So, you've taken your lumps, finished your formal education, and finally got the career of your dreams. You own your own home, have a family, and are on the way to the top in your profession. And yet, you feel stagnant. Becoming a lifelong learner is one of the most powerful ways to break out of your stuck groove and expand your life.
Benefits of Lifelong Learning
Too many people get to a certain age and figure they've learned all they need to know. What a mistake! While many professions, such as most technological fields, absolutely require lifelong learning, anyone can benefit from continual education.
The benefits of lifelong learning include:
- Staying on Top of the Latest Breakthroughs in Your Career Field
- Continually Expanding Your Knowledge Base
- Increasing Your Cultural Sensitivity
- Challenging Long-Held (But Out-Dated) Knowledge
- Preparing Yourself for a New Career
There are two main methods that you can utilize on your path to becoming a lifelong learner: becoming an autodidact or choosing guided education.
Becoming an Autodidact
Autodidacts are people who take their education into their own hands. They become experts on a wide-variety of subjects by reading books and actively engaging in activities that expand their education. The benefits of being an autodidact include:
- Freedom from Boredom
- Education that Fills Knowledge Gaps
While autodidactism is a powerful tool, it's not the right choice for everybody. Many lifelong learners struggle with the following autodidactism downsides:
- Lack of Direction
- No Outside Testing
- Minimal Personal Interaction
- Difficulty in Maintaining Focus and Drive
If you struggle maintaining direction or focus in self-learning, you would probably benefit most from guided education.
Choosing Guided Education
Guided education is a powerful tool for helping steer adults into a life of active learning. It eliminates many of the problems inherent in autodidact education by creating a focused program of study. Choosing guided education requires understanding its purpose, the form it will take, and its affordability. Guided education takes many forms, including:
- Community College
- Online Courses
- Online Videos
- Correspondence Courses
- Written Lectures
- Message Boards
- Certification Programs
Each of these education formats offers their own benefits and disadvantages. For example, community college will cost more than free instructional online videos, but will be much more comprehensive. Make sure you carefully investigate any form of guided education before committing.
By now, you should have all the information you need to take that leap into becoming a lifelong learner. However, if you are still uncertain about committing to any program, make sure to talk to adult education experts in your area. They can help streamline the process even further and steer you toward the right decision. For more information, contact NKU PACE or a similar organization.