Going Independent (for Now)

Having found myself outside of the confines of Russia, I started investigating different options for continuing my education. Obviously, I am no longer able to graduate from my university because I am abroad. The local options either demand a proficiency in Armenian, or are too costly to pursue at this moment in my life. All this situation, in spite of its rather morbid character, was, after all, a rather enticing starting point from which I could think outside the box.

My desire to tell stories, share ideas and collaborate with like-minded people of course implies getting a degree along the way. However, this does not mean that I cannot do all these things — as well as earning moneyƂ — in some other, more tailored way.

I have tried to enroll at a university thrice, and neither of these experiences could be called productive. Going to the lessons and communicating with a lot of people simply gets me dried up by noon, and the bullshit nature of the ex-USSR education (when there are a lot of useless subjects that are showed down one's throat) kills my very ability to allocate time properly. In addition to that, the value of the higher education now and, say, 30 years ago are simply not comparable (in many cases, unfortunately, we can tell the same about its quality). So, enlisting for a university and grinding my way up for the fourth time is not the best perspective. But what then could be an alternative?

I think, I have an idea.

If I split up things that I need into three main categories, the idea becomes quite clear.

  1. Theoretical and applied knowledge can be gotten by self-study, MOOCs and paid on-line courses and seminars. I am interested in Social Sciences and especially in Sociology and Economics, and the availability of materials, as well as open data, has been improving steadily throughout the recent years. This way I can get my skills and competencies to the level I need without distraction on the mandatory distractions.
  2. Networking, should it be applied correctly, can get me published. It is obvious, that it is harder to get one's knowledge evaluated and one's works dissiminated outside the existing academic institutions. But since my ideas are not generally shared by the mainstream academics anyway, getting more familiar with think tanks and building a network of those people whom my ideas might be interesting seems to be a more reasobable way to getting published than trying things the old way.
  3. A higher market awareness, including a developed personal brand is the necesseary condition for the success, given the conditions above are met and mastered. I need to focus on story-telling and rethorics so to be able to sell my point of view to the audience.

So, for starters, I need to focus more on the MOOCs I am dealing with, and gradually earn certification in languages (Englsh, German and French). At the same time, I need to become a certified user of Microsoft Ecxel (passing the exams to become Excel Master by Microsoft classification). And the final step would be getting some certified courses in Mathematics, Probability and Statistics, which will give me the instruments for analysing data in a quantitative fashion with certainty.

After that, it all boils down to producing some interesting articles on the themes I find peculiar and trying to find a way to have them published with the help of like-minded institutions (like think tanks or research groups).

And once I have both the skills (certified by independent bodies) and connections, I can kick-start my research activity to full throtle in accordance with the public demand and my interests alike.

No one says that it will be easy, but for the next year and a half, this is the plan.