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Become An Expert: University vs.Googlevirsity?

Become An Expert: University vs.Googlevirsity?

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I hope that some of my recent posts have challenged you to think about your passions and to follow them in life regardless of your current skill level or expertise. If you’re like me you’ve chosen a passion which might not be one of  your current strengths and you’ll therefore be on a steep learning curve as you train yourself from a novice to “expert”.

When it comes to learning something new people typically want to become an expert overnight. They’re more than happy to pay for something if they believe they’ll gain this knowledge quickly but disappointed to find out overnight success is rare. Many of the books I’ve read have discussed the term “expert” which highlight that in order to be an expert you only need to know more than those that are following you.

So how do we lift our knowledge to a level that others might consider that of an “expert”. As mentioned I’m going to be following my passion of drawing, character design and computer animation and I’ve been considering the fastest ways to lift my skill level quickly. I figure I have two main approaches of which I’ll describe below.

The Traditional Approach

The traditional approach is what I consider to be an accredited or industry accepted course from either University/College  or Tafe/Community College (Forgive me If any of the US terms are incorrect). I don’t differentiate between the method in which that course can be taught, such as online or via a classroom environment.

Generally you pay an amount of money, which may be a large sum of money, and study over a period of time in a structured and defined curriculum. Hopefully these courses are taught by industry professionals who have proven experience in the field but its not always the case.

Pros

  • Structured learning environment i.e. course curriculum and set time-frames
  • Opportunity to meet people with similar interests
  • Large breadth of information provided
  • Access to industry professionals (not always the case)
  • Industry recognized

Cons

  • Costly
  • Not all units may be applicable to your passion
  • Lacking depth in topics
  • Time consuming
  • Knowledge gained may not be applicable to industry roles
  • Potentially aimed towards a 9-5 career path

These are just some quick thoughts I’ve had in regards to my own personal experience and I can appreciate if you have a difference of opinion. I have a university degree so I understand the benefits I’ve received from having it however I still find myself sitting in a career that provides little satisfaction. Could I have the same level of understanding or better from online and free content?

My salary is reasonable however and I’ve received regular increases over the years I’ve worked. However when I compare my graduate salary to my current salary I find that the financial increase has not affected the life experiences by a comparable amount. I still have the same period of time away from work each year and still struggle to find the time to travel.

 

The “Googlevirsity” Approach

The second approach I have is what I’ve termed as “Googlevirsity”! In other words “Google University” which I define as the ability to become and “expert” in a chosen field purely using free or cheaply available content on the web. In this instance I still count books as they’re relatively cheap.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Focus directly on your chosen passion i.e no need to study something that is not applicable to you
  • More time to focus on gaining depth in chosen topics
  • Potentially more time to practice
  • Encourages “thinking outside the box” and less traditional career paths
  • Ability to be more hands on if you choose

Cons

  • Less structure – How will you define a learning structure and ensure you remain on track ?
  • Time management – i.e ensuring you assign time each week to practice and learn
  • Disparate Knowledge – How to search and find for what you want to learn
  • Motivation – How will you motivate yourself when times get tough

Again this is a quick list of pros and cons and I’m open to different opinions as there is no right or wrong depending on your circumstances. With this method there is no excuse for a lack of finances to get you started as all the information is available you just need to be more persistent to discover what you need.

I’ve used this method with success in the past and managed to find everything I required to build up a solid understand of topics without the use of a course. I found it more beneficial to spend less time researching and more time hands on with the tools I needed to use. I typically learn better from practical methods vs theoretical but again, everybody is different.

Which method Is the best?

There is no real right or wrong when it comes to how you should learn. It depends greatly on the person and the path you wish to travel. If you’re desired career path requires a degree or industry certification then you’ll need to attain that. On the other hand if you’re chosen career path or desired life do not require certification then consider the amount of money saved and how that might be spent on your own business or attaining your dreams.

At this point I’ve decided to take the Google path and I’m seeing success. There is certainly certain fears about whether I can learn quickly and frustrations when you need to filter through huge amounts of information before you find what you want. The best approach I’ve had is to start putting one foot forward and watching the rest of my body follow. If you don’t start doing something then you’ll never reach your goals. I’ve noticed an improvement in a very short period already so I look forward to 12 months ahead and to look back at how far I’ve come.

I’m currently using the following to learn

  • YouTube tutorials
  • Purchased Video Tutorials (< $20)
  • Subscription Training (<$30 per month)
  • Books
  • Written Tutorials discovered through Google
  • Practice, Practice & Practice

I’ve ordered some equipment that will assist with producing video content and at that stage I’ll create a new blog and start producing my YouTube videos and other content. Although I’m nervous about creating content when I still believe I’m a novice I need to realize that I’m already ahead of others starting a similar journey who could benefit from what I’ve already discovered.

If I compare myself to where I was a month ago I wonder….would the past version of me already consider the current version to be an expert?

 

What’s working for you?

 

 

4 comments

  1. I have a bachelor’s degree, but I use online courses to supplement my education. With RedHoop, Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, etc, it’s hard NOT to find a free course of a certain topic.

    • Great comment Ben and thank you for sharing. These are all new to me and when taking a quick look just now I’ve found a number of free courses that are already of interest. I agree with you that all the information you need is at your fingertips, either free or for a small fee.

  2. I’ve recently made a really similar decision to you and instead of a blog, made a youtube about it. My main and first video is about not going to university, and your post backs it up perfectly.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjEUPdkPgNk

    • Hey Tim, Many thanks for leaving a comment. It’s comments like yours that make me realize what I’m doing, and what I’m saying, is having an impact on people. It’s great to meet people who have the same objectives. I’ll be subscribing to your YouTube account to keep an eye on what you’re journey. I hope to keep in touch with you and others so we can share our success and help everyone reach the lifestyle we dream for ourselves.

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