One of the common questions we receive from prospective families inquiring about Acton Academy is, "Will my child be equally prepared to attend an Ivy League school?"
We consider this a misguided question (and potentially a red flag about the cultural fit for a growing community of Acton parents). Misguided, but probably not for the reasons you might imagine.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep "all the options" on the table for your child. In fact, I never met a parent who did not want the best for their progeny.
But we say misguided because the learner drives the pathway and opportunity. As parents, Guides, and mentors are meant to support, equip, and challenge the learners. But a decision about what each Hero/Warrior will do after school to put their own "dent in the Universe"... is their decision. Their lives are not ours, to live vicariously through them.
With that caveat out of the way, the track record of Acton graduates around the country is stellar.
What Really Matters... Is What They Want/Need To Make The Change The See The World Needs
Launch Padders (Acton's term for High School) who WANT to go on to higher education are getting into some of the best schools on the planet (see details below). In other cases, we see graduates who decide that the Universities need them more than they need a secondary degree. Especially if they already (and some do) field six-figure offers in the industries they know closely align with their known passions (discovered as part of the NGA process in LaunchPad).
Acton graduates from around the world are attractive candidates for top universities because they display responsibility, maturity, and a diversity of experiences that are rare among their peers.
List Of College Acceptances For Acton Academy Graduates
*The following is a partial list of recent admissions for Acton graduates from schools located worldwide (nearly 400 in the total Acton Network). I am sure this list is incomplete, as reporting is not required. The original Acton Academy started in Austin, Texas in 2009, so the first generation of graduates with a full 12 years of experience from the Acton environment are out in the world.
- Vanderbilt UniversityUniversity of Virginia
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
- University of California at Berkley
- US Naval Academy (pending final physical)
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of Texas at Dallas (Honors)
- Auburn University
- Penn State
- Purdue University
- Texas A&M
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of Texas at Arlington
- Louisiana State University
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Kansas
- Seton Hall
- Lewis and Clark College
- Seattle University
- University of California, San Diego
- University of San Francisco (Honors)
- University of San Diego
- Northeastern University
- Texas Tech University (Honors)
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- University of California at Davis
- The New School (NYC)
- University of Seattle
- Loyola Marymount University
- University of New Hampshire
But honestly, what good is seeing a list of what other Heroes have done when what you really care about is what will be available for your child.
Can an Acton graduate go to the best schools available?
Absolutely. Is that the highest and best path for them? Only your child will be able to answer that question. In a world where the ROI of higher education costs is hotly debated, a college degree is no longer an insurance policy for a good life, well-lived.
What Does Life After Acton Look Like?
Graduates who learn how to start their own businesses have a leg up on the competition because, by the time they turn 18, they have already started and run several companies in our annual Entrepreneurship Quests and Children's Business Fairs.
There are no limits for Acton graduates – and no pre-programmed paths. Acton graduates are ready to take on the risks and rewards of whatever way they choose to forge.
Here is a shortlist of what some other Acton Graduates have accomplished:
- She started her own company in Silicon Valley with Venture Capital investment.
- Interned at Space X
- Interned for Karl Rove (former White House advisor to President Bush)
- Enrolled in competitive universities such as Georgia Tech, UT Austin, Florida International University, and UFM Guatemala
- Moved to Japan to learn Japanese
- Won a Golden Globe award
Two of my favorite anecdotal stories shared in the Acton Network demonstrate the different trajectories for LaunchPad learners.
Story #1: Turning Down The Most Prestigious Universities
What I love the most about Holden's story is that it is not about the ultimate choices he made but the impact that he is making on other human beings even after short conversations. It is about playing chess when the rest of the world is trying to win at checkers. The board looks the same, but which game are you playing?
Story #2: Acton Graduate To CEO?
The second story is one I love to share because it speaks to my heart as an entrepreneur and make-up of a LaunchPad graduate who has just spent a dozen years starting businesses, learning about building strong communities and cultures, above and beyond the role of academics.
