The Value of Self-Education

Imagine, if you will, two people. One of them has just received a degree in Business Management from a prestigious university, the other dropped out the day before graduation. Both people went to the same school, had similar grades, and learned a comparable amount. Where’s the difference?

For one, the person with the degree will have an easier time showing others that they know something, but, as we saw earlier, the first individual knows as much as the other. Fundamentally, the only difference between the two is a piece of paper backed by the reputation of the prestigious university we mentioned earlier.

I touch on this subject to illustrate a larger point. In this day and age, with the cost of an education rising, is it really worth spending the money for that piece of paper? Between public libraries and the internet, you, as an individual, have access to just as many high-quality educational materials as the university student. If you’re passionate enough about the education itself, there isn’t really any reason that you wouldn’t be able to give yourself the same quality of education as the people paying for the piece of paper, right? With the exception, perhaps, of access to instructors and facilities being the only difference- and is that enough to justify such a cost?

I am a believer that the greatest teachers (and the best students) are those who find ways to make difficult material interesting, who turn a challenge into an opportunity, and who can fan the flame of curiosity that everyone has inside of them, somewhere. Unfortunately, far too many have that flame snuffed out somewhere in their years in the educational system. I still remember, as a child, watching myself become more apathetic and disinterested in school, year after year, until I finally resigned myself to doing the bare minimum and just skating by. Why should this be the case? Learning new things is fun, and every child is born knowing this.

Education shouldn’t be a chore completed under the duress of requirement, and it shouldn’t be a task for the attainment of the recognition of others. Education must be an end in itself- we learn best when we are curious, and we enjoy learning the most when it’s what we want to learn. Therefore, we should become our own teachers, and accept that we must also always be students, because the world has so much for us to learn.

Now, before you go and make some objections, here’s a list of some people who lacked a formal education. Maybe you know a few?


H.P. Lovecraft

Terry Pratchett

Herman Melville

Ernest Hemingway

Louis L’Amour

Ray Bradbury

Alan Moore


Frank Zappa

Hanz Zimmer

Danny Elfman

Arnold Schoenberg

Keith Moon

David Bowie

Jimi Hendrix

Kurt Cobain

Noel Gallagher

Django Reinhardt

Dave Grohl




Orson Welles

Stanley Kubrick

Quentin Tarantino

David Fincher

Christopher Nolan

James Cameron

Steven Spielberg

Kevin Smith


Frank Lloyd Wright

Gustave Eiffel

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Timothy L. Pflueger


Leonardo da Vinci

Thomas Edison

The Wright Brothers

Henry Ford


Charles Darwin

Michael Faraday

Buckminster Fuller

Steve Irwin


Sean Parker

Frederick Douglass

Booker T. Washington

Malcolm X

Julian Assange

Christopher Langan

Abraham Lincoln

Steve Jobs

What are you waiting for? Take responsibility for your self-education and get yourself on this list!

Note: I skimmed this Wikipedia page for the list. For a more comprehensive list, look here:

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