What It's Like To...

What It's Like to Start a College

March 01, 2023 Season 5 Episode 3
What It's Like to Start a College
What It's Like To...
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What It's Like To...
What It's Like to Start a College
Mar 01, 2023 Season 5 Episode 3

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There are more than 4000 colleges in the United States--many of them hundreds of years old.  Adam Braus decided to create a new one.  In this episode he shares why he took this bold step, as well as the many hoops he had to jump through to gain accreditation (and the "corruption" he claims he encountered along the way). Elton College is built on Braus's background in education and philosophy.  Elton turns a lot of conventional wisdom about learning on its head--students get one-on-one tutoring about the subjects that most fascinate them; they can start any time of the year (not just in the fall); there are no semesters; and more. It is, as Braus calls it, an "artisanal model of education."

In this episode:

  • Why start a new college? (01:40)
  • What differentiates Elton from other colleges (05:29)
  • How Adam's research into motivation, and background in philosophy, inform Elton (09:54)
  • Special attributes of Elton College (13:16)
  • Study whatever interests you (17:05)
  • Finding professors (19:34)
  • Tuition at Elton (24:57)
  • Adam's vision for Elton moving forward (28:50)

Want to know more about Adam and Elton College?

  • Learn about Adam (and the books he's written):  https://www.adambraus.com 
  • Find out more about Elton College: https://www.eltoncollege.org/
  • Listen to Adam's podcast: https://www.solutionsfromthemultiverse.com/

Want to know more about "What It's Like To..."?

  • Sign up to be on our Insiders' List to receive our newsletters and insiders' information! Go to whatitsliketo.net (sign-ups are at the bottom of the page)
  • Follow us on social media:

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

There are more than 4000 colleges in the United States--many of them hundreds of years old.  Adam Braus decided to create a new one.  In this episode he shares why he took this bold step, as well as the many hoops he had to jump through to gain accreditation (and the "corruption" he claims he encountered along the way). Elton College is built on Braus's background in education and philosophy.  Elton turns a lot of conventional wisdom about learning on its head--students get one-on-one tutoring about the subjects that most fascinate them; they can start any time of the year (not just in the fall); there are no semesters; and more. It is, as Braus calls it, an "artisanal model of education."

In this episode:

  • Why start a new college? (01:40)
  • What differentiates Elton from other colleges (05:29)
  • How Adam's research into motivation, and background in philosophy, inform Elton (09:54)
  • Special attributes of Elton College (13:16)
  • Study whatever interests you (17:05)
  • Finding professors (19:34)
  • Tuition at Elton (24:57)
  • Adam's vision for Elton moving forward (28:50)

Want to know more about Adam and Elton College?

  • Learn about Adam (and the books he's written):  https://www.adambraus.com 
  • Find out more about Elton College: https://www.eltoncollege.org/
  • Listen to Adam's podcast: https://www.solutionsfromthemultiverse.com/

Want to know more about "What It's Like To..."?

  • Sign up to be on our Insiders' List to receive our newsletters and insiders' information! Go to whatitsliketo.net (sign-ups are at the bottom of the page)
  • Follow us on social media:

Support the Show.

There are no semesters. We don't need semesters cuz we're not running you through a grist mill. We're not like putting you on a factory assembly line cuz Elton is not about that. It's not a factory model. It's a one-on-one artisanal model of education. Hello and welcome to what it's like to the podcast that lets you walk in someone else's issues and live vicariously through their unique experiences.

I'm your host, Elizabeth Pearson Gar, and each episode I'll be asking a new interviewee, although what, why, when, and wheres of how they do what they do.

Have you heard people being described as multi hyphen. we used to hear them more in the entertainment industry like singer songwriters or writer, actor, directors. But now there are also people outside Hollywood who just have so [00:01:00] many talents, interests, and skills. They need multiple hyphens to list them.

My guest today, Adam Braus, is the quintessential Multihyphenate. He's an engineer, entrepreneur, author, educator, podcaster, product manager, and the topic we're gonna focus on today. He founded a college and note he's not a hundred years old to have accomplished all these things. Adam Brows, welcome to the podcast.

Thank you so much, Elizabeth. Thanks for inviting me on.So

I did some research and I found that there's roughly 4,000 colleges in the United States. What inspired you to wanna create 

another one?

I just looked at that 4,000 number and I thought too low. We gotta have more. We gotta miss as many colleges as gas stations. Yeah, just colleges for days. No, seriously though. Uh, um, I got involved in a kind of alternative higher educat.

