Photo by JJ Thompson on Unsplash

Learning beyond the Classroom

Educate yourself without boundaries

Learning is cool.

Education is structured learning.

So by that account, education is automatically cool? Well, sort of.

I am educated to a degree level, I have a BA(Hons), I have a nice certificate I keep meaning to frame by haven’t got around to.

But that’s besides the point. The majority of us, go through life in some sort of schooling system from the ages of 4 - 21 years old, this obviously varies but generally the majority of people go through school and learn a variety of things in a very structured manner. As is the nature of the education system. You learn whatever is on the curriculum and whatever is taught to you by teachers/mentors/friends etc along the way.

At university, this changes slightly. You go from having teachers chasing you up for missed assignments to being essentially in charge of your own learning. You have a rough guide and there’s still some structure in regards to taught lectures and grade barriers exams/assignments etc. But for the most part it’s upto you to decide whether you attend those lectures and what you learn and how much you absorb is left to you. You miss the deadlines, you fail. Simple.

Obviously, when it comes to university, it’s a new experience for most of the 18 year old wide eyed students and there’s a lot of firsts. Especially if you’re living alone for the first time, you’re independent and in charge of your own time and the decisions you make are all on you. No parents and lecturers aren’t there to babysit you.

Within the three or four years you attend university, you learn a lot. Not only academically but social skills and general life skills and other fun stuff like how to nap in a mandatory lecture when you’re super hungover/maybe pulled an all nighter and are now dying or how much caffeine you can ingest before you feel like your heart might actually burst out of your chest cavity.

Then you graduate, degree in hand you again choose your journey, more education or go out in the world and try your luck in the job sphere.

No more learning right? Like maybe a little training at whichever place you get a job but beyond that you just do your job and go home, right?

Maybe, I don’t know your life.

When I left university last year, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities and honestly didn’t know if I’d actually learnt that much academically.

I’ve been almost unemployed for the majority of the time since. I go to work 5 hours a week, that leaves me with a significant amount of 'free' time. So when I’m not doing household chores, or applying for jobs on mountains of jobsites, I learn.

I learn, mostly because I enjoy learning. What I realised at university is that I’m not particularly fond of structured learning i.e. the backbone of the current education system. So I figured further education isn’t something I want to pursue right now, maybe one day I’ll want to return to it but for now I’m content learning essentially for free.

The beauty of the internet age is that it’s possible to learn anything and everything in a super convenient, click of a button kind of way. There are unlimited resources and a minefield of tutorials from the simple to the advanced there’s something that would suit everyone.

If you like structure to your learning there are some amazing websites out there dedicated to teaching you a variety of skills at a fixed price or monthly subscription.

The point is it’s out there, and all you need to do is a quick Google search.

As with everything you’ve got to want it to get it.

Learning falls into this nicely.

After I graduated I found I wanted to add to the skills I’d gained at university, I wanted to expand my technical skills and broaden my prospects when it came to applying for jobs. Not the most exciting of reasons but they seemed both achievable and something I was really excited to do.

And, it’s something you can do.

Yes, you.

Sat at your laptop/tablet/phone screen reading this when you should be doing other things.

Yes, you can just up and decide to learn something new.

Say for example: You want to get fit; but have no money/time/motivation or general inclination to be around strangers… watch a YouTube video, there are hundreds of personal trainers on there many of which have easy to access, beginners helpful type videos and sometimes even free online workout plans.

Or if YouTube isn’t your thing download an app, there are a million and one apps out there with simple compound and isolation type exercises to get you started and as I mentioned before there are usually some sort of one off payment, monthly subscription style options available if you want a more detailed, personalised plan or it might give you the confidence to join that group exercise class or join a gym and hire a personal trainer.

Hey! Maybe you can even train to become a personal trainer if your goals are inclined that way!

The point is you can learn to do anything if you want to and you don’t have to be bootstrapped to a traditional educational system to do so.

Obviously there are exceptions to the rule and there are certain professions where you can’t just learn to do it from a casual online course or video.

But you can learn particulars skills for the field you’re already in.

I’ll use myself as an example, in the last year I have taught myself:

  • The basic fundamentals of Digital Marketing, through the Google Digital Garage
  • App Design through a free online course, through Shaw Academy
  • Adobe Xd and Muse, simply through tutorials on Adobe and blogs I’ve found online
  • Working on learning to code in HTML and CSS (HTML 5 is mindboggling someone send help!)
  • Currently learning Spanish, through the Duolingo app
  • Experimenting in making my own clothes, lots of YouTube videos for this one
  • Improving my photography skills

I understand this is not an exhaustive list by any means, technically I’ve only completed three out of seven things on it and the other four are an ongoing progress.

The point is if I can do it, you can.

Whether you’re a student looking to improve your job prospects post-uni, a professional trying to expand your knowledge of your field or just someone who keeps saying they want to learn something new and keep putting it off for every dumb excuse under the sun.

Just go for it!

Try that new thing, learn that new skill, read a book, achieve that goal.

Don’t limit yourself to just learning whatever is taught to you, go out there and learn something… beyond the classroom.

Educate yourself without boundaries.

Thank you so much for reading! Give it a clap if you enjoyed it, helps me out and anyway who doesn’t appreciate applause?

This is part of my ongoing series on life as an Unemployed Grad, sharing my stories, offering questionable advice and humourous takes on unemployment as a twenty-something with too much time on her hands.

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