Why Self-Educated Learners Often Come Up Short


I have a pet peeve about certain people who attack formal education systems and claim to pursue self-education. Not because universities are spectacular learning environments (they usually aren’t). Or even because self-education isn’t a worthwhile goal (it’s probably one of the best).

It’s because I’ve noticed many of the university-hating self-taught are the kind of people who read a couple self-help books per year and believe that’s basically the same as getting a degree. Then they get angry at the bureaucratic system that won’t let them get their ideal career. Sigh.

Why Self-Education Often Does Worse than Schooling

In my experience, self-education tends to be very good at high-level ideas.

If you wanted to spend a few months understanding evolutionary biology, you could probably read about a dozen books on the topic. These books would give you the broad strokes of what’s going on in the field, the challenges being faced and what science currently understands.

But I’ve noticed that the typical approach to self-education tends to be lousy at the deep, detailed knowledge of a field. Reading those evolutionary biology books won’t give you the statistical methods for analyzing gene selection, or the functions for how a population evolves over time.

For the most part, this omission isn’t a bad thing. I have no desire to do research in evolutionary biology. So if I had only read The Selfish Gene, The Origin of the Species and a few other books on evolution, I’d be satisfied with my knowledge. The broad strokes are enough.

The problem is when one tries to replace self-education for more formal training. Such as trying to give yourself the equivalent to an undergraduate degree in computer science, nutrition or accounting.

Here, the benchmark for success isn’t whether you can keep up a conversation about the ideas at a cocktail party. You also need deeper knowledge of the technical details of the field.

Why is Deeper Self-Education Important?

I really enjoy Ben Casnocha’s “T” model for learning new things. The idea is that, ideally, there should be a wide range of subjects you have a basic understanding of (the broad top of the T). But, in addition, there should also be a select few skills you are an expert in (the narrow stem of the T).

For the top of the T, deeper self-education isn’t terribly important. I’ve read books on linguistics, evolutionary biology, cosmology, gestalt therapy and world history. But I’m not an expert on any of those things, nor do I plan to be.

However, for the bottom of the T, I believe it is critical to know how to develop a deeper approach to self-education. Let’s say, for example, you want the major focus of your learning efforts to be computer programming.

You could take a degree, or even post-graduate education, in the subject. But for a field as rapidly evolving as computer programming, what you learn in school will quickly be replaced. So, even if you pursue formal education fully, you’ll rely a lot of educating yourself.

Alternatively, you could be completely self-taught. If this is your approach, then the necessity to deeply educate yourself is even greater. Quick overviews of topics without understanding mathematics, operating systems or computer architecture won’t make you an expert.

In either case, whether you pursue university doggedly or abhor it, you’ll need to spend a lot of time teaching yourself if you want to become really good at something.

How to Become Deeply Self-Taught

I’m still experimenting with the best approach to this. My major focuses are writing and entrepreneurship, both of which tend to have far less technical knowledge. However, other areas I’d like to expand to a decent level of depth include statistics, web programming and psychology.

These other fields are adjacent to my really important work, so I believe having the equivalent of a year or two of formal education in statistics, programming or psychology would support my major focuses of writing and running businesses.

So, while I can’t offer the magic bullet that will allow you to obtain the same knowledge without the tuition costs, I can share what I’ve found so far.

The Importance of a Curriculum

The reason acquiring deeper knowledge is difficult, is that the further you stare down the microscope, the less relevant it appears to the big picture. This is often why so many students lose motivation at school. Just how is understanding integrals, polymorphism or the ATP-cycle important for my life?

The one strength of formal education is that it forces you to adhere to a curriculum. When you know that you need to learn Statistics 1000 before taking on Statistics 2000, it is easier to focus on learning about p-values and bell curves, even if they seem irrelevant at the time.

Therefore I believe any self-education attempt needs to find a curriculum early on. Think of it like having a map when you’re in an unfamiliar country. No, you don’t need to follow it dogmatically, getting lost can be part of the fun. But having a map with you ensures you don’t stay lost permanently.

Discipline Matters–It’s Why Most Self-Education Attempts Fail

Deeper self-education requires more discipline than university, not less. Formal education has grades, assignments, attendance requirements and all sorts of external incentives to keep you focused.

Those external incentives probably remove some of the intrinsic joy of learning and create new stress, but they also make learning harder to ignore.

