Before I came to Portland to attend Wayfinding Academy, I first attended a small private business school in my home state of Massachusetts. Classes at this school were very traditional: an instructor standing at the front of the room, flicking through a powerpoint about finance while the students browse the web, looking at things that really interest them - music, baseball, travel, food, art (along with some dog and cat photos here and there). Our teachers assigned homework, but never actually check that we complete it. We have assignments due here and there and we hand in essays laden with buzz-words, robbed of originality. Teachers hand us back papers almost untouched by an editing pen. It seemed like everyone was a cog in this machine that spits out uninspired, uncreative, fragile kids into the adult world.
It took me a bit to realize this, but I was just not learning anything of value. I felt dejected. I felt stagnant. I could see the life path I was on and none of it interested me. I was forcing myself to “just suck it up” and bare these classes rather than pursue my actual interests. It made me so uncomfortable and angry at the higher education system that I left it all and dropped out of school.
About a year went by and I attended a conference in Portland where Michelle Jones spoke on stage about Wayfinding. Hearing Michelle’s vision for revolutionizing higher education was all it took for me to know that this new college was the place for me. Even though I was upset with higher education, I CRAVED being in a community with other like-minded students that were committed to their own education and growth.
The first major difference I noticed as a Wayfinding student is that no one holds your hand there. A surprising amount of hand-holding goes on in traditional education. But not at Wayfinding. They don’t prescribe you what you need to know from some list or textbook. They help you figure out what you're naturally curious in and then help you develop the skills you need to learn more and take action. It is entirely self-directed and self-determined.
Building the skills to be a self-directed and self-determined lifelong learner and maker was the bulk of my work at Wayfinding. I learned how to persevere when projects got difficult. I learned about myself and grew as a whole human inside the classroom and out. I got to travel and see more of the world through their Learn and Explore program. I learned all sorts of skills from designing and painting murals to editing films to facilitating group conversations.
Everything good in my life right now can be traced back in one way or another to my experience at Wayfinding. So grateful for the two years I spent there. I would highly recommend you look into Wayfinding as a potential next step in your life.