Welcome to LaunchPad

LaunchPad is a 7-week online training and coaching program for young adults ready to launch into the world—without college.

1/15/15 update:

LaunchPad was cancelled due to low interest. Sorry!

Here’s the Problem

College Isn’t Right for Everyone

As a young adult, going away to four-year college is the default path that awaits you—and it’s not necessarily a bad one. Studies clearly show that the average college graduate will earn more money in her lifetime. College classes, peers, professors, counselors, and majors can provide a valuable support structure for learning.

But what if:

  • you don’t feel ready or excited for college right now, and you fear that you might waste your time and money there?
  • you’re confident that you want to take a career path that doesn’t require a college degree?
  • taking on student loans doesn’t seem like the right choice?
  • you believe that you can learn, grow, and find direction, without college, if you just have a little help along the way?

Like any new job, new relationship, or big purchase, college isn’t something to jump into lightly. You should go to college if and when you feel prepared and motivated, not because everyone else is going, my family wants me to, or I have no idea what else to do.

Even if you’re confident that college is in your future, it’s smart to consider taking time away from school to explore potential career paths, work on creative projects, and develop your skills. Such experiences will help you take full advantage of college when you do go and not flounder like some first year students do.

If Not College, Then What?

Once you’ve decided that college isn’t for you, a new problem arises: “If I don’t go to college right now, what will I do instead?” Unfortunately, our society does not have a good answer to this question for bright young people who could go to four-year college but choose not to.

The truth is, a world of opportunities, challenges, and adventures awaits the ambitious young adult outside of college. These include:

  • finding (or creating) an interesting and challenging internship or job
  • traveling across your state, country, or world
  • launching your own company, freelance service, or philanthropic project
  • reading extensively and training in specific fields
  • creating digital projects that share your knowledge, passion, and experiences with the world and build an online following

I wrote extensively about these opportunities in my book Better Than College, which has helped many young adults launch into productive and fulfilling life experiences without four-year college.

But what if choosing this path feels too lonely, difficult, or overwhelming? What if you don’t feel confident enough to create your own plan and motivate yourself to follow through?

This is why I created LaunchPad:

To provide a supportive platform and community for young adults who want to create a challenging, fun, and engaging alternative to college.

My Solution to the Problem

LaunchPad is a 7-week online program I designed specifically for 17- to 19-year-olds (flexible) excited to create their own incredible alternatives to college. It’s a blend of group meetingsone-on-one coaching, and real-world challenges that’s appropriate for both those taking time off before college and those without current plans to attend college. It’s for the schooled, the unschooled, and everyone in between.

This first LaunchPad program will enroll eight participants.

As a participant, you’ll walk away from LaunchPad with:

  • a detailed plan for the next 3, 6, or 9 months (your choice) filled with ambitious-yet-realistic goals and action steps
  • valuable new mental processes for working hard and staying motivated as a self-directed learner
  • a better idea of career fields (both employed and self-employed) that may be a good fit for you
  • a feeling of readiness for the next phase of your life, whether it’s a job, an entrepreneurial venture, college, or further self-exploration
  • a group of peers who have shared and supported your journey

After the program, participants receive:

  • 4 weeks of unlimited follow-up e-mail support with Blake
  • video recordings of all group and one-on-one mentorship sessions
  • clear guidance from Blake for continuing the mentorship and accountability systems they developed during the program

All participants will receive the paperback and e-book editions of Blake’s books, The Art of Self-Directed Learning and Better Than College.

Other Solutions to The Problem

Gap Year Programs

A growing number of formal gap year programs offer excellent travel and growth opportunities for college-aged young adults. If you’re looking for an all-encompassing program with group international travel, consider a formal gap year program—e-mail me for recommendations.

If, however, you prefer to custom-design your gap year experience and save lots of money in the process, consider LaunchPad. (Or get the best of both worlds: use LaunchPad to complement a formal gap year program!)

Total Self-Study

A savvy 18-year-old can pick up a few good books, create a detailed personal education plan, and motivate him/herself to follow through. I wrote Better Than College and created the social network Zero Tuition College to support just this kind of person.

But total self-study can be difficult, especially if you have trouble recruiting the personal support, guidance, and peers on which self-directed learning thrives. I created LaunchPad for the self-directed learner who feels ready to take the independent path if she just has a little help getting started.

Just Going to College

Faced with the daunting prospect of finding an alternative to college, just going to school may feel like the easiest path. And it might all work out! But I believe that if your heart and mind are telling you that college isn’t the right path right now, you should listen to those voices.

Forcing yourself to go to college for the wrong reasons can lead to wasted time, wasted money, and unnecessary disillusionment. Why not start with a cheaper, smaller experiment in full-time self-directed learning?

