After 11 months and 26 days, I managed to finish the last project and exam for the MIT Challenge. That makes 33 classes for which I passed the final exams and did the programming projects.
As I share in the video, I’ve learned a lot in the last year. But more than just my learning, I want to encourage other people to start their own self-education projects. Here’s three things that made my challenge possible, and can help you if you’re considering your own quest:
- Create an exciting, but specific, mission. I couldn’t have learned the content of this challenge if I hadn’t wrapped it into a compelling mission. Even calling it the “MIT Challenge” helped me make the goal more specific and real. Too many self-education quests begin as vague ideas and fall apart without any constraints.
- Build a curriculum or find one. For small projects, taking an individual course will do. For bigger ones, try creating an actual curriculum. MIT (and other universities) offer many free courses, and also have outlines of their undergraduate and graduate programs. Having a preexisting curriculum forced me to be consistent and not avoid topics just because they were hard.
- Be public in your quest. Self-ed has a harder time obtaining legitimacy, in part, because nobody holds you accountable to that. Being public about my challenge made me accountable and gave me discipline I wouldn’t have had in a private quest. Consider starting a blog about your mission, even if you do it anonymously.
So what’s next?
In the long-term, I’d like to start working on interesting programming projects and I’d like to become more proficient with Ruby on Rails. I’d also like to learn more about AI, a topic I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of, and finally have the tools to learn in-depth.
But for right now I’m going to take a much-needed vacation. I’ll be living in Paris for the next month, speaking French and probably drinking too much wine.
Thanks to everyone who followed me this last year, and put up with the somewhat less frequent blog articles and the borderline narcissism of writing about myself all the time. All I hope is that being public about this goal has encouraged a few people to consider taking the leap into their own self-education project!