One of the biggest issues these days is that of Higher Education. It seems like you can’t even get a job as a burger flipper these days without needing a degree of some sort. Because of the emphasis placed on degrees and higher education in general, students without much experience in financial independence end up putting themselves into tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in debt, without really any plan to pay it off.
I mean, how is a history major supposed to pay off sixty thousand dollars of debt? By joining academia and teaching the next generation of suckers, who will all then graduate and become part of the academia, thus perpetuating the cycle? Via a jackpot casino?
Well, let’s forget about ’em for the moment. In my opinion, STEM is where it’s at, and if that’s not what interests you, then university is probably the wrong choice for you. Of course, saying that aloud feels a bit self justifying, like lawyers and politicians making unfathomably large laws to justify their existence. Or something. Whatever. The point is, in my opinion, it’s STEM or bust.
However, I think it’s pretty obvious to say that it’s nowhere near as easy as that. Studying a STEM degree, like engineering, requires real dedication and perseverance- and beyond that, you need competent teachers. Unfortunately, a lot of us (if not MOST of us) do not have the luxury of amazing teachers for every class. We have to supplement our education with online resources. I know I do. And as someone who is in the middle of this struggle, allow me to recommend the six best resources online- and before you ask, yes, most of them are on YouTube.
I have always been more of a visual learner. 3Blue1Brown is a YouTube channel that focuses on teaching mathematics- and more importantly, showing the math visually so that you can actually understand what you’re accomplishing. The how and why of integrals I learned from this channel.
Easily the best decision I made was to sit through this channel’s entire series on Linear Algebra when I was struggling with the coursework. In class, I was just told to do XYZ to accomplish D, without much of an explanation for why I would ever want to accomplish D in the first place. For example, determinants: What were they, and why would I need them? Well, watch 3Blue1Brown’s videos on the subjects, you’ll be certain to know the answer!
2) Khan Academy
This is easily one of the best learning resources on the internet period, and you can find them both on YouTube and on their own website, khanacademy.org. Created by Sal Khan, this non-profit organization’s entire foundation lies on the premise that all students can learn if given the tools to do so. You can find explanations on an immense variety of subjects, from calculus to physics to chemistry, and even art and humanities, like history, civics, and prehistoric art.
Their videos are excellent, straight to the point, and explained clearly and precisely- and they’re ALL free! I do have to warn you, though, that some of their older videos are very low quality. Literally, they aren’t above 480p resolution, and the audio can be a bit… off. However, if you don’t mind that so much, you’ll have a treasure trove of learning resources produced with love and care for well over a decade at this point.
3) The Organic Chemistry Tutor
This channel has a very similar style to Khan academy, except that it’s entirely done by one guy. There are a lot of comparisons to be drawn between the two, and often if one is lacking videos on a subject, the other has it. I’m often bouncing between The Organic Chemistry Tutor and Khan Academy, and I highly recommend them both.
I recently did a review for Statistics, and I powered through several weeks of material in a couple hours by just watching a few of this guy’s videos. Before that, I did a review of Thermodynamics by powering through a three hour video of practice problems this guy made. This is a great learning resource that you should absolutely be taking advantage of if you haven’t already.
4) Jeff Hanson
I. LOVE. This channel.
The content is far more engineering focused than the other ones I’ve so far listed, but if you’re in need for some extra review of such subjects, then Jeff has you covered. I’ve personally been going over his series on Statics and his series on Solids. Very informative, succinct, and his enthusiasm in every video is inspiring.
In an internet world where tutorials made by New Englanders, British men, and Indians are all well and good, it is quite a fun change of pace to hear a science lesson taught in a jolly, southern drawl. While the content overall is a bit more limited than some of these other channels, the quality more than makes up for it.
5) The Efficient Engineer
Again, this is another engineering specific channel. However, it’s too good not to mention. As I mentioned above, I am very much a visual learner. Every video on this channel provides clear graphical representations of real world engineering subjects without forsaking the important stuff one needs to pass tests.
The narration is clear, although it does sound like those documentaries where you get guided around a factory by a disembodied narrator, as he explains how sprockets are made or whatever.
6) The Engineering Mindset
In a sort of similar style to The Efficient Engineer, The Engineering Mindset has loads of videos that explain all sorts of electric components visually. Oftentimes, if my professor didn’t explain a component well, I can easily pull out one of these videos and understand in fifteen minutes what my professor failed to explain several hours.
The visuals are on point, the explanations are clear, and you should check them out if you’re at all interested in electronics.
And that’s the round-up! In all honestly, there are so many channels online and learning resources available that I hardly even scratched the surface as to what’s available if you dig for it. There are a number of channels I considered mentioning, but for one reason or another didn’t.
For instance, I didn’t mention Sci-Show, Anton Petrov, or Sabine Hossenfelder because while they all produce great videos, they better fall into the category of “STEM news channels” more than a reliable resource for studying. I also follow a number of game development channels, but a lot of them have dropped off their tutorial content in favor of “dev-logs”, so it didn’t feel right mentioning them in the list (my favorites are Vimlark, Sebastian Lague, and Game Endeavor if you’re interested in checking them out regardless).
Then, lastly, there are engineering channels that are great for enthusiasts but likely offer little in the way of educational value. I’d recommend Ian Davis (a machinist who has been making an entirely mechanical prosthetic hand- for himself! Or Jeremy Fielding, who tinkers on incredible projects for budget prices.
So I guess all of these are honorable mentions. Well, I’m honored to mention them.
…do I spend too much time on YouTube? Nahhh.