We learn from those who know more than us.
However, there is a chronic myth going around that we can only learn in a classroom with a teacher. Seriously, our society lives and breathes classrooms>>really this is all we know. Chances are, you have only ever read a textbook because a teacher assigned you to and if you’ve ever learned biology or dancing or even wood-working, and you’re under the age of 21, you’ve learned all you know from a classroom and its teacher. Maybe you never wanted to learn these things, wood-working was just the only available elective because you were late to registration. Maybe you did want to learn them, dancing is a passion of yours and you went to class three to five times a week. Either way, you were pushed and stretched by another person, not completely by yourself.
What if there was a way to learn without a teacher giving you assignments or things to practice? What if you could gain knowledge and skills outside of the traditional you-know-the-drill. I’m here to tell you that there is a way to learn cheaply, credibly, and constantly. You come out stronger and more disciplined. And all it takes is some hard work on your part and Google.
You’ve probably already guessed that this is another post in my series on learning that I’m doing. Go read the last post on learning called The Three Learning Styles. But don’t yet, finish this one first.
One thing that I do almost every single day is assign myself school. Yes, you read that right, I assign myself school. I do things like read textbooks, watch lectures, and quiz myself without a teacher telling me to do it. In case you’re wondering, I’m not a nerd. Or a geek. Or a perfectionist. Or an over-achiever. Or super smart. I’m just a normal person who used to hate learning as much as the next guy.
But I learned something about learning>> I don’t need another person to make it happen. Ultimately, learning is up to me, whether there is a teacher, a textbook, or any other tool involved. If I have access to information, I am more than capable of getting it into my head>> quickly and effectively.
Now, of course, this wasn’t always the case. Before the printing press, the whole world wasn’t at anyone’s fingertips, not even the greasy fingertips of kings. After the creation of books became a streamlined process, knowledge could pour into the heads of humans like never before. Yet that still doesn’t even begin to compare to what we have today. Libraries have now become a thing of the past, and that’s because of the internet. You know and I know that any one question we may want answered has been answered on the internet. You know and I know that those answers may not always be credible (*cough*), but, then again, there they are. And to any one question, chances are, there are thousands of answers.
Yes, if you haven’t guessed, I’m suggesting that you (you, you reading this) can learn more outside of a traditional classroom than you can learn in one. Utilize the internet. Yes, I’m literally telling you to Google it.
Now what is my reasoning for kicking you out of a classroom? Leave the classroom, leave the rules. No, seriously. Once your grade doesn’t depend solely on answering a stupid question or writing a paper that goes against your moral beliefs, you have the opportunity to enjoy learning. Now, don’t take it the wrong way, there are still things we should all learn just because we should all learn them. We should all learn to read, even if our four-year-old selves didn’t want to. But I’ve experienced a version of college that has given me freedom and the gift of enjoying learning, and not in a nerdy way.
How does this skill of learning help me in the future? Think about it. The world is changing so quickly these days that the potential jobs you could get with your degree might be gone in ten years (to be honest, they might already be gone). If you see a skill being eaten up by employers that you don’t have, you have the ability to learn it. And trust me, with the internet, you can seriously learn anything you want to.
Now one thing remains to be discussed>> How in the world are we supposed to sift through all of that information? Overwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe the internet. Google anything, and you basically have an infinite number of pages with 12 options on each page that contain your keywords. (Stay tuned for a post on how to Google effectively for students.) With the phenomenon of YouTube and the online video streaming opportunities, you can watch a professor who you know nothing about for free. Many entrepreneurial people have discovered the possibilities and built sites purely for students to learn outside the classroom (Khan Academy, for example). I’ll give you a little push in the right direction here and give you four examples of internet resources I use on a daily basis.
