Continuing Education

As I continued listening to Joel Kurtzman’s book Unleashing the Second American Century…, an interesting thing happened.  He began explaining a process that I was actively and consciously doing on my own.  His explanation gave me confidence to explain it you.

The classic discussion about student loans and the cost of student tuition has been exhausted by the press, albeit little has been done directly to correct the issue.  Plenty of my friends have deferred their student loans and others have flat out confessed that they do not plan to pay them back — ever.

According to the book, one of the answers could be to enhance one’s productivity.  The problem always lies in how to define productivity…

Another option is for a wealth transfer to take place from the older generations (supposedly unproductive) to the newer generations (supposedly productive).  Increasing rates of inflation can also do this indirectly, as long as interest rates on student loans remain fixed.

The repayment of the initial loans is only one part of the problem.  Today one has to continuously learn new information and then incorporate that knowledge to become more efficient and productive.  In other terms, workers of the 21st century need to continue to learn for their entire lives.  This is a major paradigm shift from the expectations established for education 20-30 years ago.

Traditionally, working adults could take certificate programs at community or local colleges.  They themselves or their companies could pay for this education in the hopes that this knowledge would make them sharper or more efficient at their jobs.

Today we have more options.  Kurtzman speaks of these in his discussion about “nooks”.  Websites such as and offer modules to full programs on an array of subjects.  Some sites such as can range from $25-37.50 monthly… for as many modules are you can complete.  Other sites such as are initially free.  I can listen to a professor discuss Financial Engineering from Columbia University or R Programming from John Hopkins University.  If I really need a certificate to verify I took all the quizzes and “passed” the course, I could pay another $50.

Unfortunately, many of the employers still conceive education as what “it once was” versus “what it is now”.  A degree from a good undergraduate university without any additional supplemental education over the years becomes worthless in practice.  With limited options, my generation has to find creative ways to improve themselves without necessarily assuming $100,000+ in loans from graduate institutions.  The chore of selling oneself is shifted to us, the prospective employee.  The degree is no longer enough.

All of these ideas about self-motivation sound great in theory.  Previously I thought the high rates of attrition for online courses were due to the lack of financial investment.  However this does not make much sense.  Do I really have to spend $1,000 or more per credit just to value the education?  I don’t think so.

Community colleges offer another alternative.  Credits are normally at least $100+, but they keep students committed.  You have to buy the books, drive to class, maybe interact with your classmates, etc.  This also does not make sense.  There is a lot of wasted time that could have been spent delving deeper into the material.

I was listening to André Valongueiro and his program Mude.Nu for a program to transform your life in six months.  I realized something revolutionary.  Apart from becoming so focused on goals that I become unbalanced, I realized I was also making another mistake.  I was making one of the five major errors.  Eu estava acreditando demais na força de vontade.  I was believing that my desire and willpower alone would triumph at all times.  This assumed that I would not ever get lazy or that obstacles would not enter my path.

The way to make “nooks”, modules, or online courses successful was to create an encouraging environment in the least expensive way.  This environment would continuously feed the desire and willpower to accomplish a goal.  How to create the right environment?  This is a discussion in itself.  The solution lies in what you eat, who you associate with, how clean your room is, etc. etc.


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