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This Is How Generation Z Will Bypass College

Coming soon(er) to a workplace near you is Generation Z after participating in these education alternatives.

School originated to train obedient factory workers but hasn’t evolved much since then.

Coursera and the University of Phoenix paved the way for people to digitally learn from a distance. Next, traditional and leading colleges began offering online courses—sometimes for free. Then institutions allowed degrees to be completed online, for example Georgia Institute of Technology partnered with Udacity and AT&T to offer the first online Master of Science in Computer Science from an accredited university that students can earn exclusively online for a fraction of the normal cost.

But are these education changes too little too late for Generation Z who has their sights on more innovative and agile education alternatives? 

7 Ways Generation Z Will Replace a College Education

1. MissionU

MissionU is a one-year college-alternative program that has no up front costs. MissionU only gets paid once students earn at least $50,000, then students pay back 15 percent of their income for the first three years.

Each MissionU major is designed to prepare students for specific, high growth fields. Their highly specialized curriculums are developed with industry experts to give students the skills and experience they need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. MissionU was founded by Adam Braun, the entrepreneur who also founded the nonprofit, Pencils of Promise, that has built over 400 schools across the world.

2.Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS)

CAPS is reimagining learning. According to the CAPS website…

“The Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) programs are nationally recognized, innovative high school programs. Students fast forward into their future and are fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real world problems, using industry standard tools and are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit. CAPS is an example of how business, community and public education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs.”

Programs like CAPS are really compelling for Generation Z who is really interested in making a strong and relevant connection between what they are learning and how it will apply to their future.

UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is a company benefiting from their involvement in CAPS programs. Pat Keran, senior director of innovation at UnitedHealth Group, said, “These kids are talking about careers at a young age and we want to expose them to potential ones at UHG. We realized that the technology skills that our college students had were developed young. As we dug a little deeper, we realized that high school students would be equally as competent. So if we are going to get the same output in the end, why not get on the radar even sooner?”

The experience Generation Z derives from participating in a CAPS program is so strong that many are considering forgoing college.

3. Thiel Fellowship

The Thiel Fellowship is intended for students under the age of 23 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and pursue other work.


Recently the Wall Street Journal reported some impressive results of this “build new things instead of sitting in a classroom” effort: “64 Thiel Fellows have started 67 for-profit ventures, raised $55.4 million in angel and venture funding, published two books, created 30 apps, and 135 full-time jobs.” The Thiel Fellowship was founded by PayPal cofounder, Peter Thiel.

4. UnCollege

UnCollege aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success. UnCollege encourages Generation Z to get out the classroom and into the real world where they learn through experimentation, coaching, and mentors. UnCollege replaces the typical freshman year with a real world experience and is a fraction of the cost of one year at college. 

Participants spend ten weeks living abroad; another ten weeks attending workshops, networking, and building a portfolio that will impress future employers while living in San Francisco; and then twelve weeks involved in an internship putting their newly developed skills to use.

Dale Stephens is the founder and ironically a recipient of the Thiel Fellowship.

Travel, learn, and intern is a college-alternative formula Generation Z can get behind.

5. altMBA

The altMBA is an online leadership and management workshop. Founded in 2015 by bestselling author Seth Godin, the altMBA uses digital tools like Slack, WordPress, and Zoom to engage more than 100 students in an intense four-week process. 

Each session of the workshop is led by a cadre of coaches, who engage with students in individual and group work. During the workshop, each student publishes the results of the 13 assigned projects on the public altMBA site. The program is synchronous, with regular deadlines, group discussions, and face-to-face video calls. The tuition for the program is $3,850.

When Generation Z is at an age to consider an MBA, the altMBA or other options like The $100 MBA will be more prevalent and appealing to this cost conscious and digital-first generation.

6. WeWork

WeWork, the office-sharing giant, is launching a private elementary school for “conscious entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall.


In the pilot program, Generation Z students will spend one day a week on a farm outside of the city for hands-on experience. The rest of the time they will spend in Manhattan, where they’ll get lessons in business from both employees and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. The founders hope the school will encourage kids to become “disruptive” as young as possible.

7. Mishmash

Generation Z will leverage their online resourcefulness to uncover the right learning platforms to level-up their know-how and skill sets. Resources like General AssemblyLynda.comUdemyUdacityCoursera, and YouTube are already giving Generation Z the learning edge to leapfrog college. 

Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies’ #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.