This post is the latest from my blog, jakeyoumell.tumblr.com:
Since graduating from Boston University in 2006, I’ve looked into a number of post-graduate options to diversify my experiences. Hopefully, one day, I would extend my professional opportunities with a post-graduate degree. I would learn new things that interest me, meet new people, and breathe new life into my job. At very least, I would grow from the experience.
It’s been six years since I moved off of Commonwealth Avenue and into the post-graduate world. Six years ago, I would have told you: “of course I’ll have a graduate degree in six years. I finished my undergraduate in four!” Well, it’s six years later, and I can
tell you that I’ve had extraordinary professional opportunities: I’ve worked for Google and two fantastic schools. In that time, I’ve been consistently exposed to a world of possibility, professional growth, and personal growth. I can’t
tell you that I have a post-graduate degree, though. Recently, I’ve struggled with answering the question I might have asked the future Jake six years ago: “why not?”
At the crux of this internal dialogue, I’ve re-figured paying off graduate debt, how to fit a pre-packed graduate curriculum into my schedule, and the benefits of distance/online learning to live classroom instruction. I’ve imagined (and re-imagined) myself in dozens of graduate programs through countless institutions. I didn’t stop there, either: I’ve drawn up personal business plans with each of these options (what an education will provide, where it will take my career, and how to pay for it). In fact, I have a few Google Docs spreadsheets devoted to these topics, so I can look back fondly on my momentary panic. I’ll label them “planning for a quarter life crisis” to keep my soap opera organized in digital format.
As I’ve attempted to shoehorn my professional and educational growth into spreadsheets, MIT
has announced an online learning platform to “allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx” (via http://goo.gl/vtzjE
), founded by Google Fellow and ex-Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrun, will provide users (he hopes for 500,000 students for his first two classes to start this month) the chance to learn Computer Science from a world-class platform, and with high-profile faculty. Coursera,
through Stanford, will also offer a suite of classes beginning this month. In their own words, Coursera is “committed to making the best education in the world freely available to any person who seeks it. We envision people throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries, using our platform to get access to world-leading education that has so far been available only to a tiny few.”
This month, I’ll dive into (at least one) of the courses through Udacity or Coursera. Many have questioned the motivation behind these systems, but I’m just thrilled they exist. Enrolling is easier than signing up for an email account. I’ll trade a few evenings of calculating my student debt-to-income ratio, and take the CS 101 class that I’ve always wanted to take instead.
Six years ago, did you imagine that you’d be able to take classes through the world’s most prestigious institutions (as Coursera puts it, “that has so far been available only to a tiny few”)
in 2012, for free?
I didn’t… but sometimes, it’s good to be proven wrong.