I have acquired professional-level skills in career counseling, journalism, rose hybridizing, screenplay writing, plus strong amateur-level skills as an actor and play director without ever having taken a course (let alone a degree) in any of the above.
1. Google the topic to read key articles in the field.
2. Use Amazon to find the best books on the subject.
3. While reading those books, immediately start applying what I've learned: career counseling someone (for free while I was still a neophyte), writing columns and articles, breeding roses, writing a screenplay, auditioning for acting and directing roles.
4. I then solicit feedback from everyone from just-plain folks to world-class experts. For example, I discussed my rose hybridizing efforts with the world's leading hybridizers and visited their facilities. I sent drafts of my articles and screenplays to respected friends and to leading writers for review. I had top career counselors watch me do sessions and I watched them. In preparation for an audition, I took an acting lesson or two.
-- Over the past 20 years, I've had 2,800 career coaching clients and enjoy a 96% client satisfaction rate. The San Francisco Bay Guardian, on its cover, called me "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach."
-- For six years, I was career columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, for three years at the Los Angeles Times, and now in my third year as Contributing Editor at U.S. News & World Report and columnist for Kiplinger.com.
-- Three of my rose varieties are in commerce, distributed by Bailey's Nurseries, one of the world's premier distributors of no-spraying-required roses.
-- In the last four years, I have had four starring roles in plays. And in my directing debut, I won the Bay Area "Roar of the Crowd" award for the Bay Area's #1 audience-favorite entertainment of the week and "Best Director" award at Chanticleers Theatre.
-- Lew Hunter, Professor and Chair Emeritus of the preeminent UCLA screenwriting program called my screenplay, The Ugly Club, "a uniquely pleasurable experience that will make a wonderful film." Two significant Hollywood film studios are currently considering it.
Of course, you do have to be a self-starter and an apt learner for this learning strategy to work, but if you are, in a surprisingly large array of pursuits, you may be able to forgo State U, let alone Private U, in favor of You U.