You don’t have enough time to go back to school and get another degree that’s more marketable in today’s economy. In fact, if you did go back for a more relevant degree, it may be worth little four years down the road. You’ve got to learn fast, effectively, and inexpensively to secure skills that yield better income. You need to know how to teach yourself. People that teach themselves are known as autodidacts. Becoming autodidacts may best guarantee career success in our unpredictable job market.
College of 1
Teaching yourself doesn’t mean ignoring other experts or authors in your chosen field. It certainly doesn’t mean becoming antisocial. Autodidacts determine their own curriculums. They also decide how and when to master that knowledge and skill. Autodidactic doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding formal education entirely, but it may include taking courses not prescribed by a certain academic path.
Some of the most successful people in history (and in modern tech industries) taught themselves. Several dropped out of college or avoided it to begin with. But none of them ever stopped learning. They matured intellectually and didn’t need a school, committee, or a professor dictating what, when, or how they studied.
Charles D. Hays has written extensively about the concept of self-education and has even compiled an online listing of famous autodidacts. A few of the names include Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Jane Austen, Bill Gates, Estee Lauder and Doris Lessing, the Nobel Prize winning author who ended formal education as a thirteen-year-old.
What I’ve read in the opinions and writing of several autodidacts does not detract from formal schooling or the missions of many universities. They seem to concur that at some point in peoples’ development, they must “graduate” to become their own teachers. For some people this transition occurs much earlier than others. For some, this change never takes place; they always expect learning to come from someone else.
Much More Bang for Your Buck
Educating yourself will start with believing that you can do it effectively. I know expert programmers who learned those skills by purchasing and studying mass-market books from Amazon.com. Several executives I’ve worked with never studied business in school, but they deliberately learned what they needed to succeed while they worked their ways up. I imagine the percentage of popular entertainers who have degrees in acting or music is rather low also.
Becoming an autodidact – taking charge of your own learning and development – empowers you to react quickly and effectively to career challenges. Don’t wait for an educational system or government to respond effectively to wide-scale employment problems. Their responses may get a lot of people “into jobs” but not into well-paying, halfway enjoyable careers.
Start by determining what you need to know for a better career and draft a plan on how to get that skill or knowledge. Autodidacts exercise extreme self-discipline pursuing their own educations. As you persist in following your own learning plans, you’ll discover your own learning preferences. And, in addition, you won’t have to take a test other than real-world application. Your paycheck will hopefully demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach.