Learning Without the High Cost of Higher Education

by Darren Wu on 9 November 2012 3 comments
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Lots of college students graduate with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt. And to make things worse, they then struggle to find a job that'll provide for their basic living expenses as well as the repayment of that debt. I think it's safe to say that the myth of guaranteed success through a college degree has been exposed. Fortunately, you have opportunities everyday to learn and improve yourself outside of a traditional degree program. And that improvement will open the door to new career opportunities.

So how can you acquire useful skills outside of a college setting without having to pay enormous sums of money? Here are four ways. (See also: 15 Free Ways to Learn Something New)

Read Good Books

There's probably no better way to increase your level of success than to read quality books.

What are you interested in learning and doing? Whatever it is, there's a book out there that can help you do it better.

If you really want to take a college class, find the syllabus online and see what textbooks they're using. Then get the books yourself, and learn on your own time.

Remember, if cost is an issue, the library is always available.

Improve Your Communication Skills

No matter what career or business you pursue, you must be comfortable presenting your ideas. Being comfortable doing this in front of an audience will do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.

One way to improve your communication skills is to join Toastmasters. Give a talk about what you're learning. Not only will you get over your fear of public speaking, you'll also develop leadership skills.

Another way to improve is to take a training course from Dale Carnegie. They offer courses in areas such as Human Relations, High Impact Presentations, and Sales Success. Best of all, the first session is free.

Learn a New Language

You don't need to go to college to take Spanish 101 or French 201. There are many audio programs available that'll teach you how to speak a foreign language on your own. Two of the popular ones are Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

And using your driving time is a great way to learn. It's been said that if you drive 25,000 miles each year at an average speed of 46 miles per hour, you'll spend the same amount of time in your car as a typical college student spends in a classroom. What are you doing with that time?

Create Your Own Health and Fitness Program

Success is never about just making money. If you don't take care of your body, you won't have the energy you need to do great work.

There are two components to health and fitness: the quality of your diet and your physical condition. Improve the quality of your diet by reading a good nutrition book. I recommend "You: Staying Young" by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz.

To improve your physical condition, get some exercise everyday. It doesn't need to be a lot. You don't even need to join a gym. Do pushups and pullups for your upper body, crunches for your midsection, and use a jump rope for your lower body.

Demonstrate Your Expertise

This last step is important; the knowledge that you gain is useless if it stays inside your head. Give a talk about what you're learning at your Toastmasters club. Or start a blog and demonstrate to the world what you know.

Do all these steps, and you'll be amazed at the quality of education that you receive — an education that expands your options and enriches your life.

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Guest's picture
Walt

Thanks for the nice article. Actually while reading this, I remember a college drops out but a very successful billionaire; he acquired a lot of knowledge by reading many books. I believe you know Bill Gates; he is voracious reading and he read a lot of books related to computer programming and software engineering. The wisdom and acknowledge he got from books helps him to succeed in setting up Microsoft.

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Chimezirim Odimba

You are correct. Reading can help you acquire skills without having to spend so much money. To quote Kiyosaki (I think): The learner (or reader, in this case) inherits the earth while the learned are beautifully equipped to cope with a world that NO longer exists.

With the rapid changes we see in many sectors, even those who have gone through college have to keep reading to stay on the cutting edge -- The internet has made information so easily accessible. All you have to do now is make out time and read -- By the way, I am writing this from a remote part of Africa and I can soak in as much information as I need as long as I have an internet connection.

Yes, you can advance your knowledge without paying for college.

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theMark

There are so man amazing online resources to help you learn any subject. A few that come to mind are iTunes U, Khan Academy, You Tube, MIT Open Courseware. It's not the lack of resources, it's the lack of motivation that usually keeps me from learning something new. So many digital distractions these days.