A deeper self-education attempt requires some discipline to see it through. Unlike, broad-stroke learning which can be done from curiosity alone, understanding the gritty details often requires a more conscientious effort.

For example, at the moment I’m working on my French. I love learning French and enjoy it more than most of my formal education. However, that doesn’t mean I work on it only when I feel like it. Being my biggest goal during my stay in France, I’ve dedicated a few 30 Day Trials and many hours of deliberate practice.

Many of my peers stopped learning French once their French classes finished. Without some deliberate effort, it’s easy to forget about your self-education goals and give up.

Application Can’t Be an Afterthought

In formal schooling, actually applying the ideas is a far goal. When you first learn statistics, most professors don’t expect you to start doing your own sampling or analysis. The actual use of the knowledge is put in a backseat to passing tests.

But if you’re going to sustain the motivation to complete a deep self-education curriculum, application must be put first. Otherwise, it is too easy to lose sight of the big picture and stop learning.

Effort needs to be made not just to learn the ideas, but to start applying them immediately. When I was previously teaching myself computer programming, I would always have a project I wanted to use the new-found skills on.

I was able to stay focused on learning French while I was still in Canada, as I had a French girlfriend at the time. How’s that for motivation? 🙂

What If You Don’t Have the Time?

I have a theory that the most successful people in life aren’t the busiest people or the most relaxed people. They are the ones who have the greatest ability to commit to something nobody else forces them to do.

Many people find time for school. Even if they are taking night classes and have a full-time job, they still manage to show up. It can be stressful, but they do it.

However, far fewer people would stick to a deliberate self-education program. They haven’t paid tuition and nobody is going to fail them if they don’t show up. So often they don’t.

I can’t think of another explanation for why someone who is serious enough to take night classes to learn a foreign language or build a new technical skill, can’t apply the same effort to educate himself.

The Goal of Teaching Yourself Everything

I wrote awhile ago about my personal goal of learning everything. I believe self-education (and especially the deeper self-education I mentioned here) is critical to that goal. And, if we really are living in an information-based world, it’s probably critical to almost every goal you have.

What are your thoughts on deeper self-education? Have you been able to teach yourself a subject to the same standards (or higher) than a university degree? Please share in the comments!

Read This Next
Mastering Conversation
  • Nick Fleming

    It definitely depends on the person. People who don’t have the motivation or the ability to be self learners, and this is probably over 90% of people, will certainly knock it. Almost all of the greatest minds in history were self learners, and a lot of them struggled in school. But that is the very, very few, and because of this, society chooses to ignore those learners all together and tries to lump them in with everyone else. Schools are continually instilling into the population from a young age that our formal classroom forced educational system is the only way to properly learn.
    I will give you the perspective of a self learner. I absolutely love teaching myself things. I get such a feeling of satisfaction, a passion about the subject, and motivation to keep studying. Choosing what I study, my own study schedule, choosing what material I use to study (which textbook, video, tape, etc.), setting my own goals, and testing myself. I would say its like a game. Since I was little I would teach myself various things, around 6-7 years old I took my brothers spanish text book and read and studied in my free time, at 8 I started teaching myself guitar with my brothers guitar and songbook and still play today, at 12 I taught myself HTML and c+ programming and would make my own websites. I’m extremely motivated to make myself better/expand myself. Started playing sports, I dug through the internet and studied physiology, dietary science, workouts, stretching, training routines and integrated everything into a strict diet, going to my high school gym/track everyday after school. I am in college now, and my latest bout of self education was my most ambitious. I met a group of Japanese foreign exchange students last spring, and the following summer, taught myself Japanese. The next fall semester, I tested into the highest of the Japanese courses in my university, and recently won 3rd place in a statewide college level Japanese speech contest. This was before even studying the language for a year, and that is precisely the motivation. Self study is just so much more efficient. And looking back at everything I taught myself, I was able to immediately put it into use, and that is the satisfaction. Currently, I am teaching myself a specific blend of economics/finance/statistics/programming/physics/psychology and am developing a stock price predicting algorithm/artificial intelligence and am planning to open a hedge fund management firm with my best friend after we get enough money trading this summer. The program is already extremely accurate at predicting. In school, for some reason, I have no motivation, no interest, I’m always stressed and forgetful and unorganized and just don’t have enjoyment. I cant learn in a classroom. As soon as somebody starts to tell me when, how, and what to learn, I lose the love of learning. I am only good at tests, and that’s because those are like a game to me; I want to get the highest score.
    Some people, like myself, do not learn like the rest of you. School holds us back. The beginning of this article talks about normal people who self study, not people who actually learn better that way. This might be because the author has never met a true self learner. But this is the story of one.

