Higher Education for Autodidacts

TL:DR | Self-learners want to learn on their own accord, and at their own pace. How can we fit into a college like environment, or create one ourselves? In honor of Higher Education Day we are talking about how to go about your own while being and Autodidact.

8 min read

Here is a video relation to this post, as well as the PolyCast!

This one for the self-learners of the world. Just because self-education is your modality, it doesn't mean you can't find ways to experience higher education.

This post is your guide to higher education from the viewpoint of the autodidactic/self-learners!

From the various ways of gaining credit through CLEP tests or MicroMasters, etc. There are pathways from the self-education to beyond into the Higher Education systems. I am for one totally spending your entire life just self-learning, as I think it is part of our human existence. Although additionally, when we are young or in the midst of a career change we are put in a position to learn in order to start a new career. This point in life, and in learning, is different. It is one that needs an extra push to get you out into the world in that new field.

Higher education is a great way to go about that push, and in this post I am going to talk about the two ways to pursue it.

Why is Higher Education Important?

I mean if you're on this site often, then you know I have a pretty strong stance on whether or not people should go to college.

To College or Not To College?
The concept of college is that of learning beyond your previous levels in secondary school. What does it entail for you, and your life overall? Is it worth the opportunity cost? Let’s find out.

Despite that I do think education, in the sense of an academic style of learning, and pushing yourself to the LEVELS of education that undergrad/grad school provide.

Not to mention there are certain career paths that you HAVE to have a degree for, although with most others maybe not so much. Being able to push your brain to new levels is not an easy task, and the best way is by learning a lot. A scenario that only really happens in schooling.

Even if you're a super radical autodidact, there is a strong chance that you don't get to those levels of learning. Unless you have some sort of catered system like a full Modular Degree, or traditional degree on top of your self-learning.

How to Get YOUR Higher Education

I've always been one for options, and despite my own strong opinions; The decision remains with you the reader. I want you to be able to make the best decision you can make, and by sharing with you only one path way I would be hindering you. I see it as two options, perhaps there is one I am missing even, but I believe that it is these two solely.

Take your Self-Learning into College/University

Honestly I really like this path, which may be surprising to a lot of you. There are a ton of studies that talk about how a majority of people lose a lot of what they learn in college once they leave. However if you're an autodidactic person, then it can be assumed that you'll keep learning after leaving colleges. Meaning that the decay of knowledge will subside greatly.

By being a self-learner in college, then you actually fit in very well. It astounds me that people think that college is easy or that you'll be in class learning. When in actuality most of the learning is self-taught anyways, by studying textbooks or in study groups.

You are literally doing the same TYPE of learning, but in the context of taking it into the classroom. Some schools do it better than others, such as Minerva, which essentially has a flipped classroom. You do the lecture via video, and then come to class to apply the knowledge.

Forego College/University Altogether, but still get an Education

There are plenty of options, from boot camps and micro-credentials, to literally just creating your own degree.

Making your own path may sound appealing, but it can be really hard. Just keep that in mind when you start out. One thing to keep in mind in either case is that it is never too late to do the other. If you chose self-education, then you can go to college after, and vice versa.

We are seeing more and more, that degrees are worth less and less. Yet it takes so much to accomplish a degree. If you are going to put that effort forth, and you are already basically doing self-learning IN A DEGREE program. You might as well cut out the middle-man.

Autodidacts are self-learners, and most of them (most of us) are doing it out of pure enjoyment of learning. We like to learn, and this is a way to organize that learning into something more substantial.

Examples of Other Autodidacts Pursuing their Own Path

At the start of PolyInnovator I created content around Modular Education, as well as Self-Education. In those videos and blog posts I talked about a lot of great people who pursued their own pathway.

These are those people, and there is a lot you can learn from them!

No pay MBA - Laurie Pickard https://www.nopaymba.com/

A relatively simple idea, she used MOOC's or Massively open online courses to create her own business degree, and really it hadn't been done. You'll see some others down this list that did something similar. Although her MBA education seems to be a really practical way of going about it.

