Our mission at A Place Beyond is to create an exceptional in-person learning community for college students taking their coursework online. The idea of taking classes in the woods may sound like a break from academic rigor, but we put academic success and fulfillment at the top of our list. We see ourselves as additive to a college education, not distractive.
Put simply: We fail as an organization if you fail as a student.
Here are just a few of the ways A Place Beyond works to create a rich, out-of-the-ordinary learning experience.
While our instructor team recognizes the limited role we’re able to play in the day-to-day classroom experience, we take immense pride in the systems we put in place to support independent learning.
Participants are assigned mentors with whom they meet for at least an hour a week. In those sessions, they’ll work on setting academic goals, giving students someone to not only hold them accountable, but who can help track progress and celebrate successes in the classroom.
The scope of these meetings goes beyond simply setting goals and then checking the box. This mentor relationship allows for space to reflect on potential career paths, unexplored passions, and life aspirations. We provide a consistent relationship with someone who cares and can help guide you in the search for balance and meaning as you begin to build your life.
In addition to the reflective role of the mentor relationship, we work on a number of practical skills: etiquette in reaching out to prospective employers, networking, and other professional development tools. Our mission isn’t just to set up students for success in college, but for the transference of habits and principles from the classroom to wherever life leads next.
A Community of Learners
In our early feedback we’ve gotten from students, we were delighted to see how many indicated that their focus and time management has improved in their short time at Friendly Pines. Rather than being distracted by the abundance of access to the outdoors, opportunities for adventure, and proximity to friends, the students have reported being more motivated to get work done for those exact reasons. With staff-led activities filling the calendar, student-led activities blowing up the group chat, and the constant siren’s call of the outdoors, our participants have found inspiration to keep their workload under control, so that they can fully take advantage of every opportunity this place has for them.
We feel for the millions of students across the country that have been studying out of their bedrooms and basements since March. We’ve all struggled with productivity, focus, and burn out.
A core belief at A Place Beyond is that education is enriched by choice and flexibility within a positive learning environment. This starts with the space of our campus. Having options between where you want to work, rest and socialize is key to forming good habits and finding healthy work life balance.
A Place Beyond has a wealth of beautiful outdoor and semi-outdoor spaces for study and play. The weather in Prescott Arizona is spectacular, with an average temperature of 70 degrees in October and only four days of rain. The LCP is our largest semi-outdoor space, where we’ve set up desks and workspaces. For those looking to elevate their thinking, our treehouse gets great WiFi as well. The campus is also scattered with picnic tables, benches and boulders for classes, study or just for a quiet rest.
With the establishment of our COVID-19 bubble, participants now also take advantage of our large indoor spaces for their studies, including the dining hall, lounge spaces in the veranda and Jack’s Hangar, and our dedicated quiet space, The Wagon Shed.