How did she catapult from dropping out of college to landing a plum job? She became an apprentice to Hilary Mason, chief data scientist at Bitly, through a new two-year program called Enstitute. It teaches skills in fields like information technology, computer programming and app building via on-the-job experience. Enstitute seeks to challenge the conventional wisdom that top professional jobs always require a bachelor’s degree — at least for a small group of the young, digital elite.
“Our long-term vision is that this becomes an acceptable alternative to college,” says Kane Sarhan, one of Enstitute’s founders. “Our big recruitment effort is at high schools and universities. We are targeting people who are not interested in going to school, school is not the right fit for them, or they can’t afford school.”
Colleges are incredibly expensive, the cost continues to rise, and yet they are increasingly less effective at preparing people to be successful. There’s absolutely value in a liberal arts education (in fact, I think there’s even more value now), but many schools don’t even do a good job of exposing students to a variety of disciplines to make them more well-rounded. Universities crank students through, make them take class after class with lecture-midterm-lecture-midterm-lecture-final, put them tens of thousands of dollars into debt, and leave many of them not much better off than they were before entering.
So new education organizations like this should be welcomed. Perhaps they’re not exactly what we need to replace universities, but we don’t need to replace universities—we need different options, different paths, different ideas that allow people to take a route that fits them better, and places pressure on our bloated, staid education system to change.