Career 24 September 2019
Get an education... then get a job.
It's a familiar process and has always seemed like pretty solid advice to score a secure career. However, this age of innovation may call for a process that is less linear. Instead of the classic—go to college first then join the workforce after graduating—we must consider education and work together. You know, both actually happening at the same time. Augmenting the learning process with the experiential component of working can promote deeper engagement and the development of practical skills from a young age, which may become necessary given how quickly the job market is shifting in the modern era. Think about it, over 90% of the world's data was created in the last two years. Can the education system possibly keep up when these big changes are happening so quickly? As an education technology entrepreneur, I cannot get away from the headlines and panel discussions of "futureproofing" students. But how do you "futureproof" students for a workplace that might not even exist yet?
To answer this and more, I was excited to sit down with Tiffany Sorya, founder & CEO of Novel Education Group. With the rise of digital careers and the lucrative influencer market, teens now have a lot more options than a plain-old part-time job. With clients like Kylie Jenner, who Forbes Magazine recently named the "youngest self-made billionaire," Tiffany is modernizing the education process and changing the perception of homeschooling by implementing an effective curriculum to bridge the gap between unconventional lifestyles and successful education.
In a time where change is the only constant and the roles of technology and social media are growing exponentially, the core principles that Novel Education Group promote can be relevant to learners from every background.
What is Novel Education Group and what inspired you to start it?
Novel Education Group is a full-service homeschooling and academic agency that specializes in flexible, accredited customized curriculum and enrichment programs for students of all ages (K-12). We are able to provide a tailored educational experience for any student whether they are pursuing a career outside of school or reaching to get accepted to their dream Ivy League university. My inspiration for starting this business was twofold.
- My unexpected love for teaching, which emerged in college when I was a Biology and French major trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Many believe that education is increasingly less relevant in a world of growing entrepreneurs and social media stars. However, I have been able to change the way young people think about education by expanding beyond the academic and showing them how it can impact every avenue of their lives and arm them with life-long skills that will carry them far beyond their degrees.
- My desire to fill a huge gap in the market for private, personalized education. After working with several agencies, schools, and curricula, I had first-hand experience about what worked and what didn't. My goal was to consolidate the successful components of my experience and bring all of my best practices together in one business.
What Novel Education Group provides is a comprehensive education experience that caters to the needs of each student individually. Students are able to achieve high academic success while being creative and pursuing hobbies and career goals that complement their schooling. Education is another way of enriching the mind rather than conforming to traditional structures of a top-down delegated curriculum.
Among all the agencies, we seek to provide something unique and fulfilling by making smart stylish again.
What are the benefits of this model as opposed to the traditional education program?
Young people in school today feel confined by the rigid curriculum that traditional schooling mandates. The traditional model is stagnant. Considering the modernization of literally every other aspect of our society, the educational system needs to reflect that growth. Novel's framework can seamlessly integrate students' interests and passions into their curriculum, allowing them to finish their core classes early if they want so they can focus on extracurriculars. There's an overarching theme of learning life skills alongside the high-achieving scholastic nature of our schooling model. These life skills and the foundation of their education are things that will be forever applicable to any lifestyle they choose. One of our core pillars is learning how to learn, not just what. We've helped students blossom simply because of the one-on-one work that we do coupled with a curriculum that is focused on honing their strengths.
You have worked with incredible clients—how did you identify the opportunity to bridge the gap between "unconventional lifestyles and a successful education"?
Early in my career, I became a private tutor for many high profile students, some of whom had flourishing careers themselves. I started noticing that there was a huge gap between the educational, entertainment and alternative lifestyle worlds. That void was a reliable, legitimate, and accredited education (including an actual high school diploma versus a GED) for people who didn't have the time or typical day-to-day lifestyle to be sending their kids to school 5 days a week for 7 hours a day. Since we handle extracurricular and leadership opportunities outside of traditional schooling as well, students truly get a fully comprehensive experience, academically and socially, if that's what they want. When I saw that a lot of these kids were having to choose between a good education and pursuing an early career, I didn't want to be the norm anymore. I wanted people to have quality, personalized education that could fit into their lifestyle, whether they had careers or simply wanted a superior educational experience. So, I created Novel.
What is personalized learning and what role do you see it playing in the future of education?
