Reading While Floating

…than going to school, signing up for classes, or paying lavishly for private lessons. If you prefer to figure things out by yourself, studying can be made much more comfortable, effective, and rewarding than sitting in dull classes from 8:15 till 16:00. Let me tell you why…

1. You can choose what to study

When you are your own teacher, you are also the one who decides what to study. Functioning as your own teacher of course makes yourself responsible for creating your own syllabus, but with this freedom you can choose to focus on something specific, and eliminate all unnecessary things.

If you decide to study, say, web design, you can choose which areas to include in your syllabus. If you are particularly interested in creating vector graphics with Illustrator, you can focus on Illustrator and omit Photoshop and other tools. Or you can learn HTML and CSS without wasting time on programs such as Dreamweaver. This approach will not only save you time but also narrow down the list of things needed to learn the skill (web design) by keeping you focused on the essentials.

If you think you’re missing something, you can always supplement the things you already have with appropriate additions. And if something seems unnecessary, you have the freedom to drop it at will. Again, you’re focusing on the essentials. You will be constantly reviewing your syllabus, so it always remain fresh.

2. You don’t have to waste time on compulsory subjects

Students constantly complain about this—and rightly so. High school and university programs are filled with compulsory subjects that are more of a nuisance to students than of true value. And I believe the benefits gained from taking compulsory subjects is entirely subjective, and depends on the individual student. Let your study plan tell you what you should learn. Allow yourself to be confident about your decisions. Institutions shouldn’t be treated as the only authority for creating well-rounded syllabi.

For example, most people probably think that physics is strongly connected with mathematics. I mean, something like F=ma is exactly that, mathematics. But instead of studying math as a subject of its own, we could focus on physics and only study math when needed.

The same thing goes with computer programming. Math may condition our “mathematical faculties” to operate more logically, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Having studied programming at university, I can say that while math is relevant to computer programming, it isn’t absolutely necessary. So if I were to learn programming, I would first examine what I want to accomplish with it. If I want to specialize in creating online shopping carts with PHP, I would definitely eliminate math from my list. I just don’t need to waste time on it. I can instead invest that time and effort in programming practical applications.

3. You don’t have to get up early in the morning

Not having to wake up at 7:05 on cold, rainy mornings sounds awesome. You can just get up, take a hot shower, brew a cup of coffee, and go to your studies. Here we’re assuming, of course, that nothing else is hindering you from sleeping in and going out in the morning (if you work in the evening shift, or work from home).

4. You can design your own schedule

If you have a good study plan, you can also make an effective and comfortable schedule for yourself. You don’t have to deal with idle hours between classes, because you can allocate the appropriate amount of time to each task in your study plan, and time them according to your own daily schedule.

5. You don’t have to take tests

You don’t have to prove yourself with tests when the examiner is you. If you are planning to acquire professional skills, your employer or customer will be your examiner. So when you’re studying on your own with a strong purpose, you won’t be needing any exams because you are in control of your own progress and objectives.