No-Pay MBA Blog |No-Pay MBA
How to get your business education using MOOCs and other free and low-cost online resources. Blog by Laurie Pickard, founder of No-Pay MBA.

Real World MBA - Tim Ferriss https://tim.blog/2010/06/28/mba/

This was an attempt by the well known Tim Ferriss to complete a more practical business and investing education. He took what would be the tuition cost, and spent it on more viable learning options.

Now not everyone is going to have that kind of money to spend on learning that, but do we really have that large sum for tuition either? No, as most people take loans.

He found ways to learn various skills in a more real world applicable way.

Polymath MBA - Ian Kerins https://medium.com/the-polymath-mba/https-medium-com-iankerins-the-polymath-mba-dbc6fb807406

This was a crucial one to mention, as autodidactic people often are polymathic as well, and this person made a MBA to be polymathic. Most studies are centered on becoming a specialist, when that knowledge can/should be applied to a multitude of other fields.

Taking this mindset from the beginning was him literally creating a modular approach to a more traditionally specialist learning area.

BAin4Weeks - Lawrie Miller https://www.bain4weeks.com/

Somewhat of a dead in the water endeavor, there are still so many things we can learn from this. For one she was able to take a bunch of test out credit exams, as she had learned the knowledge prior. Considering some of the other examples in this list are that of learning the skills, then you can follow what she did AFTER the others. Something I keep in mind for a lot of people.

The reason why I said it is dead now, is that many colleges still take those credits from tests, but they are pretty picky about it. Meaning a lot of digging should be done on your part of if the school you are looking at will take such credits.

There are multiple regions for the accreditation companies, and they all accept different things. However what she was able to accomplish is nothing less than astounding.

MIT Challenge - Scott Young https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/myprojects/mit-challenge-2/

He condensed a four year degree down to the base of a 12 month endeavor. Already that is crazy to think about, but he did before the time of MOOC's. Meaning he was using just the open course ware (stripped down versions of MOOC's, with missing pieces), as well as just the textbooks of the school.

Oh and did I mention that four year degree was from MIT??

This was one of the first endeavors like this of the early internet. I'm sure something akin to it could have been done in the decades prior, but not to the same level. Imagine the possiblities of doing it in the modern day!?

Degree of Freedom - Jonathan Haber http://degreeoffreedom.org/

Philosophy is often seen as useless by the scientific world, and I couldn't disagree more. Imagine you are stuck on a science problem, something of logic, and in order to understand the HOW you need to understand the WHY behind it.

Many of my swim lessons actually are like this, where the physics don't even matter to them. They don't want me to teach them the physical movements, but rather the why behind we are doing it that way.

Creating your own philosophy degree is a brilliant way of expanding your horizons, and making you into a better version of yourself.


Modular Degree - Dustin Miller PolyInnovator https://polyinnovator.space/modular-degree/

It is human nature to want to learn, and we are constantly doing so more than we realize. What if we did realize however? What then? What if we were able to track each of our learnings, while also documenting it, so that others are able to see proof that we did the learning materials.

What about the people who can't afford college, or prefer a more multidisciplinary (or even interdisciplinary) approach?

The Modegree/Modular Degree system was made to be the base hub of your learning in the modern internet world. Think of all the previous examples, and how much better they would have been if they had this system to help them build it out. Let alone continue it afterwards, as many stopped after they  "finished" the degree.

We never stop learning, and perhaps our degree shouldn't either. Hence the traditional post-grad degrees too, but think of those as additional modules to YOUR Modular Degree.

Modular Degree (DIY degree) | Personal PolyInnovation System
This is a page dedicated to the Modular Degree, an experimental Self-Education endeavor for changing how we approach online education! Get started on your own Modegree today!

Take your Education even Higher!

Your life is full of choices, and the choice to go to school is one not easily made. However you must find a path that suits you best, and if you are here then probably you are like me, a self-learner.

Really everyone is an autodidact to a degree, but we all have different needs as learners that sometimes college can't provide.

This post was made so that you could find your own path to higher education as a self-learning Modegree pioneer!

The next post is for people who are polymathic/multidisciplinary finding their higher education as well. Quite an interesting read!

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