In March, I (Adam) left an amazing job at HubSpot to move back to NYC. While there I realized a few important things. The first was that if I wanted to solve a problem, it might as well be a big one. The second was that the best way to put a dent in the universe is to do something you’re passionate about. With that in mind, I joined the folks at Charles River Ventures and began spending the majority of my time researching and thinking about higher education.
During the course of my research I reconnected with Avi who had recently left Designer Pages, of which he was co-founder and CTO, and had been teaching Ruby to rave reviews on Skillshare and at General Assembly (apparently we’re long-lost cousins from Morocco, but that’s another story). Over several cups of coffee and some Green Tea Beer (not recommended)at 71 Irving Place, we discussed the state of modern education in the US.
We concluded that much of the problems with today’s higher education systemcan be summarized in a few key points:
1. The cost of attaining a college education has gotten completely out of control, making way to one of the largest financial bubbles in modern history.
2. Debt-saddled college graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs.
3. Even with record unemployment, companies are finding it harder than ever to find skilled talent to fill key roles within their organizations.
People differ in their views of what the purpose of a college education is meant to be. For many, it’s about broadening one’s horizons, being exposed to new peers and ideas, etc… For others (many of whom are the ones taking on debt), it’s about better employment prospects and ultimately, the promise of a better life.
Today, companies like Coursera, Udacity and edX are changing the landscape by democratizing high quality educational content. One no longer needs to attend an Ivy league institution in order to learn from the greatest minds in fields like Physics, Artificial Intelligence or Philosophy.The value gained by enrolling in an expensive school then is found not in the actual content, but rather in the credential gained from having attended that school, and the social mechanisms fostered by the school (interactions with great professors, relationships with a diverse set of peers, acquisition of educational, career, and alumni support groups, etc…). Just ask any MBA you’ve ever met.
The question we’re ultimately hoping to answer is this- by leveraging the now free resources available from the best minds and institutions, and working closely with the best companies to understand what they need from employees, can we do a better job of training people to be productive in today’s workforce? We think the answer is yes.
This fall, we’ll be launching a program in New York to help people become web developers. Rather than stake our reputation on content or credentials, we hope to stake it on results. Schools like Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, Code Academy in Chicago, and Hungry Academy in Washington DC are already doing this, and have better job placement than most of the country’s universities. It’s time for New York to join the party.
We’re hoping to accept a diverse group with varying interests and backgrounds. There are no prerequisites to apply other than a strong desire to learn. We think that creating engineers in New York will not only help our students do great things, but also contribute to New York’s growing tech community. To that end, we’ve already partnered with some of the best programmers and startups to provide our students with real, out-of-the-classroom experience, from guest lectures and mentors to project work and short, on-site internships.
Make yourself useful.