Day One: Journaling Made Easy

Day One

I don’t buy apps very often. Probably because I can usually find a free alternative that works. However, every now and again the free alternatives are not what I’m looking for and the paid alternatives look fabulously well developed–great UI, great UX–so I take the leap and buy.

Day One is one of those apps.

Probably about a year ago I went ahead and bought it and I’ve never missed the money or regretted it. ($5 really isn’t that much money, it just seems like a lot relative to all those free apps we download. It’s probably cheaper than buying a physical journal!) I’ve always struggled to keep a memoir of my life, but Day One makes it easy because not only are their reminders, but I can take pictures along the way. One of the reasons I don’t write in a journal regularly is because it takes time to describe what I did that day or I’d have to bring the journal with me everywhere I went just to capture a moment in the moment. With Day One, I can capture moments in the moment and all I have to do is take a picture.

While pictures are awesome, words are the essence of any true journal or diary. A photo journal without words is more of a photo album. It can tell a story, but words can add a lot of depth to a picture, much like sound to a motion picture. If typing on the phone sounds ‘no bueno’ to you then just speak into your phone and let it transcribe your voice because Day One supports that too! Brilliant! My greatest entries are probably those that combine pictures with words.

Once again though, writing a long, reflective entry can take time. I’ve found that some times all I need is the time it takes me to get to work on public transit or waiting in the airport for a flight.

Writing in a journal is often more about reflection and meditation than anything. This is one of the keys to relaxation and greater happiness. This is one of the biggest reasons why I write in my journal. Furthermore, I want people to know what my life is about on the day to day, what I think about, what I notice, what’s important to me. I want to go back and remember what I did 10 years ago. I want others to do be able to do that too, if they wish.

In summary these are the reasons why I love Day One:

  • Photos
  • Tags
  • Reminders
  • Varied journal views (i.e. timeline, calendar, photos, year, etc.)
  • Geolocation data
  • Weather conditions
  • Cloud backup via Dropbox
  • Digital

Day One: journaling made easy.

Is Getting a University Degree Worth It

After reading Jake’s post (2013-04-23) about being a university graduate, I felt inspired to write my own. I’ve thought a lot about why I initially chose to go to college, why I stuck around instead of dropping out and what it means to me now that I’m a university graduate. To some people it might sound crazy to drop out of college when it seems practically required you have a college degree to get a job these days. However, I’m assuming many of my readers could understand the appeal given the largely technical audience of my blog and my technical background. So is getting a university degree worth it?

Introduction

Over the last several years, app development and entrepreneurship have exploded. The demand for developers of all kinds, including designers, programmers and testers, has skyrocketed. Furthermore, the push for smarter entrepreneurship and more efficient means of finding potentially successful products and exceptional talent has increased. As a result, many would-be college graduates have dropped out and started their own companies. Some have been successful; others not so much. Instead of starting companies, others have found they don’t need a diploma to find a high paying job, as long as they have the sought after skills. Still others are attracted by the potential to fund their their dream jobs and ideas with the money of VCs and angel investors, not to mention friends, family and fools.

The point is, young twenty somethings are finding ways to make a living without obtaining a university degree and, from what I’ve seen, primarily by leveraging technology. We hear about successful blogs, YouTube channels, Kick Starter projects, mobile startups, work-from-home entrepreneurs, sell-it-on-ebay-ers, etc. every day. Furthermore, with the advent of free online college courses (e.g. Udacity, Coursera, MIT Open Courseware, Stanford iOS Development Lectures and others) there’s more incentive than ever to NOT go to a traditional university and pay tuition (read Reinventing College & Education). While many college graduates are anxious to find jobs, technologists are making it big. That’s not true for the majority probably, but it seems like it’s become much more prevalent.

So now that I’m a university graduate, how do I feel about it? Do I have any regrets? Do I wish I would have done things differently? Do I have a job?

Open Doors and Career Decisions

When I applied to BYU, I declared my major as biophysics. It sounded prestigious and exciting. I loved physics and I loved biology. This would be the perfect major for me. I never once looked at the required coursework. A couple months into school, I realized I needed to start planning my major and the classes looked unappealing. Furthermore, people told me the career options, and I wasn’t really interested. The only thing that sounded cool was being a doctor, “cuz doctors make lots of money” (Obamacare didn’t exist yet). That was when I realized I had no idea what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” I realized for the first time that classes don’t determine what you do for your career necessarily. In other words, I liked biology, but did I want to be a doctor for the next 30 years? Did I want to go to med school? I really had to check my motivations.

