Self-Taught vs Formal Education. Which is better? Plus, my confession…
“Hey, guys! Sylvester Morgan here with SylvesterMorgan.com and in this video I have a confession to make. I’m going to tell you guys something that is probably going to come as a surprise to most of you. I’m not actually self-taught.
So, when someone gets their education by taking another route other than getting a formal education through a college or university, we call this person self-taught. But is this really self-taught or is this finding a more efficient way to be taught by the best teachers out there? I mean, am I really self-taught? So how did I learn? I used online training. I used text books and blogs and podcasts. Is this really self-taught? No. I was learning from teachers teaching in the form of a textbook or an online training or a podcasts or some kind of presentation. I had many teachers and I think that I had some of the best teachers you can find out there. I actually think that being self-taught is definitely not an inferior option to going to college and getting a degree. It has allowed me to be taught by the best developers out there, by the best leaders, by those who have many years of experience doing the things that they are teaching. I can guarantee you that if I had gone the route of getting a formal education with what my options were…I would have gone to a local community college for a couple of years and then transferring to a university that I could afford, and I can guarantee you that the quality of teachers I would have had on that journey is not as great as the quality of teachers that I’ve been able to have on my self-taught journey.
I did go to a local community college for a few semesters and during this time, the quality of professor, I mean, some professors were ok at what they did, some professors were horrible. Some of the instructors were really disconnected with what was going on in the industry and were not really passionate or skilled at what they were teaching. I mean, you can go on Rate My Professor and you’ll see that the quality of teacher varies greatly. You don’t know what you’re going to get. With what options I had available for getting a formal education, I know that I would not have been getting the best quality. If I had an instructor who was a horrible teacher but I needed to take that class in order to fulfill the degree requirement, then I’m stuck in that class. Or if that class is the only class that fits my schedule, then I’m stuck in that class. Maybe that professor also teaches another class that I have to take, then I’m stuck in that situation again.
I remember when I found MIT Open Courseware. MIT and a lot of other top universities like Stanford and Harvard, they have a lot of their courses and lectures and classes online free for the public. I remember watching some introduction to computer science courses from MIT and the professors were so passionate about what they were doing, they were so skilled and confident. Just listening to the instructor was inspiring. This was just not the case with some of the professors I had at the local community college. But with PluralSight and TreeHouse and some of the other online training that I’ve used, I get to choose which instructor, which classes that I take. So if there’s a really good instructor who knows what he’s talking about and is really skilled and inspires me and is able to help me understand the topic, then I can keep taking courses with that instructor. If the instructor is not good, if the teacher is not good at what they do, if the course is not helpful, I don’t have to take the course. I have that flexibility. Maybe the instructor does a really good job but he speaks too slowly, well guess what? I can use the feature to watch the course at double speed or one and a half speed. Most of the course that I watch now, I’m able to watch at double speed and still understand the content. Or if the instructor speaks too quickly, I can slow things down or pause the video.
This is a true story that happened a couple months ago. I work for Quicken Loans. Quicken Loans hired an expert in SQL Server. They hired this guy to come and teach our database engineers and our DBAs. So there was an all-day training. I talked to one of my team members after this training and he was telling me how exciting it was and how much he learned. I asked what the instructor’s name was. It turns out that the instructor who was teaching this course is one of the instructors for PluralSight, which is the online training that I use and I watch this guy’s courses all the time. So here we have a lot of engineers and DBAs who have degrees and the company is paying a lot of money to bring on this expert to teach these guys. This expert that they’re bringing on is available online through online training and I’ve been using this expert. This guy is someone who I have available to watch his courses at any time.
So, the point that I’m making is that self-taught is not in any way inferior to going and getting a formal education. It’s not actually self-taught. You’re actually learning from a lot of really good instructors. Rather than being stuck where you don’t know what quality of professor you’ll get or what kind of classes you’ll have to take, teaching yourself or just taking ownership of your own education, you can go online, you can find the best resources, the best textbooks, the best online training out there. You can find the best instructors and receive a very good education for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time.
When you’re evaluating formal education vs. self-directed education, you may be thinking of people in your head who you know who have degrees and are really educated and very articulate and skilled at what they do. They’re really well-spoken. You may be tempted to believe that is because they have that formal education. But I would challenge you to think of how many people you know who do have a formal education but are not on the same level with how well they can communicate and how they carry themselves and how skilled they are at what they do. I would challenge you that it’s not the formal education that differentiates those two. Going beyond what’s expected and always improving at what they do, most of it is stuff that they’ve learned and continue to grow after they get that formal education.
So the most important thing whatever you do is that you do receive a good education and that beyond whether you do online courses or formal education that you continue to grow and improve beyond your studies. But if you can’t afford a formal education, then definitely do not feel like you can’t receive a really good education. In this century with the technology that we have, it is ridiculous to think that you cannot receive a really good education without going through college or university. Like I said, I definitely know in my case that I definitely received a much better education by using the resources that I used, vs. going and getting a formal education. Now that I’ve been able to build a career using the resources that I use to learn on my own, now I have the money that if I wanted to get a formal education, I have the money to pay cash for it.
Thank you, guys, for watching. If you like the video, please click, “Like.” Please click the thumbs up. If you want to continue receiving the content, please click “Subscribe.” Thank you, guys, and I’ll see you in the next video.”