  • Annas

    Thank you so much man.You are such a inspiration and you told exactly what was in my mind and heart. You wrote it so much better. Thank you again for sharing this stuff. School truly holds us back. I literally can learn anything I put my mind to. I download dozens of books,instructional videos,mp3 and observe.. My mind explodes on it. Crazy ideas start storming my brain.I can go for hours and hours. Read and read ,learn and learn. I just do it 100 times better then any school can teach me, plus the learning process is fast and i understand it deeply, I even apply it in real life, to make it a skill set. Right now I am working on entrepreneurship blend. I am studying business,finance,marketing,art of negotiating ,body language,public speaking . Dude the only problem, my parents don’t understand this. They just want A grades and degrees. Well soon I will be able to show them the results.

  • Frank

    It depends on the person and the subject that they choose. Subjects such as medicine cannot be practiced at home without the possibility serious injuries and winding up the other State Institution. Fortunately, my favorite topics involve computer programming,operating systems, and even digital music production. I find myself more motivated to learn these topics at home; after work, most of my weekend days throughout the evening. I failed numerous times trying to follow a ‘formal academic curriculum’ throughout my life. Too many problems. If it’s not short classes and professors moving too quickly through the material, it’s registration time hoping I get the class(es) that I need — Now there’s the ‘required classes’ of subjects I am not even interested in such as history. Day 1 — first class starts at 7:30AM and I still can’t find parking — I somehow make it by 7:28AM — now sweating need to find a chair — Where do I sit? I can feel people’s eyes looking at my sweaty neck — “should I sit by the hot females?, in the front like a geek?, Or be a rebel and sit in the back to hide from everyone’s glare?” Introduction quickly turns into lecture — (shit I forgot to buy a #2 pencil) — Rarely, have I seen a lecture that is informative, understandable, and in sync… Rarely, most of the time, the smart students lead the professor to move quicker, or the slow students do the opposite, then there are the ‘off the wall’ students that throw their clueless distracting question then complaint that they are not getting their money’s worth! Self-study is the way to go for me. All I am interested in is programming languages, Unix environments, and as difficult as math has been for me, I can learn it well when I dedicate my time to it without having to rush through homework assignments and study for quizzes. Don’t get me wrong, I do organize a curriculum for myself and do my best to adhere by it — and also, just because I am self-studying I quit anytime I want. That’s where I’ll fail completely. It’s not just about wasted money on books or a report card for me, it’s about being real with myself and if I abuse my self-study time I cheat myself entirely. My grades will be in the form of being able to demonstrate my creativity through my skills better than I can list them. I want to be a programmer, not just for the pay, but there are so many thoughts in my mind that I want to see expressed through programming, and for that I just follow through every day. By studying on my own, I can spend a few months focused on one topic, and another few months focusing on the next topic and taking time to combine them together — and truly feeling closer to my goals. But I gotta do it on my own, mostly alone and away from others(most of the time). To me, personally, it’s far more important to know, to understand, to even feel the subject of my interest than to be on some ‘deans list’. I know who I am, I know what I want, I know what I am about and I don’t believe anyone should decide or judge if I have ‘credentials’ or ‘entitlement’. I’m not perfect, but I carry my virtues best I can — and those things cannot be printed on paper nor can determined by anyone other than me. My only commitment is to learn what I have a passion for, and use it responsibly to create, to see my ideas at work, and even teach others who share the same interest and passion I do now… For some people formal school is the way to go. For me, I can find books on Amazon for good prices, and seek any supplemental information on the internet suitable for me.

  • smalltalkvanish

    No where in this have you mentioned Critical Thinking. By mentioning Evolution in this I see that you may not see the relevance in it.
    Self education is essential, but is merely indoctrination like all other forms of so called education if you do not understand History and the people who rewrite it.
    Check out the Trivium -true discerning self educational techniques that the top elites learn.


