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Skipping School: A Look at Free Higher-Education Alternatives

An increasing number of free and cheap higher-education alternatives are changing post-secondary education.

When I was growing up there was never a question that I would attend college one day. My parents, both of whom have graduate degrees, would talk about higher education as if it were a foregone conclusion. "What do you want to study in college?" they'd ask pointedly, or "Where do you want to live after college?" Both my mother and father are relatively progressive and from working-class backgrounds, yet they'd never mention trade schools or, God forbid, skipping college altogether. College was just something people did, a rite of passage into a better life.

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Schools of a Different Sort: Five Alternative Educations

Some people aren't built to thrive in a lecture hall, and conventional schooling doesn't guarantee a job.

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about work, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month.

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Scrambling to break even, the Kansas City, Missouri School District closed two dozen schools this summer. In a district so shaky that many have given up on it, this leaves few options for the kids who slip through the cracks of the city's flourishing charter school system. Enter the DeLaSalle Education Center, which serves students who have struggled with poverty, drug abuse, violence, or basic educational skills. Along with classes capped at 15 kids and opportunities for one-on-one instruction, the Center features an Automotive Design Studio.

The sleekly designed electric vehicle pictured above was built this year by DeLaSalle students. The body comes from a salvaged Lola Champ Car the students picked up for $2,500, and they built the clear shell from a material used to shrink wrap windows. The car's top speed of 45 mph and plastic skin may not be practical for mass production any time soon, but in learning to build it, these high schoolers came away with university-level engineering experience. Two of the students involved plan to pursue auto engineering, and another will study environmental science.

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