experience institute

The Experience Institute: A New Kind of Education

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Guest Post by Victor Saad, Founder of the Experience Institute & the Leap Year Project

When I first began exploring the possibility of starting a school, I received loads of positive feedback and shared countless energetic conversations. I couldn’t tell if people were being genuine or if they were just flattering me; but, either way, those conversations were electric and they expanded my vision and deepened my hopes.

As 2012 and my Leap Year Project came to an end, I had no idea what it would take to start Experience Institute. But all along the way I stumbled upon great people who wanted to build this with me. Designers, lawyers, educators, advisors, and many others kept showing up to tell me they wanted to be a part of this story. Slowly, an amazing team began to form.

Over the past six months, the conversation around higher education soared to a new level of attention. The number of questions surrounding the value of traditional degrees has been startling and the topic of “learning” is being unpacked and reexamined like never before.

Among them are a slew of questions about where experiences fit into the landscape of education and new technologies. Though there are skeptics, there is an increasing amount of openness to exploring new forms of credible learning paths through combining a series of real-world experiences with traditional learning methods. Potential students, partner companies, and even prominent institutions have rang in with their hopes, hesitations, and ideas.

All of this has confirmed in me and our team that the time for Experience Institute is, indeed, now.

Experience Institute: Apply Today from Experience Institute on Vimeo.

We’ve spent the past six months building relationships with companies, institutions, and individuals who are ready to support ten pioneering students who will build Ei into something great, and we want you to be one of them.

Here’s our plan:

  • Apply. Yes a video is necessary. But don’t worry about creating anything flashy. Your computer or phone camera will do just fine.
  • Meet. If you’re accepted, all of us will begin in Chicago. A group of individuals from Stanford, Kellogg, and prominent design thinking agencies are creating a curriculum centered around process-based learning. This focuses on Storytelling, Self-Awareness, Community Building, Project Management, and Problem Solving. We’ll meet three times throughout the year.
  • Three Apprenticeships. In between the meetups, you’ll be charged with completing three paid apprenticeships. These act as core classes to your year of learning. You’ll be paid for your time with these companies (yes, you heard that right, you will be paid to go to class!). The cohort of students will meet online weekly and will write to our community monthly to document and share our lessons.
  • Electives. During your apprenticeships, you’ll choose elective experiences that sharpen the skills you hope to acquire. These can include conferences, workshops, dabble/skillshare classes, etc. All of which will be documented as part of your year.
  • Graduate. The third and final meetup will culminate with a graduation, where you present your learnings to friends, family, and potential employers.
  • Cost. The cost is $10,000. However, students can start the program with $3,500 up front and then simply have your monthly payment be taken from your paid apprenticeship stipend.

It is our hope and our mission to create a school that will outlast us — one that will equip people with the tools necessary to transform our world with an inventive spirit. Whether or not you choose to join us, we hope you’ll stick around to see the story unfold.

And for those who are on the edge, time is nearly up. Apply today.

Victor Saad is an Egyptian-American who calls Chicago home, and believes that relationships are the most powerful engines for change. Through The Leap Year Project, a self-made Master’s Program and community project, he worked with Threadless, NBBJ, and advertising mogul Alex Bogusky, among others. He staged his graduation at TEDxWindyCity, produced a book about taking leaps, and recently launched the Experience Institute, joining forces with industry leaders from Razorfish, Northwestern, Stanford, and I.C. Stars to prepare for the founding class.

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On July 12, 2013
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