Personalized learning is recognizing that every student learns and retains material and skills differently. Attempting to put a variety of learning styles in one classroom is not conducive to all students reaching their full potential. I think the future of education is allowing students to have more control over what they're learning as well as seeing more online learning options with greater flexibility. I think more people will want to incorporate "real-life skills" into their curriculum so that students will see more purpose in their education. Rather than focusing on facts alone, students will learn critical thinking, transferable skills, emotional intelligence, and practical problem solving. This involves more electives and extracurricular work. More and more, we're seeing universities select students who have turned their passions into tangible opportunities—not necessarily those with perfect GPAs and test scores.
In this social media age, students are inundated with information and instant gratification; we see a disconnect with this environment and the traditional education system. Novel Education Group has been filling that void. How?
With Novel's approach to education, students can see applicable results while still understanding that achievements are the result of hard work. We want to teach the younger generation that instant gratification regarding all things is not a realistic expectation. However, when they rise to any challenge with preparation and hard work, they will see faster results.
What advice would you give to students and parents who are considering homeschooling?
Novel is changing the way people perceive homeschooling. Because we are full-service and comprehensive in our approach, the typical worries about socializing and extracurricular activities don't apply. We handle the whole experience, in a way that caters to you, specifically. I would reassure them that homeschooling a highly legitimate alternative to traditional schooling, and it will allow your kids to explore their passions and have a more worldly approach to education and life in general.
Furthermore, we recently secured a global partnership with premier college consulting firm, Command Education, to bring high level skills and enrichment programs to students around the world by helping them stand out for college entry, especially for top tier and Ivy League schools. With this partnership, we're able to help students and families start earlier to guide them into making the right academic and extracurricular opportunities. We want students to focus on what they WANT to do, not what they feel they HAVE to do to bolster resumes for admission. You don't need to be valedictorian and have perfect SAT scores to get admitted to the best schools. Plus, minimizing the stresses of this process and helping students discover their passion and superpower along the way is the reason we do this.
What are some common misconceptions about homeschooling?
Homeschooling used to and still occasionally carries a specific connotation. Some see homeschool as an alternative option to traditional because something was amiss with a student's schooling experience. However, we're seeing a seismic shift in that notion. Parents are now choosing homeschooling over regular school to provide their children with the best possible educational experience. Homeschooling is also a fantastic supplement. Taking accredited courses—AP-level, creative classes, tailored coursework, all of your choosing—that your high school may not provide and that fits your schedule makes people realize that the framework of homeschooling has really changed through Novel Education.
What would you change about the current education system?
I would love to see the current system become more modernized and teach kids how to succeed in life and problem solve. I'd like to see a focus on reading comprehension, writing, and applicable math. I would also like to see teachers get the respect they deserve and empower them to take control of their classrooms. If kids see teachers understanding the power they have to influence a classroom, I think students will respond to their teachers much more positively.
With the rising popularity of working remotely, how does this trend translate to students learning remotely?
Students will really start to embrace the idea of being able to attend school and classes at the location of their choice. No longer are the days where students are not able to take a demanding internship, play a sport or pursue a hobby because of the obligation to be physically present at school. I'm excited for future students having the possibility to learn from anywhere. This translates so well to international students! Now, families from all over the world are able to access American curriculum—and American students are able to travel the world without compromising their education.
Something really exciting about the Novel Education Group is the customized programs for each student. How do you design balance in their workload that also enables them to be creative and pursue other hobbies and even careers during their academic journey?
Well first, a homeschool day goes by much quicker than a regular school day. Even without customization, seat time between student and teacher can be as little as 2-3 hours a day and that includes homework. This leaves so much time for the student to fill their afternoon with extra-curricular activities, start a business venture, play sports or develop a non-profit. We also have a "design your own elective" option for all of our students. In this course students can earn high school credit by choosing course content of their own. This not only drives a student's passion but also gives them the power to choose what they are learning both in and outside of school.
To put it simply, learning never stops.
In order to best equip our students for the future of work, we need to instill the importance of lifelong learning. Through Novel Education Group's emphasis on personalization, students are able to excel in their customized curriculum while balancing their jobs, hobbies, and personal lives. Education should be another way of enriching the mind rather than just conforming to traditional structures without question.
We can all agree that receiving a quality education is vital. However, how a student earns their education can vary. Do not wait to "finish learning" in order to work. Who decided that they needed to be so separate? Get real-life experience, and you'll always be learning along the way.
Tiffany Sorya, founder of Novel Education Group and education influencer, is on a mission: #MakingSmartStylishAgain. The elite homeschooling agency-to-the-stars is expanding its global presence and offerings after recently partnering with premier college consultant, Command Education. This collaboration is just the beginning of The Newest Wave of Education; by providing customized courses and specialized enrichment programs at any age, students achieve academic success and stand out from other applicants at top schools and universities, all while doing what they love and emphasizing their individual strengths. In an ever increasingly customized and curated world, its time the educational system finally follows suit.
