A thoughtful response from April to a potential student
Earlier this month, Victor and April hosted an online chat with members of our community.
The participants were a mix of potential students curious about the experiential higher education space and interested in learning more about our program. After the call, a potential student reached out to April to see if Experience Institute would help achieve their educational goals.
In the email, the potential student, who has been researching various accredited MA or PhD programs, wrote about how they hoped to “find a way to pursue further learning in some really specific, but really disparate areas and pull them all together into something cohesive.” With over 10 years of experience in education and community development and their current role of helping nonprofits, universities, and businesses engage with their local communities, they knew an accredited route would be highly valued. However, they could not find a program that fit 100% of their needs.
The potential student already had a plan devised, but still needed guidance and mentorship in structuring and documenting those experiences, while being a part of an organization to give their experiences credibility. So, would Ei be a good choice?
Here’s what April had to say:
I’ve definitely been able to leverage the Ei structure and story to get people on board, open a lot of doors, and make targeted connections I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make. For example, I double-majored in Music and Architecture in my undergrad at Berkeley. With my current apprenticeship with NBBJ, I’m now working on projects integrating sound, architecture, and experience design with an awesome multidisciplinary team. It’s a two-way street where I have great people to work with and learn from, but I also have knowledge to share. I wouldn’t even know this opportunity existed, much less make the placement on my own, without the Ei connection. If I had just approached an architecture firm for a job or internship, I would be stuck in a more traditional position with less creative agency.
I do understand the value of degrees from accredited institutions. However, I did sometimes get frustrated with their inflexibility (I did experiment with designing my own major, and there simply wasn’t the right support or infrastructure). A lot of employers are now looking at more what you’ve done and how you’ve accomplished it, rather than just the institution you did it in. It helps to have a “portfolio” of your work, in whatever field and medium you’re documenting it in.
Regarding your two points, Ei will definitely guide and mentor you in structuring and documenting those experiences. This is something that I have personally not done a lot of, and the accountability and reflection with the Ei staff and fellow students has really pushed me forward. Ei also helped with focusing the disparate things we’re interested in into a more comprehensive theme during our meetups.
Part of my reasoning for joining Ei is that I didn’t want to notch up just another degree, or if I did, I wanted to do it for the right reasons. In terms of tangible outcomes, I can’t say what an Ei “diploma” would entail yet. However, I can tell you that so far I have gotten one-of-a-kind learning and work experiences with mentors who want to see me succeed, an expanded professional and personal network, and a killer story and portfolio work to take forward in whatever I want to do next. I’ve also grown a lot in my documentation and presentation skills.
As for the areas you’re interested in, I can’t speak to all of them, but I’ve bolded the ones I’ve had direct contact with through my experiences, not an exhaustive list by any means. The great thing is that Ei provides a curriculum and framework that you can apply into the fields you want. For example, Joe is focusing on organizational strategy at a large creative agency, and Muff is working in sustainable relief and rebuilding communities in Southeast Asia.
– collaborative methods
– group facilitation
– asset based community development
– civic and urban planning
– higher education pedagogy/andragogy
– theatre of the oppressed/critical pedagogy
– improvisation and play-based learning
– project management
– community economic development
– small business development/entrepreneurship
– organizational development
– technology for social enterprise (i.e. SalesForce and many others)
– race/culture/class issues in social work and education
– housing policy
– appreciative inquiry
– community organizing
I hope that helps!
So, if you are interested in learning more if our program would be a good fit for you, just contact us. You can talk to a team member or we’ll put you in touch with one of our (amazing) students.