Blogging challenge: day twenty-eight

I am getting closer to withdrawing completely from my graphic design course. I’ve talked about this before, but the time has come to make a final decision once and for all. I need to choose my subjects for next semester in the next couple of days or withdraw completely from the degree.

It’s not that I’m not interested in graphic design any more. There’s nothing I like better than reading books and articles about design. I’m very aware that the way we design a product or service can have a profound effect on the way a service is used, and the effect it can have on individuals or the community. A well-designed product or website can frustrate users to the point of utter distraction, or it can improve and enhance people’s lives. A well designed brochure can make people want to come to your event or send a signal that the event is poorly planned and therefore likely to be a bit disorganised on the day.

The real reason that I am withdrawing from formal study is because my interest in the topic has increased, not decreased. I really don’t have the time or inclination to jump through hoops and do meaningless assignments. I’ve got too many books to read and too many things to learn about. I’ve come to the conclusion that since I’m a grown-up I think its time I took charge of my own learning and made a plan for the next 12 months.

It helps that I already have a significant number of formal qualifications and don’t really need any more qualifications to further my career. Also, I was kidding myself when I thought that a graphic design degree would enable me to start a new career. The reality is that I am not likely to be selected in a competitive job market (I’m too old) and I don’t have enough experience. I also already have a really good job that I quite enjoy and pays well, so I’m in a position where I can afford to learn new skills just because I want to and the internet makes this really easy.

Free online courses

There are lots of places that you can learn for free these days, especially if you are interested in web design or graphic design. I’ve known about Udemy for a while, but today I discovered that there are a heap of free courses here as well. There’s enough here to keep me going for months if not years. Unfortunately, not many of the writing courses are free, but some are quite cheap. Once you pay for the course, you get lifetime access, so you can learn at your own pace. You can also do a web search for discount vouchers and free offers, as these are offered quite regularly.

If you are interested in learning to code, I recommend Code Academy as a good place to start. If you’re interested in something less technology driven, you can trying searching for free courses on YouTube in just about any creative field that you can think of. Lots of stuff of YouTube is absolute rubbish, but there are some gems.

My ultimate message is… don’t just sit there, go out and learn something!

Are you investing in yourself?

The other day I had to make a big decision about whether or not to subscribe to Lynda.com. I’m sure you have probably heard of Lynda. It’s a subscription service where you can access tutorials on just about any aspect of computing, software development, and website design and development. It’s the place to go if you want to educate yourself.

What I didn’t know was that they also have a whole bunch of management courses and more. So at approximately $25 a month you can teach yourself just about anything, except perhaps brain surgery!

So you must be wondering why I had to think long and hard about this investment? I am lucky enough to have a job so it’s not as if I can’t afford it. Most people I know spend more than that on their mobile phone plan. One issue was whether or not I would actually use it as I am pretty busy most of the time, but really the main issue was whether or not I was prepared to invest in my future.

I can live and work and do most things perfectly well without constantly need to learn new things, and I read too much to get left too far behind on the technology front, but I like learning new things. I guess I am something of a self education junkie.

I know that we are constantly being told that we should invest in a new face cream or a hair dye because ‘we’re worth it’, and I hope I wasn’t just persuaded by the very compelling copywriting on the Lynda website, but I’ve signed up for at least the next month.

I really believe that investing in yourself is worthwhile. So yes, I am worth it. Are you investing yourself?