In the meantime, I left to serve as a volunteer missionary for two years and I thought that would give me plenty of time to figure it all out (false). When I got back, I decided to follow in my brother’s footsteps and give Information Systems a try. It just so happened I loved it, just like most of my brother’s interests.

Then it came again. I knew that information systems was the major I wanted to commit myself to because the coursework was interesting, the jobs were interesting, the jobs paid well and the jobs were in high demand, but I didn’t know which company I wanted to work for or which field of technology I wanted to dedicate myself to. Therefore, I chose to apply to the Masters of Information Systems Management (MISM) program, which would give me another year to think about career and company and another shot at an internship. In retrospect this worked out perfectly because it gave me an extra summer to take an internship, more time to try different part-time jobs and more time to delve into all sorts of tech on personal projects.

My first internship opened my eyes to what kind of company I wanted to work for and also what kind of work I didn’t want to do (among many other invaluable experiences, skills, etc.). Then by the time I got through my second internship I figured out what interested me most and what I saw myself doing full-time for the next 30 years (or so) of my life. And that’s when I started focusing my efforts into developing a master’s capstone project that would really help me obtain skills revolving around designing and coding.

The university setting provided all these open doors to me. It seems to me that if I had gone straight to work after high school or dropped out of college to jump on some big idea I would have felt almost forced to take the path that I had chosen without more time to explore other opportunities. I know that’s how I felt when I was faced with company offers: it felt like the end of career exploration, like I’d never switch jobs once I signed one of those contracts. While that may not be likely these days, a full-time job will consume most of your time to explore other opportunities, not to mention present other potential side effects like the ‘golden handcuffs.’

To put it differently, I needed a good 3 years trying different things (internships, personal projects, part-time jobs, even just interviewing lots) to figure out my career. I don’t think I could have done that as well any other way, even traveling the world and just taking time off to think. It’s possible I could have dropped out my last year to try and launch a startup, but until then I didn’t even know what I wanted to do! Regardless, I was at the end of the university race. Why drop out during the final sprint? Alternatively, I could have skipped college and gone straight to work and figured it out that way, but I didn’t have enough experience to get me anything more than a fast food job or maybe some personal assistant work. So maybe a university degree and experience isn’t for everyone but it was perfect for me, for someone who didn’t know what they wanted to do or be. And what’s more is that the open doors and opportunities not only provided a path for my career but gave me other life experiences. The opportunities, experiences, people and time helped me find myself.

An Experience, Not Just Education

Attending a university is more of an experience than just an education. There’s so much happening at a university that if you go just to get an education and do nothing else but school school school, then you’re missing out. That should be obvious to most if not all college graduates (I hope). Even aspiring high school students know there’s more to school than grades and test scores. What about the extra curricular activities?

For me BYU was an experience and I had a blast. During my first semester, I slept an average of 3 hours a night (class at 7am every day; I took 3 hour day naps). I went to dance parties, went on road trips, went sledding at 2am and stayed up late just to stay up late. That’s what you do when you’re in college, right? Toward the end, I got more involved in clubs, service organizations, dance classes, an occasional intramural sport team and business competitions, many with the intent of not only building a résumé but building my character and enjoying life.

Being involved in so many things and meeting so many different people helped me see the world through an ever changing lens, something of a kaleidoscope, but more organized and meaningful. College is a unique experience that can’t quite be replicated and I’m glad I lived it. I’m also glad it’s over. No more homework and no more tests.

Education Is What You Make of It

Parallel to the idea that attending university should be an experience is the idea that education is what you make of it. As a masters student studying information systems (IS), I had the opportunity to take MBA classes in addition to my IS coursework and electives. One of my MBA professors started one of our many lectures by referencing an article that supported the claim that going back to school for an MBA is an economically sound choice based on the average salary of MBA grads in the US. However, he disagreed with the article and provided this insight: You don’t go back to school to earn an MBA just because it will increase your salary by maybe $10k more than other university graduates. Based on how much tuition you’re paying, you probably won’t break even for a number of years, not to mention the opportunity cost of leaving the work force for two years and the time you give up. You go back to school for whatever it is that you need and want to get out of it. In other words, an MBA is one of many ways to increase your wealth, but don’t go back to school for just that one reason.

