I have personally paid a lot of money for my education over the years. There are pros and cons to going the traditional college route. I’m happy with the choices that I’ve made. That said, there are so many awesome options available these days to take free and cheap classes online. If you’re more interested in learning than in getting the official degree, you can get a high-quality online education without paying more than the cost of your Internet connection.
I actually did most of my undergrad degree online through the university that I attended. This was in the early days of online classes. I loved it, but it was nothing like it is today. Now even when you take free online classes, you have access to support, forums, interactive material, and so much more. It’s amazing what you can learn online if you just put your energy towards it. You just need to know where to look.
Free College Classes Through Coursera
Coursera is my personal favorite resource for taking free online college classes. I love the opportunity to dabble in a wide range of different subject matters. I’ve taken personal finance classes, psychology classes, hard science classes, and more. Sometimes I sign up, learn a little, and don’t complete the class. Other times, I participate in every aspect, learn a ton, and then look for a next class that supplements what I learned. The classes are all real college classes, so I feel like I’m getting a good introduction to any topic.
Coursera also offers some classes and certificates that you pay for. I haven’t done that, yet. However, I’m considering taking their set of paid writing courses. They are affordable. They look interesting. Moreover, I think the online class format would motivate me to focus in a way that I haven’t been doing on my own. If I’m lucky, it’ll include some good peer critique that would be helpful in growing my own work.
Other Online Resources for Free and Cheap Classes
Coursera certainly isn’t the only site of its kind. In fact, there are so many different websites available now where you can take college-level and professional-level courses for free or cheap. Here are a few of the ones that I know of, some of which I’ve personally taken courses in.
- Alison is a great platform for free online classes. The site is similar to Coursera in many ways so it’s just a matter of figuring out which platform offers the classes that you want to take.
- Bluprint offers affordable online craft classes in crochet, knitting, quilting, and more. Each class is taught by a professional in that niche. Classes come with one-on-one instruction, free patterns, and more.
- EdX offers free online classes from major colleges including Harvard and MIT. They have diverse courses of study. Similar to Coursera, they also offer some paid classes, including graduate degree classes. These vary in affordability.
- FutureLearn offers several different ways to enjoy classes. Free classes are available for a set period of time online. Upgraded classes are affordable and stay accessible to you even after the course officially ends. Alternatively, you can pay a set annual fee for unlimited courses.
- HarvardX gives you the opportunity to take Harvard’s courses for free. Of course, you don’t get the official Harvard diploma, but you still get to challenge yourself.
- Khan Academy is perhaps the best resources for free online classes for all ages. Children and parents will enjoy learning together through these classes.
- Skillshare classes are taught by practitioners in different niches. You can sign up for as little as $8.25 per month to get access to as many classes as you can take.
- Udemy offers online video courses taught by a wide range of people across many subjects. These classes vary in affordability but Udemy often features special sales. For example, they currently have an Easter sale with classes starting at just $11.99.
Other Smart Ways to Learn for Free Online
You don’t have to sign up for official free online classes in order to learn. You can also use the resources on the Internet to help you put together your own free education. This is particularly useful if you want to explore a unique topic in-depth. Some of the places that you might look for free and cheap information on your chosen topic include:
- Audible and other ebooks on topics that interest you
- Curiosity Stream and other resources for in-depth documentaries
- High-quality niche topic blogs, especially those with tutorials
- Look Inside book feature on Amazon to learn new things and decide if a book is worth buying
- YouTube to learn how to do just about anything
Finally, get a library card to your local library and see what they offer online. The San Francisco Public Library gives me access to journals, ebooks, multimedia material and more – all free online.
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