Dale J. Stephens left school at the age of twelve to become an unschooler. Today, he is a sought-after education expert appearing on major news networks including CNN, ABC,NPR, CBS, Fox, and TechCrunch. His work has been covered by the New York Times and New York Magazine to Fast Company and Forbes. He has spoken around the world at events such as TED2012. At 21, Dale leads UnCollege, the social movement changing the notion that college is the only path to success. His first book, Hacking Your Education, was published by Penguin on March 5, 2013. In May 2011 Stephens was selected out of hundreds of individuals around the world as a Thiel Fellow. The Thiel Fellowship recognizes the top changemakers around the world under the age of twenty.
Jean Fan is the editor at UnCollege, managing the blog and the newsletter. Previously, she served as Community Manager, building the hackademic community and representing UnCollege at conferences and other events. Jean is taking a gap year before attending Stanford University to work and travel. Jean appeared on HLN TV to talk about how important it is to make deliberate decisions about your education, and wrote a widely-read piece on EdSurge about why she skipped Stanford this September. Most recently, she spoke about taking a gap year at TEDxBergen.
Gabe is a musician, entrepreneur, and educator who is equal parts thinker and doer. He has worked as a community organizer, fundraiser, and has developed two businesses – most recently an electronic production school for youths. He is a passionate advocate for self-directed learning models, and believes that the most important quality that an education can ingrain in a person is the ability to vigorously pursue their passions. He is infinitely curious, a lover of learning, and is excited to be part of a community of brilliant badasses, who are motivated to take creative control of their lives.
Michael is a partner at Learn Capital and advisor to New Schools Venture Fund. Previously, he founded of Inigral, the first for-profit company to get investment from the Gates Foundation. Michael started his career as a high school history teacher and cares deeply about helping learners become more self-directed.
Lisa is an educator, lifelong learner, and Dale’s mom. While she graduated with a degree in Botany, her real education took place during her time spent as a community organizer in Seattle in the 1980’s. She eventually got a teaching credential and spent ten years in the classroom trying to make school more self-directed. When Dale wanted to try homeschooling, she supported him and came to believe in the power of unschooling. Her true passion is helping young people grow and discover themselves.
Jon has been a student of learning for most of his life, from living and working at an orphanage in Mexico City to working at group homes for young adults in the Bay Area. From creating programs for the Florida Keys school system to facilitating programs for faculties around the country, Jon has seen how the current education system doesn’t work for everyone and is passionate about helping people find ways that work for them. Most recently he has worked for Challenge Day, a non-profit that specializes in workshops based upon social emotional learning, self-esteem building, and creating climates where people can be successful and thrive. Jon has facilitated workshops in 6 different countries (and informally done so in another 4). He has been one of the main subjects in a documentary about Challenge Day in the Netherlands and then subsequently was a part of the spin off TV series for the following four seasons. He has done speaking engagements for the United Way, been a part of the book “Be The Hero”, and done numerous interviews for local television and newspapers, as well as many speaking engagements. Jon believes strongly in going against the grain, being creative, and the importance of a little bit of mischief.
Zack’s experience as a traveler, educator, and strategist has left him both an analytic thinker and creative dreamer passionate about innovating the way we learn and educate. His background in education started in Washington, DC where he helped tutor underprivileged adults to prepare for their GED. He has also worked as the Strategy and Communication Manager at Georgetown University where he researched, analyzed, and helped design new innovative program offerings based on demand and career outlook. Zack took a couple of gap years studying French in Alsace and German near Cologne, working as a mover in Barcelona, and as an economics intern for the State Department in Berlin. He feels that the time he spent traveling and learning prior to school shaped who he is today.
The end-all be-all of high school isn’t about getting into the best college. It’s about finding your unique strengths, passions, and talents, and tapping into them. Then it’s about bleeding them for all they’re worth and using them to make the most out of high school. This is what sets the footing for a post high school experience that best suits you. Alex Ellison graduated from Northwestern University with loads of debt and decided she wanted to help young people avoid the same perils by taking charge of their college education. She encourages students to consider all of their options after high school (college and uncollege) and to investigate colleges off the beaten path who put students first. As the UnCollege Resident College Adviser, not only will Alex give you and your family all of the resources and guidance you need to take control of your education after high school, she’ll help you discover your passions. Alex owns Dunce, LLC, a college planning practice.
Emily asks a lot of questions. Dedicated to digging deeper, she voraciously reads and loves to get to know new people and places. From working in development at a Fair Trade coffee and chocolate company, to learning to salsa dance in Peru, to studying international law in the Hague, and sex education in Chile- the common thread has always been an interest in the interactions between individuals and cultures. A dancer, baker, and travel enthusiast, Emily is happiest while in motion. Emily believes in life-long learning and staying true to endless curiosity.
The term “educational pathfinding” means connecting people with transformative learning experiences, and it’s what Cody’s been doing his whole professional life. He spent nearly a decade as a college admissions officer before moving into international education, leading study abroad experiences for undergraduates in ten countries. He then directed enrollment and marketing for the Semester at Sea global education program at the University of Virginia, and has worked with both for-profit and non-profit organizations in the educational travel field. He has been co-owner of an experiential education company, head coach of a semi-pro baseball team in Germany, a high school teacher in Italy, a park ranger in Northern California, and a contestant on Jeopardy.