Ever considered taking your education and running with it, perhaps literally? Wondering how you can make the world your classroom and still walk away with a degree that future employers won’t turn their noses up at? “Worldschooling," “road-schooling," and “un-schooling" are becoming more and more popular among those looking for an out-of-the-box education. But there’s no reason to stick to the misconception that these options are only available for kids and high-schoolers. Education is something we should all pursue. Whether you’re a parent interested in giving your kids hands-on interactive educational opportunities, a high school graduate itching to take a gap year, or a university student who isn’t quite ready to settle down for 4+ more years of traditional schooling, there are a few universal education hacks that will allow you to craft the plan that suits you best.
First, ditch the idea that you need to be doing what everyone else is doing in order to have a “real" education.
No, exploring other methods won’t hurt you (or your career). In fact, they may just land you a job, in a day and age where businesses are globalizing and employers are looking for workers who know their way around travel. No, you won’t suffer socially for doing your own thing. The reality is that you’ll probably make more friends and talk with more people than you usually do at home. Yes, you will still be able to succeed in university. Universities are looking for students with international experience. Plus, the self-motivation and time management skills you learn from pursuing school on the road will serve you well in a university setting. Yes, most people learn just as well outside of a traditional classroom as they do in one. As any teacher will tell you, there is no one “right" way to learn. Methods of teaching vary widely depending on the student’s learning style. Education is highly personal, and who’s to say that what others are doing will suit you? Before you can effectively take your learning on the road, you need to trust yourself to make the decisions that are best for you, regardless of the influence of others. You should always feel in control of your own learning process.
Next, do your research, and look for online resources.
You’d be amazed at how many resources and how much information is out there for free. If you have a laptop, you have everything you need, right there at your fingertips. While many people use the internet for connecting with their peers and YouTubing cute animal videos, you could potentially use it to teach yourself the basics of computing or economics, learn to play a new instrument, or add a new language to your list of skills. Resources like Duolingo, Khan Academy, or OpenLearn offer free courses on a wide range of topics. Or, if you’re looking to pursue a degree, do some research to discover which universities offer your degree either partially or fully online. Access to a computer and internet allows you to take classes from anywhere in the world, freeing up hundreds of travel and work possibilities.
In the early stages of your planning, before you set off to explore the world and take your education (formal or not) with you, you’ll want to find a mentor. Speaking from experience, this is perhaps the single most important part of transitioning to school on the road. Your mentor can be anyone: a friend, a family member, a partner, even a work connection. It’s vital, however, that you pick someone you respect and can have a frank conversation with. Your mentor should be someone who you’re comfortable with taking critique from, someone who knows you well and will offer advice that will be useful to you, and someone who is good at keeping up with you over a distance. It’s best if your mentor has some experience with pursuing an education on the road, but this isn’t necessary. A mentor is there to help you brainstorm, to hold you to the deadlines you set for yourself, to celebrate your successes and help you to find solutions to your problems. He or she will be the most valuable asset you have while tackling managing your own learning process!
Perhaps with the help of your mentor, you’ll need to learn to manage your own education.
This would seem an obvious point, but many people are not used to being in control of their own educations. In fact, the majority of students today have never had to singlehandedly choose topics of interest to explore, find their own resources, sign up for classes, and follow through by doing the work without a teacher or parent there to help manage their time. Even in university, students have their peers and professors to rely on for motivation. It is almost always a learning curve when a student transitions to entirely self-motivated learning, and one that does keep some students from even beginning to attempt it. But it’s far from impossible, and the self-motivation and time management skills students learn when balancing travel and school on their own will stay with them for the rest of their lives. These skills prove extremely useful in a professional environment in later years.
Lastly, search out learning opportunities around you. In order to truly “make the world your classroom," you will need to actively work to see the world from a different perspective. Truly, there are learning opportunities all around us, no matter where we are in the world. Try inviting travelers, professionals, musicians, and locals over for dinner just to listen to their stories and learn from their life experiences. Seek out museums, festivals, markets, and areas of historical significance to visit. Wander both near and far while making a conscious effort to see into the world around you, listen to stories, taste foreign local foods, listen to new styles of music, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or take chances. Ultimately, the best education hack out there for those who wish to learn on the road is this: be intentional about the way you pursue your education. Seek it out, every day, and commit to it. Make decisions you know you’ll be able to follow up on. Trust yourself to know best what your learning style is, and have confidence in your ability to self-motivate. Reading this article is just the first step. If you’ve found Noodle, you already have access to a world of resources. The freedom to customize your own education is there at your fingertips. What are you waiting for?