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About Us

  • Missions

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To help college students successfully transition from the highly-structured school system to the dynamic, challenging 21st century working world so they achieve a motivating, rewarding work life and a fulfilling personal life.
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To fill a gap in our education system that is leaving far too many graduates feeling lost, stuck and defeated.
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  • Vision

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Gandhi said, “The difference between what we do and what we’re capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” At Education Evolution, we believe that giving a generation of students the tools, time and guidance to select careers aligned with their strengths and purpose would lead to solutions to many of the world’s large and pressing problems.
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We believe that finding motivating, fulfilling work is humankind’s birthright. In the wake of our economy’s Digital Revolution, it is also quickly morphing into an imperative for achieving professional success without sacrificing personal satisfaction. Finding and effectively communicating the points of intersection between our interests and talents and the needs of organizations and individuals we want to serve is a massive competitive advantage in the workplace. It is the secret to being a great worker, which in turn is key to negotiating good pay and flexibility, even against the backdrop of increasing competition, globalization and automation.
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There is a silver lining to the upfront work (the introspection, research and interview prep) required for seeking professions that are uniquely suited to our strengths, interests and the contributions we desire to make. The jobs it yields are far more motivating and fulfilling than those we tend to fall into when we don't take the time and energy to identify and prepare for the right positions. Not only do well-aligned careers give us purpose, connection and recognition, but they also save us from having to endure work that leaves us feeling drained, resentful and unappreciated. There is also a golden lining to seeking good-fit work. When we are engaged at work (rather than drained by work), we create energy and enthusiasm that we can share with our friends, family and significant others. As (or more) importantly, the self-reflection, emotional intelligence and strong communication skills required to find and get well-aligned work also help us attract authentic, dynamic and complementary friends and significant others into our lives. This is why it is so important to embed the building blocks of finding well-aligned work into our education system; our world desperately needs more workers aligned with their purpose as well as more fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends cultivating the introspection, curiosity, empathy and conscious communication that are foundational for fulfilling relationships. 

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We founded Education Evolution because we are passionate about catalyzing this transformation of education. But we are just a tool to empower you, the students and professionals courageous enough to follow your authentic paths. You hold the power to meet the formidable challenges of our day and create a brighter future for us all.

  • Meet Our Team

Lauren Paer, Founder

For the past several years, Lauren has been on a quest to help others discover fulfilling, motivating work. A natural-born researcher who received no formal instruction and little advice on the topic as a student (despite going to top schools and having parents who cared a great deal about her education), Lauren spent thousands of hours and used informal interviews, online research, books and the navigation of her own career to figure it out. She originally assumed this blindspot in her education had been somewhat unique to her. When she began talking about her experience with other college graduates, however, she found they almost universally reported receiving minimal advice and being ill-prepared to make well thought-out career decisions when they graduated. Many believed this lack of instruction had held them back professionally and injected a lot of unnecessary, unproductive stress into their lives. The realization that this was a universal problem fueled a desire to fill this glaring hole in education and motivated Lauren to organize and codify what she’s learned in the 10 years she's spent researching different industries, finding jobs opportunities through informal networking and identifying good-fit careers so that others could benefit from it.

Lauren grew up in Honolulu and spent K-12 at Punahou School. She went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated summa cum laude with distinction in economics (her major) and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She has worked as a researcher at the New York Federal Reserve, a $200m hedge fund and Goldman Sachs and was published in Harvard’s Kennedy School Review with a piece proposing a novel labor policy (2013). She recently collaborated with international researchers on a curriculum development grant for an innovation Masters program (2014) and was Director of Research for the World Summit on Technological Unemployment (WSTU) (2015)- as well as session leader for the panel: "Educating for the Transition". WSTU was the first high-level gathering of people from academia, industry, policy and philanthropy to discuss technological unemployment- or the displacement of jobs by technology. Ex-Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, among others, spoke at the event. Lauren sees technological unemployment as one of the greatest labor and education challenges of the early 21st century. She's an aspiring catalyst to an evolution in education she believes is necessary to better equip students for personal and professional success in the digital age. 

