Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Five Ways to Get Educated Outside the Classroom

by Katherine Gotthardt and Rosemary McDowell

The road to becoming educated is often a winding one that can feel more like a lonely path. Along the journey, we get discouraged, feeling like there is only one way to get things done, one way to learn and one way to progress. These are myths. The paths towards learning are varied, and they include these five.

1. The Internet

The Internet is a revolutionary tool that has redefined the way we think about learning. Reading professional blogs, watching educational videos and taking free online classes are all ways to educate yourself. But besides reading words from the experts, you can revel in new information through TED talks and whole courses available through Academic Earth.

2. Seminars and Workshops

Some of the best education comes from successful people who are not only mentors but teachers and dynamic speakers. For example, Bill Walsh, CEO/Founder of Business Coaching/Venture Capital firm Powerteam International, hosts and speaks at events all over the world. His goal is to empower entrepreneurs and business owners and help individuals understand specifically what it takes to build successful companies.

3. Experience

It’s said there’s no replacement for experience, and you can get it outside the classroom by traveling and volunteering. Through travel, you can experience not only new places but new ideas. Via volunteering, you can learn useful skills and gain insight. You can do both by becoming a VolunTourist.

4. Observation

By closely watching the actions of successful people, we can learn not only what they do that makes them successful, but how we can integrate their techniques into our own lives. For example, we might study the body language of leaders. According to Forbes, “The effective use of body language plays a key role in effective leadership communication.” Studying aspects of a person, like his or her body language, not only helps us learn but can enhance our image as professionals.

5. Mentoring

A mentor can be defined as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher,” and/or “an influential senior sponsor or supporter.” Partnering with someone who already has experience is a great way to learn. When we connect with other professionals, we are able to get personalized advice and insight. And many professionals are eager to teach others what they know, especially if they received good mentoring themselves.

It is crucial for every professional to continue education even after secondary and postsecondary schooling. But learning doesn’t necessarily have to mean sitting in the traditional classroom. We encourage you to forge your own path. If you do, be sure to share your success stories with others.


Rosemary McDowell is a successful entrepreneur and business strategist with over 25 years’ experience in government and industry. Learn more at
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