School and I got made the director of the program and I was you know, developing [00:02:00] this new college and it was very challenging and we had all kinds of barriers that blocked us and prevented us from becoming a full college. And so that really made me kind of more curious, like, well, why is this so challenging?

Like, I've started lots of tech companies and I've started, nonprofits that are successful. I've started all kinds of things and you know, most things you just kind of register with the government. It takes about an hour, you know, you get a LLC or something and then you can get a bank account in about another hour.

you make a website and your're a business. It's America, right? Like this isn't, you're an entrepreneur Yeah. Or something. Yeah. but when you try to start a college, it.

people act like you're transporting nuclear waste around or something. they act like there're these high stakes if you just made a college.  people are kind of gaslighting you into thinking that, like it's, I mean, it's harder than it should be.

Yeah. It's way harder than it should be. I mean, it's cr it's crazy how overburdensome it is. And that's, so that's kind of my mission these days is I have started a new college. It's called Elton College. we have an MBA and live, and we'll have [00:03:00] a bachelor's of computer science live coming in this summer.

And we'll have a bachelor's in 21st century liberal arts, which will be kind of the general degree for anybody , and that'll be live like in January next year. so Elton College is really cool, but my real mission is to make it so that anybody can start a college.

Or not anybody, but you know, qualified people, . 

 So can you describe some of this process? So you had the idea and then what was the road like? what were some of these hoops that you had to jump through 

Yeah. I'll speak kind of hypothetically because 

I tried to kind of play nice and like draw inside the lines and do all the things you're supposed to do. Yeah. And then just got just so many bad faith factors and just too much, kind of corruption and, backwardness that actually with Elton, we just dodged all of that. We actually went to Europe.

So Elton has a European accreditation, Uhhuh because the American accreditation system is one of the most corrupt systems in our country. I. 

Corrupt and really, oh, it's financially corrupt. Oh, wow. 

yeah. [00:04:00] Absolutely. Yeah. the accreditors themselves aren't enriching themselves, but the accreditors represent and are governed by the existing colleges.

And those existing colleges do not want any new colleges to start because they know that they would be outcompeted overnight. if people like me with a team of cool, smart, really educated, really passionate, technologically advanced people could start colleges. the, you know, standard sort of regular, traditional legacy colleges know that they would be donezo, which is true.

Yeah. Zos a very, zel is a technical term. I don't expect your audience to know that term. That's a word 

they teach at college. , 

one thing I do want to clarify too is, you know, I'm starting a nonprofit college with no connections to any for-profit institution. So I'm not starting like some for-profit, you know, venture back like, oh, this is like a, just a non-profit college that is a private college that is non [00:05:00] religiou.

So this is like just your standard, kind of what you expect for college. And I'm actually connected to a bunch of really cool college founders who are trying to start colleges like this and also can't get accredited. and I've interviewed them and I'm actually doing some research and publishing a,paper, to kind of reveal how, corrupt the system is.


So how does Elton differ from other colleges? it's not like a state college or a community college, or a uc or 

something. Yeah, so it's a private, think of it as like an overland or a Grinnell Uhhuh or a, you know, a Harvard smaller something.

 liberal arts. Yeah. I mean, we hope to get bigger, but we're gonna start small cuz everything starts small. Sure. But, the key thing that makes Elton different from other schools is, my, expertise. Is on, evidence-based education. So in the past 20 years, since about the two thousands, there's been a real explosion in, uh, science-based learning, research.

and this amazing, kind of cornucopia of excellent [00:06:00] research has come out of universities all over the country. And the sad thing is all of it is collecting dust mostly on the shelves of these research libraries and not being implemented. and that's largely also because of this accreditation corruption.

It really prevents colleges from changing and it prevents new colleges from starting. So we're basically stuck with the educational methods of 50 years ago, not because those educational methods are good or because we don't know any better, but because institutionally you're not allowed to change and new colleges aren't allowed to start and implement these new research.

So Elton is using a lot of that evidence-based research. . One of the key things is there's this wonderful you researcher, actually all the way back in the eighties, named Benjamin Bloom, who found that,

the average 50 percentile student, if they're given one-on-one tutoring, operates at the 98th percentile of performance. Wow. So they operate as the best 2%. Yeah. And so Benjamin Bloom learned this, and then he immediately spent his whole career. [00:07:00] And the whole movement in education has been and, and and continues to be to try to make 30 person classrooms perform as well as one-on-one tutoring, which to me is just crazy.

