on the students it's mostly focused on creating a sorting mechanism. That serves the college or that serves businesses as opposed to serving students passed. So couple years ago I set out to create a different kind of college start my own college that puts the student at the scanner so we start with who are you when you wanna do with your life. And then rebuild our curriculum from there. They do have a nine core courses that they take altogether as a cohort throughout the two years so Healy for example was in the fifth. Of the nine courses right now and the end of her first year. And that's half of their curriculum and the other half is handcrafted for each student based on what they're interested in and they have a personal guide network's attempt or two years. To help them get internships. Do you take labs do learn an explorer tips create projects federal tailored towards their specific areas of interest. In your your based term Portland yes we are where have we have a campus in north Portland in the saint Johns neighborhood okay. But this is completely unique where did this idea come from we we talked a Euro you've been in your professor and so. This how how did you get the start of the seems like it and run uphill uphill sort of the achievement. Yeah it turns out that people really start colleges it's not I think nineteenth it. So I kind of had to learn it as I went it was a re it's been really really interesting process. I for me it started to thinking process started about a decade ago. Because I started hearing students express their discontent mental and frustrations with their higher education experience. About ten years ago only started really having in depth conversations. Sudden collecting ideas and collecting people. Who believed what I believe about us doing higher education differently. Over them over those ten years and so about. Moved about three years ago I started tying my friend's hand going to do this thing I'm gonna start my own college if it interest in helping come. Meet me at the make Manning's Kennedy school honors today and have a chat about it and figure out what to do. And 35 people showed up. And so that's when we started staggering out OK for gonna start college where actually the first steps and it there's no manual there's no guidebook you can Google that. It doesn't our circle know it doesn't work great and so. It turns out that the first step was to work with organ higher education coordinating commission. And there the state regulatory agency every state has what. And today approved you submit a giants. A proposal to them about what you're starting and this is also true for existing colleges who wanna start new programs. And they have you planned everything out from recruiting your faculty to your curriculum to Wear your students who come from. And to kind of evaluation system you're using we and we finding don't have grades we do narrative evaluation system. And they had decent five years' worth of budgets and financials and forecasts and all that. So a lot of work yes we did out a couple of years ago and then took off from there but we got Eric initial seed funding to start the colleges to start the coast across running campaign. So we renting to go go crowd turning campaign and we. Are I think still we were back and I think we still are the most. Funded Indy does a campaign in Oregon history raised 206000. Dollars for our first year start funding. That's awesome congratulations clinically well you're 22 years and. Two years in from the time that we you know officially incorporating daughter Fy 01 C three status of Paris and one year in which students. So really how did you learn about refining and what's your good experienced and. And so I learned about it from me in an ad in incremental magazine that a lot of the students heard about it from word of mouth. Kind of what's so great about weight training at a huge community. And so so firming strength has been great and I came to it because I haven T you. Three different colleges. All in the same major and then I decided I didn't want to major. In architecture anymore and I didn't know what to do it I don't waste money on exploratory classes. Because. And cost is ten to not actually be like actual job will be in future. So I should be here often traveled and then I found refraining cat means. I need to do you this I am ready to commit to my education and and so far it's helped me figure out think who I am and what I want. And how to get there and. Do you think of is we're finding do you go there and you can get set up for future higher education or. Went to them away fining you kind of unclear what to what your plans the future. And still working and I think you're young guns into. And I think that. It's depends on each student. For me IRA. I will probably continue education and because. Patent. I know that I want to see more of a leader and mart can business. Something in business and and I'll learn those technical. But Aaron a lot of the students probably won't continue. An education because there are going to do archer could narrow. Job just like someone like he's going to keep things on into music he Brian. Both are banding go. Cross country. Except for the people they think of Michelle how many students are there. Yeah we have fifteen students started in our first cohort and a couple of them have. Stops with us so far in the aired pursuing other things already. And right now we're recruiting students for our second cohort were aiming for about 24. In court two which starts in August Coca. And we try to keep the cohorts fairly small because it's a lot of community need learning we want. The students had opportunity to get to know each other and because it's so hands on and individualized. And they have a personalized guide that they were quick through the whole tier program. We wanna keep it fairly small so that we can have that kind of take nick learning community. Answered each student individually to the best of our ability into what they need specifically. And one thing about what Haley was saying about its. And whether students will continue on. I am I agree with her I think a lot of them won't choose to continue on to a four year college some dynamite if that's the thing that they decide they wanna do or they might. Choose to do that but several years down the road not actually do it right after we finding