There are so many other things to get out of a university education. Perhaps more importantly you could create an extensive network of connections among your professors and peers to land a prestigious job. Chances are if those connections don’t help now, they will in the future. Or perhaps you could seek co-founders for the new venture you’ve launched or are preparing to launch. Or perhaps you could enter a competition and pitch your big idea to judges and investors to refine your idea, get noticed and maybe win $50k of crucial seed capital.

I witnessed a number of my peers just sorta go to class without really learning anything valuable. For them, a degree in information systems was just the key to a job. They worked hard in the classes they enjoyed, but sorta just shrugged their shoulders in the classes they didn’t care about or didn’t perceive as valuable. Maybe for them it wasn’t valuable. Maybe they will never use the material. Maybe they are happy with their job and skills and that’s all they want. I’m sure some of them spent their time working more hours in part-time jobs. Money isn’t a bad trade-off. Others were probably trying to launch start-ups or push ideas through entrepreneurship competitions. Not a bad trade off either.

I don’t have any regrets about obtaining a university degree. I believe I did pretty well for myself. If I could go back and do it over knowing what I know now, I’d probably change a few things, but that’s typical of knowledge and experience. If I could do it over again, I’d probably spend less time as an underclassman having fun just hanging out and spending more time having fun building my career and skills. Additionally, I’d maybe take a year off or attend classes part-time and see if I could launch a startup. At BYU I had a number of free resources right at my fingertips that I could have utilized more than I did including professors, experienced entrepreneurs, career services, students with similar interests, the Crocker fellowship and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology just to name a few. Regardless, I have a job, I have a degree and I have developed the skills to do what I want and become what I want to become. I made the most of my education.

Trade Schools

One thing I want to draw attention to separately is the focus of general education classes. GE classes at BYU were often a pain because they were just that–general. This is something I would change and do differently.

A friend of mine attended the LDS Business College and took the same required GEs but got so much more out of his classes because they looked at history, economics, writing, math and even science through the lens of business. Everything was applied to business from what he told me. I think I’d much rather enroll in a business college from the beginning, knock out my GEs, get my AA and then transfer to a B-school like the Marriott School of Management. While many of my peers successfully knocked out their GEs with AP or IB credit in high school, I don’t think this is the necessarily the best route either. Most of us are too immature and inexperienced in high school to get significant value out of the classes we test out of. Even though they are more than sufficient introductory courses, they’re not applied. In my mind, application and contextual understanding is one of greatest keys to mental persistence and creating value.

I’ve never been to a trade school but from what I’ve heard, they sound like a brilliant alternative to a traditional university education, assuming they are accredited and you come out with a recognized diploma/degree. Personally, I think our society places too much emphasis on traditional kinds of degrees and credentials. We’ve overshot the goal, which I believe was to create a means of more easily identifying the individuals with the desired skills and abilities. It seems to me some jobs require advanced degrees, when in reality what the employer needs is a person with a specific skill set. Degrees are supposed to guarantee that skill set (though some times they don’t even do that); they shouldn’t act as barriers to people who have the necessary skills even if those skills were gained through experiences outside of an academic institution. In my field (and perhaps in others as well), it’s not uncommon to hire a technologist without a degree. What matters is if they can get the job done as expected. Usually this is validated through a résumé, references and targeted interviews. Naturally many companies simply require degrees to make the process easier on them by filtering out potentially unqualified candidates. This is one of the very reasons I got a master’s degree–to minimize the chance of facing job barriers, even red tape when looking for a promotion or career advancement. That said, some of the smartest, most capable people I’ve worked with don’t have have advanced degrees let alone college degrees.

Quality of Education vs. Cost of Education

The Information Systems program at BYU has consistently ranked as a top 10 program. Based on the tuition I paid at BYU, I’d say I got a steal of a deal. Furthermore, I was fortunate enough to graduate debt free. I don’t think that’s something every university graduate can say, especially those who pay top dollar at some universities. At the end of the day, IS grads from the Marriott School of Management get offered the same exceptional job opportunities from companies that recruit at other top ten schools.