It's like, why not just give people one-on-one tutoring? Yeah. So Elton is a one-on-one tutoring. 

You have one to one professors to students. 

well, I mean, professors have many students, but of course, of course. One-on-one. yeah. So we have like a 12 to one professor student ratio for the whole college, like any liberal arts college.

 look, it's usually 1216 to one. but for us, we do 12 to one, and then the professors meet one-on-one with the student, maybe sometimes two on one or three on one. If the students are all learning exactly the same thing. If they all agree to learn the same thing, then you can do multiple, like two or three, but we don't have five.

Five would be like too many . So 

there's no lecture course or big teaching 

class. Well, there we might have a few like lectures or workshops, but they. , credit granting [00:08:00] courses. Those would just be like, you'd be meeting with your professor and your professor might say, actually, you know, next week this other professor's gonna give this lecture on something you're learning.

So you should go to that. That's your assignment. But 

that's not just for your own edification. 

Yeah. Yeah. I see. Yeah. Just for, as an assignment for the course you're learning, but you're learning one-on-one and you're getting those assignments and kind of turning in those assignments one-on-one with a professor and the first question everybody asks is, well, that must be so expensive, ,

 that must cost a million dollars a year. . People just, people have no idea. it's okay because no one's been allowed to start a college for almost 50 years, so people don't know how to start colleges. So we're kind of having to reinvent the wheel here.

Thankfully, I started a college already and this is my second go around. So, wait, what? It turns out it's not too affordable. What was the first one I tried? I started a college called Make School, which was then taken over by Dominican University because we were refused accreditation. 

So basically they just got to [00:09:00] essentially take over the school that was worth millions of dollars with hundreds of students. and for free, because the accreditors were like, sorry, you didn't check this box that's, you know, here or that 

little thing here, like a beautiful house that had been built and then suddenly there was some Yes.

Little technicality and someone got to take it for free. Yeah, 

exactly. Exactly. And so I continued to work there. Actually, I'm the chair of the Department of Applied Computer Science, at Dominican University. but Elton is launching and that's really what my focus is. So, 

can I go back a few steps?

 it sounds like you learned so many things from that experience and then you took the best practices and then you kind of did a, like what's my utopian ideal and what have I learned from all my, years of experience in the working world and my research and how can I apply that to a 

college moving forward?

That's exactly what I did. That's exactly what I did. Yeah. Yeah. And I wrote a book called Motivate. , 

I focus particularly on the evidence-based educational research on how to motivate students[00:10:00] to learn. That's kind of my thing is highly motivated students, learn a lot. So I always try to proof, bill's motivation, and then I just kind of get out of their way cuz they learn a lot when they're super motivated.

So it 

sounds like a lot of Elton College was built on theory and on research. You didn't just kind of create something, oh, this sounds really good. 

 well, I have a degree in philosophy and I'm kind of an Aristotelian and I wrote a book of ethics, last year, and so I'm kind of an ethics guy too.

yeah, I like the 

name of that. The Future of Good, is that the one? Yeah. Future. The Future of Good. A Guide for Good People and Good Societies going Forward. 

Yeah. Yeah. That's a fun one. Uh, it's a new theory of ethics, a new way to judge between right and Wrong, which has been kind of neglected for about a hundred years.

that's just to say that, I'm not just like, I don't know some business bro or something. , I have a training in philosophy, a pretty sophisticated one, and,I'm sort of ethical researcher, so I'm interested in [00:11:00] how to build good societies and good systems and,and help people become their best selves.

and, So going into Elton, I, used evidence-based research to try to increase people's motivation as much as possible. That's kind of my key thing. But more fundamental than that, I wanted to build what really is a 21st century liberal arts college. So I'm very dedicated to the liberal arts and what that means.

 the problem is that the current liberal arts colleges are just kind of antiquated. and like I said, it's because it's been illegal to start colleges for almost 50 years. and who knew that it was just like impossible to start colleges. Why? 

 like, what's the risk? You know? It's not like airlines. It's not like planes are gonna fall out of the sky. Yeah. You know, it's not nuclear power, you know, you could have trenoble or something. It's just like schools . 

