It’s irony at its finest, with a tragic twist: in a world where the price of ignorance is countless suffering, our forays into higher learning often rack up astronomical student debt. In many fields, college-level knowledge and beyond are practically prerequisites for success, but steep tuition costs render diving headfirst into post-grad education a risky prospect.
Luckily for cash-strapped students, gaining valuable knowledge outside of the classroom is surprisingly simple, thanks to an array of opportunities available online and elsewhere. Using free resources, it is now possible to hone existing skills and acquire specialized knowledge without sacrificing financial stability for decades to come.
Years of experience as a student and professional have taught me the strength of knowledge: it’s not the finite quantity of data our brains store at any given time, but our ability to absorb new info continuously. I’ve always strived to facilitate learning however I can, which is why below I’ve listed a few techniques anyone can use to continue their education for free.
Take Courses Online
As the cost of college soars, professors and institutions alike are realizing the real value of broadcasting courses online, and without a price tag. By tearing down the financial walls sheltering education from the masses, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), have surged to newfound popularity. Even renowned Ivy League institutions have opened learning into a free, digital forum. A few choice offerings include Harvard’s digital classroom, and Carnegie Mellon’s open learning initiative.
YouTube’s most legendary scholars may have won fame for fashion or video game expertise rather than academic chops, however the site hosts over a billion videos, many of which offer content just as engaging as anything you’d encounter in top-notch classrooms. Popular channel Khan Academy says their mission is “to provide a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” With millions of subscribers, Youtube channels like Khan Academy, and TED offer a universe of information, navigable at no cost.
Utilize Professional Ties
If you’re already employed, a conversation with your HR department could put you within reach of opportunities for obtaining post-grad certification, or a master’s degree relevant to your field; cases for company-funded education are especially strong if employees have worked in a field of expertise for years, but lack a degree.
Additionally, many companies provide forums for employee learning. Training programs, mentorships, workshops, lunches alongside business leaders, and tablets stocked with industry-innovative books are just a few of the resources that could be gained from speaking with a manager about your interest in education.
Audit College Classes
If you live near a college, sitting in on classes is an excellent way to introduce yourself to a subject, and determine whether or not it meshes with your interests. You won’t be able to audit entire courses, but simply sitting in on a lecture or two can help you decide which subjects to pursue through other, more info-intensive free avenues.