Monthly Archives: August 2011

Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

27 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

Part one of “Rethinking Education” is a starting point meant to show you just some of what’s available online in terms of free educational opportunities.

This follow-up focuses on the planning and action phase, and one very important factor to consider is this: you need a new approach to getting and continuing your education, wherever you decide to take it.

  • You need a degree to get to the next level in your organization, but you’re already working full-time.
  • You need a degree, but you’re not sure which one would really help.
  • You have a degree, and it’s not paying off the way you thought it would, so you want to get another one.

A) Rethinking Education

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Einstein

Rethinking in this context is not to rehash, but to look at the issue from another level. Assuming you’ve gone through basic elementary schooling, however long ago, you have to understand that the way you learned things then is different from the way you’re expected to do things now. The old systems can’t handle the demands of the emergent new reality. You can’t exclusive rely on old methods of learning when you’re expected to adapt to the changes facing you now.

Many brick-and-mortar schools are accused of inflating the employment rate of their graduates to attract more students. Online schools, on the other hand, still have to battle the image of being diploma mills, studying “online” not being seen as serious as “actually going to college.” Education is in a slow state of flux, and while it’s changing, we still have to figure out what we want to learn while the old rules are breaking down. Continue reading Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

Free Classes Online! (Or, Rethinking Education)

20 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

We’re all going through some really hard times right now. What with the current economy and the job market being flooded, it’s hit and-and-miss-miss-miss when you send out resumes or answer want ads. People are expected to do more work for longer hours at whatever pay they can negotiate for, and nobody can help it, it is what it is.

An article in the New York Times states that an M.A is the new bachelor’s degree. Ph.D’s, M.A’s and B.A holders are competing fiercely over available positions and job openings, and even when you get a foot in the door, you can be turned down for being over-qualified for one job and yet not be qualified enough at another.

What do you do?
For those who can still afford to, one tactic is to go back to school –or stay in school longer — to A) Wait out the flooded job market while getting their degrees or B) Train in another field and get more marketable skills

First Issue: Student loans…

Which lead to the second issue: Little to no money to spare.
If you’re already burdened with any kind of financial obligation, the thought of adding more to it is unthinkable. The phrase “buried in debt” is only the tip of the iceberg.

Hard times do ease up, however, and while you can’t predict the future, you still decide your own fate. You do what you can to keep going, and if that means going for more education, you still have options. Here are some articles to get you thinking about how to approach the issue. They all have numerous links to schools and universities that offer on-line courses, many for free.

Note from the source: “OEDb currently contains reviews of 1,024 programs from 83 accredited online colleges. […] our database only lists accredited online colleges so that you can be sure that these degrees will be respected by potential employers. Our database allows you to sort reviews by program, college, or degree level.”

A side-issue: Little to no time
Many reputable schools and universities have their own version of free online courses (YMMV, of course, check the LifeHacker link). But, as always, TANSTAAFL. In everything you do, you get what you put in. You want an education, and whether it’s free or as cheap as you can get it, you still have to make the time to actually study. No excuses.

You can also get college credits for what you already know. CLEP accreditation ( CLEP stands for College-level Examination Program) is one way of getting accreditation for skills and talents you’re already practicing. Fluent in a second language? Already working? Looking to shift fields? You would be one of many who choose to leverage life experience into educational advancement.

What I hope you take away with from this article is this: You are more than the circumstances in your life and you don’t have to let them define you.

If you’re unsure — you can’t, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the time, etc — then take the time to sit down and think, really think, about the choices you still can make to better yourself, if not change your situation (yet, anyway).

You’re not powerless.

Or worthless.

Assess your situation, see what needs to be done to make it better, and take a good look at the activities that are pulling you down.

Still here?

So, you want to go back to school. What do you want to walk away with? Do you want to save money? Increase your hire-ability by a skills-upgrade? You want to follow your passion?

If all you want is to save money you don’t have to have go back to school to do it. You can just polish your skill-set in the areas of your life where you can save a buck. For example , TooTiredTeacher has a few easy recipes up on YouTube, and she’s just one of many, many people who freely share cooking lessons. Taper off the take-out, learn to cook, and you can save money.

