In a recent MCEO Lifestyle blog post, Bree Kelley wrote a fantastic piece about life transitions from the perspective of a recent college graduate. In the article, Bree addressed several topics that are still relevant to a not so recent graduate like me.
Transitioning through the phases of life is rarely straightforward, and the experience can often be riddled with stress and anxiety. Much of this anxiety is produced by an unsubstantiated fear of being inadequate. In other words, we tell ourselves that we are not good enough, smart enough, qualified, to make the transition.
You get the picture.
For whatever reason, I have experienced this phenomenon several times throughout my professional career – both personally and with the staff that was under my leadership. Even after receiving my encouragement, I have had my direct reports shy away from promotion opportunities because they were convinced that they were unworthy of the position. Sadly, these folks often felt unqualified because they did not have the elusive piece of paper that accompanies a Master’s degree.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a Master’s degree, and I’m not diminishing the amount of work that goes into earning that piece of paper. What I am questioning is the weight that society places on higher education, and the ill-conceived notion that people are not qualified to do something unless they have the right diploma hanging on their wall.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking.
There will always be a need for higher levels of learning, and there are some fields where credentials are crucial. Naturally, when it comes to medicine, we all want a doctor that comes highly qualified. I would never choose a pediatrician for my kids that was not licensed to practice medicine, but I don’t really care if my inbound marketing specialist has a master’s degree specializing in that particular field of marketing. Just because someone lacks a specific degree, doesn’t necessarily make them unqualified for a job.
We will soon experience a major paradigm shift with regards to education because there are some major disruptions taking place. No longer will learners be required to attend classes on campus and pay enormous sums of money to receive a high-quality education from the world’s top experts. This new form of education will provide more access to knowledge, which will hopefully empower the students to take on new challenges in life.
The disruptions mentioned above come in many shapes and sizes, and I want to call your attention to one subset: Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for short, are free online courses offered by some of the world’s top colleges and universities. Typically, MOOCs are free, and some have the option for students to earn a verified certificate, which comes with a nominal fee. Since the classes are facilitated through an online learning portal, there is usually not a limit on the number of students that can enroll in each class.
Hence their massiveness.
My first MOOC experience occurred when I enrolled in an introduction to entrepreneurship course offered by MIT via the EdX platform. Enrolling in this course allowed me to glean valuable insight from Disciplined Entrepreneurship expert, Bill Aulet. The knowledge I acquired through taking this course has continued to influence how I make decisions on a daily basis.
Here are several reasons why I encourage you to enroll in a massive open online course:
Humans have an innate desire to learn. There is something invigorating about learning a new subject, and I think our current educational paradigm has skewed how we value this experience. Learning new subjects should not always be a means to end; it should be an end in and of itself. MOOCs now make it easy to consume a diverse array of information on our own time without the fear of investing a substantial amount of money into the experience. Enrolling in a MOOC for sheer enjoyment is a magical thing, and something I highly recommend.
Although I just challenged our current educational paradigm, it does not negate the fact that professional development is a vital component to career advancement. Professionals must continual educate themselves on their industry’s best practices so then can remain relevant in their field. Depending on the industry, MOOCs can provide a great array of professional development resources.
Fear of being inadequate or unknowledgeable is no longer a viable excuse for not pursuing your calling. With the availability and accessibility of MOOCs, there are a plethora of opportunities to explore new career paths without taking on unnecessary financial risk financial stability or your current way of life.
As stated above, MOOCs are only one subset of entities disrupting the educational space. Educational innovators are changing the status quo, and providing folks with knowledge that can be used to make life’s transitions less anxiety provoking.
Please visit the EdX and Coursera websites to learn more about their course offerings and the colleges and universities that they partner with. Chances are you will be overwhelmed by the amount of available courses, and I recommend that you take it slow. Sign up for a course that interests you, and do as much or as little as you want.
Feel free to connect with me on Twitter to let me know how your experience is going. You never know, we might be enrolled in the same course.