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UnCollege logo.jpg
Type of site
Available inEnglish
OwnerDale J. Stephens
Key people2010
Current statusactive

UnCollege is a social movement that aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success.[1][2][3] UnCollege was founded by Dale J. Stephens in 2011.[4][5]


Stephens is a self-described "elementary school dropout", as he was homeschooled with emphasis on real-world experience for the majority of his childhood.[6] He briefly attended Hendrix College. While there, Stephens had a night-long discussion with a friend regarding the disconnect between the theoretical subject matter taught in college and its real world applications.[6] This discussion would become the basis for UnCollege, which Stephens founded in 2010.[6]

In 2010, Stephens also applied for the Thiel Fellowship, a program founded by Peter Thiel which grants fellows US$100,000 to forgo college for two years and focus on their passions.[7][8][9][10] After his initial proposal was rejected, Stephens was encouraged to reapply in pursuit of his work as an educational futurist through UnCollege. His second application succeeded and he was in the first batch of Thiel Fellows.[11][11][12]


UnCollege provides resources for students who wish to define their own educational paths, whether in or outside of traditional higher education models.[13] The site is inspired by Stephens' background in unschooling and his frustrations with the college experience.[13] He states that his goal with UnCollege is not to take down universities, but to encourage more people to consider the opportunity cost of attending college.[14][15]

UnCollege features resources, forums, and workshops designed to help students, both in and out of college, gain useful skills.[16] The site also hosts the UnCollege Manifesto, a 25-page document written by Stephens that covers subjects like "The value (or lack thereof) of a college degree" and "Twelve steps to self-directed learning."[17] Additionally, the site matches students with mentors, and encourages students to collaborate and learn outside of the classroom.[18][19]


The UnCollege movement is founded on these principles:[1]

  • Many people pay too much for university and learn too little.
  • You can get an amazing education anywhere—but you’ll have to stop writing papers and start doing things.
  • You need an excellent education to survive in a world where 50% of the population is under 30.
  • Subjects taught in traditional universities are often contrived, theoretical, and irrelevant, promoting conformity and regurgitation rather than innovation and learning.
  • You don’t have to decide what to do with your life at age 18.
  • You can contribute to society without a university degree.
  • You cannot rely on university to give you a complete and relevant education when professors are often more interested in researching than teaching.
  • If you want to gain the skills requisite for success, you must hack your education.[20]

The UnCollege movement believes that college, while not itself adverse, needs significant changes because:[1]

  • Tuition is rising at twice the rate of inflation.
  • Students are not learning.
  • Students are incurring high levels of debt to finance their educations.


Through his work with UnCollege, Stephens was named as one of Splashlife's 30 Under 30: Social Media Titans.[21] UnCollege has been profiled in world publications like CNN, The New York Times, The Asia Times, ABC, Fast Company, Mashable, NPR, CBS, Inc., TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post.[22][7][8][12][13][23][24][25][26][27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c UnCollege. Retrieved from http://www.uncollege.org/.
  2. ^ The Chronicle of Higher Education Disgruntled College Student Starts ‘UnCollege’ to Challenge System By Jeff Young, February 9, 2011
  3. ^ College is a waste of time By Dale Stephens, Special to CNN June 3, 2011 "a social movement empowering individuals to take their education beyond the classroom"
  4. ^ UnCollege: Home-Schooling For College Students Huffington Post, 02/10/11
  5. ^ Students develop new UnCollege curriculum The Dartmouth Monday, February 28, 2011
  6. ^ a b c Gobry, Pascal-Emmanuel (2011-06-14). Peter Thiel Is Giving This Man $100,000 To Disrupt College. Business Insider, 14 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b Markowitz, Eric (September 2011). "Meet the College Dropouts". Inc.
  8. ^ a b Gee, Robyn (2011-06-03). "Creator Of UnCollege Gets 100K From Thiel Foundation". Huffington Post.
  9. ^ Stephens, Dale (2011-06-03). "College is a waste of time". CNN.
  10. ^ Stephens, Dale (2011-07-18). "Thiel Fellow Dale Stephens Drops Out (Of College), Moves In (To Silicon Valley), And Starts Up (Talent-Scouting RadMatter)". Fast Company.
  11. ^ a b Smith, Daniel (2011-05-01). "The University Has No Clothes". New York.
  12. ^ a b Fox, Zoe (2011-08-26). "Diploma or Dropout: The Entrepreneur's Dilemma". Mashable.
  13. ^ a b c "How Students Can Take Charge of Their Education". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  14. ^ "College is a waste of time".
  15. ^ "Students develop new UnCollege curriculum". The Dartmouth. Archived from the original on April 12, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  16. ^ "UnCollege". Retrieved 2012-05-11.
  17. ^ The UnCollege Manifesto. UnCollege.
  18. ^ "The 'UnCollege': are walled campuses obsolete?". Smart Planet. May 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-06-13.
  19. ^ "Beyond The Hill : Getting Schooled: UnCollege attracts students with higher education alternative". Daily Orange. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
  20. ^ UnCollege About. Retrieved from http://uncollege.org/about.
  21. ^ "30 under 30: Social Media Titans". Splashlife. May 2012.
  22. ^ Bennett, William J. (April 18, 2012). "Are colleges afraid of Peter Thiel?". CNN.
  23. ^ Louie, David (May 25, 2011). "Foundation gives $100K to teenage entrepreneurs". ABC.
  24. ^ Stephens, Dale (April 13, 2011). "Living the Knowledge Life: A Thiel Fellowship Finalist's Response". TechCrunch.
  25. ^ Hutchinson, Martin (April 12, 2012). "College clear-out on its way". AsiaTimes.
  26. ^ Stephens, Dale (September 14, 2011). "What Has Being A Thiel Fellow Given Me? Credibility". Fast Company.
  27. ^ "Preparing Americans for the 21st Century Workplace".
  28. ^ KONRATH, ANDREAS (February 22, 2017). "Desrupting College". Newsweek.

External links[edit]