[Glow Up] Extend Your Education Beyond the Classroom

The 50 great books on education

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” ―Abigail Adams.

There are traditional routes for higher education, but in light of the recent events, like COVID-19, college admissions scandals, UC Colleges dropping the SAT / ACT requirement, school’s delayed reopening, and the like – traditional routes might not be the most fruitful or effective learning methods anymore. As more and more people find the solace and mental space to work from home, it’s a great time to consider what else you can do from home and evolve into.

On a personal level, I’ve been with my current company going on a decade, and though I’m content with my Bachelors of Science in Applied Statistics – after being in the work field for so long, there are simply some aspects of the craft that had fallen by the wayside. As the adage goes – if you don’t use it, you lose it; and it’s doubly so when we’re talking about our innate depths of knowledge.

Though I had picked up new applications and industry knowledge – I simply felt I was lacking in other areas of thinking about business and the corporate world at large. As I forayed from my former role to where I currently sit, I wanted to hone back in on analytics, as well as learn a thing or two about both accounting and economics. After some thought, and a bit of pushing by those closest to me – I made some money moves, and was blessed to have been accepted into the January 2020 Cohort of Harvard Business School Online. Fast forward to now and I’m a proud certificate holder of their CORe curriculum. Down to my core, I am so thrilled to have actually taken the plunge into higher education and can’t wait to amass even more knowledge.

The Meaning of Being Educated. Education is an ancient topic aging… | by  Lucien Griffin - Student | Voices | Medium

With infinite options and opportunities – where does one even begin?

With the ample amounts of downtime we’re all suffering from – there are ample paths to take, all of them leading to learning. So whether you’re trying to refresh your skill set, wrapping your head around something new and acquiring certifications or the pure and unadulterated pursuit of higher education – there’s a path for you. If you’re game to learning, but don’t know where to start – decide if you’d like to build new skills, or brush up on old ones. Then start doing some basic searches online to see what’s worked for other people, ask a friend, a colleague, or a peer at work. And you never know, some jobs will offer to even reimburse your schooling – however, mostly with proof of good, passing work. My suggestion would be to find a subject you care about, at an institution you respect – it makes for a great working relationship, and you’ll truly get the most out of your future education!

Due to quarantine and COVID safety, many of us have turned to remote learning over the last year. First things first, we have to face the facts: Long Distance Learning is a bit like being in a long distance relationship; either you’re really good at personal accountability, communication and your loyalty – or, you’re not. Plus, the classes aren’t exactly cheap – you’ll have to put up a pretty penny, or a few, to get your brain fuel. Good news though! The end result is that you’ll be well learned, have honed in on old skills while building new ones, and have proven to yourself that you indeed can handle that challenge – but just know that along the way, there will definitely be a few bumps and bruises.

Almost all accredited universities have an online learning component with digital departments for each and every one of us. This past year, I wrapped up my first online certificate course through Harvard Business School Online and their CORe program where I dove into Econ, Accounting and Analytics; and I’m SO thrilled that I did! I made connections, and not just between coursework and my work life, but social connections that I’m happy to have created this past year. Other institutions I was considering were: Stanford, University of Washington, UCLA Extension and Syracuse.

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One thing I’ve discovered in my older age, is that going back to school isn’t always the best fiscal decision; I often wish I had studied something else during my time at University, even picked up a minor or a second major. But, hindsight being 20/20, I’ve realized there are other ways to supplement this type of learning! In that glorious time of life before COVID, you could physically walk into a classroom and simply audit the materials. You wouldn’t have the luxury of testing, or some of the reading materials, but you would be set up for learning success by being in the ether. There are some great online resources for those that are still resigned to staying home – some of my favorites are: edX, the brainchild of MIT and Harvard; Class Central, General Assembly Free Fridays, and Coursera at least for a moment was offering free courses for college students.

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For Washington residents, did you know that our state is fucking rad? Trick question, of course you did – it’s why you’re here! When I applied for my library card, I was over the moon because I realized that with your Seattle Public Library Membership you get a free Lynda subscription; FREE! (and, if you’re not a Washingtonian, you can also get one by signing up with Linkedin Premium!) Lynda hosts all sorts of digital learning, from Photography and Photoshop to Microsoft Suite and Access, to programming with C#, Python and JAVA. Meanwhile, Washington State Library’s Microsoft Imagine Academy is dolling out free access to amazing tech learning software from Microsoft that covers applications, data science, IT, web developing and computer science.

“If you think education is expensive, try estimating the cost of ignorance.”
— Howard Gardner

What uncommon routes, courses or classes have you taken to give yourself an educational glow-up as an adult? Let me know in the comments below!

[Oh, Snap] Strolling Through The Stanford Cactus Garden


While roaming back from Oregon to California, the open road delivered a reinvigorating tonic like no other.  Between the diverse landscapes and lush landscapes paired with deep conversations and silly banter, wanderlust rushed haphazardly through my veins while the
fire in my heart was reignited.  But after almost ten hours on the road, the last thing I wanted to do was get behind the wheel of anything for an adventure to anywhere, so when we brought up the idea of going for an afternoon walk – I was stoked.

The weekend after Thanksgiving marked the first time in forever I’d had some downtime in the area and I wanted to take full advantage of every inch of sunlight. We kickstarted the day from Menlo Park, strolling into a downtown area that felt preserved in time.  Green, yellow, and red leaves glided effortless like Rasta confetti while the crisp, clean Autumn air provided refreshing shift from the frigid Winter-like Oregon mornings and perpetual Summer sun and Springtime temperatures of Los Angeles.  After going to one of my former favorite haunts for sandwiches, we were off, off and away into Palo Alto to visit some of my favorite hidden gems at the Stanford University Campus.

After 31 years, there’s a lot that’s changed in the Bay Area – but thankfully for me, this is one of the few areas that’s stayed the same – and it holds some of my favorite local landscapes like  – like Stanford‘s  Arboretum, Mausoleum and the Arizona Cactus Garden.  The cactus garden is one of the few remaining landscape artifacts from Leland Stanford’s estate.

Officially named Leland Stanford Junior University, the campus was established back in 1885  in memory of Leland Stanford’s son.  Not only was Leland Stanford a former Governor and U.S. Senator, but he was also the Co-Founder and President of the Central Pacific Railroad. Originally, there were plans to build a mansion on the plot of land but once his son passed away from typhoid fever, plans were amended to build a university instead.  A true testament to their sense of community, the Stanford’s took it upon themselves to ensure that the entire generation their son would be part of would build a successful world.

A beautiful and lasting testament to the transformative power of love, the cactus garden was restored in 1977 and currently holds over 500 species of cactus and succulents separated by geographic hemisphere and continent. And let me tell you, these specimens were out of this world!  I’ve never seen a Joshua Tree so grandiose or cactus so threateningly tall.  Plus, there’s nothing quite like seeing the neon blossoms in striking dichotomy against moody shades of green.

Photos from myself, with additional photography from Daniel Leist.