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). 

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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