Our friend Matt Beaudreau shared the following post with the Acton Network. You may recognize Matt's name from the series of YouTube videos we've been sharing about what it means to your child to grow in a learner-driven environment.
Here's the summary:
Four entrepreneurs launched a company about two years ago, with the intention of 1 of them, specifically, spending the time to do what was necessary to grow it. Long story short, none of them can prioritize the time to fully invest in expanding the brand.
>> Entrepreneur #1 is a professional athlete in the prime of his career. >> Entrepreneur #2 is the CEO of a large RE development firm and investor to many Sacramento area businesses>> Entrepreenru #3 is the COO of a tech company that is poised to sell in the next couple of years for an 8 figure sum>> Entrepreneur #4 is the founder and CEO of a chain of float tank/health and wellness centers in California. Entrepreneur #4 was scheduled to take the reins for driving the new business, but he simultaneously came up with another idea loosely related to his float tanks. That idea has quickly grown to over $1 million a month in revenue in the last 12 months. Thus it's the new priority. As a collective, they are hoping for a young Acton grad to take the neglected brand in whatever direction they can imagine under their mentorship. It would be a 12-month commitment. At the end of the 12 months, that grad would either stay on as the principal leader of that brand with a 20% stake in ownership, or they would collectively decide to liquidate assets and focus energies elsewhere. Not sure there is a net downside to the experience either way. The biggest hurdles for the group and a potential taker from the network:
- they are hoping for the young hero to come from an Acton campus (we have five grads this year at Acton Placer, but none are a good fit for this project). - they are hoping that the hero would be willing to relocate to the greater Sacramento area. - they are hoping that the hero could self-sustain or be subsidized by parents for 3-4 months before taking a salary.- it is a line of CBD products that can, understandably, still carry a stigma for many.If anyone has a graduate who would be interested and a potential fit, send them my way for an introduction. EvIf it doesn't pan out, what an honor for an organization to understand what our heroes are capable of enough to seek us out.
Wow - can you imagine being presented with an opportunity like that at 18-years-old and freshly graduated from High School? These top entrepreneurs weren't looking for a candidate from Stanford, Wharton, or Duke's Fuqua School. They went direct to Acton.
There Are Many Paths To Living A Good Life Full Of Passions
We see similar impressions being made as Acton learners start doing apprenticeships (real work with actual pay) as early as middle school. Some of those work relationships have resulted in six-figure offers right out of LaunchPad.
Or I could share the story of the Carpenter family (from Acton Main campus in Austin), who, after many discussions about what each member wanted to do with their passions, ended up getting a major motion picture made. Chris (the son) was the main character of the movie. Jeff (the Dad) wrote the script. And Mom (Marcy) helped get it produced. Notice the "Hero" theme about working with others carries through this plotline 🙂
Have A Conversation With Your Child
A True Dialogue Will Be When You Listen More Than You Share
Instead of talking about where people choose to go to school, a more helpful question might be to ask your child, "Who are the people they know about who live, work, and change the world in a way that speaks to them? And what would it take to open those doors?"
- What injustices in the world do they see that stir them inside and make them want to take action?
- What unique gifts have they discovered about themselves - and have they found anyone (yet) that is using those gifts in a world-changing way?
One Last Thought On What Comes After Acton
I want to share the following words from Jeff Sandefer (ActonMBA Founder and CoFounder of the Acton Academy network):
Our graduates are not a means to an end for Acton Academy. Not at all. Not ever. It’s simply de-humanizing; who they are is not the sum of their accomplishments.
If a founding parent isn’t willing to make the leap and wants evidence of another Actons graduate’s accomplishments in order to join your community, it’s a giant red flag. Parents who want to mold a child to get into Harvard or Brown are not the right parents for an Acton community and will make your life hell. Guaranteed. While I support critical thinking, I don’t support using it to feed a parent who “has a plan” for a child. Many of our graduates are becoming what Jim Collins describes as Level Five leaders. One attribute Level Five leaders share is a disinterest in being in the spotlight, and instead, they like to lift up others. In other words, while our graduates might go along with having a spotlight on them, it would be extremely uncomfortable and out of character.