Apr 9, 2013
No Need to "Go" to College
Op-Ed: Without getting into why college is not a place for a frum Jew, a blogger explains why "going" to college is not a must for career-minded Lubavitchers.
By Elad Nehorai
There's this myth that I've been hearing about a lot recently: A person needs to go to college and has no chance of providing for him or her family without it.
I've heard this from a few Lubavitchers that I've met that have been looking for jobs and found their skills sorely lacking, and their resumes too short.
To be sure, this is an issue as the Rebbe emphasized the campus scene and liberal academic thinking is not an ideal place for a frum Jew. I do know this: Technically, no one needs to go to college to get a good job or to make money.
To be sure, if someone wants to become a doctor or a lawyer, the person will have to go to college and beyond. But, especially today, college is increasingly becoming less important.
Why? Because the world is changing. Changing faster than colleges have been able to cope with. The rise of the internet, of mobile technology, and more, has resulted in a world where the necessary skills for employment can be learned on one's own. All while not putting a person into debt or having to be in an unholy environment.
This article, then, is an attempt to just give you an idea of what's outside of college, and where you can go to gain important skills. Don't think of it as definitive, but it will hopefully be helpful.
Below, I'll be listing various professions that are in high demand whose skills can be gained almost exclusively through the internet.
It's fascinating that the Rebbe wanted to create programs in Crown Heights for people to look computer programming because today, more than ever, programming is in such high demand, and companies are so desperately looking for employees in this area, that a college degree is almost completely irrelevant in the search process. All that matters is skill.
Thankfully, there are a slew of incredible sites to learn this skill. Here are just a few:
Code School: For a more classroom-like learning environment Code School is great. They have video classes and more, and you can even learn how to build iPhone apps here, perhaps one of the most coveted skills of the new economy.
Treehouse: Treehouse is an incredible site that teaches you to, "Learn to build websites, create iPhone and Android apps, code with Ruby on Rails and PHP, or start a business." Yeah. Check it out.
Thanks to the advent of Photoshop, Illustrator, and other computer design tools, learning to be a designer has never been easier. Here are a few places you can learn from:
Tuts+: Tuts+ (short for Tutorials Plus) is perhaps one of the most comprehensive websites for learning creative skills with multiple sections full of articles, ebooks, and, more. Check out Psdtuts+ to learn how to use Photoshop, Vectortuts+ to learn how to use Illustrator, and Webdesigntuts+ to learn web design. There are many more areas within also, so make sure to do some exploring.
Smashing Magazine: Smashing Magazine is one of the best places to learn design (as well as coding, but it is known more for design). Like Tuts+, much of their content is free, and you can learn from beginner to advanced lessons.
Lynda: Lynda is really great for learning just about anything, but particularly design. It contains countless instruction videos for a variety of skills, and, if you're dedicated, can have a huge payoff.
There are a lot of frum people that I see that are very interested in getting into marketing. The only problem is, they assume that because they know how to use Facebook that they are now social media experts.
Here are a few tools that will take you from a user to an expert:
Reading and writing: Yeah, you heard me. If you want to be a marketer, especially online, you need to be a great writer. Being a great writer makes you an invaluable part of a team, and is the only way your marketing will ever be polished. And the only way to do that is to read and write a lot. Forget learning rules of grammar and all that: what really matters is learning how to make your writing flow and sound natural.
Copyblogger: The fastest growing form of online marketing these days, one that, if you learn, will keep you way ahead of most of your competition, is content marketing. Content marketing is essentially about creating valuable media to an audience that will eventually become customers. The best blog to learn this skill is Copyblogger. Their website is genius, and their work is informative. They also provide ebooks and online courses.
SEOmoz: Whether you want to only focus on SEO, or you want to do another form of marketing, SEO is an essential skill to learn as a marketer. And SEOmoz is the best place to learn this skill. Besides their invaluable blog, they also have a vibrant community of SEOs and an area specifically called "Learn SEO."
Distilled: Distilled, partners with SEOmoz, are one of the top online marketing firms, and their blog is a wellspring of essential information for anyone that wants to do online marketing.
Notice how I didn't include any straight social media blogs? Here's why: social media blogs are a joke. They don't provide any good information, except for extremely basic info you'll find in all the blogs mentioned above, without the deep analysis. If you want to do social media do me a favor: Understand that online marketing is a deep field and it's not something you're going to be an expert at overnight.
Online University Courses
Okay, so you still want the experience of going to college? You're in luck. There are amazing startups and organizations being created to help people take courses from the best universities in the country. Here are some great websites for getting the great content of college courses, without all the hassles involved:
Coursera: Perhaps the leading online college platform, Coursera was started by two computer science professors from Stanford University. Coursera has grown enormously since its founding and now provides classes in engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, and more.
edX: edX has gotten the most press in this arena, mostly because it was started by Harvard and MIT. All classes are free. Although you can't get a degree from the courses, they can provide invaluable skills from two of the top schools in the nation.
Open Culture: This is just a great website. It doesn't have actual online classes, but links to many, and also has links to places for free language learning, free textbooks, free eBooks, and more.
Okay, everyone, that's it. As I said, there's much more that could be shared, and maybe some people could share some ideas in the comments. But the point here is to show how much education is becoming available online, and much of it will help make you employable.
---This blog post is by Elad Nehorai, otherwise known as the blogger Pop Chassid. You can read more of his work on his blog and his Facebook page.