Important as education is for the modern workforce, the formal system that provides and certifies educational attainment is broken. Costs have gotten away from the benefits of a formal college degree. Students face college costs today that is 3 times higher than they were less than 20 years ago. Housing and food insecurity are rampant among college students, causing 20% to lose weight and 17% to go homeless. After sacrificing so much time and welfare for a college degree, 73% of college graduates end up in a job unrelated to their degree. What is the point of asking so much from students only to give them so little in return?
It’s no surprise that more people want alternatives to the current system. Of the youngest generation of American adults, less than half believe degrees are necessary for success. Companies as famous as Tesla are coming around to agreeing with them. People of all ages believe education is shifting more towards autodidacticism or a self-taught model. People who were self-taught in whole or part have made important contributions to society in the past. Melanie Klein gave us children’s psychology without ever attending college. Steve Jobs gave us Apple without so much as a year of a college education. Should people choose to take their education into their own hands today, they will be in good company.
Educating Yourself is More of a Possibility Now than Ever
The truth is that self-education is at your fingertips in a way it never was in the past. The internet makes it possible to access innumerable educational resources without spending a penny. Finding a college-level education online is easier than you think.
Where should self-learners seek out resources? Ironically, some of the most expensive universities to obtain a degree from offer the widest selection of free courses on their website. MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley all have a large catalogue of courses to choose from. For those who don’t wish to search individual college websites yourself, aggregate sites like College Cliffs or Coursera curate the best courses by subject for their users.
Stepping away from formal universities entirely, expert-made courses are abundant at Khan Academy, Udemy, and TEDEd. Another great place to educate yourself is free online courses like MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. Canvas is an example of a MOOC, as is LinkedIn Learning. The latter is especially useful because it allows users who complete courses to upload their success to their LinkedIn profiles where potential employers can see it. For those who don’t fare well in traditional classroom environments, SkillShare and Codecademy teach via interaction and project competition. In the vast landscape that is the internet, there is an educational resource for anyone.
Young adults aren’t the only ones taking advantage of these offerings 78% of people worldwide believe they need more training in “soft skills,” and the internet seeks to provide it. For working adults wanting to keep up with company upgrades, 42% of Americans use free online resources to retrain for work.