In 2011 I was a college sophomore at MIT frustrated with the state of higher education. The tech industry was rapidly evolving and yet college curriculum was frozen in time. My high school CS teacher had been more innovative in offering a project-based education than my MIT professors were. Something felt broken.
I dropped out of MIT, teamed up with a friend from high school, and started teaching computer science the way we wished it had been taught to us. Our first program was literally run out of the living room of a house in Palo Alto, CA.
By 2014 we grew into a full-fledged alternative to college in San Francisco. There were dorms, faculty, clubs, but no degree. We pioneered a new financial model – don’t pay any tuition unless you get a job. Facebook/Google/Apple and co hired our students. The model worked and the media called it the anti college.
The thing is.. thriving without a college degree is much easier if you come from a privileged background. We came to realize a lot of the dropout-worship in the Silicon Valley was blind to the fact that forgoing a college degree was a lot more costly if you were low-income or a student of color. To really disrupt higher education and serve students who were being left behind by the current system, we had to find a way to offer degrees.