Jamie Beaton is 23. He runs a $200 million education company. He’s at Oxford finishing a PhD, and simultaneously finishing an MBA with Stanford. He has not one but two masters degrees under his belt. When he finished school he did so many subjects he got 99.95 in his ATAR – twice.
But his business focus is giving school students the same opportunities he was given to get into an Ivy League university in another country.
One of the New Zealander’s masters degrees was in education technology and his PhD is in online schooling and public policy.
“The decisions you make in your first 25 years have a massive roll-over effect. But so many people make decisions based on very limited information,” he said.
“For the last 100 years people have made education decisions off-line. A lot of guidance came from their local community. But that limits your view.
“My job is to make the world a smaller place, to remove these frictions.”
Mr Beaton said since 2013 there has been an increase of 39 per cent in the number of Australian students going to the US to study their undergraduate degree. Although it’s off a small base, in the year to date 2218 Australians have enrolled in a US university. That compares with 1596 half a decade ago.
He said when he was in year 9 he was amazed when a student in year 12 enrolled in an undergraduate degree at Yale.
“That sounded so exciting. I didn’t realise a student from New Zealand could apply to do an undergrad degree at that level of university,” he said.
“I went to Harvard for my first masters degree and it was so transformative. I’d been reading about [former US Treasury Secretary] Larry Summers and I ended up with him as my thesis adviser.”
Mr Beaton’s company, Crimson, which he runs with his partner Sharndre Kushnor (aged 24) aims to give students not only the academic skills but the confidence to tackle enrolment at top-10 universities in the US or UK.
Crimson operates in 24 countries and has just bought an Australian bricks and mortar education company to expand its trans-Tasman reach.
It is also a response to what Mr Beaton described as “a shift in students’ aspirational thinking“.
“We aren’t just preparing students to pass an exam. In the US universities really look at the last four years. Students need a sustained performance over four years. Australian students need to think longer term.
“Lots of Australian students are thriving on overseas campuses. For the students going to the US they’re going to have to do the SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] and the ACT [American College Testing]. But for students going above and beyond they need critical reading and more maths and science.
“We have one Sydney student who is now at Princeton. He did the Maths Olympiad, extension activities. You can’t just do the HSC.”