Self-Education is More Fun than Formal Education

I love the idea of getting smarter.

Most people do.

Like many others, I want my brain to have that addictive stimulation that is triggered by interesting new concepts and ways of thinking that get me to a higher consciousness.

Where does society tell us to satiate this desire?

College.

"We have over 150 majors!" some colleges will parrot, in order to give us an illusion of choice.

We think we have so much flexibility to organize what our education is going to be like, but really, we're all just taking the same classes in order to meet requirement after requirement.

College has made learning seem boring.

And that's a problem.

What college has done is it has quantified learning. It's created a "social hierarchy of smartness" where we celebrate people with higher GPAs as either hard workers or intelligently-gifted people.

Shame to other people. You're too dumb.

How can learning be fun again?

Choice.

Self-directed learning.

You just naturally become more passionate about what you're doing when you take responsibility for your own education. It's no longer about just suffering semester after semester but about just learning something for the fun of it (or the employability part of it). 

I can tell you that whenever I have free time, I don't just use it to goof off. I use it to learn the things that I want to learn, with the time that school doesn't steal from me.

Here's an example of the things I'm currently learning:

1. Lean Six Sigma - Management Style

Lean Six Sigma is a method of working where you focus on minimizing wastage in whatever it is that you are doing. It's a methodology used by Toyota that has helped them gain their way to the Fortune Top 10 multiple times.

You can apply this philosophy to your personal life or your entrepreneurial ventures. It's all about making your life or your business run as efficiently as possible.

2. Swedish

Jag talar svenska. Well, I'm at least trying.

You might be thinking, "Evan, why are you learning Swedish? Are you going to go to Sweden sometime?"

And the short answer is yes. 

I know I'm going to be traveling the world in the future, and I definitely plan on hitting up this beautiful Nordic country. I have a good friend who lives in Sweden as well.

I'm learning because I think Swedish is a fun language, and it is also similar to other Nordic languages, so there is the ability to translate into new skills. It also makes life interesting to study a foreign language, as I'm used to being surrounded by math and engineering problems.

3. Building Social Capital

Popular mindsets of society go like this: "If you work hard, you'll be successful and get everything you deserve." 

Well it hurts to say, but that's not how the world works.

Not completely at least.

You should be working hard at mastering your craft, but you should also be creating relationships with people in higher positions than you as you go.

These are the people who will get you to where you want to go in life.

If you plant the seed of relationships early on before you need them, you'll see way more success than the person who just shoots their resume out aimlessly into the world in the hopes that someone will "find" them.

But building your social capital is about so much more than just "networking".

I'm currently working on figuring out who I am, what I want, what other people want, and finding out how I can be offer as much value as I can to other people.

Networking a.k.a. relationship building is such a vital skill to accomplishing your goals in this world, yet many people just don't spend the time doing.

From Here on Out

My education is so much more than institutions telling me what I should or should not learn. I want to be allowed the choice to not do classes I don't like, and choose the ones that I do like, regardless of what my major is.

Here's a few things we can change our mindsets on what education should be:

  1. College is not equal to education.
  2. Stop thinking of learning in time-increments of semesters.
  3. The most powerful learning you can do is implementing your knowledge on side-projects.
  4. Instead of using grades as a way to measure your learning, write down in a journal every day about what you learned and with each entry, notice your progress in the right direction every time.
  5. Play around and have fun with your learning. I know it's hard to play around with a college education when each class is ~$5000 each. But in the real world, dabbling a little bit in this and that is less than $50 to do (buy a book, enroll in an e-course, take a class, etc.)

I really think self-education is the future of the growth of the American mind. The sooner we can escape this idea of centralized learning, the more independent, exciting, and deeper our learning experiences can be.