By: Connor Judson Garrett – June 7, 2016
Each year students graduate with massive loans and heaps of debt. People are starting to take notice of this trend, which is prompting students and their parents to wonder about alternative ways to learn. The amount of learning tools and online resources available via internet, combined with the potential of looming debt, self-education and other alternative forms are becoming more attractive options. That being said, because these other ways of learning are new and still gaining credibility in the public eye, many people are still figuring out how to self-educate.
For some, the volume of information and resources available is overwhelming. Determining what the best tools are is a tall order.
- Create your own curriculum
Assess your goals and pinpoint what you need to learn to achieve them. Think through how much time you’ll need to devote to the curriculum you’ve created and be strict with your hours. The key to this part of it is that it forces you to engage what top psychologist and “expert of experts” Anders Ericsson calls, “deliberate practice.”
Deliberate practice is trying activities that are outside your comfort zone or ones that challenge your weaknesses to improve. Practicing 10,000 hours alone isn’t enough to become excellent at something. You need to practice smarter as well, and that begins by creating well-defined goals and curriculum. There are a number of tools, such as curious.io, designed to help you build your own curriculum. Take advantage of these resources for a smarter, analytics-driven approach.
- Create a vocational learning approach
Some goals are nebulous, while others are concrete and designed to achieve a specific purpose. The purposeful goals, for instance, learning how to use photoshop to be a digital retoucher, are done through a vocational approach.
The certificate of graduation is great, but if you are disciplined enough to master programs and applications, you can take the initiative to complete the kind of work you’d be asked to do in your field, showing your hoped-to-be-employer proof you can do the work. Between YouTube, video tutorials, and free programs like the Google suite and Microsoft suite of applications, you can begin proving you should be paid to do what you want to do.
- Here’s the twist – Not so self-education
The most critical part of self-education still possesses the informality, but it strays from a true to form definition of self-education – find friends or mentors willing to trade knowledge.
What this boils down to is that reading and watching tutorials is one thing, but being shown directly is more effective.
Surround yourself with people who will sharpen you. Form a community of driven and focused allies and you will push each other to learn. Iron sharpens iron.