Whether you want to become the next Bill Nye or you just want to learn as much as you can without undergoing a formal education, being an intellectual is easier than it sounds! With work and determination, you can make knowledge your life. Read the following article to find out how.
Part 1 of 5: Think like an intellectual
Step 1. Question everything
- True intellectuals question everything they hear or read. They never take false information for true, but instead try to make sure that what they learn is true.
- If something seems wrong, it may just be. Even things that seem right can be wrong, so make sure you're working with verifiable facts.
Step 2. Be curious
- Intellectuals are naturally curious. They want to know everything.
- You too must be curious by nature and try to figure out how and why things are the way they are.
Step 3. Love studying
- Intellectuals love to learn about anything.
- They enjoy the very act of learning, not necessarily being smarter than other people or knowing more facts.
- It's not a trick to impress at a party - it's what makes them happy.
Step 4. Well-formed opinions
- Look at all sides of a debate and gather as much information as you can before forming an opinion on the matter.
- Form your own opinions, don't take someone else's. This ability is very important for intellectuals.
Step 5. Change your mind
- Intellectuals must be willing to change their minds when new information appears that questions their previous knowledge. This is the most important characteristic of an intellectual.
- Be open-minded and don't mind making a mistake, as it is a step in the search for knowledge.
Step 6. Avoid bias
- Don't let your personal feelings get in the way of your actions or the information you give to others.
- Just because you disagree with something doesn't mean it isn't true.
- Give all posture a chance and don't let partiality cloud your vision.
Part 2 of 5: Learn Outside the System
Step 1. Read a lot
- The best way to learn without receiving a formal education is to read. Read everything you can and at every opportunity. This alone can make you an intellectual (since an intellectual is basically someone who is learning all the time).
- You can buy books, but don't forget to visit the library, where you can get lots of free books. The Internet has made library systems simpler, so you can find, order, and renew books from the comfort of your home.
- There are also many public domain books, of which you can get free digital copies. Project Gutenberg is the most famous, but you can also get many for the Amazon Kindle.
Step 2. Take classes
- Did you know that you can take college courses without pursuing a degree? If you are interested in learning something in particular, take a course on it, without paying for the entire university degree. Some classes are even free.
- Find out at a university that interests you about how to take free courses (this means taking the course but without having to do assignments or take exams, in addition to not receiving credits or a grade).
- You can also speak directly to the teacher who runs the course and come to an agreement with him.
Step 3. Try online schools
- There are many online schools that are popping up on the internet. You can take courses from recognized universities and in some cases obtain a certificate upon completion of the course.
- You can learn all kinds of things, from history to programming.
- The most popular options are Coursera, creativeLive, OpenCulture, and even the Mental Floss YouTube channel (with John Green).
- You can also learn languages online for free. Good sites include LiveMocha and Duolingo.
Step 4. Learn by yourself
- You can learn new skills and information yourself. Humans learn by doing, so let's get to work.
- You can learn with books or other materials, or just by doing things. Just make sure you don't hurt yourself.
- This may take a lot of willpower but you can do it. Do not give up!
Step 5. Learn from others
- You can also learn a lot by talking to other experts in the field. This is called being an apprentice.
- Find someone who will do what you want to learn to do, and offer to pay them or help them for free if they show you how.
- This works better with trades than academics, but you can still find friendly people to recommend books or guide you in other ways.
Part 3 of 5: Get into a good college
Step 1. Get good grades
- It is important to have good grades in high school (or the equivalent in your country), especially in the last two years. Colleges will look at your grades and decide whether or not to accept you.
- Get good grades by studying, paying attention in class, and doing all the required work.
- Ask your teachers for help and communicate with them often to raise your grades.
Step 2. Do more than the minimum work
- Doing the bare minimum is not going to impress anyone, so try harder.
- Take extra classes, attend classes at your local college even if you're still in high school, or work (even as a volunteer) outside of school.
- It will help you a lot that the work you do is related to the career you plan to study. This will look promising to the colleges you apply to.
Step 3. Learn languages
- Speaking another language will not only help you in life, it is a requirement for obtaining a college degree. Show that you are ready by learning another language.
- You can take private lessons, at your school, at a local university, or free online. DuoLingo and LiveMocha are good places to learn languages.
- Choose a language that will be useful to you. Otherwise, the university will not be interested in this. Some languages are more useful than others depending on where you live and what career you plan to pursue.
Step 4. Get good scores on your tests
- Getting a good score on your country's entrance exam will help you get into a good university. The better your grade, the more options you have.
- Get a good score by studying ahead and taking practice tests.
- You can also take the exam more than once if you wish.
- Don't think that getting a low or average grade will make you unable to achieve what you set out to do. You can always start at a university and transfer.
Step 5. Write a good essay
- Admission essays are very important and can help you get into a good college even if your test scores were average.
- Find out what the university you are applying to is looking for and write something that fits that.