so that's part of the reason why we've gone through. All the process with the organ higher education coordinating commission is so that their associates degree at the end is transferable. If they choose to want to do that. But our goal really is to help. It's one of the statistics that really surprised because I was in higher education for. My entire career have been higher education such and it is ticket for granted that's what people do is go to college after high school that's I didn't as a most people I knew did. And I do when I started looking into this in number of years back I realize that only about a third of American adults have a college degree. And somehow we have. Spread the word with the young people live it's like college is the thing that everybody does and it's really not really that every it's really not an interesting statistic I've never heard that yeah I hadn't either and so. And then there's actually with the way that the workforce is changing right now there are so many careers and jobs were you do not need a college degree in order to succeed in driving nothing you wanna do. And colleges getting so so so expensive and that young people these days like to the average right now as a peer to start college now. You would graduate with about 50000 dollars in debt if you're lucky the most since I don't have quite a lot more than that even and then that sort of traps you into this pattern of having to work and. Certain jobs or industries are certain types of work. That you may not really love and drive just so they can pay back is that for a college degree you maybe didn't even mean the first place to do anything you want to do. So my goal is really to help. To help us make more informed intentional choices about what it is that we wanna do with our allies and what's the best way to get there and in some cases like it for haley's she might. Really yes need to do a four year degree to do things Johnson duke. But she may find that she makes enough connections or president's intern ships or gets enough. Just direct work experience that she can succeed and thrive without having to did go back. Because I just edges on three to think I'll just ignored him for not having to go back to that and get into debt and do all that sort of thing so. And so it's a different model and that way too I think not taking that for granted that we all need to take the same path. So live and when people. Graduate you associates degree in self and society now what what does that mean it's on the nuclear college and little kind of movement epic super Oregon Ilocos. Pray that it's. No. I mean that's not an early interest I mean but we certainly have. Right now for example Haley is taking a lab that's about that's the art therapy and so they talk about how do you change your story they tell yourself about life and understand your personality. And you're passing your future better through using art. And I totally get that sort of move but it's but you know that. Woman teaching mess she's getting her master's degree in art therapy pat Merrill Hearst university is to veto a legitimate field of study psychology. And. So. No most of our so the goalie says degree being self and society for Tsotsi only degree that is ever is name now and the entire country. I got hit one of the fun things not creating your own college from scratch is. But I got to make all of it up from scratch like what's the name of the degree going to be what are all of the courses. Well what kind of terms a we have so we chose twelve weeks trimester is basically which no other college in Oregon passed. Because we wanted long breaks in between terms to go on travel excursions which we call learn and explore trips so let's make Allah. When we. Proposed the name of the degree. The organ higher education Corning commission said. That sounds really interesting. Point at where in the curriculum in our the cells bits and where the society bits and so my main motivation for calling it that is to emphasize the point that in the nine core courses that the students take. About half of them are focused on self self exploration and looking in words to yourself an understanding that so that you know how to. Add value to the world in your own unique way. And half of the courses are focused outward externally on society and building skills that help you understand the world in which you live better so that you can find your place with an. So for example and and students usually take two courses per term but in a few of the terms like this current turner only taking one. And whenever they're in two courses at a time when his self and one of society so for example the first two courses they've taken their first term. It's we've finding 101 which is all focused on who are you and what your values and what your strengths and what are you bringing into this experience that we can build upon. And the other course they take then is called understand in a world which is about understanding the for the past 500 years. All of the social change movements that have been taking place. And how that has created the world we live in today how our borders that we see it on a map came to be the way they are right now. And then in the second half of the course instructor tries to look ahead to the next 500 years to see what the world. That these students are likely to be living and will look like and what kind of influence they wanna have an. And so all the courses are are that kind of multi disciplinary. Perspective and we don't have math class and a science class and humanities class we have like math and science and humanities and psychology woven into each of the courses. So that they're learning it in and applied some sort of tied together way. And all of the work that they do and of course is this project faced so each student can choose a project. That relates to their passion area and the portfolio that they're creating and do projects within each course that helped them move their own personal story forward. So yes kind of worry. In that it has words that sound very more or any. But it is. Feel free Haley to disagree if you do but it's pretty hard it's pretty rigorous like I hired some. Faculty members who challenge them and and we don't want to be hard just for the sake of being hard but to require stretching. Because in those moments of stretching is where we learn and