Words from an Autodidact By E.D. Randall “Would you rather have a college education or be a wife and a mother?” my teenage sister Adrienne asked my older sister Amber and me one night. Hesitant, I gave a truthful response. I prefer being a wife and a mother. Amber’s response was exactly the same as mine, and she reminded us of a valuable piece of wisdom that our father had shared with me before. And she said… Many people have not received a college degree, and are still very successful and extremely well-educated. Classical examples include Abigail Adams, the second First Lady of the United States and an advocate for Women’s rights; Benjamin Franklin, a skilled inventor and one of our nation’s Founding Fathers. Modern figures also include Bob Proctor and Bill Gates who are both highly intelligent billionaires. Although I had previously considered the possibility of being self-taught in my eighteenth year, I did not give it deep or serious thought. Instead, I merely discarded it or shall I say that I placed it in the back of my mind. But Amber’s enlightening lecture opened my eyes, and I gave being an autodidact a great deal of consideration. This liberating truth revealed how self-education is equally useful as a college education. The purpose of college is not to prepare you for a job in the real world unless you decide to become a doctor or a lawyer. Rather, it provides you with an opportunity to master an intellectually challenging field. An autodidact can make the make the same achievement, too. Reading and writing can be done in or out of a college classroom. A person will grow intellectually through reading and studying. A college degree does not determine somebody’s intellectual goals or academic drive, although some display theirs through obtaining one. Voluntary action and will to learn French or study the constitution reveal true academic drive. Is that the decision of a person who isn’t intellectually goal oriented? My sister’s words sat on my mind for many months. I could find no negative reason against becoming an autodidact except that maintaining self-discipline would be rather challenging. I would have a flexible schedule, freedom to choose my fields of interest to study, and many opportunities to cultivate my intellectual growth. With these solid reasons, I knew self-education was right for me. The truth is not everybody was meant to go to college. Some people feel as though they learn best independently. Other times, people feel that learning is so broad it cannot be covered in four years. Self-education serves as a great opportunity for me to expand my horizons, and explore the unknown. After all, a curious mind is an intellectual mind. I may discover a new subject that I am passionate about studying or I will obtain knowledge that I never knew was in existence. Well, either way, knowledge contributes to intellectual growth. Self-teaching is a great achievement. Independent mastery of an intellectually challenging subject enables you to go above and beyond your intellectual potential. Confidence in one’s own abilities can also be gained. Anyone who scoffs at any fellow autodidact needs to remember two important points: learning comes in different methods, and there is always an opportunity to further academically challenge yourself. I have also come to realize that I have made a rewarding decision. The process of intellectual growth is unending. The more I grow, the more I have to give as a wife, a mother, an individual, an author, an individual, and a member of society.