Friday, June 1, 2012

5 Ways to Give Yourself an Education That Kicks the Crap Out of the One You Got in School

345712329 f1375f13c0 5 Ways to Give Yourself an Education That Kicks the Crap Out of the One You Got in School

One of the biggest reasons that people are denied the privilege of education is because they can’t afford it. However, today we live in a world where knowledge and information are at our finger tips like never before.  Technology has leveled the playing field so that anybody with an interest and an internet connection can receive a world class education. Bloggers, podcasters, search engines and digital content creators of all types of have made it possible  for us to learn virtually anything we want to even if we don’t have the money. If you want to learn anything chances are there is somebody creating content about the subject and sharing it with the world at no cost.

Self Motivation is Not Optional

Taking this kind of approach to educating yourself requires an extremely high degree of self motivation. You’re not going to have any teachers or professors holding you accountable. You won’t be measured by grades.  Therefore in order to receive this world class education you’ll have to be extremely disciplined in terms of how you go about it. You’ll have to do everything from figuring out what you want to study, to determining what the course materials are going to be. In order to make sure your efforts to self educate don’t get scattered, I recommend limiting your “course load” and focusing on 2-3 areas for at least 6 months.

Resources to Get You Started

1. Free College Curriculums

There are a handful of  traditional education institutions that have started to embrace this trend. Fortunately one of the very first to do so was MIT, a world class institution where tuition would run you a hefty chunk of change. However, through open courseware an MIT education is suddenly available to anybody who wants one.  Courses are available in engineering, management, science, architecture and a number of other areas. If other institutions start to follow suit, people who have been denied the privilege of education for financial reasons will finally have an opportunity if they want it.

2. The Blogosphere

In a recent feature, the CBS Sunday morning show said that there were approximately 50 million active blogs online. There are blogs on nearly every subject you can possibly imagine.
What’s interesting about the blogosphere is that it has created a trend of unconventional education and the opportunity to study any subject you have an interest in. You’re no longer limited to the confines of assigned reading, class lectures, and your major. You have an opportunity to be a much more well rounded individual than ever before.

3. Books

In the movie Good Will Hunting Matt Damon’s famous quote was “You just spent 150 grand on an education you could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”  While it was a bit facetious, anybody who has received a college education probably had a bit of a chuckle because there was a kernel of truth to what was said.  One of the biggest expenses for any college student is textbooks.  But, the beauty of a public library is that it makes books accessible to everybody and it’s completely free. When I spent 9 months unemployed, the local library in my town became one of my stomping grounds. Unlike a book store, if I wanted to take something home and read it, I didn’t have to fork out $15.00. It might be tempting to dismiss the library as an obsolete resource, but today libraries have their whole book selection available online  and even have audio books that can be downloaded directly from some of their web sites.  To add to that many published authors today have their own blogs where you can read their content as well.

4. Podcasts

Do a quick search through the iTunes directory and you’ll find podcasts on a wide variety of subjects ranging from learning a language to online marketing. The other thing that makes a podcast a fantastic option for increasing your knowledge is the fact that you can listen it while you’re working out, stuck in traffic or cleaning your house. Podcasts can turn our most mundane day to day experiences into time well spent.

5. Online Video

  • TED: One of the most inspirational educational resources at everybody’s disposal is the TED web site. World class authors, entrepreneurs and scientists share their very best ideas with the world. I’d recommend watching at least one TED talk every single day. Most TED talks are an average of about 15 minutes and will inspire, entertain, and inform you.
  • Youtube can also be a great educational resource. These days just do a search for the words “How to”, fill in the blank and you’ll have numerous options at your finger tips.
  • Instructables:  If there’s ones site that really provides an opportunity to type in the words  “how to” followed by whatever you want to learn how to do, it’s Instructables. This user generated community has over x videos specifically designed to teach you how to do something.
Education as we know it is changing rapidly. The classroom is  no longer the only option to receive a world class education. With nothing more than internet connection and a computer you have the potential to develop knowledge and skills that will far outweigh the things you would learn just by attending school.  The great thing about the school of life is that there are no grades, no tests, or requirements. It’s purely about the joy of learning.

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