so students have wanted to pieces of feedback we've gone from our first go where is how this is. Harder than I expected it would be. Do you think is that is that true. I agree and I probably have to tell myself that this I agreed to stretch of bank and I appreciate. And do it and it's hard to answer those questions like Q are you what you wanna be you it is your ideal Dele clay. And all of those questions that we did you rent daily basis. To help us figure out. How to live life from her best and get what we actually looked out of its expert and send. Them. You've gone to a traditional university in fact I think you went to my alma mater to the university of items and says now. And now your way find out what and what totally key differences. I actually want it costs them a heck I didn't actually stopped running miss class because you've learned so much it's like. You can't write down. Way you learn in class and being there and experiencing in on having the discussion and learning from class means. Is such a big part of the school whereas in University of Idaho leaders had someone. And lecture I you mean which bits are and like I did well but it wasn't personal goal I didn't. We'll learn much from men and just really like being free training experience and having. Who guides that every we can meet with the guy and is there help being moved forward in making sure you're keeping your contract with your goals. And action learning how to make a proper goal with. It's kind of hard to. Say I want this thing go out. And do it it's only when you potentially finding you are completely immersed that immediately is Eric. In in the education process instead of going to lecture class where you're just one of fifty people's watching teacher. You're completely immersed in in what you want to be doing that right. It is and we often Durham a term when the weight finding ways and when when I'm hiring new faculty whether they are teaching a small course like a lab on a specific topic like art therapy want. Or whether teaching a huge class like the the one pales in right now it's called futures and citizenship. And so I go out and hire faculty teach these courses one of my jobs as chief academic officer to say. Okay here's what it is to teach in the way finding way. And it means that there are no lectures and there's no textbooks and there's no tests and there's no quizzes every once I think David record would give like. Check in quiz to see if people like how much of the reading in the markets in sentencing as restart that thing but aside from that there's no better. And it's worth checking conversational piece I think in that case and and so part of it is helping our faculty of part is I issues faculty who I know teach in a way finding way to begin wind has not like I said I've been collecting people for about a decade. And what I try to do is find people who are really exceptional. Facilitators. Which also usually makes them very good teachers and they usually Coke create some of the curriculum with the students for example the instructor that they have right now Sarah ran around. She came in did and to meet the students last term. Ask them and islanders and interest took copious notes on that went away built a road map which is what we console by. For the course and came back to the students saying here's my proposal you know every Tuesday night we're gonna have in classroom conversation on campus and every Friday we're gonna go out into the community. And visit different people or bring different people us. And last week they went to Milwaukee and they spent some time with the mayor of Milwaukee to find out what it's like to be in local city governments. And so awesome guys pretty awesome to see you as the University of Idaho and. And then I think they're going to some community farms in town their visiting the right to dream to the homeless communities in town to understand those issues. So she collected their their interest and then built a curriculum around what the students draw interest in doing and. One of the lines of our creed is that we believe community in college should be woven together. And so we all as often as possible try to bring community into the way finding campus to take clouds with students are to be mentors are to be guides are to be faculty. And we try to Haston skull out into the community being like there are with this class. And with their internships and with other projects that they do so. Yeah I you I mean every once awhile you might have a lecture. Went to guest speaker who's brought in on us very specific topic to postings dive deep into that like Whitney Houston. Applied to an institutional review board to do human subjects experiments I think you guys had a guest speaker I'm not last term. So every once in a while that happens but mostly it's facilitated hands on experiential learning and learning by doing. And by immersing yourself into the topics. We do we have a lot of extracurricular things that students. Choose to participate and so our campus is open to them pretty much all day every day so even if we staff members are not there the students can access the building access to campus. Use our. Pod casting studio downstairs in the basement words and music making devices that we have down their they wanna do any of that. And and so they and they can also post events their last semester. Last term Haley and some other students were involved in a projects that they launched called a debt free student society. And they would regularly host community meetings at our campus that the students completely. We're in charge of most of us when even their gonna happen so it's a pretty immersive experience. And not send we recognize the reality that. Many students have to work part time job in order to pay rent and for food and gas money and stuff like that and so. And most of our students do work part time job in addition to say going to wait finding. And answered it's our goal and dream that they have a job that is aligned with their areas of passion interest sometimes that works out sometimes it doesn't but we're always trying to nudge them in the direction. To me about the guidance for the what does a guy. Like and me. Counselors and academic advisor and I know academic advisor academic. Except. Where NN normally university you. Cannot frank academic advisor and Mimi. With that in mind fame