    Also you may benefit from looking into professor Dean H Kenyon
    and how a discerning student totally changed his life and career in teaching Evolution by asking this one fundamental question that lies at the heart of its whole premise –
    “Give me one instance in all of life where amino acids organize themselves into proteins?”
    We are living in a plethora of lies and propaganda. Question everything, and be strong enough to look into the very opposite of what we are told is truth what we are told to believe. Check out Tragedy and Hope and become able to “Self Educate”.

  • Robert Jones

    This is so much bullshit. I am in the books at least eight hours a day on my own accord. I do not have a college degree — not even an associates, but I run three businesses and am doing just fine. College is overrated, especially in a politically correct nanny state.

  • Adam Schrecengost

    Weird how this article doesn’t start with “Dear Robert Jones”

  • Omar Alansari-Kreger

    I couldn’t agree more Robert!

  • Omar Alansari-Kreger

    The tyranny of academia must be rebuked in all of its absolute forms! In this day and age it is believed that in order to know anything you need to have a piece of paper to confirm what you know. In all honesty, does that truly describe a valid belief in a world that is defined by the infinite availability of knowledge and information? How much verification of knowledge can a piece of paper provide anyway? The problem with academia is
    that it refuses to evolve. Academic systems of knowledge gradation were formed at the turn of the Industrial Revolution and on many counts remain totally unaltered. Isn’t it time for academia to evolve in ways where its processes can be optimized for the betterment of human intellectuality? Aren’t colleges and universities formed to serve that exclusive end?

    Self-education is the truest form of education there is. Once an intellectual curiosity is cultivated there is no telling what the fruits of its harvest can produce. An academic curriculum produces strenuous rigor that thrives off tediousness. If the creative mind is bogged down by knowledge that refuses to explore the possibilities of critical ideation how can the retainer of that mind truly thrive in that environment? Aren’t we inflicting an injustice on the intellectual consciousness of the species by diverting independent thinkers from the creative flow of thought that stems from their inner genius? The fact of the matter is that not everyone can function without a structured academic curriculum; on the whole, most can’t.

    Personalized austerity is something that is acquired over a due process of time. Yet, great intellectual breakthroughs are fostered out of systems that promote the flexible autonomy of ideas which has a direct influence on the way each one develops. Ideally that is something that should begin with the ideating mind and the institution that acts as an authority of higher learning should aid in the marshaling of its development unconditionally. Is that too much to ask? History is an attestation to the power of the critically ideating autodidact. The intellectual heritage of humanity reminds us that ideas flourish whenever there is a culture that cherishes individually driven learning and enlightenment.

    On the other hand, colleges and universities are often co-opted by the ruling status quo for purposes of serving it absolutely; both are ideal bastions of thought control which seldom allow deviations from its preordained path. It must be realized that such a system describes an absolute antithesis to the raw purity of human intellectuality.

  • Alexander Salvatierra Aquino

    This is the problem on those people who’ve got College Degrees, Masterclass and Doctorates… They look upon themselves us the one who were superior than the others. They create blogs and articles weighing things with their scientific calculations, formulas, and academic perceptions. They talked about Self Educated people like they know them very much… Accept the fact that Self Education is far more Superior… Everything can be learn by Self Education because it was the foundation of Education of all Humanity… Dancing, Music, Arts, Information Techs were the common form of Education that are mostly practice at Home with the help of Internet, DvDS, Books and other learning materials… But if you will try hard and get someone to finance or some who will be willing to be your mentor, even Engineering, Medicals and other high forms of academics can be Self Learned… If you will see in history all the greatest people Universities and Colleges look upon are people who were learned in Unconventional way! Cause if you will argue at me, then i will tell you that Aristotle wasn’t a Philosopher because he didn’t graduated and do not have a diploma! Doctors and Medical practitioners in old days learned from experiments they conducted all by themselves or with people who were giving aids, and trust me, no University or College back them up because of financial issues.. Because this Colleges and Universities just wait until the work of this Self Educated people was done… Copy or steal their ideas and works and make a profit from it… Don’t argue with me… Tell me I’m wrong if you were far more Richer than me… Accept the fact that FORMAL EDUCATION PRODUCE FORMAL KNOWLEDGE STUDENT TO BE A FORMAL EMPLOYEE (Slaves Technically) FOR THE COMPANIES BUILT BY SELF EDUCATED PEOPLE WHO HAS KNOWLEDGE FORGED BY FREEDOM!

