Learning to Use Blender

I'm currently teaching myself how to use the free and open-source 3D modeling program Blender.

http://www.blender.org/

Just a few thoughts on the process so far:

-It's sad that students today spend tens of thousands of dollars to basically go and learn programs they could be learning for free online. There are vast resources available to students and non-students and it's all just a few keystrokes away via the internet. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of videos out there which demo the programs for you. Even better than learning these programs in a classroom setting is if you missed anything, you can simply rewind. If you want to try something, merely pause the video and experiment away to you hearts content. Beyond videos there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of step by step picture based demonstrations also available for anyone to take advantage of online.
-It's sad that students today are forced to spend thousands of dollars trying to keep up with "industry standards" like Photoshop and Painter.
-It's sad that students today don't know there are free and open source programs out there that are comparable to the industry standards, and are supported by their active communities much better than said industry standards.
-According to my roommate who is currently spending tens of thousands of dollars on art school, I have already dumped my money on such efforts and graduated, the students in his school don't know that GIMP exists.

http://www.gimp.org/

This is very much related to my last point, but I feel it needs a little expanding as I have been sold on GIMP strictly by using it. For the needs I have regarding image manipulation, GIMP fits the bill for most everything I need. It does everything Photoshop does, but as far as I can tell, allows the user far more control. In addition to this GIMP supports the PS file format, can import PS brushes and the like and I do believe can even import PS filters, which is the only thing I use PS for anymore.

My final point is that even with just the most basic skill sets now under my belt I have a far greater appreciation for individuals who do 3D modeling work. At times having to think in three dimensions becomes slightly dizzying as you adjust and re-adjust to an ever changing orientation of the traditional picture plane.