UDACITY. Um, find of the year. Seriously. On Udacity, you can learn basically everything you need to know to survive in the world of technology. There are more free courses than paid courses (the paid ones are only like $150 for 6 weeks) and the free ones include Programming courses, math courses, science-based courses, 3D Graphics courses, design courses, startup courses, etc. The paid courses get more specific and more advanced and one that I really want to take eventually is Web Development. If you’re looking for something to pass time with, look into Udacity! The skills you can use from Udacity courses are the ones you’ll need for the future. If you need to supplement your courses you’re already taking, Udacity is a great option as well. It is more “street smart” than most college classes and will probably prepare you better for what the work-force will actually be like. Oh, one more thing, all of the courses are taught by people who actually work in the industry, like Google for example. Yes, you can actually learn coding from a coding expert at Google. Super cool, right???
EDUCATION PORTAL. It’s cheesy. It’s (badly) animated people with no fingers. It’s really random examples to explain the point. And yet it works so well. These 3-8 minute videos narrated by actual professors are free. Yup, learn a course for free. Obviously, this doesn’t mean it’s accredited, that’s where CLEP and DANTES come in to play. But seriously, they keep you awake. I’m working on Business Law through them right now and OH MY GOODNESS IS IT BORING. But when their outrageous example include a girl’s hair burning off, you’re sure to remember the concept. Trust me, these free courses go so in depth and you don’t even notice.
YOUTUBE. No seriously. There are so many teachers and professors who are egotistical enough to film their lectures and put them on YouTube. If you’re struggling with a concept, type your question in the YouTube search box and you’ll most likely find a helpful professor. If that video hits the spot, check out the rest of their videos and see if they can help you with other concepts. Make sure to look for people who aren’t talking in front of a classroom but purely in front of a camera. I’ve watched some of the classroom ones before and they yell at students and mention the fact that they are being filmed all the time. Annoying. Any of those professors or teachers who make videos expressly for students who aren’t in their class are usually much more worth your time.
INSTANTCERT. This one costs money so be prepared. If you’re regularly studying for CLEP or DANTES tests, this one is for you. They have fill-in-the-blank question sets for each test out there (which there are a lot). Instantcert is super helpful if you don’t have a lot of help from other resources which happens often if you’re studying independently. The question list is extensive but divided topic by topic so you can work on only weak areas if you need to. If you’re on the edge with Instantcert, you can get it at a discounted rate! Usually, it costs $19.95 a month, but if you put in my code (74846), you can get the first month for only $14.95!
So there you have it, you really can learn on your own. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online resources. In the future, I’ll be doing a much more in depth post or video on several online resources that are helpful. As you start to discover how much you can learn for free, learning becomes easier and feels more worth your time. All it takes is some discipline and perseverance and getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Once you master the art of learning independently, trust me, you’ll feel like you’re flying through life!
Again, this is where CollegePlus comes in. I can’t stress this enough>> learning independently is now superior to learning through a University. The Pros of independent study outweigh the Pros of traditional study by a long shot. Just imagine all the debt you won’t have, and all the traveling you’ll be able to do, and all the hobbies you can turn into skills, all the skills you can turn into careers, and all the free time you’ll have to do that. Here’s a quote from one of my bestest and smartest friends ever that she sent me today,
“I’ve got the travel bug too. [I’d want to] be flying back and forth between ?? city and Chicago a lot, if the business was going — which is looking pretty good right now. It’s funny, because a few years ago going to college was really, really important to me. I wanted to have that [be] home for 4 years, and even CLEPing out of 1 year seemed like too much — I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Now, I’d almost rather be moving around, and doing [Bellhaven University online and CollegePlus] is sounding more and more appealing.”
Seriously, you have so much freedom when learning and getting your degree independently. It’s the way to go now, simply because we can, and we can well. Also>> you don’t have debt and you learn how to learn (because you have to) which will carry you further in life than any diploma ever will. BOOM. Now go apply and use my code 9840. Or just click on my link.
You all are amazing, and I love writing to you! Write to me too, and comment below about what resources you use to learn online. I’d love to find new ones!
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