Trial-And-Error

The Best Education You Can Receive

Most forms of higher education can be broken down into three things:

  1. A neatly-packaged curriculum of information
  2. Delivered to you by relevant professionals; and
  3. A network of peers and mentors you can access during and after your education

In theory, this is a solid framework for learning. However, in practice, if any one of these pillars falls short, the entire thing crumbles.

You can have an airtight curriculum, but if it’s delivered by professors who aren’t passionate or relevant in the subject matter, there is a good chance they will do more harm than good.

Similarly, you can have a stable network of professors and colleagues, but if you are given a subpar curriculum, who won’t ultimately know crucial information that others are given.

There is one major piece of the puzzle missing from the above outline for education:

A safe space to try and fail.

In my mind, trial-and-error is the most effective method in learning because it requires the student to identify a problem, test various solutions, and eventually master the specific skill needed on their own.

I was fortunate enough to attend a liberal arts college that stressed interdisciplinary learning and critical thinking. In theory, this is an ideal setting for learning multiple subjects, identifying common threads, and applying them on your own.

However, like many other educational settings, theory didn’t necessarily translate to practice.

At the end of my college career, the one thing I was given was the ability to learn on my own. This was mainly due to a lack of practical learning in the classroom. For the most part, we were successfully given necessary concepts. We just weren’t given the time or space to apply them on our own and learn through trial-and-error.

I chose a less conventional path after college by diving into a freelance career. Because of this, I learned more in my first year out of college than my entire time as an undergrad.

Whether it was learning how to create a project proposal or navigate the icy waters of negotiating payment, I learned by necessity, which meant I had to speed up my process of trial-and-error in order to survive.

You may not be ready to do this entirely on your own, and that’s OK. The only thing that matters is that you identify where you are, where you want to be, and what you need to learn in order to bridge this gap. Once you become aware, you can begin your process of trial-and-error.


Did your education prepare you for your current path? How have you continued to learn on your own? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments below or on Twitter at @williamfrazr.

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