The major key to discovering new interests and passions is EXPOSURE, but it’s also about testing those interests and passions to see how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Is it a life-long passion where you want to re-invent rocketry and take the planet to Mars (Elon Musk)? Or, is it enough to know a bunch of constellations, and simply be in awe of the universe (Me)? That’s important to know—preferably before we send our students to college—and it’s also not the only difference between Elon Musk and myself!
We need to teach students how (and also allow them to) expose themselves to far more things, in far less time, and for nearly zero cost.
Can we even do this?—you ask.
Oh, yea!! I’m going to show you how.
As a student, you write down a bunch of things you are—or think you might be—interested in. Just like you’d do in Part III of my Design Your Life course—obnoxious wink.
One of the items you wrote down was psychology. Now, our job as educators, parents, etc., is to help you see if you really like it. Let’s first look at the more common ways of gaining exposure to our interests.
You could take a college class (if you’re in college or maybe even over the summer while you’re in High School). We’re talking at least several hundred dollars, if not in the thousands, plus FOUR MONTHS of your time for a basic intro to psychology college course (3 credit hours).
I say this is too much money, and an unnecessary amount of time.
If you’re in High School, you could take an elective if your school offers one! It’s free, which is good, but we’re talking at least FOUR MONTHS again for a semester, or maybe the full school year of time invested.
For both options, do you really need that much time to figure out whether you like something or not? Let’s also take into account getting over the initial hump, that initial bit of challenge to learn something new, that can deter us. How long do you think is needed?
I believe it’s less than a month. So, let me show you a way that we can do all this for free and in less than a month.
Read a book
Easy. Go to your local library, and look at the books on psychology. Find one that looks interesting, not a textbook. Give yourself a fighting chance to be interested. Or, if you want to spend a little money, go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon and find something interesting there. If you’re not willing to read a book, that could be a red flag there already, but it could also just be a preference. So, let’s look at the next option.
On YouTube, there is a free “Introduction to Psychology” course based on the AP course curriculum, totaling 7 hours and 14 minutes of watch time (broken into a bunch of shorter videos). If you spent only an hour a day, you’d go through the entire curriculum in a week. Yes, probably not deeply, but that’s the point! It’s exposure, not mastery right now. If you loved that series, now you can look into the next options of pursuit. And, I still don’t think it’s college yet. Go back to option one and read a book. Watch more advanced YouTube videos, or look below.
Research, Online Courses, & More
If you enjoyed that course and that book, it’s time to dive a little deeper, still before college. You could research the field and its various options. Look at what other areas the field is expanding into. Look at a college course list and the descriptions of the classes. Talk to people who are doing it. Find them, email them, and they will absolutely answer. Or, call your local university and I bet they’d help connect you to alumni. They will be proud of their alumni and want to make those connections. Have good questions prepared. Talk to more than one person. In the process, you’ll be creating awesome connections too, btw, whether you go down this path or not.
Learn everything you possibly can. Read a more advanced book on the topic. Take an online course for credit or not (Udemy, Academic Earth, MIT Open CourseWare, Khan Academy, TED Talks, The Great Courses, Audiobooks, Podcasts!). Again, everything should be able to be absorbed quickly to either expand the interest or find its limit. Remember, it’s not about mastery, it’s about exposure to our interests. No need for tests, or quizzes, or homework. When you think you’re ready to pursue mastery, now testing makes sense and so does college.
You could do all of the above in three weeks. A month maybe, spending five hours a week. In college, you would still have three months left in that Introduction to Psychology class, but now you’re already looking at more advanced topics to explore.
Use A Guide
Everything I wrote could seem overwhelming to a student in High School, but with a guide, it won’t be. So, I recommend students don’t undertake this journey alone. Make a group of friends, or helpful parents, or reach out to me and we’ll set something up.
I’ve been playing with the idea of offering a Guided Gap Year program, or Gap Semester program where I take a group of students through the above journey. Expose them to ten times more topics than they could experience in a college semester, and go deeper into areas than they would’ve in that same semester. If there’s interest in this, let me know. I’ll probably do it anyway, though 😜
So much more!
There is a lot more to say on this topic, as well as intersecting topics, that it was hard for me to organize these ideas into a “shorter” blog post. Hopefully, this can be an alternate solution to those who are going to college as undecided, or to those in High School searching for a path for their future, and even to any of you out there still searching. Expose yourself! Now, you know a quick and free way, or cheap way, to do it! Happy exploration!