  • Alexander Salvatierra Aquino

    Formal Education was a Learning based on Prison and Slavery…
    while Self Education was Learning forged by Freedom

  • Alexander Salvatierra Aquino

    It’s kinda wonderful thing, the sharpest sword in the World — “The Katana” was made by Blacksmiths who were unconventionally educated in front of hammer, anvil and fire, And not by some College produced Blacksmith and Metallurgist who were educated themselves in front of Pen and Test Papers…

  • Alexander Salvatierra Aquino

    Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the Google Guys, the late Steve Jobs and Me, must be ashamed when facing you people… because you got College Degrees, Masterals and Doctorates… We didn’t have… Ok enough Chit Chat time… GET BACK TO WORK SLAVES, WE NEED MORE MONEY FROM YOUR BRAINS!

  • paul

    this is absolutely stupid “detailed knowledge” as you call it can be achieved if you study things in a more detailed way regardless of whether you’re studying it in college or somewhere else, you’re just mad that you wasted your money on a college degree and there are people who didn’t get one and are smarter than you.

  • Serena

    I think you are talking nonsense. I constantly self educate myself (have college too) and could say that I can put many University students into my pocket because my wide range of knowledge is pretty much way higher than random graduate’s. Yes, some people take 3 day course and read a couple of books than claim they are certified in whatever… but there are many of us who love studying and read many, many, many books that are right to the point in a certain subject and exceed any classroom knowledge. I met number of teachers/professors who can’t spell, who can’t teach, who are lost without their notes but they still teach the future generation. It goes with any profession – how many psychologists are out there that I would run rather than talk to them.
    So there are two sides to any dilemma and you can’t judge either or, because you only stir a bigger issue. Find the better words to explain in more detail your concern rather than say self-educated people aren’t good enough.
    It is same as discriminating certain look in people…. There are many reasons why not everyone is a good candidate to sit in classroom but will succeed in their life with flying colours. Let’s face it, the post secondary education is often a money making business as they often offer rather stupid courses that have no value in any way and you just waste your year or two getting ready for the “real thing”. They make you to take pre-this, pre-that…. Europeans do not study 10 years to become doctors (rather 6) but they are often better in what they do because they are well prepared right from the high school so they do not fool around wasting their time with what they should have known before entering University.

  • Benjaminr Roberts

    Looking to start a new business myself, do you recommend any books ?

  • Germán Rivas

    thank you, your comment is just perfect, this post have so many misconceptions about self learning and other topics that it was overwhelming the mere idea of detail every subject in a comment

  • Rasputin

    Why would you run to the psychologists? Do you mean “… run away from rather than talk to…”?

  • Rasputin

    While certainly some valid points are presented here, the fact remains that you’re acting as if the quantity of the information one learns intensifies the quality of one’s knowledge as a whole and that, somehow, university professors can teach another person better than a collection of books and essays. There is no ground in this. If one pursues knowledge and understands that they should restrict themselves to a discipline which feels natural to them or to those limited disciplines or arts which they find enjoyable, they do not need a professional teacher to guide them along. Understanding the nature of quality of learning is the first step in becoming a good self-learner–no self-help book or professor could assist with this, such knowledge comes with practice.

  • Robert Jones

    I couldn’t agree more. Excellent observation! Another error! What do-‘ya’know!?

  • Robert Jones

    What exactly are you referring to? What books do I recommend “in general?”, “busness start-ups?”, “sexual chemistry?”? What kinda books are you wanting me to respond with, according to “the books” you’re referring to?

    Okay… And then, yeah, I’m in college — as of now, again — and the only textbooks I’m in now are for school…

    The textbooks that I was “in” …five months ago, weren’t really books. Okay. So, I lied. They were hundreds… or maybe thousands of glossaries and linguistic tables, etc… I was trying to know my subjects in and out, while also increasing my linguistic capabilities. (Currently five: English, Gaelic, Spanish, Tagalog and Indo-Aryan. I would like to get into Persian and Arabic, but I honestly don’t have time for all that.)

    I wanted to ensure that I knew my objective, and worked my way backwards to [now], setting markers (vectors in space) and created an abstract paradigm of …stars, more like… I don’t have any “constellations” yet… I’m not really worried about that, more, I’m worried about defining everything appropriately. I want to make sure everything is “level” before proceeding, so the structural foundation of the cartograph must be as definitive as possible.

