Skip College, Work at a Startup

In the beginning of February, there was an article in Mashable covering a new two-year program called Enstitute. This program suggests that young students coming out of high school might be better off not going into college, and instead becoming an apprentice for two years at a startup company. During the first year of this program, 15 selected apprentices will fill basic administration roles, working with top-level executives at startups such as Thrillist, Birchbox, Pixable, and Warby Parker. In the second year those apprentices will specialize in a specific business area at the same startups, theoretically coming away from with marketable experience.

I both like and dislike the idea of this apprenticeship program. While I understand the need to fix the way our higher education system deals with graduates, I don’t agree with foregoing college and replacing it with an apprenticeship. For some people an apprenticeship program would work great, for others though it wouldn’t work that well. I also see the need to do something like this, as our college students are not gaining the level of experience that they need coming out of college and going into the professional world. This might be due to a lack of importance placed on internships and job shadowing in our current education systems.

Also I don’t think that you can replace the level of broad knowledge that you gain during the undergraduate levels of college years. The amount of growing as a person that happens during a young college students years is something that can’t really be replicated anywhere else other than the struggles, fails, and accomplishments gained while going through a college program. Then again maybe our down economy has lessened the internships available to students, which would make an apprenticeship program like Enstitute a good idea.

I think the best thing to do would be for colleges to recognize the value of something like Enstitute and partner together with local businesses and startups in their areas to build programs like that into the current curriculum somehow. Maybe it would be something like requiring students that make it into the program to work there during their last two years of college part-time while they finish their degrees. But lets just be honest, doing away with college and replacing it with an apprenticeship program just because students are coming out of college unmarketable and with a lot of debt is no reason to do away with college. That is a reason to fix the programs inside the college to better prepare students, and make them more marketable than they now are.

What do you think?


The Green Guerilla