a term more likely want timing here perfect. And said the guy it's actually you meet with them one time a week. And then you also have a group guide its meeting where you learn how to do you. Professional. Teams hadn't been makes her and what are some things that we Atlantic groups. I think Houston's last turn just like I know how to do is amazing cover letters in preparation for applying for internships yes. And we we talked a lot about internships and how to get a top reach out people in Kinect and advertises and then what to do in an internship. And and then the one on one guy meetings. They just helping keep track of why you're doing helping set calls from the weakening should you actually follow through with. And I've noticed a lot of my problems have been follow through and it's been helpful. That's what what an incredible learning process for you to discover that because it like you say the traditional university you may be meet with the counselor. Well I don't know ever met with a counselor and I was going to be mean little once a week and really. Horning in on what it is him and part of the reason for this particular design is dead at southern guy. Program we we when we're designing our program for instance we generally called our wisdom and counsel as I pulled together bunch of wise people from Portland joining us and many of whom. Have worked in higher education before as academic advisors are counselors or admissions. Ornstein services some of whom are. Therapists. Or life coaches have backgrounds and psychology. And they described it as we're trying to concurrently build academic skills yes but also personal skills are professional skills. And I don't think we finding students are unique in this way at least from my experience in higher education most people who are beginning there professional careers. And really trying to understand what they want for their long term. Have to figure out their what their own patterns of what works for them in terms of holding themselves accountable and setting goals and what what works for them and what doesn't work for them because we're all pretty different in that way. And so. I don't think we've finding students are unique in this and I think it's a skill set that we all could probably benefit from no matter a whole yeah and the goal with way of finding is it's only a two year program. I have no delusions and into years. Where does somebody can figure out like what they're going to do for the rest of their life come under the plan stick to it never changes like that's not going to happen. So what we're trying to do is help them understand what it takes to ask these questions and do this exploration. And I'm forty now. And twice probably in my life I've gone through this like who am I and what am I going to do with my life kind of new exploration phase. And if I had had away fining early on I would've known how to approach that in a way that didn't leave me like flailing and depressed and confused and whatever can perhaps in death and perhaps into exactly. And so the idea is that these skills of their building not only should they guide program that is especially synagogue program. Our skills that they can use again and again and again later in life when they encounter this. Exploration phase again and again it's not that's the goal within and so. These foundational things seem pretty important death. Our I I person and let it like in the lab fetus found out what her and real relationships style is so and how that. Let's caused and then how to change it feed down if it's not one that you really like and how to change the behaviors in the future. I think those are really important skills and Allen to realize in baton beating yourself up over person saint. Back can be changed if he just consciously realize. But it's actually the problem. Cool stuff. We have about a minute left and wanna find out if somebody listening wants to get involved and become the student code they do that. We're doing you more information yeah I'm we would love for them to reach out to necessarily easiest place to go is our website which is way finding academy dot org. And on the homepage you'll see two options one is to go to the main site if they're just interest in being a supporter and wanna learn about labs or other things they can click there. If they want to become a student there's a button there. And it has taken to a page explains the process we don't do normal application process we have what we call match makers. We want to make sure that we funny is not for everyone and depending on what you wanna do we may be a wonderful match for you or we may be inside track trio. So we wanna make sure it's a good match in both directions so the first step is they reach out to us and then we respond back and we have a conversation about who are you and we think you wanna deal. And why you think way finding might be good match and then if that all seems good then we might enter an online application. No SAT scores are ECT scores are GPAs are asked for. It's all sort of reflective questions about how did you get to be where you are today what's your experience with education why do you wanna go to college. Why you wanted to wait finding what has some big questions are tackling in my friend now you want some. Help with. And then those applications are reviewed by team if community members so we have board members crew faculty. I'm donors to review these applications and then we do in in pursing conversation with the students. Before we finally extend an invitation. So like I say right now we're looking for cohort two starting in August we have or by the end of this week we will have invited seventeen. People from all over the country thanks to join us for our second Covert and we have so that leaves us with what at least. I guess at seven spots remaining that was so I haven't felt so. And we would love to get more applicants from Portland we've got folks from like SS for all over the country and be enough to get more from Portland. Super cool so way of finding academy dot ORG that's right there's been cool stuff thanks we'll show. We've been talking today with Michelle Jones founder president and chief academic officer at least finding academy and Haley Miller a student way finding thinks real self. Having been camping. Microscope is an Entercom radio Portland public affairs program.