Well I think you hit on

it's threatening to the existing colleges because there is limited supply coming up and already a lot. I mean, we all hear about sort of the top 50 or whatever colleges that are competing for, you know, that's where all the kids want [00:12:00] to go top a hundred or whatever. And then there's the rest of them that are just hoping kids will come there 

I know, but what industry is built that way? Like sure. You know, Facebook doesn't want, TikTok to start sitters. Yeah. Who cares what Facebook wants? You know, like, we should start new things. This is America. Yeah. Yeah. This is America. Right. I think we should have controls and, regulations and stuff.

I'm not like some libertarian. Yeah. But certainly the regulations in place. Right. they really are not working for us, and they especially are not working for nonprofit colleges. If you're a for-profit college and you can raise 25 million, you can start, if you're a religious college, and you have the backing of a powerful, rich religion, you can start.

Yeah. There's special religious accreditors who will accredit religious schools Wow. Without the other accreditors needing to be involved. So, if you're a religious school or a for-profit school or a public school, you know, you know, the state of Florida wants to make a new Florida State University. Oh yeah.

They can do that. But if you are just somebody who wants to start a private [00:13:00] nonprofit school and you are qualified, you know, and you have worked with young people and you've, you're an educated person. You have PhD, you have a master's degree, whatever, you can't do it. It's not possible. it's very unfortunate.

But we're gonna fix it. We're gonna fix it. so, You're not giving up

 So what were some of the other best practices? 

you can just start any time. I don't know why this whole thing, you have to start in September. 

Why do you have to start in September? Why not just start any time? Because it's 

the fall and that's when school starts . 

Oh, that's when school starts. Says who?cause you were too busy on the farm. Don't the summer harvesting wheat. What? we're still harvesting . Yeah.

So you can start anytime. So you can find Elton College. You can talk to an admissions officer and you can just start. Also, you can have a no risk free trial for the first month if you don't like it, you could just get all your money back and you can just stop.

Wow. Why don't other colleges do that? Why don't they say you can start and then if you don't like it, you can stop and you get your money back. 

 And that, helps people stay motivated too. [00:14:00] Another thing is, Elton doesn't have semesters cuz you work one-on-one professors, you can start any time.

So there are no semesters, we don't need semesters. cuz we're not like running you through a grist mill. You know, we're not like putting you on a factory assembly line or something. because Elton is not about that. It's not a factory model. it's a one-on-one artisanal model of education.

 but then I go and talk to accreditors, which I know a lot of them cuz I've been doing this for a decade and I've talked to many of them and they can't even begin to even talk about education with me because I say there's no semesters. I just lose them. They're like, wait no semesters? Oh, well this isn't even a college.

The whole paradigm has been shifted. The whole thing. Yeah. Their whole idea has completely shifted underneath their feet. Just because I said I changed the scheduling , 

one of our key things is we just don't waste people's time. and this is, known in some educational circles, the difference between what's called just in case education and just in time education.

So just in [00:15:00] case kind of wastes a lot of your time cuz you're learning things like just in case you may use it years from now. Ah-huh. . Right? Like 

when your kids say, why do I have to learn this math? I'm never gonna use this. Yeah. Why do I have to learn economic case, right? 

Yeah. . Exactly. Exactly.

So I. Entirely reject that. I, and I believe we should not be subjugating children or young people of any age to this kind of just in case, idea. I, I think that's just make work. And the students know it. They look at you with their dead board eyes and say, okay, I'll do the trigonometry homework.

But they know that this is just bs, instead you do just in time education. So you say to the student, what do you wanna learn? What are you trying to accomplish? What's going on in your life? And then they say, I really wanna learn all about this. cuz young people are just curious and they're excited and they have a lot of projects that they're working on and they wanna understand the world.

They wanna build a world that they wanna live in. They wanna take the world over for themselves. Cuz every generation, the young people have [00:16:00] to take over the world from the old people. Right? And they're doing that work. they're all engaged in that work. almost all of them know that's the work that they're involved in.

and so you just asked them, what part of that whole project are you interested in? And they say, this part. And then they learn that. 

Do you have core subjects or majors and all that kind of thing? Like a more traditional college? 

We have concentrations, you know?

people like labels, they like roles, but they can switch concentration anytime. it's not like majors you know, this is actually part of the scam of, traditional legacy higher education too, which is that you switch majors and, oh, sorry.