Key Elements of LaunchPad

Real-World Learning Challenges

Relevant, Interesting Reading Assignments

Peer Accountability Partnerships

One-on-One Coaching with Blake

Blogging and Personal Website Creation

4 Weeks Post-Program E-mail Support

Twice-a-Week Group Videoconference

Personal Mentor Recruitment

20 Hours / Week Total Commitment

Example Real-World Challenges

Earn $1 from a Stranger
Create a new microbusiness that offers one of your talents to the world, earning at least $1 from a total stranger.

Write a Failure Résumé
“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.” Embrace failure as learning by writing a résumé filled with your failures (instead of your successes).

Experiment with Productivity Tools
Have trouble getting stuff done? Join the rest of us. There are great tools to help you there. Let’s play with some of them.

Chat Up 3 People With Awesome Jobs
There’s a big difference between thinking you know what kind of job you’d like and actually talking to people who do that job. We’ll do the latter.

Take a Skills Inventory
To do what you’re good at, you first need some idea what you’re good at. We’ll use two world-famous systems for assessing your strengths.

Do the Wristband Challenge
The way that we speak to ourselves matters. Use a wristband to remember that constructive language trumps destructive language, always.

Enrollment

There are no LaunchPad programs currently scheduled.

 I’m interested in similar future programs

Click the red button above to receive the LaunchPad information packet.

I’ll also e-mail you when future LaunchPads are announced. (You can unsubscribe at any time, and I won’t use your e-mail for anything else. Promise.)

Click here to learn the story behind LaunchPad.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available for up to two families with highly limited resources. The cost of the program with the financial aid discount is $400.

Cost Comparison

Launchpad

$1,200

 Gap Year Program

$10,000-$15,000

First Year of College

$10,000 – $30,000

Food for Thought

In the videos below I explain a few good reasons to consider postponing (or skipping) college, and what to do instead.

What could you do with $20,000 instead of going to college?
(1st-place talk at Ignite Asheville, 2012)

Really good reasons to skip college.
(Q&A with Reason TV, 2012)

Frequently Asked Questions

Not sure if LaunchPad is right for you?

  1. Click the red button above to receive the LaunchPad information packet and application.
  2. Read the frequently asked questions below.
  3. If you have a question that’s still not answered, please contact me!
Q: What are the specific topics and challenges? What does the weekly schedule look like?

A: These questions (and more) are answered in the LaunchPad information packet. Click the red button above to receive it.

Q: What kind of prerequisite skills do I need to get the most out of LaunchPad?

A: Basic college-ready reading and writing skills are required. (Translation: You should be able to digest 30 pages from a non-fiction book in one day and write a few well-formed paragraphs without too much grief.)

Q: What’s the application process?

A: I will conduct brief interviews over Google Hangouts with each applicant to ensure that our group has balanced personalities, maturity levels, and readiness for challenge. Interviews begin on December 21st. Instructions for applying are noted in the e-mail you receive after expressing interest in LaunchPad.

Q: Can I apply if I’m 20 or 21?

A: Yes, but please know that the challenges and discussions will be aimed at a 17- to 19-year-old audience who may have less life experience than you.

Q: Can I apply if I’m 15 or 16?

A: Yes, but please know that you’ll need to demonstrate exceptional maturity for your age and full preparation for LaunchPad challenges.

Q: What technology do I need?

A: All you need is a reliable computer capable of running Google Hangouts (including video) and a high-speed internet connection. (Test your connection speed here; successful videoconferencing typically requires 2Mbps download & 1Mbps upload capability.)

Q: Can I join from anywhere?

A: Yes, you may join from anywhere in the world, but please recognize that this program requires live group videoconferences that take place at a convenient time for the majority of the (mostly North American) participants. If you’re in a distant time zone we will do our best to accommodate you, but you’ll probably need to participate at inconvenient hours.

Q: What extra expenditures are required?

Q: Be prepared to register your own domain ($15) and web hosting service ($0-$5/month for however long you desire) and obtain a few books ($30-$50 if purchased new, cheap or free if bought used or borrowed from a library).

Q: When do the meetings happen? What if I have a time conflict?

A: Upon forming the LaunchPad group, you’ll receive an availability survey and we’ll schedule our group meetings to avoid conflicting with your other obligations. (LaunchPad is not a good fit for those already committed to other activities for 20+ hours a week.) Our one-on-one meetings will have a large degree of flexibility.

Q: You seem to work primarily with unschoolers and other alternatively-educated young people. Is this program appropriate if I’ve spent my whole life in traditional school?

A: Yes! I’ve worked and consulted extensively with traditionally-schooled young adults. While you might need to do a little extra online research and personal reflecting to get yourself into the self-directed mindset, you will definitely be able to participate in, and benefit from, this program.

Q: What’s the refund policy?

A: LaunchPad does not offer refunds. Please review all course material thoroughly, ask me any burning questions, and otherwise prepare yourself to commit to this program before sending me your money.

 

Thanks for checking out LaunchPad, and please click the red button above to express your interest.

—Blake

Rocket photo: jurvetson (cc)