Is coworking cooler than college?

(Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts. Read Part One.)

Anyone growing up has a rough idea of what they think success should look like.

For teenagers, their heroes are people who have launched their own video games, started a band, filmed a rockumentary, created a mobile app, written a graphic novel or won a major video game tournament. To them, the accolades and notoriety that come with this kind of experience far outweighs the tedium involved in credentialing new skills.

For Millennials, nothing resonates quite like being involved in an authentic accomplishment-based learning experience where meaningful work is making a meaningful impact.

Experience trumps diplomas every day of the weeks.

A Tech Industry that Doesn’t Care About Diplomas

Many of today’s tech gurus have been self-taught. Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, Paul Allen, Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Sean Combs are some of the smartest and most influential people in the world, none of whom graduated from college.

When applying for a coding job, company interviewers are far more interested in a person’s capabilities than their time spent in academia. In fact a computer science degree will often work against them as it conveys far more theory and far less actual coding.

In the fast moving tech world where innovations are typically 7-10 years ahead of academia’s talent pool, those who can demonstrate jerry-rigged accomplishments and resourceful curiosity become the most sought after.

Emerging fields like augmented reality designers, virtual reality educators, user experience architects, artificial intelligence testers, search engine optimizers, and online reputation managers are all part of a growing lists of jobs that have no university pathway to get there.

Much like becoming a rock star, game designer, professional athlete, race car driver, or movie star, landing a dream job has never been about taking the safe route, especially since there’s virtually no such thing as a safe route anymore.

Competing for Fun

Even though colleges get in trouble for promoting the fun side of campus life, it becomes a major part of every incoming student’s decision

Coworking facilities are also competing for the “fun” crowd, with many offering free beer, free food, ping pong, arcade games, air hockey, foosball, exercise rooms, indoor theaters, bocce ball, and more.

Will we see coworking sports teams competing against other coworking sports teams anytime soon? Yes, but it will probably be in non-traditional sports like ping pong, Arduino hackathons, and video game tournaments instead of football, baseball, and hockey.

The Secret Reason Why Coworking will Replace Colleges

We are moving into a very fluid society and traditional tenant-landlord relationships simply don’t work very well.

Signing a ten-year lease in a world being framed around exponential change measured in days rather than years is a quantum leap of faith most companies would rather not take.

Real estate has become a millstone around every fast-moving company’s neck.

For this reason coworking spaces have been quickly filling up with small corporate teams, telecommuters, and remote project groups, each of whom place a far greater emphasis on flexibility than cost and stability.

Colleges are being caught up in similar dynamics. Since most colleges have large real estate holdings, they’ve also had to deal with rapidly escalating maintenance, janitorial, security, and facility overhead costs. The inflexible cost of operations is running headlong into a world where shifting attitudes, lifestyles, and career goals are not only more common, they’re becoming the norm.

This means colleges in the future will not only have to deal with rapid ebbs and flows in student populations and staffing, but campus operations as well.

That’s why a host of hybrid coworking style experiments will begin to permeate campus life. Flexibility is key, and the rigid decision-making processes involved in most universities simply won’t work.

Final Thoughts

Colleges are in a scaling-down mode, many fighting to survive, while coworking is in a massive scaling up mode with big time investment money paving the way for rapid expansion.

In this rapidly escalating battle for talent, coworking is becoming cooler, trendier, less expensive, and far more fun than spending countless grueling hours in a classroom memorizing troves of terminology and squishy theories while watching the tuition meter in the front of the room click another notch higher with every word uttered from the professor’s mouth.

Will we see coworking universities in the future that offer college credits for doing freelance work? Yes, I believe this will happen very soon.

There are very few things in human existence that will remain untouched by today’s entrepreneurial teams scouring the world looking for new opportunities, and colleges have become a prime target