3 Ways to Continue Your Education for Free (or Close to It)

Just because you’ve earned your college degree doesn’t meant the learning needs to end. All that needs to end is taking out student loans for more learning. There are many ways you can continue your education for little or no cost. While non of these will earn you a degree, they will allow you to learn new skills and/or hobbies. Below I point out three such options.

Free college

Community College

Your local community college offers many non-credit courses that are either free or cost very little. Every semester in the mail where I live, I get a booklet from the local community college that lists all of the courses they are offering. While many are for traditional students trying to obtain their Associates Degree or preparing for a traditional four-year college, there is a nice sized list of courses for everyone else. They range from computer programming to photography, with everything else in between. It’s a great option to look into to learn a new skill or find out if a new hobby is for you.

I personally have used my local community college for the advancement of my career. At one of my past jobs, we were looking to create macro’s through MS Excel. No one had a good grasp on how to do this. I ended up taking a class for free at my local community college and was able to lead the project at work. The initiative I took made me stand out to my employer and got me a nice sized raise.

YMCA

Along the lines of the community college route is your local YMCA. While being a paid member of the YMCA will allow you to take many of the courses for free, non-members can also sit in on classes and only pay a small fee, usually less than $100. The courses offered at the YMCA are geared more towards hobbyists, with courses in painting, drawing, basket-weaving, photography, etc. However, depending on you skill set, they too offer classes in MS Word and Excel, among other programs. I get this booklet mailed to me all of the time as well. If you don’t, you can either visit your local YMCA or their website to get an idea of the courses that are offered.

Non-Credit College Courses

Many colleges and universities offer non-credit courses for little or no cost as well. The best part is that you don’t have to re-take your SAT’s and write an essay to get in!

Many colleges offer free courses, including MIT, Harvard and Stanford. A quick look at some available courses includes Shakespeare, China, World War II, Probability, and more. All of the courses offered are online, so it doesn’t matter if the college is local to you or not. You can even find free courses on iTunes too.

These are just a few examples of ways of continuing your education for free or low cost. They are great options to look into if you want to explore a new hobby, brush up on an old skill, or learn something simply for the sake of learning.

Readers, have you ever taken advantage of a free course at any of the above? Can you think of other ways to continue your education for free or low cost?

22 Responses to 3 Ways to Continue Your Education for Free (or Close to It)

  1. Good list. I’ll be honest with you, though -ever since I started getting into blogging, I found I learned as much, if not more, than those courses could provide. Of course (no pun intended) this information is not a structured as a college course, but in terms of usable knowledge, it might beat stuff from formal institutions.

  2. I think I used up all my student skills a long time ago, but maybe when I’m old, I’ll want to be a student again. Don’t seniors get free tuition?

    • I hear ya Kim. I finished my master’s and have the opportunity to get certified for my job at work. I want the certification, but am so over studying! It would be nice to get free tuition as a senior. Even better, maybe schedule your classes on Tuesdays to take advantage of Senior Citizen Appreciation Days!

  3. If you work for a big company, there usually are some kind of in house learning program. You can take advantage of these classes for free. The company usually will help pay for other type of classes too so it’s good to check with them.

    • Great point. At my last employer, they partnered up with a local university and provided some courses for free. I forgot about that until you mentioned it.

    • Man! That’s what I was going to plug. Most employers have requirements around the ‘free’ classes though. At mine, the coursework had to be related to your work for the company. At my daughter-in-laws, you have to commit to a certain period of employment with the company.

  4. I actually didn’t know this. Good info here, thanks Don! My “informal” educations comes from looking up stuff on the internet, and youtube “how to” videos :)

  5. Great list! I took a few community college journalism classes a couple of years ago. They were definitely low-cost. And the best part is that they were taught by journalism professionals who truly wanted to share their knowledge and experience with us. I loved it.

    • Your comment made me think about this benefit of community colleges: Many night courses are taught by professionals in the business that teach for either extra income or wanting to pass along their knowledge. Getting to know these professionals is a great way to get known and to network, hopefully helping you get a job.

  6. Mike says:

    Great article and ideas. One of the best ways I found to get a college education for free is to work for the college or university in any capacity. Here in Pittsburgh there are many colleges that waive tuition for all of their full time employees (and in some cases even their children).

    • Excellent point Mike. I’m sure this practice is done by most colleges. I know of a prep school for high school students that you get discounted tuition if a family member works for the school in any capacity.

  7. I’ve definitely thought about taking some courses at the community college near me just for fun. I mean I can learn to be a cake decorator or sommelier, what fun!

  8. jefferson says:

    i have thought for some time that it would be fine to take a few classes at the community college to feed my brain a bit.. i really do miss the mass-learning that goes on at college..

    one additional tip.. you can take a “class” for free at the local home improvement stores to learn how to do something related to DIY..

  9. I’ve considered going back to school to learn computer science as it has become a bigger part of my job and I can do it cheaply at a community college.

    There’s just so many resources just online and in books that it’s hard to go back and pay a teacher. I hardly have time to teach myself!

    • With the internet, it is so easy to share information and learn. It’s crazy when you think about how much information is really out there. I’d suggest learning as much as you can for free from books and online, then when you have a specialized topic, see if there is a class for that. Of course, you might be able to find that online too!

  10. [...] me start off by saying that I am all for getting as much of an education as you can. I personally have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. But before you decide to go to [...]

  11. I have actually ended up furthering my education and learning a heap of new skills from a online learning websites.

    Some of them are even free, although the best ones tend to charge you a small fee.

  12. [...] down in front of the TV every night or on the weekends, find something better to do. Read a book. Take class and learn. Make yourself a better person. Or, just stop and find out what really makes you happy in [...]

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