While education is a valuable resource, formal degree programs have grossly overpriced it. The costs of college have tripled in less than 20 years. By paying tens of thousands while forgoing a full time income, over half of college students are housing insecure and unable to afford a healthy diet. The average learner spends decades paying off their debts while working in a job that, for 73% of them, does not relate to their degree. Why do we ask millions of young adults to pay so much to receive so little in return?
Attitudes surrounding college degrees are changing. More than half of Gen Zs in the US believe degrees are not necessary for success, and companies as well recognized as Tesla are coming to agree with them. A vast majority of people believe education is shifting in a self-taught direction. The world of autodidacts, or people who are self taught in whole or part, is composed of many notable figures. Melanie Klein, the founder of children’s psychology, achieved her breakthroughs without ever attending a university. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs spent less than a year in an institution of higher learning.
The reality is that the internet has placed opportunities for self-education right at our fingertips. Finding what you need for a college level education online is easier than you think. In a bout of irony, it’s some of the most expensive universities that offer the widest selection of free courses on their website. Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley all have a large catalogue of courses available for anyone to enroll in. For those who want to pick and choose across universities, aggregate sites like College Cliffs and edX curate the best course offerings for their users.
College websites aren’t the only place you can search for a self-taught college education. Also out there are expert-made courses uploaded to Khan Academy and TEDEd. MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are free for anyone to enroll in as well. A popular offering in the MOOC category is LinkedIn Learning, which allows users who complete their courses to post accomplishments to their profiles. If you’re someone who struggles to succeed in a traditional classroom environment, Codecademy or SkillShare may be the platform for you. Both teach using interactivity and project completion.
With so many options out there, gaining access to a college-level education is not the difficult part. The hard part is retaining the knowledge in a way that peers and employers recognize. To do that, one needs to finish their education well. Here are a few tips to stay on course: physically move to a different space to complete your education. It can be a library, coffee shop, or business center, but it needs to be somewhere where the rest of your busy life can’t intrude on you. Working in a quiet place helps minimize distractions. Get an accountability buddy with whom you can set realistic goals. Help each other stick to the plan, and always remember why you want to learn.