The MIT Challenge is Complete

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

  • Dylan

    Wow. Congrats, Scott – that’s quite an achievement. Makes me want to tell my CS professors to pick up the pace! Enjoy your well-deserved vacation.

  • Andrew

    Congratulations Scott, I have been following your work over the last year or so and am thoroughly impressed at the level of commitment to finish the entire course on schedule!

    I am interested in two areas; what is the best way to find different course material, and what are some tips for maximising efficiency when studying course material.


  • James Coombs

    Hi Scott! Congratulations!

    I’ve been following you over the past year, wondering if you were going to complete and you have! You must feel awesome.

    I totally agree with your structure for self education. I think the hardest part is finding or building the curriculum for what you want to learn. Both you and I have been lucky in that what we wanted to learn had a pre-constructed course to follow (67 books into the Personal MBA here). But I’m already planning my next adventure after this one and many of the subjects that I want to tackle will have to have a self researched curriculum.

    Solving the problem of not knowing what you don’t know is tricky…

    My current method is to find several very general books and try to create a knowledge map for the subject. Can be a challenge when understanding sometimes doesn’t directly come from the subject area being researched (think business students studying psychology).

    I’ll be interested to see what you’ll dream for your next challenge.

    Enjoy Paris!

    – James

  • Michael A. Robson (required)

    Félicitations!! 😉 Votre rigueur est tellement inspirationale! Je vous souhaite des vacances joyeuses! Huhu!

  • Marshall Jones Jr.


  • alex

    Great to see that you made it. You are an inspiration to me, and hopefully to many people. Let’s hope your project and others like it help change the concept of higher education for the better.

  • Josh Kaufman

    Congratulations, Scott – such a great accomplishment!

  • paurullan

    Congratulations 😀

  • Paul

    Well done Mate!

  • Akshay

    Congratulations!! You are an inspiration

  • Pudge Reyem

    Congrats! Nicely done, and thanks for sharing!

  • joker

    Bravo à Toi Scott !
    Tu mérite bien un bon mois de vacance, c’est clair 🙂
    J’ai hâte de suivre la suite de tes projets.

    de l’est de la France 😛

  • Aatash Parikh

    That’s so awesome Scott, congratulations. Here I am starting my 3rd year at Berkeley and within a year you’ve studied everything I have been for the past 2 years and plan to for next 2. I plan to apply some of the strategies you’ve talked about with my education both in and out school. (In fact, I already have been and can completely relate with many of your findings and sentiments.)

  • Ismaïl

    Congratulations to you Scott! If you want to talk about philosophy or entrepreneurship, en français dans le texte, feel free to contact me during your stay in Paris.

  • Sara

    Great stuff!

  • Theron Cross (@torquedu)

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve learned for the past year. You’ve got a great message.

  • Jim R

    Way to go Scott! Post from Paris, a city I’d love to see.

  • Adam Isom

    Congratulations! I remember reading about his when it was announced… Wow.

  • Diyana

    Congrats, glad to hear you’ve completed! Your talents, enthusiasm and sheer diligence are admirable. Appreciate your insights on what works for you in your self-education journey. Best wishes in life always! =)

  • Jonathan

    Way to go, Scott! You’re giving North Americans hope worldwide- Jonathan

  • Elias

    Congratulations on finishing the MIT challenge and inspiring self-education in us all!

  • Emma

    Congratulations, this a very impressive achievment!

    And thank you for you wonderful blog. I discovered it a few weeks ago and I am happy browsing your archives. I am an avid blog reader and follow many of them, but I think yours is by far the one that I know with the most useful, well-thought, clearly expressed advices on many topics.

    Emma, a reader from Paris -profite bien de ton séjour en France!

  • Aron

    Nicely done, Scott! Your achievement is very encouraging to witness, and I am going to use a similar self-learning framework to see if I can systematically improve my photography skills. I think you should have worn a cap and gown for this video just for formality sake.

  • Sandeep

    Great!!! You have pushed yourselves to the limit and have shown that the education today doesnot require us to attend college in person.Kudos.

  • Anagha

    Congrats 🙂 scott u inspire us to give n get more in life .congrats again 🙂

  • SanSe

    Unlike others out there, the way you practically implement your methodologies is truly inspirational! Congratulations and All the best!

  • Danuja

    Congrats Scott, you have inspired me as always!!

  • Mads Singers

    Outstanding work, I admire your passion and effort in this 😉

    Kind Regards

  • Samir

    Congratulations, Scott. You are truly an inspiration! Enjoy your well deserved break!

  • Sandeep

    Congrats Buddy..

