Q&A With UnCollege Founder Dale Stephens

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ABC News: How much do you think the fact that you were home-schooled played a role in your frustrations with the formal education system?

Stephens: I was home-schooled from 6th until 12th grade. Most of all, homeschooling allowed me to understand that the path to success, what I used to consider acceptance to college, didn't require jumping through the hurdles of structured learning. It is this attitude of alternative approaches to success that has allowed me to think outside the system of higher education.

ABC News: You've received quite a bit of media coverage for UnCollege. How has that attention made you re-think the concept of UnCollege?

Stephens: The media response has made me come to think of UnCollege as more of a social movement that a finite organization. The fact that I received national press attention just four weeks after launching the site was indicative that I've struck a societal chord and encouraged me to think of UnCollege in broader terms.

ABC News: When you created UnCollege, who did you have in mind would use it?

Stephens: UnCollege can be used by anyone at any age. My vision of the typical UnCollege student is someone in the adolescent years. Someone between the ages of 15 and 25 who is self-motivated… who is willing to challenge themselves and is probably dissatisfied with school. I don't think typical UnCollege students will be former home schoolers themselves or home schoolers themselves. I think that UnCollege can be just as beneficial, if not more, to students who have pushed their traditional education up until this point.

UnCollege Founder's Interview With ABC News

ABC News: What types of skills would people go to UnCollege for?

Stephens: People should come to UnCollege if they want to learn how to apply their theoretical knowledge to the real world. If you want to learn math, you can do it with the UnCollege mindset. It means that you're not going to take math just because the institution you're going to requires you to take math. You're going to take math by going out and finding a mentor who perhaps has a degree in mathematics or does something related in the field.

ABC News: From the moment someone signs up for UnCollege until the very end project, what is the process and experience like?

Stephens: Right now, it consists of sending an email and adding your name to a list. There are 16 students, or so, on the list currently. And what we'll be doing over the next several months is developing a curriculum -- outlining projects and outlining the steps for students to build up a network. So once that is completed, and we'll be ready in September, students can start UnCollege projects, ranging from introspective writing experiences to going not another country, to creating an internship.

ABC News: How does someone find a mentor for UnCollege?

Stephens: Since the press got out for UnCollege, I've received more than 100 emails from people volunteering to be mentors.They're volunteering their time and expertise to UnStudents who want to get this up and running.

ABC News: Where are these mentors from?

Stephens: A sample of people who have volunteered to be mentors include: Bern Beatty, a professor at Wake Forest University who holds an MBA and DBA from Harvard Business School, Jordan Siedel, a college professor in from Warsaw, Poland, and Sean Perkins, an academic advisor for an embassy in Washington, D.C.

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