When she’s not working with people to pinpoint the intersection of their strengths, interests and purpose or brainstorming new curricula, you can find her hiking in the Hawaiian wilderness with friends, enjoying the company her cat Rafa or filling gaps in her education by reading and attending seminars/conferences/summits all over the world on a wide range of topics.

Mason Kreidler, Operations Manager

Mason discovered his passion for helping others navigate their careers as he was transitioning his own career. An engineer by training, he was inspired by the systematic and analytic nature of Lauren’s methodology for finding fulfilling work. He is passionate about reaching his potential and helping others reach theirs. Mason believes this is only possible when you’re in a job you love.

Mason holds a Master’s in Geological Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He has worked as a feasibility consultant for major mining companies in several countries. Although outwardly successful in consulting, he ultimately felt he was not able to make meaningful contributions to the social and environmental progress he wants to see. From personal experience validated by talking to other people, he has found that a major barrier keeping people from reaching their full potential is following conventional paths without considering their strengths, interests and beliefs. He thus encourages students he speaks with to shift their focus from extrinsic to intrinsic metrics of success.

In addition to helping others find good-fit work, Mason spends his time hiking, mountain biking, and researching ways to augment climate change mitigation.

(View from our headquarters rooftop in Hawaii)

  • Our Philosophy on Education in the 21st Century

Our philosophy on education is intertwined with our belief that the economy is well into a digital revolution while our education system is stuck in the industrial era of yesteryear. The new economy demands new skills and mindsets that the current system is not teaching. In fact, many of the mindsets the current system teaches work against success in the digital era, including:

1) Extrinsic Evaluation, Motivation & Learning Regiment

Our school system rewards those who get high marks as judged by teachers in topics dictated by anonymous committees. You don’t get to choose what you want to study until college- and even then it’s heavily restricted to academic subjects. Many students greatest gifts are outside the academic realm. 
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Many students become so conditioned to seeking extrinsic approval that they lose their ability self-assess and become disconnected from what is important to them, their intrinsic motivation. Research shows people do their best work when they are intrinsically, not extrinsically, motivated. This loss of connection with themselves and their unique talents prevents too many students from reaching their potential. 

2) A Narrow Definition of Intelligence: Discounting Non-Academic Aptitudes

Our education system only recognizes a few types of intelligences and insists on grading everyone based on these rather than encouraging students to identify their personal “zones of genius”. Students with exceptional interpersonal skills, creative problem solving skills or amazing dexterity with their hands get little recognition and encouragement for these talents. Standardized tests are emblematic of the problem. They play an outsized role in assessing public school performance and in college admissions.

3) Fear of Failure

Our education system shamelessly demonizes failure. We teach students to fear and avoid failure at all costs. “Failing” a test or class is the worst possible outcome. It implies you’re dumb, lazy or both. High achieving students even fear getting a B+ or an A-. But failure is often the best way to learn. Demonizing failure, therefore, is antithetical to learning in addition to being detrimental to students’ psyches.

 

Our Education Philosophy Includes the Following Principles:

1) Personalized Learning

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The future belongs to people who know their unique skills, can communicate them effectively and know how to find people or companies who value them. However, our education system is predicated on standardized curricula and tests. We agree there are certain subjects all students should learn like reading, writing and basic math. But we also believe a much larger percentage of students’ time learning should be based on their individual aptitudes and interests. We suspect the surge in alternative schools embracing personalized-learning in the bay area and other tech hubs is fueled by people on the frontlines of the digital transformation (workers in tech) demanding education tailored to the individual.

2) Self-Direction & Self-Assessment

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Gone are the days when just following orders was sufficient to succeed. The new economy demands workers that can figure things out with minimal supervision. Employers complain of employees that need excessive hand-holding. This is the consequence of a system where teachers & administrators determine everything- the curriculum, the homework assignments, the tests and the grades. Students graduate dependent on structure and step-by-step instruction.

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This may have been an asset in the old economy, but it has turned into a liability in the digital era. We believe students need more autonomy in selecting and assessing their work so that they can grow into independent workers and society members who know how to solve problems. Once again, we are not advocating absolutes, but there is no balance in the current system. Students need more opportunities to chart their own path and direct themselves.

