Giving Compass' Take:

• Wayfinding Academy supports students on a journey to self-discovery. With no grades and a flexible curriculum, this school makes sure students get what they want out of their college experience. 

• How can traditional schools become more flexible to accommodate the needs of a wider range of students? How can philanthropy support the spread of these ideals? 

• Read more about how community colleges can best support students

Wayfinding Academy doesn’t look like a college. In fact, it’s easy to walk past its building without even noticing, since the yellow clapboard structure blends seamlessly with its surroundings in one of the few affordable neighborhoods left in this quickly-gentrifying city.

It’s hard to miss Wayfinding’s unusual curriculum, which is sketched prominently on a chalkboard as you enter its largest common space.

That curriculum is designed to flip the college priority list. Most campuses stress academics, then provide students with activities and guidance to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

At Wayfinding Academy, the top priority is self-discovery, with academic content as a background feature.

Wayfinding’s leaders say their academics are just as rigorous as any other college—they’ve gained approval from the state of Oregon to grant degrees, and they’ve started applying for accreditation so they might eventually qualify for federal financial aid.

There are no grades. Everyone on staff, even the president, is paid roughly the same salary (between $30,000 and $35,000) to keep student tuition low, and most everyone has a mix of teaching and administrative roles. And the college raised its initial funding with a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, netting $206,000, which helped buy the building and prove interest in the idea.

Read the full article on Wayfinding Academy by Jeffrey R. Young at EdSurge