    When you learn something, you want to immerse yourself. Be lost for several days; weeks or months. It’s fun! :)~

  • Lucy

    To state that no one has the discipline to stick to self-education because they have no constraints is wrong. This is the same idiom as “without God we have no morals”

    And regarding taking courses to learn a new language : I took night courses to learn Dutch because I knew that on my own I would not be able to do so! How could I ensure I am articulating and pronouncing the words correctly? How could I practice it if I have no one to practice it on?

    I think a lot of it depends on how you learn things and whether you are passionate about the subject or not.

    Personally I believe that school education on its own just isn’t enough. But then that could be because I feel that there was a lot I did not learn. I had trouble keeping things in my head because :
    (1) I didn’t know the WHY & HOW. Why are we doing it this way? HOW did we arrive to this formula?
    (2) There was a lot of general information and little time to ingest it.

    Now that I am educating myself, I can delve into the details and take my time to really understand everything (the WHYs & HOWs). I know what is my best method for learning and now I feel that I am learning (and retaining) a lot of information.

  • chips

    institutional/formal education should be under the broad category of self-education, i.e pursue schooling because you want to teach yourself a certain discipline, not the other way around where one depends his learning to what the school provides, which are often lacking.

  • Saman Yousefnia

    I’m in the exact situation as you , i’m currently at University studying Applied Mathematics but i can’t stand the Academic system ! so most of the time , i ditch the classes to study the exact material they are teaching at the classes , on my own ! but that has resulted in poor grades (and a few good grades !!!!!) and getting removed from the courses ! at first i thought that my bad grades mean that i haven’t understood the material but later in one of my courses (Combinatorics) which i had studied on my own i got my worst grade to that day , but i used the material that i had learnt on my own to solve a problem in Circuits theory for my electrical engineer friend with the help of path minimization algorithm (Graph theory) and that’s when i understood i have to leave the school (cases like that also happened later but i wont bore you with them !) , people like us just can’t handle the academic structure but are motivated to learn certain subjects ! so it’s better for us to leave the school and study on our own !

  • Jason Pompa

    i self studied psychology in my teen years and aced my intro psyche class without studying. the classroom is a nessecary thing (although i hate how it is implemented) because most people don’t have a hunger for knowledge. And it’s convenient to have an expert of a field at a stones throw to save heavy digging sometimes. I never met anyone who claimed to be self-educated except my grandfather… but i gain new knowledge everyday because i love knowledge. Therefore i love the internet, the information equalizer.

  • Jason Pompa

    teal is a nice color

  • bsdpowa

    They ARE better than others and certainly better than you in every single aspect. How you can self study medicine or theoretical physics is beyond me… You must be smarter than Tesla and Einstein combined, have you been contacted by the government to work on their top secret projects yet?

  • bsdpowa

    Tell ’em son! Who needs formal education when you can purchase a book from Amazon and know everything!!!!!!!!!!! Live freeeeeeeeee, don’t get sucked into the biggest scam in the world called higher education!!

    If you want to know what they don’t want you to know and earn $54756 a week like me sitting at home, please click this dodgy link and buy my e-book for only $5!!!

  • Chris K

    You hit the nail on the head. To code commercially, you need a specific skill set – not just programming – but an understanding of all the related areas that will affect the code you write. This is what a formal degree in computer science will give you. Database theory such as Normalisation. Math such as Discrete math for AI. Security such as SQL Exploits. Microprocessors for IoT. Anyone can write code; but to write using modern software engineering practises – takes a formal education, mostly. Of course some can self teach, but not most. Most just code bad, in-efficient, unsafe programs.

  • Nikara

    Alexander, I am so with you! I more than agree with your post!

  • lonegull101

    I disagree that college or traditional class room teaching is “deep knowledge” that you cannot get through disciplined self education. I found college to be an over priced cram session, spending only a day or two on any aspect of the subject, then testing after 2 – 3 weeks and a hand full of chapters. A rush through the text books of 2 or 3 classes at a time, within 2 – 2 1/2 months does not equate deep learning. I am a self learner (autodidact) and I get odd looks and comments from people seeing me studying without being in college or a formal class. There is no reason society can’t (re)adjust for alternate learning paths/styles, back in the “old days” they called it on-the-job-training and had apprenticeships where you got paid to learn the skill and job. Now they expect the teachers and a degree to train you so that corporate america can stay in that “job ready” delusion.

