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Too often the choice posed is what college to pick. The real choice is what life to pick.



Too often the choice posed is what college to pick. The real choice is what life to pick.



The Wayfinding Academy is a new 2-year college in Portland, OR at the heart of a movement to revolutionize higher education.

This movement sprang from a few radical notions:

  • The world needs fewer mindless followers and more engaged citizens.
  • One size does not fit all.
  • Education should stoke curiosity, not cure it.

Our 2-year program is anchored by 9 core courses in communication, social change, teamwork, and leadership that will help you on any path. From there, you handcraft your own curriculum with the support of your personal Guide. 

You’ll get your hands dirty with real-world internships, mentorships, and Learn & Explore trips. All the while, you’ll be documenting your experiences and learnings in a portfolio that you can carry with you far beyond college.

There are no cookie-cutter tracks. We are humans to be cultivated, not objects to be sorted. It's education by odyssey, with qualified and dedicated Guides helping you choose each next step.

Wayfinding Academy has been approved by Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission to grant Associate’s Degrees in Self & Society (yes, we’re a real college). 

Wayfinding Academy is a new 2-year college in Portland, Oregon at the heart of a movement to revolutionize higher education.

We believe there's more than one way to do life. And one definition of success is not enough.
Too often the choice posed is what college to pick. The real choice is what life to pick. 

Wayfinding Academy is a different kind of college. Watch the video above to learn more.

Ready to start the conversation? Fill out your info and a crew member will contact you shortly.

Ready to apply? Jump to the application timeline and process section.

I wake up excited every day — I already feel like I’m growing, which feels awesome and motivates me to try even harder.
— Annie, Wayfinding Student

Wayfinding Academy was founded upon the frustrating realization that our culture of higher education is backwards.

First you pick a 4-year college, then you pick a major from a list, then you figure out what you’re going to do, and then you try it out.

We want to turn the system frontwards:

  • First, we get to know you and help you make an informed and intentional choice about your education (hint: it might not be 4-year college, and it might not even be Wayfinding Academy).
  • Then we ask, “Who are you? What are you passionate about? What do you want to contribute to the world?” through a core curriculum of 9 classes designed to cultivate good humans.
  • Then we connect you to internships and mentors so you can try things out. You’ll have a Guide who helps you navigate every step of the way.
  • Then you confidently pursue your path after graduation, equipped with a network, a portfolio, and your next steps, and not with a mountain of debt.

We believe education is our chance to make the world better, because what you do with your life matters to more than just you. When we each live life on purpose, we all thrive. 

There are six elements to the 2-year program:

Underpinning each of these elements is the support from our greater community of Wayfinders. Students and community alike will come together for film screenings, lunch-and-learns, and service projects. 

I’m loving school and the people I’m surrounded by each day. My confidence has never been higher.
— Justin, Wayfinding Student

Our Promise

We promise to cultivate humans who are empowered to thrive throughout the rest of their lives. 

That means…

  • embracing curiosity
  • being willing to stretch
  • creating community
  • living life on purpose

Students will leave Wayfinding Academy with their next step in place, a portfolio that shows the world who they are and what they can do, and a network of people who support them.

They will be equipped with skills that apply to their chosen path. Of course, they’ll be able to write thesis statements, read challenging articles and books, and use the scientific method. But, more than that, we prepare students to be engaged citizens of the world. 

Students will know how to…

  • learn
  • connect with people
  • ask good questions
  • collaborate
  • make a plan for something hard that requires other people’s help
  • set up life systems that work for them
  • find their way back to their purpose when they feel lost
  • lead others

I’m feeling like I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and I’m enjoying building stronger friendships. I’m very excited and engaged by everything I’m learning.
— Elizabeth, Wayfinding Student

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Application Timeline and Process


Application Timeline and Process



Does the sound of this program make you jump out of your chair with hope and excitement for a future life of purpose? If yes, we invite you to apply to become a student!

Our application process is about getting to know you as a human—what lights you up and where you want your life to go. Test scores and letter grades are not who you are and therefore are not a critical part of determining your fit.

How to become a student in Fall 2017: 

  1. Schedule a chat with one of our crew members to learn more about the Wayfinding Academy and our process. If you and the crew member determine that Wayfinding might be a good fit, you'll move onto step 2. 
  2. Apply starting on January 10, 2017 using our online student application.
  3. Apply by March 10, 2017 to be given priority consideration for scholarships.
  4. Apply by June 2nd, 2017 to meet our regular application deadline. 
  5. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the cohort is full.
  6. New student orientation and classes begin August 28, 2017.

Ready to take the first step? Start a conversation with us.

Fill out the form below and a crew member will contact you shortly. 

Media (article, podcast, etc)
Blog or Newsletter
Social Media
I came to a Wayfinding event
A current Wayfinding student
I saw a Wayfinding person speak
A friend or family member

Know a student who would thrive here? Email with your recommendation.

Meet our Matchmakers! (When you reach out via our Student Interest Form or email one of these people will get back to you shortly.)

Statement of Non Discrimination 

Wayfinding Academy reaffirms its commitment to a policy of equal opportunity in education and employment.

More than that, we believe that justice is an active pursuit, not a passive stance. As such, we place special emphasis on candidates from underrepresented racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, economic, (dis)ability, and cultural backgrounds which will increase the diversity of our organization and help us strive toward justice on those (and other) fronts.

Wayfinding Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, religion, national origin, disability, previous military service or any other protected category in the admission of students, employment, access or treatment in its programs and activities or the administration of its educational and employment policies. Discrimination or harassment on the basis of these factors is in direct conflict with the mission of the Wayfinding Academy and strictly prohibited.

Wayfinding Academy is strongly committed to building an inclusive environment and will not tolerate any actions of any individual or group that violate this Policy.

Student FAQs

If questions came up that weren’t answered here, our Student FAQs pages will provide you with more of the nitty gritty info. 

I feel more confident in myself and more motivated to figure out what self-actualization means to me.
— Derek, Wayfinding Student

Craving More?

Craving More?






Step inside our prospective student booklet (pdf)!