Marriage can be a tightrope act: when everything is in balance, it is bliss and you feel safe, but once things get shaky, you are unsure about next steps. Add outside forces into the equation like kids, work, finances or a personal crisis and now there's a strong chance that you'll need extra support to keep you from falling.
My husband and I are no strangers to misunderstandings, which are expected in any relationship, but after 7 years of marriage, we were really being tested on how strong our bond was and it had nothing to do with the "7-year itch"--it was when I was diagnosed with PTSD. As a survivor of child sexual abuse who is a perfectionist, I felt guilty about not being the "perfect partner" in our relationship; frustrated that I might be triggered while being intimate; and worried about being seen as broken or weak because of panic attacks. My defense mechanism is to not need anyone, yet my biggest fear is often abandonment.
I am not a trained therapist or relationship expert, but since 2016, I have learned a lot about managing survivorship and PTSD triggers while being in a heterosexual marriage, so I am now sharing some of my practical relationship advice to the partners of survivors to support my fellow female survivors who may be struggling to have a stronger voice in their relationship. Partners of survivors have needs too during this process, but before those needs can be met, they need to understand how to support their survivor partner, and it isn't always an easy path to navigate.
To my fellow survivor sisters in romantic relationships, I write these tips from the perspective of giving advice to your partner, so schedule some quality time to talk with your boo and read these tips together.
I challenge you both to discuss if my advice resonates with you or not! Ultimately, it will help both of you develop an open line of communication about needs, boundaries, triggers and loving one another long-term.
1. To Be or Not to Be Sexy: Your survivor partner probably wants to feel sexy, but is ambivalent about sex. She was a sexual object to someone else and that can wreak havoc on her self-esteem and intimate relationships. She may want you to find her sexy and yet not want to actually be intimate with you. Talk to her about her needs in the bedroom, what will make her feel safe, what will make her feel sexy but not objectified, and remind her that you are attracted to her for a multitude or reasons--not just because of her physical appearance.
2. Safe Words = Safer Sex: Believe it or not, your partner's mind is probably wondering while you are intimate (yep, she isn't just thinking about how amazing you are, ha!). Negative thoughts can flash through her mind depending on her body position, things you say, how she feels, etc. Have a word that you agree on that she can say if she needs a break. It could be as simple as "pause," but it needs to be respected and not questioned so that she knows when it is used, you won't assume that you can sweet talk her into continuing. This doesn't have to be a bedroom only rule. Daytime physical touch or actions could warrant the safe word, as well.
3. Let Her Reconnect: Both partners need attention in a relationship, but sometimes a survivor is distracted. Maybe she was triggered that day, feels sad or her defense mechanisms are up because you did something to upset her and you didn't even know it (and she doesn't know how to explain what happened). If she is distant, ask her if she needs some time alone. Maybe she does, maybe she doesn't, but acknowledging that you can sense some internal conflict will go a long way. Sometimes giving her the space to reconnect with herself before expecting her to be able to focus on you/your needs is just what she needs to be reminded that she is safe and loved in this relationship.
4. Take the 5 Love Languages(r) Test: If you haven't read this book yet or taken the test, please at the very least take the free quiz to learn your individual love language. My top love language was Touch and Words of Affirmation before remembering my abuse and thereafter it became Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. Knowing how your survivor partner prefers to be shown love goes a long way and it will in turn help your needs be met, as they might be different.
5. Be Patient: I know it might be frustrating at times and you can't possibly totally understand what your survivor partner is going through, but patience goes a long way. If your survivor partner is going through the early stages of PTSD, she feels like a lot of her emotional well-being is out of her control. Panic attacks are scary and there are triggers everywhere in society. For example, studies have shown that sexual references are made anywhere from 8 to 10 times during one hour of prime time television (source: Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media). My husband is now on high alert when we watch TV and film. He quickly paused a Game of Thrones episode when we started season 2 because he realized a potentially violent sexual scene was coming up, and ultimately we turned it off and never watched the series again. He didn't make a big deal about it and I was relieved.
6. Courage to Heal, Together: The Courage to Heal book has been around for many years and it supported me well during the onset of my first flashbacks of my abuse. At the back of the book is a partners section for couples to read together. I highly recommend it so that you can try to understand from a psychological, physical and emotional stand point what your survivor partner is grappling with and how the two of you can support one another on the path of healing and enjoying life together.