  • lonegull101

    Exactly, well stated.

  • a

    Nothing in computer science is obsolete, we still code using similar principles that were used in the 80s, computer science is not about computers, it’s about computation and the time and steps it takes to preform them.

  • Robert Jones

    I appreciate the reply. Apparently I’ve visited this site before.

    I wonder how many articles I’ve read over and over?

    Listen bsdpowa: You don’t need books to learn.

    Step 1: Find something you want to learn.

    Step 2: Find a subject that you enjoy, that you ALREADY understand.

    Step 3: Apply the concepts from the subject you already appreciate, to the new one.

    Step 4: Don’t start at the very bottom, trying to understand. Start on chapter 3 for example. Look into Bloom’s taxonomy.

    Step 5: Dive in — drown yourself for a few weeks. The objective is to be completely lost in the material.

    Step 6: Find your way out. Objectively. Make sure you don’t kid yourself. Confirmation bias is a bitch.

    Step 7: Now that you know a little bit of the unknown, take it further. Try to get down to the nitty gritty; the atomic level. Stay there until you are completely sure you can articulate the subject, backwards and forwards.

    Step 8: Have a hypothesis? Why not test it? Fourier transformations can objectively measure your synthesis. Fourier series is only an example. Try to manipulate abstractions from first principles. This ensures the knowledge you obtain, stacks upon a foundation that will support the massive integration needed to comprehend complexity. The stronger the foundation, the easier it will be for you to empirically relate. This is ultimately what drives wisdom. Meaning…you could come to conclusions that are extremely practical, yet while also never having experienced it, first hand.

    Step 9: Master pattern recognition. If there are four variables in a scenario, the analogy you use to elaborate its components must also mirror this scenario, exactly, or else ambiguity defeats you.

    Step 10: Repeat.

    Best of wishes to you bsdpowa. Again, thank you for investing time. I appreciate your feedback. I don’t get much of that anymore, which I regret.

    Good day.

  • Robert Jones

    I honestly don’t remember this post… nor the last.

    As I stated to someone else…. I wonder how many times I keep reading the same articles? The time between seems to be every six to eight months…. Strange.

  • Robert Jones

    On another note, every positive has a negative…

    So even if I were to state how confident I were, you’d simply equivocate it as arrogance.

    Confirmation bias…. Specifically Dunning-Kruger Effect.

  • RyanMMatthews

    My parents always told me that having a university degree was strictly only to show an employer that you have the ability to self-educate and write a report. Back in their day, it didn’t matter what degree you had but only that you had one. My mother’s Masters in english and teaching had nothing to do with her career path of computer programming and then business and marketing.
    I believe it still applies today unless you are going into a much more specialized field of work which of course is becoming more and more in demand as we progress. However, often people tend to learn more in the first few months about what their career path will be like than in the entirety of their degree.
    All other self education not involving your career is in pursuit of the pleasure of knowledge and it would be wasteful time spent getting a degree for pleasure knowledge. It would also be a wasteful time spent getting into the nitty-gritty of a subject that you are learning for the sake of broader knowledge and understanding.
    Whilst the universe and the science that defines it is amazingly spectacular to me, I would find learning about the wave–particle duality and time evolution formulas or the principles behind quantum uncertainty to be a tedious waste of time for me to learn unless I was pursuing a career in such fields. For that, I’ll leave to the masters of that domain, those who get paid to learn it.

  • Steven Cook

    The Author of this article is false in assuming that the formal classroom is the best environment for deep learning and gaining an advantage in life. In the very beginning of this article the author expresses a personal pet peeve about people who don’t like the idea of going to college. Colleges often force students to take courses that are not even relevant to their chosen fields like “liberal arts” or “evolutionary biology” why would a computer science student need to know any of that information? these courses are nonsense and waste of time for most people. College is not only overpriced but often a waste of time and is ultimately an obstacle in people’s lives. Earning a college degree never guarantees you a job in your chosen career, it is never a concrete method for success and most of the time people accumulate mountains of debt that they will be paying off for several years thereafter. In fact there are many hugely successful people who became millionaires or billionaires who are college dropouts. Now I’m not saying your going to get filthy rich, most people will not but college is not the only path to a successful and fulfilling life.