Wayfinding Academy is a new 2-year college in Portland, OR 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.

This college and 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 own 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 to show the world who you are and what you can do.

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 different kind of college. Watch the video above to learn more.

Want to start a conversation? Let us know 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 in response to 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 want 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, rather than 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


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, apply today to become a student and join the fun!

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 not a part of determining your fit for Wayfinding Academy.

How to become a student Fall 2017: 

  1. Schedule a chat to learn more about Wayfinding Academy and our process and to see if we're a good match. If so, you'll gain access to step 2. 
  2. Complete the online application and submit it so that we can get to know you better.
  3. Good fits will be invited to participate in Find Your Fit Day, the final step in the application process and an opportunity to engage further with our community.
  4. New student orientation and classes begin August 28th, 2017.

NOTE: Applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis until the cohort is full (after June 15th).

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

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

You can also call (503) 482-9038 or email matchmaking@wayfindingacademy.org

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

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





Step inside our prospective student booklet (pdf)!