You can also look into acquiring more handy skills like changing the washer in a faucet, or fixing leaks. Check this out: Types of Skills Everyone Should Know (Popular Mechanics).


Passion is great, but it’s not a guarantee you can pay the bills. Cal Newport has quite a few things to say about passion at his blog, StudyHacks. says it best: Formal education is not sustainable for a lifetime, but lifetime learning is essential for surviving today’s volatile job market and tomorrow’s long period of “retirement.”

Go visit the links, read on a bit about how other people are dealing with the situation, and in part two we’ll discuss what practical steps you can take to get the learning you’re after.

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(Relearning) How To Prioritize

13 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

(Early hint: You think big, and act small.)

Life isn’t just about putting out fires, saving the day, and checking off lists. It’s not about racing at the treadmill or around the office. It’s about finding out who you are and what you’ve got to leave this world. It’s about finding meaning in what you do.

And if you can’t find it, you make it.

You have to have something to show for what you did — and are doing. Something that means you’re here, and that your life has an impact on those around you. That you are leading your life in pursuit (or discovery) of something: meaning, purpose, relevance, what have you.

  • An improved social condition, a good grade, a degree, a circle of good friends.
  • A clutter-free house, for the most part, a restful haven from the pressure and speed of the outside world.
  • A child who can now write all her lower-case letters clearly and knows how to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome.’
  • More limber hamstrings, knees that don’t complain, a back that doesn’t threaten to give out, an all-clear from the doctor regarding your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Less anxiety over money matters, bolstered by an actual, working system to handle emergencies, with a good financial cushion in place.
  • A healthy relationship with your loved ones. A graceful, grateful, humor-filled self-acceptance of who you are and who you’re not.

It’s a sure thing that you have your own goals and dreams in hand, and you’ve done a lot of things — a lot — to make these goals and dreams come true, so…what did you accomplish today, and what are you working on tomorrow? Continue reading (Relearning) How To Prioritize

You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play

06 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

“100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in.”
Wayne Gretsky

Simple, isn’t it? You can’t win if you don’t play. Seven words of one syllable each. The action lies in the words ‘win’ and ‘play. Let’s break them down.

Everybody wants to win. To win is to make it. To win is to hit it big. To win is to be popular. To win is to matter. Play, on the other hand, gets something of a different spin in this context. You want to win? Play hard. Be aggressive. Give it all you got, and then some. Hoo-rah!

Now step back and dial it down a bit. Let’s go use “win by playing” with “showing up for the game.” With that, the sentence changes: You can’t win if you don’t play. And you can’t play if you don’t show up.

The simple truth is that showing up doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to win, but it certainly ups your chances when show up and you get in the game. Will you allow the specter of not-winning stop you from getting out there and giving it what you’ve got? Wait, don’t answer that yet.

The rarely mentioned fear hovering in the background is: You have something. Time, youth, energy…something. And it’s an exhaustible supply. When it runs out — pfft! No more. All out. Dead end. You don’t want to lose it, that hurts. And you might need it again, so you hold on.

So you’re careful, or careless, as the case may be in your youthful days…but as experiences teaches you to be more circumspect with what you do, and be more careful with what you have, it can also cause you to latch onto things that, well, really can’t stay with you no matter how much you try.

Think about it. Money? Taxes, or a financial downturn. A sudden illness that never quite goes away, or an accident nobody could ever have expected. (Which also covers the issue of health as well.) Youthfulness on the outside can only last for so long, and then you start looking like you escaped from Madame Tussauds on a summer day.

Time? You run around with GTD lists , use GTD techniques and pay other people to do things for you you don’t have the time to do yourself…and the time you saved still can’t be carried over the next day, or pooled together at the end of the month and spent at a nice beach somewhere. Dammit.

And even if you ‘save it up for later’…you still die. Morbid, but true — and an undeniable kick-ass reminder: What are you saving it up for? More importantly, what are you holding back for? You only have one life — it’s not like you can hit a cosmic rewind button, you know. You can’t edit or splices-over anything, except in your own mind, and too much of that has its own consequences.

So, to rephrase the earlier question: Will you let your fears dictate how you live your life? Continue reading You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play