I’ve had several guest posts about the subject of women’s education. I feel it’s important for women to be prepared for careers, whether they intend to work for pay or not. But, as Tiffany points out, education doesn’t always have to mean a nice, expensive piece of paper from a four-year institution.
Some jobs, to be sure, require a degree. And some don’t. Some require skills. Some just require experience. And some require some combination of these.
There are many reasons that conventional, full-time school doesn’t work for everyone.
- Family responsibilities
- Financial constraints
- Interest in other pursuits
- Learning disabilities
- Preference for non-academic careers
1. Read. I love Tiffany’s first idea, probably because I’m a library rat. I’m currently reading about global and national poverty problems and solutions, just because I’m interested (and because I have an overactive conscience). But I’ve read about many different topics, and I believe my understanding of the world is both deeper and broader than it was when I was in school.
2. Research. You can also do this at the library, of course, but sometimes you can find quicker answers online. Google, how did we ever live without thee? Example: I used to have an Etsy store. I got a message asking me if I knew how to make a custom item (I think it was a duvet cover). I had no clue, so I looked it up. I figured I could handle the instructions. “Sure!” I told my prospective customer…
3. Just start. Tiffany’s point about homemaking skills can be expanded to include just about any skill. Sometimes, if you want to learn something, the best way is to jump in, get your hands dirty, and keep on trying until you get it right. I like to read inspirational stories about people who start businesses or non-profits from nothing, and they invariably mention a “steep learning curve”. I once read a story in Newsweek (and I can’t find a link, so maybe Google isn’t so great after all) about kids who learned about physics by completing a detailed assignment to find the best kind of windows for their school library. They learned better because they had to do it themselves instead of just reading about how to do it. Here’s a link to some similar, collaborative types of problem solving in schools.
4. Attend classes. These don’t have to be formal college classes, although they can be. Communities offer local classes on a variety of topics, as do trade schools. You can find classes in stores such as home improvement or craft stores. Your ward or stake might be hosting a class on, say, emergency preparedness. You can take classes online—many schools offer independent study programs, and there are also commercial classes available on many different topics. You can usually find a way to take classes on evenings, weekends, or on your own time.
5. Teach others. If you have to tell somebody else what you’ve learned, you’ll know your material so much better. Teaching forces you to look at your material in ways you hadn’t considered in order to meet the needs of everyone in your class.
6. Get experience. Many jobs offer training programs. And, less formally, you can learn new skills on the job just by asking someone to show you what they do and volunteering to try new things. Non-career opportunities can do the same thing. Parenting can teach you about conflict resolution. Volunteering can give you an opportunity to supervise your peers or to organize large events.
7. Ask for help. I’ve been amazed at the number of times I didn’t know something, and I put the question out on Facebook, and within a few hours, I had a dozen answers on my page. As an example, I know now how to convert sound files into other formats so I can post flute concerts online. One of the many advantages of both in-person and social networking is that someone you know probably possesses skills and knowledge you lack. And they might even be willing to share.
So if you aren’t going back to school any time soon but you want to update your skills and knowledge, don’t despair. You have plenty of options.