There are a number of opposing arguments that could be made here, such as differences in starting salary, etc. I haven’t done enough research to really look at the various arguments, nor have I the experience or knowledge or wherewithal to make any judgments. The point of my post isn’t really to compare universities either, but I’d like to reply to the argument that the cost of a university education these days really isn’t worth it. For who I am and where I’m at today, I feel competent and competitive with those in the work place. I got what I paid for and I feel good about it. Like I said, I have no debts and I have a full-time job. Not everyone can say that, but I can. If I were thousands of dollars in debt and jobless, I don’t think I’d feel the same way. Not every degree can get you a job or put money in your pocket.

Closing Thoughts

If you know your end goal and you have an idea on how you want to get there or if you’ve found yourself, you may not need a university degree, especially if your field is technology related. If you know your end goal, maybe free online classes are the way to go. Maybe running a startup is the right choice, especially if you’ve already validated your idea, have potential customers and/or have interested investors. Diving in and getting to work can be some of the best education. It’s real, it’s valuable and it forces you to stay afloat or drown. If you have the drive to succeed, the proverbial leap of faith may lead you to success–you won’t stop fighting until your survival is made sure.

I’ve toyed a lot with the idea of founding tech startup and seeking funding. From one angle, it sounds like an amazing experience: someone else pays you to build your dream product. And it seems like that’s how a lot of the startup founders I’ve met feel about it. More power to them. It’s a pretty enticing opportunity, especially if it takes you where you want to go. From another angle, I’d rather start a business without funding. Why would I want an investor or venture fund for my boss? I mean in a lot of ways, that’s what investors and VCs are, your boss. At the end of the day, they are the people you report and answer to. I’d rather start a business to be my own boss. Isn’t that why most people start a business, for autonomy?

I’m happy where I’m at. I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m making money, I’m enjoying life both in and out of work. And it just so happens I’m a university graduate with two degrees and I have no regrets. Is getting a university degree worth it? For me, yes. Ask me what I think in ten years.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

French author Antoine de Sanit-Exupéry said:

“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

Henry David Thoreau:

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

Simplicity is relevant to so many aspects of life, including design and development and living life in general.

A Response to the Connecticut School Shooting

Among the various news reports I read summarizing the tragedy at Sandy Hock Elementary, the Connecticut school shooting, I also read a CNN article asking readers to reply to the question: How do we stop the violence? I think this is the right question to ask.

I thought I’d offer some of my own thoughts and opinions surrounding the increasingly common shootings and violence in our country. There are already a number of opinions floating around, but I think it’s important we each add our respectful voice and listening ears so that we can come up with effective solution(s) to this escalating national problem.

A number of tweets on my feed talked about gun control (for and against). Some proposed that responding to the tragedy with politics wasn’t appropriate and wouldn’t be effective. Others said that today isn’t the day debate gun control–yesterday was.

I’m going to do my best to take a principles based approach as I try to answer the question How do we stop the violence?

While I’ve never been engrossed in the debate about gun control, I don’t think it’s the answer to this problem. The premise behind this argument seems to suggest that we stop allowing people to own guns–maybe we even stop producing them at a far extreme–because if people don’t have guns then their will be no shootings which means less deaths and less violence. But that premise seems flawed to me. There’s always someone who will own a gun. Those who want to get a gun badly enough will find a way. And if we increase gun control to extreme limits, it seems we leave ourselves defenseless. Arguably guns are NOT the best and only means of defense. Furthermore, take a look at what happened with the prohibition of alcohol and what’s currently happening with druck trafficking.

I’m not an economist, but let me see I can appropriately recall the problem with illegal drugs. By banning drugs we have effectively created a black market that allows thugs to get rich because they can charge a high price for illegal drugs. And now we are forced to use our tax dollars to try and stop these criminals. Take the word of economists who can put it more eloquently: Saving Mexico and The Economics of Illegal Drugs.

In the 40 years since U.S. President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” the supply and use of drugs has not changed in any fundamental way. The only difference: a taxpayer bill of more than $1 trillion.

I’m not sure how valid the first point is, that the war on drugs hasn’t changed fundamentally, but it seems sound to me.

Because governments make drugs illegal, the risk associated with transporting them translates to high rewards for those willing to take that risk.

I bring the illegal drug trade up because I believe the economic principles behind drug trafficking will apply similarly to gun control should we ban guns or push to that extreme. Regardless of the flaws in that argument, I believe we as a people must look deeper and I think we are starting to more and more as these issues intensify.

