Updated: Mar 28
While studying on one's own may not be for everyone, it is still a respectable option if you are disciplined and an active learner with an open mind. Whether it is the best option to go with is
dependent on what you are interested in learning as well as what your ultimate goals are. Employers generally favour applicants who hold a degree, but that does not necessarily mean you need a degree. Some professions require a formal education, such as doctors and lawyers, but there are other positions that could be more lenient on what qualifications are acceptable if the applicant can prove they have the knowledge, skills and competency to be the valuable asset the employer is looking for.
Attending a university or college is expensive and will take time and effort. The payback on an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree is not always what is expected either, at least not right away. Of course, there is the consideration of what payback means to the individual; is it the income or the opportunity to work in a career that awakens your soul?
Education is valuable, especially if the knowledge and skills learned can be applied, but we have fallen into a general belief the only credible education is obtained through an accredited post-secondary institution. Fair, perhaps, as formal education is measured, while measuring what you are learning on your own can be a little more difficult to do.
One must also consider the point of view from an employer looking to hire someone. There can be hundreds of applicants for some jobs and sifting through them all is a tedious and time-consuming task. It only makes sense to have a quick way of narrowing down the initial number of resumes being added to the pile for consideration. A common way of cutting down the pile is to include a list of qualifications on the job post applicants must have in order to be considered, and the first requirement is often for applicants to hold a valid degree.
Self-education, also know as Autodidacticism or autodidactism, is something everyone should practice to some degree, whether they were formally educated or not, as learning is an ongoing effort through life. Educating yourself on a field of interest can be the way to go if you are looking to be self-employed, or if you are looking to satisfy your own curiosity and interest as a hobby. The main drawbacks with educating yourself is knowing where to access the right information, to know how to research and cross-check sources, the lack of an experienced teacher, mentor or peers who could offer constructive criticism on your work, and having to somehow prove your understanding of the knowledge you are taking in. Paying the money to earn a degree might be the easier route, especially if you are looking to apply for jobs in your field of interest. The main drawbacks with going back to formal education is having to take the time away from work and personal life in order to study, and it will cost a significant amount of money. As is the case with most choices, there are pros and cons that must be weighed against your current situation and the goals you are striving to achieve.