  • Tabatha

    Congratulations ! You just inspired me to challenge myself! Thanks!

  • Peter

    Fantastic! A pioneer. Congratulations! This has been so inspiring to me throughout, and the fact that you’ve completed it(& on time!) just tops it off.

    The resources you have organised in the MIT challenge section will also be a huge help to anyone else looking to undertake something similar. (hopefully me, in the near future!)

  • Clem Nickel

    Well done Scott — what an achievement. But listen dude, you look tired: have a few days off (and a few beers, if that’s your bag)! You’ve earnt it!

  • James

    I blogged about this after seeing it posted on /r/videos, and I just thought I’d drop by to say, like most others, that this is an inspiration, and congratulations for completing it.

  • Alex

    ¡Congratulations man! Now I’d like to know which of the LoS techniques were the more useful in this project.

  • Timothy

    NICENICENICE!! I’m attempting something like this as well but didn’t know it could be done so quickly! Also, having the specific goal is key and that has been my problem in staying focused. There is just so much information out there that it gets kind of daunting… a feeling that I want it all in my head RIGHT NOW and that you know it’s not gonna happen. Well, I’m going to peruse your website and get started tonight. Thanks Scott, for the boost in confidence. Good luck on your next endeavor.

  • dave

    I have a friend who graduated MIT with a degree in CS. He was basically kicked out with a degree, but no one ever asks to see his transcripts. He might be a millionaire, but I don’t know how much of it goes up his nose. It’s great that you have the experience of an MIT degree, but the point of going to Ivy League places is to meet and greet.

    You’ll still be able to find work especially during the 2nd dotcom boom right now. Good luck!

  • Emma


    OUt of curiosity, why didn’t you approve my previous comment on this post? It was certainly not especially interesting or well, anything in fact, but I really do not understand why you removed it.

    Edit from Scott: I have to moderate all new comments, and I’m often not the fastest to keep up with them!

  • Scott Young

    Thanks to everyone who followed the challenge for the past year and responded here. I’m sorry if it took me awhile to moderate some of the comments!

  • Anna

    Is there a website for recording commitments, progress etc? It’d be nice to have the group support.

  • Alain

    Selfish altruism : will take you to my favorite Pho (vietnamese soup) place in Paris if you’re still there. Free lunch/dinner and (french if you’d like) conversation. What do I get? Hopefully a few tips on my own challenge.

  • Curtis

    You publish your answers to the MIT test questions. Are you going to publish your notes for the courses you took? I’d be interested in seeing what the Feynman technique applied to all the classes.

  • Scott Young


    Possibly, but there are thousands of pages of notes so I’ll probably upload them more selectively.


  • Joe

    Hello Scott,

    Congratulations on your wonderful achievement!

    I felt inspire to complete a module from the Cambridge Mathematics part III course (normally an 8 week course) in half the time or even less! You may not know this but the part III is notorious for being difficult. It separates those who are good in Mathematics from those who are great in Mathematics. Simple

  • Mister

    Yeah I’m planning an “MIT Challenge” like tomorrow, it’s sort of a last resort I was avoiding.

    I tried putting internet blockers (Stayfocusd & Webfilter) and stuff but then my self discipline blew up and I’ve wasted so much time on online game and youtube.


  • Mister

    In case you’re interested, I’ve compiled Scott’s MIT Challenge comments (and notes I made from his videos) from all over youtube (plus some bonus notes), you can get them for free here:

    I link to that file from my blog, too

  • Mister

    I changed my mind about making my own “MIT Challenge”. I had an ‘interview’ with someone so I learnt about doing research as a freshman/undergrad and as a Physics major. He gave me some useful, specific advice. After the ‘interview’, I learnt that I need to learn (self study)stuff like C++, mathlab, AutoCAD and labview and then, after or later on in my freshman year, do research.

  • Abhishek

    Hi Scott,
    I followed your videos from the beginning of the MIT challenge till the end of it.
    I would like to make friends with you not because you are intelligent and know a lot but because you are positive, motivated and an inspiration.

    In short I’m an engineer and struggling to get a job of my educational profile/ study for my masters.

    I’d like to know or share more if I hear from you.

    Regards and keep well,

  • Leo

    Hey Scott! Congratulations on finishing your challenge!
    I was wondering, have you ever tried taking a course on websites such as, Coursera or EdX? And if so, How did they go?

  • Ryan

    Where is the list of MIT courses you took for bs in computer science online? I looked for it on MIT’s website and couldn’t find it. You’re success at this is an inspiration that we can all learn on our own (with less cost) if we set our mind and heart to it .