As a segue into my main point, I’d like to cite the comments of a few people who responded to the CNN article I mentioned earlier. The first commenter made these points:

1. Quit sensationalizing the tragedy.

2. Never mention the perpetrator’s name, let them die in an anonymity.

3. Focus only on helping the families of the tragedy.

4. Never discuss what the perpetrator’s motive was; they did what they did, never give justification to their means, never let their ends be met.

5. Quit believing that any form of weapon control will ever make things “safe”, it will not. Guns, Fertilizer, Gasoline, Knives, Baseball Bats, Kitchen and Bathroom Chemicals the list is infinite; bad people will do bad things, the only real control one can hope for is taking away whatever motivation or reward the person has for doing them, and even then, they may try.

I think these points are valid, though they are double edged. In a sense, the press is sensationalizing the tragedy. By sensationalizing the tragedy it seems to validate it, which may be one reason why we are seeing an increase in the number of these tragedies. I wouldn’t name it a primary reason, but it seems to send the message to other potential mass murderers that they will get publicity and send their message to wider audience if they do something terrible and tragic. Furthermore, the CNN article I read labeled the Connecticut tragedy as, and I quote:

…the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead.

To me, this almost turns it into a kind of sick competition where 32 is the number to beat.

To add to the commenter’s 5th point, perhaps guns are the chosen weapon because of their ease of access relative to the damage they can inflict. But what happens if we make them less accessible? I don’t think killers will go for baseball bats, but bombs and other weapons seem pretty likely if they want to inflict massive damage. This reminds of a point made in the illegal drug trafficking articles:

Governments also have a hard time stopping the drugs trade because, like any good business, trafficking organizations innovate and adapt. Mexican customs has stumbled upon a long list of ingenious methods to transport cocaine, including one shipment of liquefied cocaine smuggled in red wine bottles. Another recent bust yielded 800 kilos of cocaine–worth an estimated $40 million–stuffed inside a batch of frozen sharks.

After Mexico restricted the importation of pseudoephedrine to slow the manufacture of methamphetamines, drug gangs found another way to make the drug using different, unrestricted chemicals widely used in the perfume industry. “I’ve always thought these guys had a good research and development arm,” says one exasperated Mexican official.

Another commenter made these points:

Instead of the easy knee jerk reaction, perhaps we should be looking at all of the other things, besides guns, these case have in common.

1-A vast majority of these shooters are between the ages of 16 and 26.
2-They are narcissists
3-They enjoy violent video games and movies.

We have raised an entire generation on the theory that we must protect their self-esteem at all costs. Then, while mom and dad had better things to do, we sat them in front of Grand Theft Auto and completely desensitized them to violence.

So, if we stop shielding kids from every possible disappointment in life, so that when they face one, they are prepared for it; if we take the XBox away once in awhile; and if we actually talk to our kids occasionally, we might prevent some of this crap.

Further down the list a commenter brings up the issues of bad home life for children with irresponsible parents, the lack of morals taught in the home, increasing divorce rates of the last decades, abortion, etc. While I don’t think everything he said is correct, I do agree with some of his points. In reply to him another commenter wrote:

You must be delusional if you think more unwanted children wouldn’t simply lead to a higher population of the “individuals” you write about. It’s not about divorce; it’s not about abortion; and it is definitely not about mothers being absent; it’s about mental health.

After that, the Bible debate erupted. Some ask if the Bible is really a good source for moral issues when its filled with violence and unrealistic stories? Others counter. We could go through the list of comments and debate each point much like the replies in that column, but I’ll get to my point and my opinion.

The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments.

We continue to turn to the government and politics to solve our problem. Government is so much more limited than the sum efforts of each individual. External controls are NOT the best answer. External controls are not the answer to a problem that is rooted in the psychological and emotional conditions of human beings, in addition to their morals and beliefs surrounding the purpose of life. They are an answer that may or may not change things for the better in the short run, but they are not the most effective long-term solution.

I do NOT agree with the commenter who argued the problem is essentially mental health. Mental health goes deeper than gun control but it is not the sole issue here. It is a result of an even deeper issue I believe.

Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior.

And I add that focusing on mental health from a sociological, psychological, or purely scientific view will not fix the problem either. We have to take action that will more effectively and permanently change human behavior.