Now you know, a third of the credits you did don't count towards that next major, you have to go to school for another year. Cha-ching, you have to pay us another $40,000 for that year because we arbitrarily made up rules that would make it longer for you to be educated. So Elton doesn't do that.

we try to keep everything as few degrees as possible, so everyone's always earning the same degree. [00:17:00] And then inside that degree, you can change concentrations, but you're still working towards the same degree. 

you're able to study whatever you want. You come into our 21st century liberal arts program, which will be live in about a year. And you say, I wanna study, I don't know. And how bugs work or something. Or you think the new show, the Last of Us, which is like a, based on a video game, but it's an H B O show now is freaking amazing.

Really good. Great video game. It was like the best video game I've ever played. And then great show. Amazingly well done. High production value, great acting, just crazy good. But maybe you come in and you wanna learn all about the biology of the zombies in that. Cuz there's a kind of interesting, they're mushroom based, they like fungus based zombies.

Oh, okay. It's kind of cool. So maybe you come in and you just wanna learn about that. That's great. Boom. we'll set you up with a mycologist and you'll start learning all about fungus and maybe you'll write some cool thing about how. Blast of us is possible or not possible, or the science of the last of us, you know, that could be a book.

You could publish that book, you would sell thousands of copies if you wrote a book called the biology of the [00:18:00] Last of Us. You know, I'm just saying as an example. yeah. The students can just learn and do anything. I don't care what age they are. I don't care what background they have. 

I just care that they come, they wanna learn, they wanna work, with professors, they're willing to do their homework, they're willing to, collaborate.

Yeah. one of our first Elton students came in and said, 

 I wanna do film stuff. I wanna work in movies. that's as far as she knew. She didn't know what she wanted. She just know, I like movies. I wanna do something with movies. Immediately. with, let's connect you with three people in movies.

Immediately have interviews with a professional screenwriter, a professional director, or professional product production. Oh, wow. Assistant person. How exciting. instantly. And now they're like, whoa, I know exactly what I wanna do in movies. I know exactly what I wanna study. I know exactly what I wanna do.

And then that's what she did for six months with her Elton Professors. And at the end of six months not only did she have a viral TikTok channel, because we started to assign her to make TikTok videos. And that viral TikTok channel earned her plenty of money, 

and she got a job working on a set as a production assistant, which is like the entry level job. [00:19:00] Everybody gets into the film industry. That was after six months at Elton. she was a dropout of community college. She said, traditional school's not for me.

She spent six months at Elton and now she's on her way. It's just crazy What's possible. Amazing. Believe in people. When you believe in people, you give 'em resources, you know, give 'em support


how did you get the logistics of everything going? you had the idea and then you had to get, the big picture stuff down, but then you had to get Yeah.

Professors and students and people to know about it How did you get it actually going and getting the first students enrolled 

it turns out there's like a ton of super educated people, they have that old joke about how like taxi drivers in New York City have PhDs.

Yeah, it's true. There's a huge number of super, super, super educated people. Actually, this is the real tragedy of our education system we have a, an enormous cognitive surplus in the world,and in our society, especially America's incredibly. [00:20:00] educated. knowledge-based economy with really sophisticated people. And

 yet we have this tiny little super weird bottleneck, which is called education.

Where only a teeny bit of That cognitive knowledge is able to get to the, . Yeah. That's crazy. We need to create a just massive, tapestry of like ethernet cables of knowledge need to be going from the middle aged to the young we need to build a society where there isn't this like hourglass where everything has to go through these like old legacy schools that are run by these people who have kind of dedicated their lives to these weird bureaucratic systems.

We wanna make that bottleneck of cognitive transfer from themiddle aged and older people to the young.

We wanna turn that into like an information superhighway like a rainstorm instead of like this bottleneck where the sand has to slowly tick through. That's a great metaphor. 

So anyways, the point of Elton or the point of any new college I want people to start a lot of new colleges. I urge anyone listening if they've ever thought about [00:21:00] starting a college, you absolutely should because we need more of them. there's a ton of educators out. and you just go talk to 'em.

You go ask 'em. You go say, Hey, do you wanna be part of a really cool new school that does like amazingly great education and works with these really cool students? They will immediately say yes. They don't have anything better going on , you know, cuz all these other schools have shunted them out, you know, and pushed because they haven't 

published enough or something.

They might be great teachers, but they haven't played the academic game. 

Exactly. or like they're being forced into being adjuncts. Which are like slaves. Yeah. They're paid less than minimum wage and then the schools are benefiting to the tunes of billions of dollars a year off the backs of these adjuncts and TAs.

 it's so exploitative, you know? 