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Note: Self-directed learning is closely linked with personalized learning, but it’s distinct. You can imagine a personalized curriculum created entirely by a teacher rather than with the input of the student.

3) Inquiry-Based Learning

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Technology has fundamentally changed our relationship to information over the past several decades. When it was costly to find information, there was a premium on being able to recall the correct answer to an objective question without referring to external sources. With the internet, however, being able to remember a multitude of facts is a great deal less valuable. The premium now goes to people who have learned how to ask the right questions and where to find information. Inquiry-based learning puts asking questions at the center of education, where they belong.

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Advancements in software and artificial intelligence are another reason we believe an inquiry-based, versus answer-centric learning, is important. Answering well-defined questions is something computers are quite good at and getting better at by the day; asking the right questions is not. We believe part of preparing students for the working world they will enter is accounting for the fact that technology is going to eliminate some jobs and reduce the demand for certain skills. Schools that focus on building skills that are human competitive advantages will better prepare its students to thrive in the digital age.

4) Interpersonal Skills & Emotional Intelligence

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Effective communication, conflict resolution, empathy and teamwork are crucial skills for personal and professional success- and they’re growing in importance. Industry forecasters say teams, not individuals, are poised to make the biggest contributions in the future. Employers report a lack of soft skills is a bigger problem than technical skills.

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Moreover, computers have far surpassed humans in brute computational strength, reading documents with well-defined questions and other programmable tasks. As mentioned in principle 3, technology is changing the relative value of different skills and demanding our education system spend more time nurturing human competitive advantages. Interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are at the top of the list. These skills also equip students to handle conflicts in their personal lives more effectively, which can help them get more satisfaction from their personal life and reduce stress and drama.

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Currently students get almost no formal instruction (and most get limited informal instruction). These skills rarely factor into grades or assessments. Even group projects tend to be graded solely on the quality of the product, not the teamwork (barring exceptionally aggressive or dramatic behavior). More formal instruction on interpersonal skills, more feedback and more opportunities for practicing collaboration and teamwork must be incorporated into education.

5) Self-Management & Self-Care

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America is currently suffering from obesity, anxiety and addiction epidemics. Our mental and physical health are strained. The costs, in terms of health care, productivity and happiness are incredibly high for both the afflicted individuals and society as a whole. Part of success in the digital age is learning to manage stress and otherwise staying healthy. We believe these are foundational skills that need to be central in education.

6) Meta-Cognition

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Meta-cognition skills include how to learn, monitor our own comprehension, plan, prioritize and remember. Being able to learn new skills quickly and adapt is a critical success skill that is getting more valuable with each passing year. Business/technology magazine Fast Company recently called adaptability the most important success skill for the future. One of the few certainties of the future is that it will be marked by rapid change.

Amazingly, in the 17 years a students spends between starting kindergarten and graduating college (or up to 20 for those of us who went to pre-school), most of us never take a class on how to learn. The implicit assumption is that by going to school we will be learning how to learn. Which we do, but there are tactics and strategies that can supercharge our learning.

7) Integrating Academic and Experiential Learning

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Experiential learning gives students an opportunity to apply what they learn in school, thereby bridging classroom learning and the real world. This is of paramount importance for three reasons. First, it cements classroom knowledge. It takes it from abstract to tangible, which makes it easier for students to remember.

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Second, intermixing experiential learning with academic learning is motivating. One of the top complaints students have about school is what they’re learning is irrelevant to their lives or their future. Experiential learning demonstrates how knowledge is used and why it is not irrelevant.

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Third, the value of raw, unapplied knowledge in the digital age is low. The internet can spit out more knowledge faster than any person can. It is the ability to apply knowledge to solve a problem or accomplish a goal, however that is a sought-after and valuable. This is precisely what experiential learning teaches.

8) Sustainability & Global Citizen Mindset

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The ecological strain we are putting on the planet we rely on for our survival is not sustainable. We’re changing our climate, going through our reserves of fresh water, acidifying our oceans and depleting our natural resources. As inhabitants of earth, we find these trends alarming. To change our current trajectory, we believe that a sustainability mindset needs to be deeply engrained into 21st century education.

