Quora answer: What should a college graduate who’s interested in intellectual learning but doesn’t want to get a PhD do?
I was like that. I went to England after college to do a Masters, and found out that my educational preparation was not enough, so I switched from Masters to M.Phil and then Ph.D. but I never thought I would finish to I decided to make the best of my situation and to just read as much as I could of what fascinated me. Turned out that I did get the Ph.D. in the end after much struggle, and it took me a long time because I had to catch up to my Peers in England who were better educated than I was and then go on to the Ph.D. level of mastery. Since I was three years behind, the fact that it took me nine years, really probably translates in to 6 years if I had been at the same level as my peers graduating from English universities. At University the students study only one subject for three years, rather than the potpourri that we study in the US. A major is really only about a years’ worth of work. I think the AA degree here is similar to the O levels in England. Anyway, one thing is to get into a program and just study what you want to study, of course that is easer in UK, Australia or Canada because they all have the same system that does not demand any classes at the Ph.D. level, or at least that is what it used to be like. If you have a goal in mind it helps to give focus to one’s research. Without a goal one delves in just too many things becoming what is called a dilettante. So unless you have a problematic it is really impossible to make progress. So it is best to take as your problematic something fairly general but that you are fascinated with so you can have a horizon to explore that you cannot exhaust easily. However, in this society knowledge without a degree is not recognized as having worth. It does not matter how much you know, only what degrees you have when you look for work, because there is a lot of competition with people who got the degrees. So my suggestion is always to get the degree first and try to fit your interests into that as best you can. But they keep you so busy in school that you do not have time to pursue your own interests except a little bit now and again. It is easier when you get a job then you can study whatever you want in your free time. I recommend getting a degree, then a job then studying what you want to your heart’s desire. But because education is becoming so expensive that might not be an option. In that cause I suggest you find someone who has knowledge of some field you are interested in and try to talk to them about it, to give you pointers how to go about learning it on your own. It is so strange that scholarship in the university is nearly impossible and outside the university it is worse. So the only way to study what you want to find a job, doing something that is not too taxing, and then pursue your studies as an independent scholar, but that is a lonely way to go. In the end most people give up because it is too hard to maintain ones effort when there is no response of feedback from anyone but yourself. But there are those that are just fascinated with their subject and so they sustain their studies against the odds.