 And it actually is fixable. And the fix is to shame them into allowing new colleges to start 

with public pressure, they would fold. They would start accrediting new colleges. they would start to change. there's also new accreditors starting, which is what I want to do too. I I'd really like to see like three or four new accreditors start.  let's have 10 [00:22:00] new accreditors. And then if we had 10 new accreditors, that would be easy to then to have a thousand new colleges, because then you could just apply to the new accreditors that weren't as corrupt. . 

So one difference with Elton also do I understand this correctly?

Right now it's all online. You don't have a physical 

campus. It's online, but it's not like YouTube video based or something like it's online, but your classes are like what we're having right now, like a face-to-face zoom conversation. we don't have any ratio, but we will have ratio.

it's okay. I 

was gonna ask what the vision is, because I think part of the challenge might be, American students,middle school, high school students have this vision of college, which is, I'm going to move outta my parents' house, go live in a dorm, be part of a campus.

Yeah, yeah. You know? And so are your students mostly, you know, 18 to 22 year olds, or are they, slightly older people coming back for their bachelors or MBAs? 

 I would say,lots of colleges are getting more of these. . I mean, it's funny, they're called non-traditional students, but there's actually more of them than traditional students now.

[00:23:00] So actually , we shouldn't call them non-traditional students. The nomenclature. Interesting. Yeah. , think there's a lot of coded racial and class privilege in the way we talk about education. So I don't make those distinctions. I also don't make the distinction between vocational and liberal.

I don't make any of those distinctions cuz it's really just coding for class and racial privilege people. Interesting are people. We're all learning. We all have goals. Those goals require learning. , that's it. So, if somebody wants to attend Elton College, there's no, oh, you're in the vocational track, or Oh, you're a non-traditional student, or Oh, those are all just saying you're less than because you're poor or you're brown or something.

it's really hurtful and harmful to a democracy where we're expected to all be equal, at least before the law, you know? So I reject all of that. And Elton, we reject all of that. we're not just anti-racist, but anti wealth apartheid, you know, in America, we really live in this wealth apartheid where it's legal to be prejudiced [00:24:00] against people based on their wealth.

Elton we don't believe in that. obviously you gotta pay for it. And we have financial aid and things, but you're not like tracked because you're like poor or something. 

 you mentioned financial aid, so you had to get some money behind you. did you get venture backing? Or how did you get less, 

than the cost of a new car. What? To start this thing, it doesn't cost anything to start colleges. This is the thing. Everyone thinks college is so costly. It's not. That's just a scam because of the corruption of, the fact thatyou're not allowed to start a new one. If you can start colleges, the way you can start.

like a bread store, right? Yeah. You don't need a license to start a bread. the bread Accreditor of America doesn't need to like accredit your bread store. 

 if you could just start colleges, like you start a bread store, it doesn't cost anything. you just have a website, you get some great professors, you tell the professors you'll get paid when you teach students. Okay. So you don't have to pay the professors anything until you have students.

And the students pay tuition far [00:25:00] less than any other college. Yeah, I was gonna ask about that. Tuition,  the sort of stated price tuition is like 20,000 a year, but we give financial aid to basically everybody. So most people don't pay more than 15,000 a year.

15,000 a year. And we give a three year bachelor's degree, that's only $45,000 for the whole degree. that's less than one year. Than one year at any other private school. I think the cheapest private school I've ever seen is 35,000, which is my alma mater.

St. John's College, they just lowered their tuition at 35, but they also got rid of all their financial aid. So most people are paying 40,000 a year at a private college, even a public college. You go for four years, people always say four years. No, the average student goes to five 

years of school. Yeah, because they can't get their classes.

because of the stupid majors thing and because you can't get your classes. Exactly. It's all built to keep you in the system longer.so what if you go to school for three years and it's 15,000 a year, you only pay 45 and you save on the living expenses and you start your career sooner, which [00:26:00] means you get an extra year of earning and that earning year pays for the whole thing.

Cuz you're gonna make at least 45,000 your first year of work, which means you pay for the whole thing. even if you do go into debt, you pay it off in a year or two whatever, five years, You pay it off fast. If you do go into debt at all, it's completely manageable financially to go to a school like Elton 

 earlier you had said you had to go to Europe to get the accreditation. SoDoes that. Affect anything on the backend or of the degree that people get that it's 

somehow through Europe only.

