Self-education is now more important than ever, and we should not be relying on the school system to teach us everything we need to know. With the gift of Google, podcasts, documentaries, and books, we should be taking advantage of the immense sea of information. We can learn about anything we want. From neuroscience, to foregin policy and international relations, to nutrition, to environmental science, we have the key to a world of knowledge. We are in the driver’s seat, and we just have to decide where to go next. Personally, I took time to dive deeper into the world of politics. I researched specific details of proposed bills, policies on both sides of the aisle, and read into media bias. Remember, this process of self-education and research can be overwhelming with the sea of information out there, so these tips are here to guide you.
There are many ways we can expand our knowledge beyond the 4 walls of our school classrooms. We can go old school by simply researching a topic and taking notes; we could find a podcast on a topic of interest; we could read books that dive deeper into something we are curious about, or we could find a documentary that is both entertaining and educational. There are many free, online courses from Ivy League universities that we can take advantage of like Coursera. You can even decide to start watching the news every night so you can be in tune with the current events in the world, your country, and your state. At this point, there is a multitude of platforms in which we can gain knowledge and become smarter individuals.
Taking education further outside of high school or college can pay dividends throughout your professional life. There are numerous situations you could be in where people are talking about (insert topic) and you will be able to take part in that conversation. Another benefit of being self-educated is being able to bring something more to the table; whether that’s the family dinner table, conference room table at your first job, or anywhere else where you can drop some knowledge. Being knowledgeable about an array of topics shows that you are engaged and intelligent.
How to start: I would begin by creating a list of every topic, subject, or field that interests you. More examples include the science of stress, how the stock market works, tort law, astronomy, how sugar affects the brain, macroeconomics; the list could go on and on, but make a list that reflects what you are interested in. Next, begin researching, watching, reading, and listening about your topic of choice. For example if you chose to learn how the stock market works, start watching videos on YouTube that explain the basics, listen to podcasts with speakers who are investment managers and day traders, and follow the market daily. Also, it is important to invest time into learning how to write really well; there is more to writing than a rhetorical analysis in AP Language class or a DBQ in AP United States History. If we can learn to write professionally in a clear and effective manner, it will help us in our future careers. There are books on writing well such as On Writing Well, by William Zinsser, or podcasts such as “Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.” Incorporate improving your writing skills into your self-education and you will become a powerhouse of knowledge and intelligence.
Overall, It is up to us to make the decision to start learning beyond school and more importantly, about topics of interest. It will lead you to becoming smarter, more intelligent, more confident, and more engaged with the word around you. Don’t do it for anyone else but yourself.