Autodidacts (those who are partially or completely self-taught) have occupied a unique place in global history. Melanie Klein, the founder of children’s psychology, never had the chance to attend university. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, dropped out of higher education after one year. Formal institutions may be a common path to education, but they are not the only ones. With access to the internet as widespread as it is, autodidacticism is easier to pursue than ever before.
Individuals of all ages have motivation to seek further education. Many wish to retrain for work, something growing increasingly necessary in our modern economy. Others want more training in soft skills, something online workshops provide aplenty. Finding a university-level education online is easier than one might think, and it comes at a lower cost burden than formal institutions would charge.
Some of the most exclusive American universities offer free online courses to anyone interested in enrolling. MIT, Harvard, and UCBerkeley are among the generous institutions to offer. Aggregate sites such as Coursera and edX collect the best courses by subject for ease of location by the student. What traditional student can claim to be taking courses at four universities simultaneously? When one abandons the university entirely, they can still find Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for short. A famous example of a MOOC is LinkedIn Learning, which allows those who complete their courses to post certification to their professional profile on LinkedIn.
For those who learn better in non-traditional structures, Codecademy is an interactive platform that teaches one to code in multiple languages. SkillShare is similar in that its students learn via interactivity and project completion, not typical testing. The most important aspect of a self-taught education is not where one receives it, but ensuring they finish well.
Here are some tricks for an aspiring autodidact to stay on course. Stay accountable by enlisting a mate; watch each other to ensure both parties stay on task. Set realistic goals and follow a consistent study schedule. Most importantly, always remind yourself of why you want to learn a new subject or skill.
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