Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new executive order prioritizing job skills over college degree-holding candidates for jobs within the federal government. While this may be scary to hear for some, it also shows how our working environment & educational system is changing in consonance.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), since 2007 the percent of recent high school graduates who enrolled in college have fluctuated, but basically remained the same. But if you look at this per capita, it has actually gone down. Why is this?
Autodidacticism or self-education is education without the guidance of masters or institutions. Generally, autodidacts are individuals who choose the subject they will study, their studying material, and the studying rhythm and time.
The internet might be the largest factor in revolutionizing education. We’re seeing traditional schools starting to implement software and tools which can actually be used by anyone from the comfort of their own home. Websites like Duolingo, YouTube, Khan Academy, Ted-Ed, and study.com are a few of the many resources that are available to anyone with an internet connection. If you’re reading this, you can obtain University-level information without actually attending a university. The downside of having an overwhelming number of tools to self-educate is that it’s easy to get lost before you even start…
A highly undervalued program which Apple released in 2007 goes by the name of iTunes U. This app allows anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to learn virtually anything from a large collection of free education content in public courses from leading schools, universities, museums, and cultural institutions. There are hundreds of filmed lectures from the top Universities across the United States. Learn more about iTunes U here.
Another tool that traditional schools use which anyone can use at home is educational textbooks. Yes, a self-motivated individual has nothing stopping him from learning everything you did in your Math 1330 Precalculus class from the comfort of his own home.
The role of the teacher in today’s learning has become mainly to guide the students through the content, clarify any confusion, and to give feedback on the student’s work. All of which are features that can be found in online programs we have today.
All this information packed into one place does come at a price. Information overload can lead to overwhelm and you may not know where to start. Also, some platforms allow anyone to teach, which can lead to massive misinformation.
We also must note that some professions do require a degree – and for good reason. As of today, the most effective way to find out if a person is knowledgeable about a topic is if they completed a degree in it. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust my doctor if they were hired solely based on an interview and no minimal standardized test.
Business on the other hand is totally different. Business is not a black-and-white profession that only has one right answer. There is also an abundance of free learning tools for anyone to self-educate. Lastly, the barrier for entry into business is extremely minimal. In the USA, if you have a parent/guardian co-sign on the legal documentation, there is no minimum age at which you can start your own business. After all, without practical knowledge, it is impossible for you to excel in your profession.
Don’t confuse schooling with education. I didn’t go to Harvard but the people that work for me did.”Elon Musk
While we can acquire the same information without traditional schooling, we must not ignore the intangible benefits which you cannot receive without the traditional school experience. Things like social experiences, in-person teamwork & collaboration, verbal communication, and extra curricular activities are difficult, but not impossible to replace in absence of a traditional schooling experience.
Another key point to note is that your opportunities for employment without a degree are very minimal if you do not have any credibility or high-income skills. If you plan to rely on a salary as your only source of income for your whole life, it is recommended that you get a degree to qualify for a good job. But if you are knowledgeable about the infinite opportunities for passive income and entrepreneurship, you don’t need a degree.
With COVID forcing many schools into an online learning curriculum, we may start to see a lot more people shift to permanent or at least partial online learning because of the reduced cost, convenience, and effectiveness. Whether you personally like it or not, online learning is here to stay.
Many successful leaders have credited their successes to the lessons they learn during their hardships and negative experiences in school. Some have even claimed that their business idea came from them being bored while in school. Although society pressures us to attend higher education, it’s important to do your research and understand your goals in life to decipher the best plan for you to achieve them.