TL;DR: I dropped out of MIT and started Make School. It’s the college I wished existed – a project based bachelors degree in applied computer science. Our students work with companies on real world projects, live in downtown San Francisco, and only pay tuition if they get a job. Best of all, our students come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and their career outcomes are on par with top universities.
The long story:
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.
The accrediting agency that covers California colleges created a new policy designed to facilitate just that. An alternative provider like Make School could partner with an established University and create a new program offering degrees without going through a 3-5 year accreditation process.
Make School was reborn in the Fall of 2018 as a Bachelors of Science in Applied Computer Science Program. We partnered with the Dominican University of California who teach the liberal arts courses on our campus. We’ve hired some amazing faculty and staff to build the best computer science education, hiring from top tech companies like Google and Apple and top universities like MIT and Stanford. Things have really come full circle for me as our new Director of Student and Academic Affairs was an administrator at MIT while my classmates were graduating!
The long story in podcast format: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiEtVpTE40g
Our full vision for Make School: https://www.makeschool.com/vision
Edit: Thanks everyone for these amazing questions and work of support! I’ll check back in every couple hours to keep replying 🙂