It only affects one thing, which is you can't get federal financial aid, so you can't get federal loans, you can't get federal PE grants or anything. We wish we could, we wish we could offer you that. 

in the future I hope we will. Cuz as we grow, I think we'll be able to sort of shame them into accepting us,

where you are right now, you have started it. And what is the day-to-day now in terms of running it and trying to grow it? 

So We have five, six students who are [00:27:00] enrolled in our M B A program, but their actual tutelage is only gonna begin like next month.

So we're very much early days still. but we have the licensing the mba and we're getting the licensing for the Bachelor's of computer science. All like I said, through the European accreditor 

 yeah, so day-to-day to day we're,

 we, recruit students, we recruit faculty, we recruit donors. We're raising $300,000 right now. to try to get kind of a kickoff. I've put in, a couple,tens of thousands of dollars just for my money, my life savings.

I was able to convince my parents to match me. So they matched what I put in, uh, which was like 20,000. and so yeah, for $40,000, the cost of a new car, we've been able to get this thing off the ground.

wow. we have 25 different faculty all ready to go. We have a list of students we got probably 10 or 15 students wanna do the mba. We got, five or 10 students gonna sign up for the bachelor's of computer science.

and we just need the money to now kind of pay the salaries of people that work full-time and, you know, have. two full-time staff people and, then have money for all the professors who are all contract. 

Yeah. How do you recruit [00:28:00] students, you know? the main thing is, it's all trust-based. You know, you're not selling something small, you're not selling like a new pair of leggings or something. Yeah. . So it's a lot of having conversations with people. talking to people who students trust, like counselors and advisors and asking them, Hey, how could we pay better?

And then they say, well, here's the things we really care about. and then we say, cool, we wanna do that better. If we do that the way you say, will you talk us up? And they say, yeah, if you do these four things, we'll talk you up. 

Yeah. And I'm sure word of mouth, like so many things will be Yep. Essential, Just like podcasts. 

Just like podcasts. , 

 and then your dream is to grow Elton or to open other colleges. 

the mission of Elton is not just to like succeed in itself, although we do wanna be successful as our own.

Cuz you know, I think what we're doing is really cool. and I think it'll help a lot of students. 

my vision for Elton for the future is to have, many ratio around the world and students can go to any of those ratio, or they can just work from home, or they [00:29:00] can just live anywhere they want. So the ratio are just available to them as a thing. And if they sign up for the campus, then they pay for the costs of whatever the housing solution that we have for that campus.

And the professors are always going to be remote, so the professors will always be all over the world and the country, and I'm talking to a few partners potentially launching Elton China in the next few years and Wow. Talking to a partner to launch Elton Europe.

even as soon as maybe next year. I want an African campus too, 

 the goal is to be a global presence. Campus is all over the world with students from all over those c. and maybe 25, 50 ratio. Who knows? I think our first campus in America will probably be in like a city that's kinda warm all year round.

Students like that. And then like, maybe somewhere that's young people wanna move to like, maybe we'll do it in Austin or like Charlotte or Chapel Uhhuh kind of area. Uhhuh .

 we wanna just make the best education available to. everybody, at an absolutely, great price, you know, and have a [00:30:00] huge impact. 


you've said you were looking for partners in maybe other countries. What would someone else need to have 

to, to work with you to help open other campuses 

 it's called the dosse ratio, right?

So as long as your dosse ratio is about one or close to one, then I'm happy to work with you. . 

I've never heard of that. I like it 

when people do say, ratio is all screwed up. They're saying they're gonna do a lot of stuff and they don't do any of it, or they don't tell you they're gonna do stuff and then they do all this work and you're like, oh, I didn't know you were gonna do all that

You know, it's bad communication.

So you're clearly very committed to this idea and , you're very accomplished in everything that you've done.

What do you think it is about you that. has enabled you to accomplish all of these things. 

 , I'm definitely a unique person in terms of my energy levels just temperamentally. I'm very energetic. You know, you could call it a D H D if you wanted to be clinical about it, I can still focus like crazy. but , I also say I have a huge amount of privilege. I mean, huge. My parents are doctors and , I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, which is often number one in the country for [00:31:00] where to grow up.

, but I didn't receive a ton of encouragement actually my whole life.

Most teachers said, don't encourage him. That's what they said to the people around me, cuz I was clowning. Don't encourage him. 

