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Praxis and Other Alternatives to the University

Grayson McDowell, Staff Writer

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What is the key to education? Mark Twain once profoundly wrote, “Don’t let your schooling interfere with your education.” Young American adults live in an era when there are only a few obvious options for them after high school: the military, college, or the entry-level workforce. Most graduates choose college immediately after high school. In 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.7 percent of graduates enrolled into college in the first October after graduation. This culture often assumes that college is a worthy investment in a way that no other product or “investment” is treated. Fifty-nine percent of  graduates in South Carolina leave the college campus with an average of $29,163 in debt according to the Institute for College Access and Success as of 2015. Though some people like Coke and others Mountain Dew, though each individual’s goals and needs are different from others, college is sold as the way — the only way– for all young people. Treating college like any other service, students must weigh the drawbacks and advantages of college and consider other options. Praxis is such a program, and its record makes it worthwhile to consider.

College once filled a necessary function for previous generations. Before the twentieth century, to assess the work ethic and competence of job applicants had been a matter of their family esteem and name. Employers had not had the capacity to follow potential employees all day, nor had the hopefuls been able to prove their integrity palpably. Employment without proof of prior results was a risk on the part of the employer, a risk that could be mitigated with credentials, such as a college degree or family name. Employment based on credentials is based on good faith (as is the definition of “credentials“). Some of the collegiate curriculum is necessary for jobs, but the notion that college is more than a credential factory is false. Most college functions and classes are open to the public, yet very few would sit through a lecture for which they have not paid. It is for this reason that consumers pay to attend: even if one had attended enough free lectures to have a doctorate in a field, the money grants the degree — not the associated knowledge.

The modern college and credentials can no longer compete with sheer experience. As business partners of Praxis have come to agree, credentials are becoming no longer necessary because of the internet. While companies still may not stalk applicants literally, they now have access to their reputations, like their presence on social media and their actual works (web developments, articles, vlogs, computer coding, business experience, and other relevant projects). Companies offer a six-month apprenticeship to Praxis participants for one reason. Praxis is a program that seeks out a certain type of young person: a hard-driven, independent, and persevering entrepreneur, but Praxis does not define an entrepreneur in the standard way, a pursuer of business or a corporate founder; the entrepreneurial spirit dwells within every young person, the drive to succeed and make the world a better place through capitalism. There is a rigorous application process. Only fifteen percent of applicants are accepted. A ‘one-way’ interview, a video of the applicant answering requested questions, is a requirement.

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” — Zig Ziglar

Praxis is a year-long program, six months of ‘bootcamp’ and a six-month apprenticeship. The bootcamp includes establishing a digital footprint and self-marketing. Business partners are those companies that value Praxis and its philosophy. They are hundreds of fast-growing start-ups across the U.S. and Canada. Tuition is eleven thousand dollars and students earn fourteen thousand dollars through their internship. Ninety-six percent of participants are hired during or right after the apprenticeship. The average starting salary is fifty thousand dollars per year (discoverpraxis.com).

Praxis has a philosophy of advising and starting careers that focuses on the individual and value creation. There are no grades in the program; the only “grades” are the actual results and the value created by career-based projects. Personal advisers guide participants every step of the way. The advisers are nobody like imposing teachers; they are humble entrepreneurs themselves who are simply more experienced. The curriculum is a series of online, customizable modules that are not intended to slow participants down. The motivation and direction of the participants are completely up to them and their performance. The goal is to change the usual mindset of permission to proactivity.

The C.E.O. of Praxis, Isaac Morehouse, envisions Praxis as an alternative to college, but it is open to students of all circumstances and plans. Many participants use Praxis as a starting point before college, a place where careers can be found, or as a “gap year” program. Others are highly-motivated college, or even high school, dropouts (or “opt-outs,” as they prefer to call themselves). Students recognize the value of learning from experience about the career or field in which they are interested. Praxis is not just another credential offer; it is a first-hand experience and door-opener into a range of high-level jobs that could not be accessed alone. While their friends may still be in the first or second semester of college, Praxis participants get a head-start into the real world. Even if one had a “free ride” to college, one must consider the opportunity costs of delaying adulthood. To find more information about Praxis, to have your questions answered, or to apply, go to discoverpraxis.com. Even if you are not interested in Praxis, check out the Praxis blog, which inspires productivity and entrepreneurship. There are also plenty of reviews and testimonies of former Praxis participants on the home page and around the internet.

When considering college and its alternatives, students should consider that some careers require degrees by law in areas such as education, medicine, and some finance. Students should also consider picking up a trade, perhaps at a vocational school or apprenticeship. There is an ever-growing shortage of young people in skilled-trade jobs, such as plumbing, electrical work, and some manufacturing, according to Forbes magazine. No one can be expected to know what he or she wants to do in ten years. If you have not decided, keep all your options open, and do not feel pressured to follow any particular path.

 

 

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Grayson McDowell, Staff Writer

My name is Grayson McDowell. I am 16 years old. I am a sophomore at Gaffney High School. My interests include economics, cuisine, politics, English, French,...

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