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By Jennie M. Xue
 

Time travel fascinates me. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity provides a scientific avenue for a possibility of time travel –no matter how slight. Naturally, I’m also inclined to things about the future. The scientific term is “futurology,” the study of anything related to the future.

Having resided in Silicon Valley for more than 15 years, I have come to realize many things that are beyond a regular Jane or Joe’s comprehension. The social, political, economic, and technical dimensions of life in this region are likely to follow a direction that only those who think into the future can completely comprehend. 

I’m fortunate to have found a place where I can be my progressive self without any reservation. 

Things in Indonesia are so "upside down." It is conservative and traditional, even feudalistic. People in this region are far from being progressive, especially in the matter of innovation and dissemination of ideas.

Silicon Valley is a welcoming melting pot where the brightest and the most innovative and progressive individuals and corporations reside. Silicon Valley is a spiritual place where we can live modestly without exaggerating physical wealth. Silicon Valley is a place where one’s original mind matters more than physical appearance.

For instance, in Silicon Valley, one doesn’t need to have an engineering degree or even any degree to be a software programmer or tester. In Indonesia, most formal jobs require related degrees, despite the actual usefulness. People in Indonesia also appreciate all kinds of tangible things and formal designations. Intellectual properties are merely respected to a certain degree limitedly, which is a shame. 

Dropouts are highly appreciated in Silicon Valley, because their merits speak much louder than a piece of paper. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and Matt Wullenweg were all dropouts. In this age of 24/7/365 interconnectedness, what you know is more important than where you study.

 

Think. Innovate. Have a high net worth based on IPO valuation of your company. That’s how life is in Silicon Valley. Naturally, with so many billionaires as your neighbors, being a millionaire isn’t that impressive or even enough to be called “rich.” An article in The New York Times expressed it very well: “In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich”  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/technology/05rich.html

Living in Silicon Valley, you don’t need to drive the latest Ferrari like those Wall Street brokers. Even Steve Jobs drove a Mercedes Benz only (note: a Mercedes Benz is not that expensive in USA, approximately USD 50,000+ only) and Mark Zuckerberg drive a hybrid environmentally-friend car (note: approxmiately USD 30,000+ only). You can simply wear an old university t-shirt and a pair of jeans without people looking down on you. Try that while window-shopping at posh malls in Jakarta, you are likely finding salespersons not so accommodating.

With those big guys of the Valley as school dropouts, it also speaks a lot about how schools are likely to be obsolete. Learning about the future can occur anywhere. Education, after all, is not identical with schooling. Education occurs both inside and outside schooling. And the best education is one that occurs anytime and anywhere. Free. The best education Steve Jobs received was when he visited India, where he experienced a spiritual enlightenment. 

Do you think school curricula can catch up with the speed of information today? School bureaucracy has been hindering the progress of education for years, which results in extremely high cost of schooling. A college student is likely having student loan of USD 25,000 or more. If you go to an Ivy League school, you can have student debt anywhere from USD 150,000 to USD 350,000 or even USD 400,000 upon graduation.

Student loans cannot be erased in the event of personal bankruptcy, so it is going to hover around your head for quite a long time. Why bother with owning an expensive degree, while you can be innovative and even be prosperous without it? Of course, if you intend to become a physician, the only path is through a medical school. But if your goal is to get a job or be financially independent, there are many ways to obtain the skills and updated knowledge. 

Thus, an American high school graduate now thinks over many times before committing to going to any school. University of the People http://www.uopeople.org/ a tuition-free accredited online university is the answer to those who still want to have a structured education in Business and Computer Science without the high cost of traditional higher education schooling. It is a good option. 

And for those skeptics in online education, think very carefully.

Do you know that Stanford University offers a degree program completely online? It is MSc in Computer Science, which can be accessed here: http://scpd.stanford.edu/public/category/courseCategoryCertificateProfile.do?method=load&certificateId=1240861. You can also obtain various professional certifications entirely online from Stanford as well: http://scpd.stanford.edu/degreeCredit/degreesCertificates.jsp 

With collaboration with Udacity, the prestigious Georgia Institute for Technology also offers an MSc in Computer Science program: http://www.omscs.gatech.edu/. Both the online degree programs at Stanford and GIT are very hard to get into, super competitive. So if you think an online degree program is for "less intelligent" individuals, think again.  

An online university where I taught more than 50 classes of College Essay and Paper Writing is Western Governors University http://www.wgu.edu/ based in Utah. It is a demanding and highly reputable university supported by 20 US state governors: Alaska Governor Parnell, Arizona Governor Brewer, California Governor Brown, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, Guam Governor Calvo, Hawaii Governor Abercrombie, Idaho Governor Otter, Indiana Governor Pence, Montana Governor Bullock, Nebraska Governor Heineman, Nevada Governor Sandoval, New Mexico Governor Martinez, North Dakota Governor Dalrymple, Oklahoma Governor Fallin, Oregon Governor Kitzhaber, South Dakota Governor Daugaard, Texas Governor Perry, Utah Governor Herbert, Washington Governor Inslee, and Wyoming Governor Mead.

Other highly prestigious US universities also offer many online programs, which can be accessed at http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-05-15/online-classes-college-education-tuition/54979794/1 and https://www.edx.org/.  Also an open courseware from MIT in Boston, MA can be accessed at http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm. Coursera https://www.coursera.org/ offers online programs conducted by Princeton University, Columbia University, Yale University, Berklee College of Music, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, Brown University, John Hopkins University, etc.

Where you want to learn from is a matter of a "click." However, what you know matters more in the end. 

A futurist like me always think ahead of time, sometimes years or even decades ahead. I have thought about “lifestyle design” in which one can live a fluid and flexible life with working completely via the Internet producing various intellectual properties long before Tim Ferris wrote his New York Times Best-Seller The Four-Hour Workweek. I have thought about starting an online university in 1994, when I just graduated from college. And I have started one in 2009 but decided to dissolve it due to recession.

I have thought about publishing digitally long before Amazon.com became the granddaddy of Kindle singles. My dream for publishing an ebook through a reputable legacy publisher materialized in 2002 with FabJob.com (Canada)  http://www.fabjob.com/. My ebook was titled Guide to Become a Management Consultant, which won a nomination for EPPIE Award (USA) for Excellence in Electronic Publishing under Non-Fiction Category. In 2003, I started a digital publishing venture, which is now being revamped to catch up with changes in consumer behaviors.

I’m happy as a futurist for I live in the future, a place so fascinating and mysterious. My body might be in 2014, but my mind is in 2024. See you there. Soon.[]

Jennie M. Xue was formerly known as Jennie S. Bev. She is a futurist and digital entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, California. She was born and raised in Indonesia. Her works are archived at jenniesbev.typepad.com

Inspirasi.co, 20 Februari 2014

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