3 Differences Between Self and Formal Education

I often get asked about the difference between self and formal education and having had much success in becoming a millionaire by 27 without a degree, to having created one of the most comprehensive platforms to teach business and entrepreneurship in the world, you may think that I would immediately choose self-education as the greater of the two. But the reality is that anyone who chooses one over the other may actually suffer from the inability to get educated to begin with. Instead, we must learn to look at both as simply education with different purposes. 

I look at formal education as the minimum standard of readiness to start belonging to the workforce, and I look at self education as the necessary standard to keep advancing within that same workforce. Now, before you argue that working for others isn’t for you and that you would never do it, and that owning your own business is the only way to go, do not forget that we all always work for ourselves—even if we have a job—and we work for money . That means that your freedom isn’t earned until you actually become financially independent.

Belonging to the workforce simply means that you are within a position to continue moving society forward, regardless that it starts with your ability to pack bags at a local supermarket, to being the CEO of a fortune 500 banks, and even to being a local coffee shop owner. Taking part in commerce makes you part of the workforce, and that said, here are some tips to consider regardless of which you lean towards at any given time.

Education Should Not Only Be Focused on Skills

Most people seek education on an as-needed basis, meaning that their expectations are that they will learn to apply skills and earn a reward as a result. I recommend learning for the sake of expanding your understanding and perspective, which allows you to grow further, rather than only learning for the sake of gaining more money. The more exposed you are to education, even about fields of no interest, the more you can identify opportunities and connect the dots to push your life forward rather than backwards.

Learn From People Whose Accomplishments You Respect

One of the biggest mistakes people make when selecting a college to attend is they focus on the college’s reputation or prestige rather than on its teachers—assuming that any good school will hire good teachers, but the reality is that great teachers exist in all schools. I recommend you focus more on who is teaching you rather than where they are teaching you.

When I launched the Secret Entourage Academy, I only hired some of today’s best entrepreneurs and only allowed them to teach their students what they did best, rather than business in general. This ability to only take the most efficient skills someone has a track record with and share with your students enables people to learn collectively, rather than attempt to decipher whose teaching holds more weight

Have a Good Plan

Some of you may not have access to formal education, but that will never stop you from being successful. The key to a successful life isn’t to just have a business plan, but rather have a life plan that encompasses education as a whole and to ensure that no matter what you can afford, you continue to educate yourself in any manner possible. Gone are the days when formal education was enough to get rich, and gone are the days when starting a business meant you were the exception. So time to get to work while educating yourself forward rather than using education reactively.

While there may seem to be a growing gap between self and formal education, there is one truth that will forever distinguish the two. The  structure of the education is no different than having a job. What’s important isn’t to look down on structure and safety but rather ask yourself what is the worth of such structure. Is your inability to learn on your own worth the tuition you will pay, or is there indeed a necessity that structure doesn’t play in. Once you understand that, you will understand the correct mix of each to ensure you stay educated.


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