- Distinguish yourself, write a unique essay if you want to be accepted. Whether you do something unconventional or just your essay is exceptional academically, it all depends on the university.
Part 4 of 5: Get Your Higher Education
Step 1. Set specific goals from the beginning
- Knowing what career you want to pursue from the beginning will help you a lot. So you can only take classes that are related to what you want instead of signing up for courses that will not serve you in the future.
- Sure you can change your mind, but starting out knowing what you want is very helpful.
- Use your time in high school to decide what you want to do with your life. Gaining experience in that field by volunteering can clarify a lot for you.
Step 2. Spend time studying
- Study as much as you can and get good grades to make the most of your time in college.
- Taking notes and paying attention in class will be very useful for you. You must develop these skills if you want to be successful.
- You can study alone or with other people. What feels best to you. However, studying with your classmates allows you to take advantage of their notes.
- Seek help when you need it. You can ask your classmates, use the tutoring center, or talk to the teacher or teaching assistant.
Step 3. Enroll in the correct courses
- Obtaining a degree involves having taken the courses required by the university. Make sure that you are taking the necessary courses so as not to delay in obtaining your degree.
- Look for classes that meet more than one requirement to speed up the time it takes to graduate.
- Try to only take courses that relate to your future career. This will look better and will help you get into a master's degree.
Step 4. Write good articles
- The works you write are very important in your grade, so writing good works will benefit you a lot. Also, many graduate schools will ask you for a sample article when you apply. It is important that you have an exceptional one on hand.
- Read many articles to get an idea of how to structure yours and how to present your arguments.
- Try to be original. Originality and meaningful research are the things that will make you stand out as an intellectual.
- Do things early, so you can show a draft of the article to the teacher before the deadline and implement the advice they give you before submitting the final one.
- Make more than one draft and worry about copyediting.
Step 5. Make friends with your teachers
- Befriending your teachers means more than getting a better grade because they like you better. Your professors can help you get into graduate school, and you may get them from colleagues later.
- Get to know them by taking advantage of their office hours. However, make sure you are not wasting their time. Reach them with real questions and listen to what they have to tell you.
- You can also meet your teachers while concentrating on their classes. Sit up front, answer and ask questions, and worry about participating in general.
- You can also talk to them for advice. They want to see you succeed and will be happy to give you advice on how to work and progress in your field.
Step 6. Obtain all necessary titles
- For some academics, a master's degree is enough for what they want to do. Others must obtain a doctorate.
- This means that if you really want to be an intellectual for the rest of your life, you are going to need to go to graduate school. Keep in mind that your studies can take more than 8 years after finishing high school.
- Don't let this scare you. Grad school is very different from others, it is easier. If you could get in, you can finish it.
Step 7. Do other academic activities
- As long as you are in college, take part in all the academic activities that interest you and excite you academically.
- You can read for fun and explore your own research interests.
- You can also participate in group activities, such as joining a debate club.
Part 5 of 5: Work when you finish your studies
Step 1. Find a job
- Once you have your degrees, you must find a position as a professor or researcher. Many intellectuals work as university professors.
- Your university should have resources to help you find a job.
- Try to find a position with good benefits and pay, as you will probably have to pay back the loans you received for your education.
- Try to get a position at a university, as they have resources that you will not find elsewhere.
Step 2. Teach classes
- As a university professor, you will have to teach classes in your subject. Some courses will be about what you study, but others will be a bit forced, especially when you're just starting out.
- This means that you will have to speak to an audience. Sometimes there will be many students, other times it will be a smaller room.
- Don't be intimidated. You will have practice teaching when you are in graduate school and the academic department will help you a lot. Also, the students are probably much more nervous than you, as they want you to give them good grades.
Step 3. Keep learning
- True intellectuals spend their lives learning. Just because you've graduated doesn't mean you should stop.
- Read in your spare time. This means reading academic journals so that you can keep abreast of new discoveries in your field.
- Travel to study abroad. In many fields of study, it can be beneficial to go outside, to see what your colleagues are working on and to have access to material that might not be available where you live.
- Get other titles. Some intellectuals return to college to pursue other careers. This generally helps them when their research matches the domains of another field. Studying a second career, in that case, can help them advance in their work.
Step 4. Attend conferences
- Congresses are gatherings where many specialists in a field come together to share their research and learn from each other.
- You can present things that you have been studying, but more than anything you want to listen to the presentations of others and talk to your colleagues.
- Some congresses can be local or regional, but sometimes you may have the opportunity to attend international congresses.
- Congresses are more entertaining than they seem. In reality, most are just a gathering of intellectuals to get drunk together.
Step 5. Keep investigating
- When you work in academia, you are asked to keep doing research in your field, writing articles, and publishing books on a regular basis.
- Sometimes you will be allowed to take a year off, or paid, to work on your investigations.
- You will write articles for magazines, conferences and books to be published. What is expected is that your research will gain some notoriety for the university where you work, attracting more students and donations.