Professor U

Self-guided-education-manifesto-imageI left college in 2011, but my education has gotten stronger than ever since then. For a while after I dropped out, I looked for other schools to enroll in, but the idea of going back to college didn’t appeal to me. Along with some personal CARAZY things that ensued at my school on a personal level, desks and papers didn’t suit me. I didn’t hold to the idea that learning was somehow something separate from doing. You had to learn how to write before you could write. Learn how to act before you could act. Besides, soon into my post-non-graduate months, I got my first taste of real travel and knew that I wanted it to be a consistent part of my life.

So, I searched for other options and figured it out. Homeschooling for Adults. Be your own professor. The Internets.

I found, first of all, an amazing resource called the library and they had all kinds of books on how to educate yourself, including one awesome one called DIY U by Anya Kamenetz. Lady’s a genius. She spells out how and why to go about making your own curriculum, along with tools and resources, so that lazy people like me don’t have to include all those links. We can just tell you to pick up her book. Along with the books on self-education, the library is likely to have a book on whatever you want to learn, be that tae-kwon-do or physics. Library is your number one resource. Besides they usually have wifi and they’re quieter than coffee shops. Libraries. Making a come back.

But, if you’re allergic to books, or you’re simply a kinetic or audio driven learner, do we have some classes for you! Best resource online, hands down, is Lynda.com. This is a paid service, but it’s worth the dough. In depth classes taught by people in the industry on almost anything you would want to learn. Lynda is, pardon my french Lyn, the shit. Lynda rules the internet learning system with grace and dignity.

Broke as fuck? Forget Lynda then. Youtube comes in a close second. If you can wade through the cat videos and major distractions, and the uneducated mumbling non-experts, you will find everything you ever need on youtube. Often when you find a good one, they’ll be a lot more interesting than the tutorials you pay for (sorry Lynda). Take for instance, I’ve been teaching myself animation. Lynda is stocked full of these videos, but they are often a bit slow paced for me. I go to Lynda for the details, but when I want to play with something quickly and I need a basis, I go to youtube.

If you’re an animator and want a few good tutorials, there are plenty, but my favorites are from Ross Plaskow. Be aware, there’s some strong ass language in his videos.

That was an aside. What I’m saying is, if you want to learn something, you can go back to school and pay tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s benefits. You build your network, you get free supplies and resources, you get automatic mentors. But, with a little work and a lot less debt, you can find those things on your own. If you want to take a different route all you need is two things, and they’re both free. The library and the internet. Here are some tips to make the process stick.

Make a plan:

Teachers have lesson plans for a reason. It will be much easier to stick to your goal if you know a) what you want to learn and b) when you want to learn it. Set yourself some goals and stick with it.

Be Flexible:

That being said, this is your education. If you find yourself leaning more in another area, explore it. Have fun! Just keep your goals in mind.

Diversify:

Try to pull your education from different sources. Scour for websites, online workshops, in person workshops, meet-ups, friends who know what they’re doing. I learned photoshop in one day from a friend of mine who’s a photographer (Thanks Leah). The impact that it’s had on my work has been phenomenal. I’d tried for months to understand it using videos, but the concepts just didn’t click. Spread out. The world is your classroom.

Rethink It:

This path is hard work, and it is unappreciated hard work until it pays off for you. Just know that you could be paying to drink at college, or you could be working hard at home, and most people will still respect you more for the degree. It will be harder to get a normal job. A lot of jobs, even in creative industries, require you to have a degree. Think hard about your decision.

Have Fun:

If you do decide to self educate, remember that your teacher is the shit, and the workload is only what you want it to be. Welcome to Awesome University, Graduating Class of You!

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