For those who want to work in academia or the traditional professionals that require a specialized degree, University is still the way to go.

But for those who would rather work for themselves or develop the creative skills to work in the fast-growing digital careers that are powering the 21st century economy, the often impractical education and debtload of traditional higher education may be more a liability than an asset.

While a University was the ticket to a middle class lifestyle a generation ago, it’s no longer the case for many people. The higher education has been dumbed down as University have turned into profit-hungry businesses and the administrators took over.

Fortunately, a new generation of edupreneurs are disrupting the lecture-based model of schooling and offering more cost effective, practical and engaging ways to learn.

Edupreneurs are now offering educational opportunities through online courses, mastermind groups, digital apprenticeships, bootcamps, coworking retreats and all kinds of other innovative ways teachers are dreaming up to get results for their students.

Here are some of the ways that this new generation of edupreneurs are disrupting traditional higher education:

1. The Rise of Digital Apprenticeships

Most people don’t learn very effectively by passively watching lectures and cramming information into their brains the night before tests.

It’s much more effective to apprentice under someone who already has the knowledge and skills you want to develop.

That’s why we’re seeing the return of apprenticeships in a reinvented form for developing the high-paying skills of the digital age that demand a portfolio and learning directly from highly skilled entrepreneurs and creative professionals.

2. The Power of Mentorship

Nearly every successful person I’ve ever interviewed has acknowledged the power of mentorship in getting them to where they are in life.

Before the rise of mass schooling, mentorship in local communities was how many people learned their craft.

Today, we’re seeing a return to mentorship as lifelong learning requires someone to keep you on track and accountable to achieving your goals.

3. Mastermind Groups

Some of the best money I’ve ever spent was to join mastermind groups with other successful entrepreneurs.

If you’re not familiar with mastermind groups, they are often led by successful entrepreneurs who facilitate a group discussion and usually involve weekly accountability calls where each members is held accountable to their goals.

When you’re running your own business, it’s a necessity to surround yourself with other people on the creative path that understand the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship and startup life.

4. Educational Retreats

I’m a huge fan of retreats. Spending time in nature or in exotic locations with other likeminded people is a powerful way to make lifelong friends, cultivate relationships and collaborate with other entrepreneurial individuals.

Education doesn’t have to take place in a classroom. The world is a much better and more practical classroom, especially when you’re exploring it with a great group of people who you like.

I think educational retreats are going to be one of the fastest growing education trends in the next 5 years.

5. Learning By Doing

The reality is that most teachers have spent their entire life learning and then transitioning to working in the education system.

The problem with university professors and the education system as a whole is that it’s filled with people who have never actually worked a normal job, built a company, or had the real life experience of adversity and uncertainty of losing a job and having to fend for themselves in the marketplace.

It’s easy for professors to preach the benefits of socialism or equality when they’ve always lived (and will continue to live) in a bubble. Changemakers who make a big impact get their hands dirty in the real world and learn by doing.

6. Cheaper Alternatives To University

Oscar Wilde famously said that “the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy”.

The system of higher education is now burdened by unbelievably bloated administrative bureaucracies and this burdens new graduates with debts that can severely limit their choices (there’s now 1.5 trillion dollars in student loan debt in the United States alone).

Many online programs designed by edupreneurs cost a fraction of a University degree and can actually pay for themselves in the short-term with the results generated by participating in the program.

7. Passion Is Everything

Almost everyone I know who has a Masters Degree is incredibly cynical about the politics and structure of the higher education system.

Having to jump through hoops and please professors who often begrudgingly teach and mentors students so they can keep doing their research and writing academic papers can suck the passion out of many bright young people.

Passion is everything and we must be vigilante not to lose our passion for our craft. One passionate teacher can have a bigger impact in our lives than all the other teachers so it’s important to seek out the kind of teachers who light a fire inside us.

The Future Is Bright For Lifelong Learners

Our fast-changing world demands a new generation of lifelong learners. The average person will have 4-7 careers in their lifetime and most of us can’t afford to go back to University that many times throughout our lives.

Seeking out edupreneurs who are doing what you want to do is often the best path you can take to get ahead in the 21st-century innovation-driven economy.

As a futurist, I’m excited to see what the future holds for education with all these creative innovators and edupreneurs re-imagining education for the digital age.

There’s never been a better time to learn and make a living doing something you enjoy.

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