Don't encourage 

the goofing off. . Yeah. Or even just talking to me. So I didn't receive much encouragement my whole life. that I've been able to kind of draw from my own well, and also the well of history.

So I feel a deep, and kind of personal connection to the people of the past who were like me, who were,revolutionaries or kind of, you know, fighting. . So I, I feel a deep connection to Gandhi. I feel deep connection to Nelson Mandela.

Jane Jacobs is one of my absolute heroes. I feel like I draw a lot of energy from my heroes and that kind of keeps me going.

So when I feel discouraged or I feel beaten down, I think, well, this is nothing compared to what like Gandhi felt 

I wonder if you've 

ever considered, maybe you already do this, but using some of your own story as inspiration to the students at Elton or the potential students because you [00:32:00] have so much, curiosity and, interest in exploring a variety of ideas and passions and you've done it and clearly I think that's what you're modeling for the students.

Like, find something or many things that you're interested in and go after them. Because 

that's what you've done. Oh, absolutely. I hope so. Yeah. I hope I, I mean, I've not, I'm an inspiration to the young, what can I say to you? I'm an inspiration 

Not everyone should like, do what I'm doing. find your own 

passion, I think is the 

idea. Yeah, I always publicize, what I'm doing, and I think everyone should I just call it show and tell everyone, just show and tell.

Like you just build something, you make something cool, and students love to see what you're working on. and all the Elton professors are all working on a ton of stuff. You know, they're all starting businesses or building art, or making things, or writing books or doing videos or whatever it is, because that's what educated, engaged people do.

That's what human beings do. We just need cool stuff. They create Yeah. 

 most people are coming out of what's called compulsory education.

 In my [00:33:00] opinion. Compulsory education should be eliminated. Maybe compelling people to go to school is good, but at school they should be free to just do whatever they're interested in, whatever they want.

and a lot of cynical kind of people will say, oh, well then they just won't do anything. They'll just lay around. they'll just, I don't know, play video games or something. people who say that, I just say, oh, how long have you been working with young people?

How long have you been a teacher with young people? And they're always like, zero. And I'm like, so maybe you shouldn't have an opinion about the way schools work and the way young people work. But basically, if you give people freedom, they act the same way.

Adults behave. When you give 'em freedom, they make some bad choices. But generally they try to build their life. They try to make their life exciting. They try to learn things. They follow their interests, they follow their passions, they try to make money. It's perfectly acceptable for young people to try to make money.

they try to make the world a better place. 

Yeah. And some wanna just make a bunch of money cuz they're selfish or whatever. Okay. But they're adults who do that too. Mm-hmm. like, why are, we preventing the young from just being who they are and doing what they want. 

Well, it's been lovely, [00:34:00] talking with you and it's been so lovely listening to your podcast.

it's been so cool to listen to. Oh, thank you. Really made me live kind of vicariously through those stories was so cool. Thank you. , so I really appreciate your podcast and I will definitely 

the future. Thank you. I appreciate that you're listening to it.

Thanks. Yeah. And thanks so much for coming on. I really have found this so interesting. It's blown my mind of what is really possible. 

 Okay. Thank you so much, Adam. Awesome. 

I'm always impressed by passionate people who are determined to make change. Adam certainly is one of those people. Here are my takeaways from our conversation. Number one, is there something you think needs improving? Even something that seems daunting, like higher education? Don't be intimidated. Dive in, give it your all The world needs, all of our bold, innovative ideas.

Two, motivated people perform better. So let's build up the people around us. [00:35:00] Coworkers, fellow students, neighbors, strangers. It will benefit all of us. Three, be creative. Does school have to start in the fall and have semesters? It's good to think outside the box sometimes and question why We do certain things, certain ways.

Learning can be exciting if you focus on what you're excited about. And finally, number five, find heroes, historical or living people who inspire you, and then show and tell, share your knowledge with others. My thanks to Adam Brows for teaching me so much, not only about founding a college, but also about creating.

If you'd like to learn more about Adam and Elton College, go to the show notes for this episode on our website, what it's like to.net. You can also find all of our past episodes there if you like, listening to interviews [00:36:00] with people who've created something new. You might wanna check out episode 30 with Mike Roddy, the inventor of sketch notes and episode 33 with Zack Goba, who started his own.

If you're not already following us on social media, please do and please tell a few friends about this podcast too. I'm Elizabeth Pearson Gar. Thanks for being curious about what it's like.