How to Acquire an Elite College Education for Less Than $7000

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After attending
college in the late 80’s I became skeptical of the "received
wisdom" approach to education I encountered there. I strongly
believed that real truth and understanding could only be found through
a Socratic
Dialogue of systematic doubt
. Instead each course was taught
as if the facts presented were truths handed down by God to be memorized.
After reading the very revealing Deschooling
Society
by Ivan Illich, I gained confidence in attempting
a Socratic Dialogue directly with the immortal books. This approach
has taken a long time and is still ongoing. However I believe I
have discovered a straightforward approach to achieve an education
level that is the peer of any elite undergraduate college in the
modern world. This wouldn’t have been the case 70 years ago
when colleges were far better, but it is now.

This will take
4 to 5 years. Pick a season and work for 3 to 4 months to pay for
living expenses for the rest of the year while studying. If you
have to live at home or with roommates to afford that then do so.

Your study
plan will be based on 7 books. Each book will take 4 to 12 months
of intensive study to work through one at a time. You will study
to completely master the material in each book. You will seek out
inexpensive tutors that are easily found on college campuses to
help with this task. They often charge $10 to $20 an hour. Interview
tutors until you find the right ones for each book. If possible
try to find a tutor who will read or hopefully reread the books
at the same rate as yourself. Meet with your tutor every 1 or 2
weeks for a couple hours to go over corrected homework and engage
in a Socratic Dialogue. If you need to fill in gaps from your high
school education, that will become apparent while working through
the 7 books and your tutor will assign supplementary reading. During
these 4 years you will also want to do some networking for intern
and apprentice opportunities, if at all possible to be done during
the 4 working months. If it’s not possible to work as an apprentice
during the 4 years of study, that should be your goal after graduating.

That’s
the meat of the course. The dessert is getting a recognized college
degree. You will do this by taking your final year of study in a
distance program at either Empire
State College
or Open University.
These colleges allow testing out of other courses, so you will do
that for the other 3 years. You’ll want to be in communication
with either of these 2 from the start about your plan and progress.
Make a 4.5-year study schedule of the chapters of each book under
advisement from your tutors and college. You may have to skip some
chapters depending on your ability and commitment. Be sure to stay
on top of this because these books will require a tremendous amount
of work. Your payback however will be literally priceless.

Here are the
7 books, in the order they should be studied:

  1. Complete
    Works of Shakespeare
    or part of that in combination with
    a literary anthology to be assigned by a tutor. Be sure to get
    plenty of writing assignments. 5 months.
  2. History
    of Western Philosophy
    by Bertrand Russell. Engage in a
    lot of Socratic Dialogue. 5 months.
  3. The
    Making of the Modern Mind
    by Randall. Engage in a lot
    of Socratic Dialogue. 5 months.
  4. Man,
    Economy and State
    by Rothbard. Engage in a lot of Socratic
    Dialogue. 5 months.
  5. What
    Is Mathematics
    by Courant and Robbins. Work every problem
    and ask for additional ones. 5 months.
  6. Structure
    and Interpretation of Computer Programs
    by Abelson, Sussman
    and Sussman. Work every problem and ask for additional ones. 8
    months.
  7. Lectures
    on Physics
    by Feynman. Work every problem and ask for
    additional ones. 10 months.

By claiming
your inheritance of human achievement in truth, knowledge, science,
virtue and art, you will also be well prepared for a glorious future
of achieving freedom and prosperity.

There should
probably also be an 8th book that would be a general world history,
including of art. Any suggestions? Reading additional books by Rothbard
would also be a great idea, especially This
one
. Given current circumstances, everyone of every education
level should read This
one
.

March
11, 2009

Joe O’Donnell [send
him mail
] is a Programmer
from Buffalo NY.

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