Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lessons from Man of Steel

The new Superman movie, Man of Steel, debuted in movie theaters across the country this past week. It reminded me of a conversation with one of our Accelerate University clients a few months ago. He had seen the Man of Steel preview and drew the insightful parallel of his journey in obtaining his college degree. "Watch the trailer for Man of Steel," he told me. "There are some great quotes in there. I turned to my dad and said, 'That's what they're doing in AU!'" Later, I searched YouTube. Three particular quotes caught my attention:
  • "What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?"
  • "You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is is going to change the world."
  • "You will give the people of earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders."



Those quotes called out to something deep in my gut. I finally realized why training students in this approach to learning has taken such effort. This is not just about affordable college education. We are not just teaching students to pass tests.  We're training super men and super women to aspire to something greater, to decide what kind of adult they want to grow up to be, to give others an achievable ideal to strive towards--something that might even change the world.



"What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?"

Where does learning take place? In a classroom with a teacher is the only way, society often asserts. The only college degree worth having comes from a big name school. And the only way to that college degree is the tried and true path which typically takes more than five years and more than $75,000 leaving very little time for gaining real world experience. Proving this assumption false, Accelerate University graduates currently in the workforce are proof that employers are more than happy to take a diligent, skilled, independent learner with a fully accredited bachelors degree; because in the short year or two of obtaining that degree, these students have also gained valuable real world experience in their future career fields. Since this is possible for less than $15,000, Accelerate University students regularly aspire to something greater--the dream of launching a solid career ahead of their peers and free of burdensome student loan debt. This is no new concept. Originally it comes from a page in history that belongs to many generations before us, although it often seems to be something other than what today's society has intended.

"You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is is going to change the world." (from the Official Movie Trailer #2)

Many would-be AU participants shy away from this path because of the significantly, sometimes overwhelmingly, great challenge it poses. It is hard. It is worth it. It leads to future success. Inside each successful student is their own personal motivation when completing a degree this way. Since no one else can do it for them, they must dedicate both time and money to accomplish the task. They must recognize and value the benefit of sacrificing some of the college experience for real world experience. And they must be willing to courageously venture "out of the box" of the normal college degree. Knowing this is possible, they start with the end in mind. As Stephen Covey has said, "You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage--pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically--to say 'no' to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger 'yes' burning inside." Consequently it is the young men and women who have decided what kind of person they want to grow up to be who are successful in the Accelerate University program.

"You will give the people of earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders."

It is not unusual for a new Accelerate University client to mention to their guide that caring, cautious and concerned friends and family seem to think this new venture odd. Many have been cautioned: since it sounds too good to be true, prudence dictates likely failure is imminent. There's no way this works. But as time marches on, it is becoming more and more clear that this is the future of higher education and with good reason. Driving forward unmercifully, modern technology has created a world which changes very rapidly. Consequently today's adults must be able to successfully keep pace and this means we must be adept at learning efficiently, effectively...and independently. If this is the case, why waste time and money on a college degree that does not also prepare and equip students for the future workplace awaiting them? Without being overly dramatic, it is our desire and goal that Accelerate University opens the possibilities of a new ideal to strive towards in obtaining a college degree; because the skills gained along the way equip young men and women to accomplish wonders in their lifetime.

Obviously we are not literally creating Superman, but there is something extraordinary that develops in men and women who complete the AU program. It is much more than a college degree. These students emerge unafraid to aspire to something greater. They have decided what kind of adult they want to grow up to be. And in the process, they inspire others to follow in their footsteps knowing that this is a legitimate, beneficial and achievable path. Most significantly these men and women who are courageous enough to step outside of the norm are revealing that it is no longer necessary to delay career, marriage, home ownership and countless other dreams because years must be spent in the classroom and paying back student loans. To borrow one more quote: "[Some are] convinced that the world isn't ready. What do you think?"

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