Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
Costs have gotten away from benefits for a formal degree program in America. College costs have tripled in less than 20 years, leaving large numbers of students with housing and food insecurity. The average learner spends 20 years paying off student loans in a job that, for 73% of college grads, is unrelated to their degree. In short, millions of people are paying more than they can afford for an education they don’t substantively use. No wonder millions of younger Americans are on the hunt for alternatives!
Education isn’t the problem here. Education remains popular as ever. It’s the cost of a formal degree program that people are rejecting. 81% of people today believe education is shifting to autodidacticism, or self-taught methods. Some of the most famous figures in history were autodidacts in whole or in part, including Fredrick Douglass and Steve Jobs. Some fields that are commonly self-taught are among those most in-demand for jobs, like coding development and data analytics. Thanks to the internet, self-education is right at everyone’s fingertips. Finding a college-level education online is easier than most people think!
For those who want to learn from the best universities without paying to become a student, institutions as respected as Harvard and MIT offer free courses on their websites. Aggregate sites like College Cliffs and Coursera collect the best courses from several sources to make access easy. Outside the university system entirely exist MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. Perhaps the most popular provider in this group is LinkedIn Learning, which offers free online courses for anyone to enroll in and post on their profile. Courses made by experts can also be found on Khan Academy and TEDEd.
For those who want to learn outside the traditional classroom model, Codecademy and SkillShare teach via interaction and (in the latter’s case) project completion. In the vast open landscape that is the internet, there exist learning tools for everyone. In the case of certification, some will charge a small fee, but much of the actual education is free of charge.
The most important part of self-taught education is being able to demonstrate it to peers and employers. That requires a learner to finish well and retain what they know. Here are some tips for staying on course: follow a set study schedule, set regular, realistic goals for yourself, and always remember why you want to learn what you’re studying.
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked