Self taught education vs Academia

Mordo | Mythic Invincible!
 
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I've been contemplating this topic a lot lately. Partially due to having absolutely fuck all to do and a lot of discussion here about college enrolment.

My question here is; which holds more value? Personally, I hold a lot of contempt for academia as I wasted a good 3 years of my life after being pigeonholed in high school to do to a degree. But then again, it's also partially my fault for not staking out the territory more and taking my time to figure out which path I want to take.

I've also learned a lot more on the Internet and the sheer volume of information it holds than I ever have during my tenure at uni.

That's not to say that I don't think academia has absolutely no merit in society. Obviously qualifications are required to evidence your competency levels and the capacity to fulfil a specialised role. But does society place too much emphasis on a college degree? Can a person become an educated and intelligent individual without having to enrol into tertiary education?
Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 05:43:30 PM by Mordo


BaconShelf | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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For my field (3D art/ games), there's a lot of debate over whether it's worth your time because most of what you learn on such courses you can learn with YouTube or industry subscriptions like Gnomon Workshop/ Artstation Pro which are pretty valuable resources and I tend to agree on that one - everyone on my course who has done well are the people who spend a lot of time learning online without the help of tutors and who don't rely on lecturers to teach everything.

What I've found valuable though in my course was the fact that the university was able to give me access to PCs and software I would never have been able to get at home (Maya, Zbrush, Substance etc) and a lab building in which to do work (my room at home is too small for a PC to fit). That, plus being around a lot of people who wanna do the same stuff as me, events done for industry talks and such and all that kind of thing. While I don't doubt being at home I could learn the things I learned, being around people doing the same thing as me every day for the past three years has done wonders to boost and focus that learning into areas I would have never learned about otherwise. Most people start off in game art like "I wanna make guns" but eventually find out they're more into general hardsurface, character, VFX, material or environment production roles - a lot of areas are which you'd not learn about easily if just left to your own devices.

For my uni additionally, they do quite a few group projects where art, design, programming and animation guys have to work in a group project to make a game, during one of which I worked as the Lead Artist for my team, which meant a lot of learning how to organise and lead group projects on my end. A lot of the experience I gained working in those group assignments is the kind of thing I'd never have been able to get if I were working at home, and it's the stuff that I feel will probably be of massive benefit when I eventually do end up working in industry.

My case is kinda special in that I don't do a very academia subject (my degree has essentially just been semesters of being given a project and a deadline to do it, then just having weekly check-ins along the way to check progress) so I don't know if that kinda thing I just said is much applicable to more traditional study courses, but I know a lot of my friends in the games courses have felt the same way. The most valuable things we got out of uni were the resources and opportunities that we would never be able to get at home.


maverick | Legendary Invincible!
 
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But does society place too much emphasis on a college degree?
Yes.

I personally was pushed towards college (even though I didn't want to go at one point) and I think that's probably true for many people, considering almost 70% of high school students are enrolling in college immediately, according to these people. There seems to be this belief that I was fed: where you just need to get a college degree and life will basically be handed to you. I'm finding the reality to be a bit different.

According to the Federal Reserve, only 27% of undergraduate degree holders end up working in a position directly related to the degree. Contrast this with an average price tag of around ~29k (in America). It's hard for me to see college as much more than a risky financial/personal investment, at best; a bit of a scam, at worst.

The market today is simply over-saturated with bachelor's degrees to the point where many jobs have unnecessary educational requirements. It almost seems like college degrees are used to imply intelligence and work ethic, but obviously don't prove either.

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Can a person become an educated and intelligent individual without having to enroll into tertiary education?
Absolutely

I mean, the man with the highest IQ scores on the planet holds no college degree. That may not be a great example, but you get the idea. It's not like the material used in academia is restricted from the public.

As far as self-taught education vs. academia in general: that's a somewhat loaded question. You could read dozens of chemistry books, but you likely won't go far in the field without a tangible degree. However, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are famously college dropouts, so it really depends. I think in general, degrees won't make someone more intelligent or successful, even though they may correlate.

I guess I might as well mention that I graduated with a competitive major, with a decent GPA, from a well-known school, and have had a hell of a time on the job market post-graduation, so I'm obviously somewhat biased. But I consider myself lucky. A law degree has both a horrendous price tag and a horrendous employment rate. I've also read plenty of other stories of people with advanced degrees unable to find work.

I'm glad I picked a major where I learned skills that I otherwise would not have, but if I ever achieve any sort of success, I'm probably not going to be thanking my degree.


MetaCognition | Member
 
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I resent British higher education, but not for the academics and the work they do. At least in my department, relations within and with the faculty are incredibly good.

There are, undoubtedly, some things which institutionalised academia is good at doing. But, to be honest, I really do think if you know how to engage with the field you’re in (in my case reading primary and secondary literature) then you can make a decent enough job of it yourself, if the goal is personal fulfilment rather than accreditation. Although this will depend on your learning style, I’m not somebody who gets all that much from lectures and note-taking anyway.

Also, it will have the effect of meaning you will probably need to get most of your resources illegally unless you want to go bankrupt. But, let’s be honest, who cares about that?
Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 05:30:18 PM by MetaCognition


Element Ninja | Newbie
 
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I would recommend getting into a trade. Depending on the trade, you can usually find one that gives you on the job training and paid education. And you tend to start making “big boy” money a lot sooner.

Then after that, i would recommend pursuing a degree for sheer interest and personal achievement... you know, like they used to. That or just get one according to whatever helps you in your fields of interest.

I don’t know if it exists (it should and may in some fields) but I have heard of aptitude or competency tests that you can take that help reveal how well you know the accredited/acceptable information and skills.

I feel that the value of Academia has become inflated and politicized, however there is some merit in some fields as they adhere to important industry and safety standards, for example.  But then again, degrees that move further and further away from hard application tend to be more nebulous and subjective.

I’d be down for a self-taught type of program that competes with Academia that promotes competency and adherence to same standards as academia, while offering a cheap and more efficient alternative.


E | Respected Posting Spree
 
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I never finished high school for starters. Everything I know of today I taught myself how to do. But if you're asking on what has more value? I can't give you a definitive answer because it's entirely dependent on the individual's capacity to learn, and what they're learning. I can highlight some points on the differences between the two. Academia, on paper, is designed to skip the process of self learning. For instance. It's taken me eleven years to understand the principles that I currently do in artistic mediums. Where I to take acedemia(assuming I landed the correct school), I could entirely skip this process by learning from the masters and what they know outright.

Or, for another instance, it's likely not possible for me to teach myself how to become a molecular biologist, or a chemist. I could learn the basic principles but I would not have access to the more advanced networks, information, and technology to help me learn. Most importantly, the right kind of teacher can streamline the learning process and remove learning barriers.

The downside to college and other higher forms of education however, is that they focus on monetary gain(a source of income for the learner rather than a passion) and they are monetary traps designed to close on today's youth. Society does place too much value on degrees, but only because most of society sees monetary acclimation tied to the word degree. I find that most people never go to college or university with the intent of interest. They go because they're interested in making money from some field that's "promised" to generate it. Lo and behold we arise to the trap. Oversaturation of fields and jobless graduates which college and uni's will shed no tears for, only bills and interest rates. University and college can be worth it for more advanced fields, but so long as it costs an arm and a leg in some countries, they aren't worth it. Education should be free.


Desty | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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A lot of courses I've done have been boring shit about the history of social work. I've definitely learned useful stuff too though, like how to conduct research, how to read a law book, and just basic values that you need to have as a social worker. I feel like I've had the same course 3 times into my third semester, so they could definitely shave some courses off the program. The program is essentially teaching you what the government expects from you, and how the reality is, and what your options are etc. Like I said there are some boring courses thrown in there, but if you want to go on to actually become smart and have influence you need to do that by yourself. The program is mostly practical, rather than educational.