As Seth Godin points out in his blog, many kids think they need to get into a good school and form their whole lives around this quest. Many apply but few get in.
Ironically, Semper Fi House's foundingest founder, Capt Michael Hallinan found out that he was not offered admission to Harvard, Columbia, or MIT for their MBA programs last month. Even though he wonâ€™t be going to the likes of Harvard, rest assured he is in good company. He is following in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin (who I can work into almost any conversation by the way) wanted to go to Harvard, but couldn't. The reason he gave was that his father couldn't afford the expense. He sheds light on his feelings about not going to Harvard in one of his first published pieces under the name "Silence Dogood," a pseudonym he used to make sure his jealous brother, who published the paper, would actually publish it. If you haven't checked it out, it's worth the read:
Now, here is the thing: There is no doubt that Harvard was (and is) a great collaborative learning environment, but since Franklin couldn't go to Harvard he created his own collaborative learning environmentâ€”the Junto. Comprised chiefly of young tradesmen, Franklin's Junto met once a week for the purpose of personal and community improvement. If I lived in the 1700s and had a choice to go to Harvard or be in Benjamin Franklin's Junto, I would have chosen the Junto hands down. There is no reason that people can't learn within a Junto-like framework instead of a high priced university. There is also no reason that they wouldnâ€™t become more educated in a Juntoâ€“like framework either, since it requires practical application of principles learned in the Junto. Proposals were not just for philosophical discourse in the Juntoâ€”they were for action.
Capt Hallinan is working to pull people together to collaborate on Semper Fi House, similarly to the way Franklin did on many of his projects. Semper Fi Houseâ€™s mission is to help Marines transition into college life from active duty. Like the Junto proposals that resulted in Americaâ€™s first lending library, and the University of Pennsylvania, Capt Hallinan's project is directed at helping others become more educated.
Maybe Harvard should reconsider its decision about Capt Hallinan. After all, he is very Franklinian. Even though Franklin did not attend Harvard, he became one of the most educated men in the colonies through his Junto. He excelled as a writer, a businessman, a scientist, and later as a statesman. And what did Harvard think of Franklin? Ironically, Franklin did eventually get a degree from Harvardâ€”an honorary one.