4 Ways To Keep Studying After You Leave School
High school, university or any other kind of formal education has its downsides. The hours can be long, the study intense, the homework never-ending.
But when I graduated from university and entered the workforce, there was one thing I began to miss immediately— the mental stimulation that comes from constantly compounding knowledge and developing new skills.
When you leave an educational environment and enter a job that requires much of the same thing all day, every day, it can begin to feel like your brain is melting inside your skull. The boredom sets in quickly.
So how do you combat this? You have to get a little creative and hunt down new ways of learning.
Studies in neuroscience show that constantly developing new skills exercises your brain just like working out does your body and it’s advantageous in more ways than one.
Learning is self-perpetuating, forming new neural pathways and allowing you to connect ideas and learn faster. The white matter in your brain, known as myelin, densifies, which improves mental performance.
It can be difficult to develop skills and continue your education when you’re working full time. Your job may not be stimulating or inspiring. You may not work in an environment designed to help you grow or progress your skills.
But education shouldn’t and doesn’t have to end with graduation. There are many ways that you can continue your education beyond school.
Take Online Classes
There is an abundance of online courses at your disposal, teaching everything from coding to nail art. Sites such as Skillshare, Lynda and Udemy offer many free courses and trial periods for their premium content so you can take full advantage of all they have to offer.
Here’s a tip: Pick something different, just for fun. Consider your existing interests or skills, your career and the areas you have already studied. Now find something on the opposite side of the spectrum and go take a course on that. Expand the scope of your experience.
Join a Group or Workshop
Take a workshop or group that runs in the evenings or on the weekend. Have you ever wanted to learn a different language? Find a beginner’s class that you can attend. Learning a new language engages and improves your memory and ability to problem-solve.
Take a painting class to nurture your creativity. You’re investing in yourself by not only exercising your brain but also opening yourself up to a whole world of social opportunities.
Set Reading Goals
Read outside of your usual interests. Read biographies and non-fiction. Libraries are there for a reason. Make use of them. Many schools have reading initiatives where students are rewarded for reading a certain number of books in a variety of genres. Just because you’re no longer a student doesn’t mean you can’t use a system like this.
Set up a reading goal — you can work on a weekly, monthly or annual basis — and aim to change up the genre and topic of your book each time. Joining a book club can be a great incentive. Talking with others about your reading is often a great motivator to read more.
Treat Your Job as a Learning Opportunity
This isn’t always possible — unfortunately, not all companies prioritise the growth of their employees. But if they are open to it, talk to your superiors about opportunities to progress within your company and ways that you can invest in your position.
Try to find a mentor, someone older, wiser or more experienced in your field. Having someone with that kind of knowledge and experience on your side, someone who is personally invested in your journey can be an enormous advantage. They have advice that will prove invaluable to you and connections that may give you that leg up that you need.
Remember, this is a symbiotic relationship. Both sides should benefit. How can you give back to your mentor? You may volunteer your time or skills or promote them publicly. Sometimes simply acknowledging their kindness and saying thank you goes a long way.
So many people fall into that deadly routine. Wake, work, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s easy to forget that there might be more out there to experience.
I encourage you to do this. Take ten minutes to sit down and write a list of ten things you would like to try. Consider some of the suggestions above for inspiration.
Now pick the first thing on the list and take action to make it happen. It really is that simple and the hardest part is just getting started.
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
- Albert Einstein