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We must teach the next generation to be conscious consumers. Students need to learn about the cost of their own consumption- both locally and abroad. They should be familiar with data about the big picture environmental problems we’re facing. This is sobering information, but it’s the reality students are inheriting and it’s important they understand it. They should also be encouraged to brainstorm solutions and be introduced to the most promising technological, behavioral and policy proposals to combat climate change, contamination and resource depletion.

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Unfortunately, many of our higher education institutions teach students both implicitly and explicitly that consumption equals progress and success. Economics is now the #1 major at a large and growing number of US colleges. And more than half of all college students take at least intro economics. Mainstream economics (taught at virtually all US universities) defines progress as gross domestic product (GDP), or how much stuff we produce. It teaches students we want to maximize the amount of stuff we produce while leaving the environment out of the equation/its models- an almost incomprehensible omission. It ignores the fact we’re using up finite resources and polluting the planet on which we depend in order to achieve the rapid growth it defines as our objective. Moreover, it defines maximizing consumption as “rational”. Failing to produce and consume as much as possible is deemed either “irrational” or “inefficient”. This is a very dangerous message to be sending our students.

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Although academic institutions often talk about being green, there has been a trend in perennial campus construction. This uses an astronomical amount of energy and natural resources while creating a huge amount of waste (in addition to contributing to soaring tuition prices). It also implicitly teaches students that talking about being green is an acceptable substitute for acting sustainably. Our society needs to institute radical structural change to value conservation over consumption. Incorporating a sustainability mindset into education and holding academic institutions accountable for practicing what they preach is a critical piece of the puzzle.

9) Lifelong Learning

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The world is changing rapidly, and the pace is accelerating. This is why adaptability, mentioned earlier, is being called the most important success skill. It’s also why lifelong learning is becoming essential. To be masters of adaptability we must always be learning and evolving.

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Currently society treats school and work as distinct periods of life. You learn in school; when you finish learning you go to work and “do”. Lifelong learning has long been a commonality of high-achievers and the best organizations have long invested in continued training for their workforce. But now the lifelong learning mindset is becoming a critical skill for anyone who wants to be a valued worker in the future. Industries and technologies are changing too quickly for it to be otherwise. On the bright side, life is a lot more fun when you continue to learn, grow and cultivate a child-like curiosity about yourself and the world around you.

We believe our education system needs to change radically. Its centralized, standardized ethos is no longer serving students. We expect the future of education will be markedly more diverse than it presently is. Education is ripe for disruption; we’re excited to see new initiatives emerging that embody the principles above.

  • Education Evolution and the Future

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The first gap we’re working to fill is quality guidance to help students design personalized, engaging college experiences that lead to fulfilling careers. Our college mentoring services provide guidance on selecting majors and careers as well as building and using self-knowledge. We hope to combat the epidemic of students who graduate college lost, anxious, unsure what path to pursue and questioning the value of their education by empowering students to use their college experience to move them in a direction they are consciously choosing.
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In the not-so-distant future, we plan to offer classes for students on how to create career and life satisfaction. One-on-one mentoring is the best, but it won't be able to accommodate all the students who need this information. Later, we want to create classes for people already in the working world. College graduates we talk to in their 20's and 30's- and even their 50’s or 60’s- hear about our work helping students identify and research good-fit careers and say “I need that!” Which makes sense because very few people were ever taught how to find and move in the direction of fulfilling, good-fit work. We weren't. Were you? 
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Longer term, there are multiple avenues we plan to pursue in line with the principles listed in Our Philosophy section. We are half a century into a Digital Revolution that is radically changing our economic and social landscape- and yet our education system remains stuck in the industrial mold of yesteryear. Education is the most powerful tool we have to adapt; to take advantage of new opportunities, overcome new challenges and build the world and lives we want. The current curricula is leaving students unprepared for the digital economy they enter as workers. Education is ripe for disruption. There are myriad opportunities to rethink and rework the current curricula and system. We are excited to be educators on the brink of an education evolution.