Could You Replicate Your Education For Free – PhD or Podcast?

Could You Replicate Your Education For Free – PhD or Podcast? post image

It’s been well over a year since Taylor Pearson’s book, The End of Jobs, was published. I thought of it this morning as I was replying to an email from a student seeking career advice.

The End of Jobs is not a guidebook, it’s more ‘a brief history of contemporary careers.’

Although Taylor doesn’t come right out and “say” what any given person should do, in the current tumultuous job market, the book “whispers” some options.

One is this: take your education into your own hands.

In the chapter “Ph.D. or podcast” he uses this blog as an example of a Ph.D./MBA substitute. I certainly didn’t think of it that way when it started, and I’m not suggesting it is that. But what would be the downside for young students to start a blog and treat it as if it were their Ph.D. or an MBA?

What if, in place of spending six years at a local university, you instead invested a few hundred dollars on Amazon and did your learning and publishing in public. And, importantly, what if you took it just as seriously?

Here’s the excerpt from Taylor’s book on my own decision regarding further education:

Dan Andrews had a passion for reading books and exploring interesting ideas. Leaving school, he faced the choice between going into business and entrepreneurship and going into academia as a PhD. Given those interests, most people would have advised him to get a PhD. Let’s look at the realities of those two paths.

A good scenario for a Philosophy PhD is investing seven to ten years in getting the degree. Because academia has become so competitive, Dan would have considered himself lucky to end up on a tenure track at a middle-of-the-road university.

If he did manage to land a tenure position, he would spend twenty hours per week teaching classes, twenty hours per week grading papers, and twenty hours per week managing administration. He wouldn’t get to start reading the books and exploring the ideas he got into academia for in the first place until sixty hours into his week.

Instead, Dan chose to go into business.

He now hosts a weekly podcast where he explores the ideas in books he’s read and uses them to help other entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Unlike a professor, he’s not playing politics to decide what he can or can’t publish. He has the freedom to explore the ideas he wants to in the way that he wants to, unburdened by internal politics.”

My experience may not be exactly the same as yours but, if you’re thinking about starting a career (or a career change), I recommend checking out The End of Jobs.

Can you think of blogs that could have been a Ph.D. project (or very similar)?

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Published on 09.27.16
  • Oh man, I definitely feel like I have a PhD with the amount of research and experimentation I’ve invested in my business. You don’t really realize this until you talk to someone who’s not as learned in some aspect that you’ve taken a deep dive into, and they are amazed, and it dawns on you how much knowledge and experience you’ve accumulated.

    About this part – “what if you took it just as seriously?” – do you think it takes a certain personality type, though? Because for a lot of people, the structure, cost, and social expectation of a degree program sort of forces them to get it done; it can sometimes be hard to generate that kind of internal motivation on your own (even for the most driven entreprenerus).

    BTW, I have a friend currently getting a Master’s in the area where I have built my business. They gave him “start a blog” as a homework assignment. But all that’s going to happen is he’ll learn the basics of WordPress setup; I doubt the curriculum will plumb the depths of content marketing strategy, lead cultivation, monetization, and the richness of the blogging area that you only get into if you’re doing it day in and day out.

    Great article!

  • thanks! Certainly if business ‘marketing degrees’ exist in 10 years they’ll be teaching what you’ve been doing the last 5. RE: master’s degree it’s funny as I see a lot of students get assignments that more or less mirror what the real thing is– so close but so far away kind of thing, so regarding the personality trait, even though your friend technically has structure, incentive, guidance, it’s not clear that those things are all that helpful. Perhaps it comes down very fundamentally to ‘what you want to do’ and in my experience, is that for most people in school, ‘what they want to do’ is ‘go to school’ not actually ‘start a business’ et all.

  • Kiri Masters

    Love this. And what about an emotional IQ Ph.D? Being an entrepreneur is like being in full time therapy – it’s emotionally taxing and makes you constantly question yourself. its also the definition of looking after yourself.

    Since becoming an entrepreneur I’ve been on the fast track in “growing up” interpersonally, emotionally, in planning for my future, and my relationship with my spouse who has been on the journey with me.

    Besides the intellectual growth I think entrepreneurship offers a lot of personal growth opportunities… I guess that’s why there is such a lot of overlap in those areas. Oh, and productivity hacking! :)

  • agree, that’s something Christopher was stressing a few weeks back: – partly because it can help add ‘stakes’ to interactions

  • I 100% agree, I graduated from a well known university naively thinking employers would be lining up and I would make that ideal $70k income guaranteeing happiness after graduation. That was not at all the case, pay was much lower than advertised and most positions were already filled yet the company was legally required to accept 100 applications wasting hours and hours of my time looking for work. The worst pain for me was the disconnect from going from a beautiful campus with friends and fun to florescent lights and cubicles (I literally cried when I realized this was the result of my naive and expensive education). Never go to school first, do an internship then if you must and have clear certainty that you are willing to spend 5 days a week doing this work, go to university (but you don’t have to!). The real learning started when I took initiative and started studying subjects that interested me like photography and programming. In 1 year I paid off my $25k student loan with an education I taught myself for free using youtube, library, blogs and podcasts. Before that I thought I would never be able to pay off my student loans and they had actually grown from when I graduated. When I look at my gf buying a $140 textbook that should retail for $25 at most at a normal bookstore I cringe, not to mention the lost opportunity cost of 2-4 years of time in a rather generic one size fits all environment. The one sticking point is for government jobs and super anal HR depts how does one prove they have an equivalent education. Honestly as an employer I would hands down take the person with initiative to take the task seriously over someone who needs the security of a university and being told what and when to do something. I also agree with @kirimasters:disqus the biggest most important lesson I have learned comes from within, personal development, emotional IQ, self confidence and healthy habits and relationships, those soft skills really matter and are now part of my daily process and growth.

  • “The worst pain for me was the disconnect from going from a beautiful campus with friends and fun to florescent lights and cubicles (I literally cried when I realized this was the result of my naive and expensive education).”

    Literally had the same experience. I think that’s part of the reason being a professor was such a big draw for me, I think I had a suspicion the ‘real’ world wasn’t for me but when it hit me in the cubicle it hit me hard.

  • Michał Stradomski

    This is similar:

  • Pedro

    Kind of late in the game here, catching up on old podcasts and blogs! I finished a master’s degree that I enjoyed and that I believed equipped me for my current job, which I love. Still, now I recognize that I could have received the same information for free and I currently provide links to all that info on my blog. I wouldn’t say that my masters was a mistake, but it’s not for everyone.

    Also, has a great blog that I follow.

    The first link is to my personal blog, I have no affiliation with No Pay MBA.

  • cheers :)

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