As a deeply religious individual I believe we must necessarily emphasize a return to God in some form or another. I think a majority of the religions in this world (maybe excluding some highly extreme religions) teach about the importance of life, that life has a purpose, that we should love one another, that we should refrain from lust, violence, selfishness, hate and anger.

As a more balanced commenter pointed out not all of us know at this point what the Newtown, CT shooter’s home life was like. Maybe he his parents neglected to teach him morals that emphasized the value of life, maybe not. Maybe he played violent video games and watched violent films all day, maybe not. Maybe he read about previous shootings in the press that influenced his decision to commit mass public murder, maybe not.

At any rate, I personally believe that the world is increasingly turning away from God and turning to themselves and relying on the fundamentals of science for the answers without leaving room for a more powerful Creator or Father in Heaven. While I obviously cannot prove causality, I think this correlates with the increase in violence. Additionally, I believe we are seeing the traditional family lose its significant role as the foundation of society.

It is my personal opinion and appeal to any readers that we should focus more efforts on understanding the meaning of life and seeking some sort of greater power that can influence us for good. Furthermore, that we should emphasize the teaching of sound moral principles that value life to children and youth of all ages. And lastly, that we should share any of our findings with those around us and encourage them to do the same.

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones due to the Connecticut school shooting. My prayers go out to them as well in addition to those who are asking “why.” May we all seek and find greater understanding. May greater peace and love abound in our communities and countries.

Reinventing College & Education

I recently read “College Is Dead. Long Live College!,” a cover story from Time magazine (October 29, 2012). The article talks about massive open online courses (MOOCs). It also briefly discusses three growing online “universities” Udacity, Coursera and Edx. The quality of these free college-level courses is often questionable. The material may be lacking, or the course instructor beyond boring.

The author of this article attended some traditional brick-and-mortar classes in a addition to a six others on Udacity to compare and contrast. He dropped at least three or more of the Udacity courses for the aforementioned reasons (i.e. boring, half-baked, etc.). However, much of his article focuses on a high quality physics class he attended and what made it so great. Much of it had to do with the way the class was taught: multiple video clips, frequent quizzes you could retake until you got the answer right, problem solving throughout the lecture. The following quotes stood out to me:

The video stopped, patiently waiting for me to choose one of the answers, a task that actually required some thought. This happened every three minutes or so, making it difficult for me to check my e-mail or otherwise disengage — even for a minute….

Studies of physics classes in particular have shown that after completing a traditional class, students can recite Newton’s laws and maybe even do some calculations, but they cannot apply the laws to problems they haven’t seen before. They’ve memorized the information, but they haven’t learned it…

After 47 fast-paced videos spliced with pop quizzes, I did actually know how big the earth was. Brown had reviewed geometry and trigonometry with examples from actual life. And when it came time to put it all together, I got to see him measure a shadow that formed a right triangle, setting up a mathematical proportion to calculate the circumference of the earth, just like an ancient mathematician.

Before Udacity existed, Sebastian Thrun (CEO and co-founder of Udacity) took to publishing his courses online, told his students they could opt for the online course and made some interesting discoveries.

More than three-quarters of them did so, viewing the videos from their dorms and participating as if they were thousands of miles away. Then something remarkable happened. On the midterm, the Stanford students scored a full letter grade higher on average than students had in previous years. They seemed to be learning more when they learned online. The same bump happened after they took the final.

Still, the Stanford students were not the stars of the class. At the end of the semester, not one of the course’s 400 top performers had a Stanford address.

Fascinating.

I hear plenty of my fellow classmates complain about professors and classes. It takes extra effort to really apply yourself to classes you don’t want to take or to see the benefits of certain assignments or projects. Some times I think my classmates are just being whiny and not seeing the value in their education. While this may be true, I think they have good reason to complain. Many of us are aware of the pitfalls in our education.

The prospect of receiving a better education for free is mind blowing and exciting. A lot of progress and changes are yet to be made, but the ball is rolling.

This week, Udacity announced that six companies, including Google and Microsoft, are sponsoring classes in skills that are in short supply, from programming 3-D graphics to building apps for Android phones.

Still, it will be a long time before companies besides high-tech start-ups trust anything other than a traditional degree. That’s why hundreds of thousands of people a year enroll in the University of Phoenix, which most students attend online.