I’m pretty much self taught with the work I do revolving around computers. My “formal” education is in the fine arts. While that may seem useless to some, what it did do very well was prepare me to figure out crap on my own. I mean, there is no manual to tell you how to express yourself…
Anyhow, one of the challenges with learning on your own is that nagging feeling in the back of your head asking “what is it that I’m missing”. When you aren’t following a predetermined path, navigating through your learning can be a challenge. What do I need to learn first? After I learn XYZ, where do I go next?
These questions aren’t all bad. Not having a predefined path does allow for some really great discoveries (even self discovery). What it isn’t though is very efficient. I suppose this is one reason why formal curriculum and educational institutions exist. People don’t want to meander through their learning. They want a clear path, removed of obstacles and a clearly defined end (degree) so they can achieve a level of comfort saying “I know this”.
The large problem with formal education today is cost. If you are starting at a university straight from high school, is a predetermined path with a clearly defined end worth starting your career in debt? In case you have to pause and think about that, the answer is no. Too many young people are sold on the idea that they have to go the formal route at whatever cost. Remember, you are learning to better yourself and improve your future. You aren’t learning in order to become an indentured servant.
At any rate, enough soap box talk. The impetus for this post was actually a link included in today’s email from CodeProject. If you are interested in anything programming related, then sign up for their list. There is always something worth reading.
The link in question today was to a GitHub page outlining a path to a “free self-taught graduation in Computer Science“. While I have yet delve through the pages in depth, this kind of stuff is fantastic and is really opening up avenues for those people who are genuinely motivated to learn a new skill. Just look at Khan Academy, Pluralsight, and all the MOOCs out there.
It’s going to be interesting to see what opportunities will be out there when my niece reaches college age. Will a four year school be her only option? Hope not.