10 Cost-Efficient Ways to Continue Your Education

By on

Higher education for a fraction of the cost?

Most certainly. If you are looking to broaden your knowledge in a particular area of interest, you may be able to do so without accumulating a hefty bill for tuition from a major university or leaving the comforts of your own home.

Here are 10 ways to continue your education for free or for a modest amount of money:

1. Books

This may seem rather obvious, unless you despise reading and would rather jump into a fiery pit instead. Well, continuing education goes beyond listening to lectures, both in and out of formal settings. For every subject of interest to a human walking planet Earth, there are many books about them. (Determining the quality is another story.) So there’s no excuse not to learn something new every day.

Still not motivated? I’d suggest committing to one book a month or setting aside a set number of hours each day to read. Start with entertaining books and later work in the more technical guides. Before you know it, you’ll have a considerable amount of new knowledge in your brain.

You don’t have to spend a lot of cash to beef up your collection. Start with the library, where books are free. If you’re buying, eBay and Amazon are particularly cost-efficient if you don’t mind gently used books. Smashwords offers an exhaustive collection of e-books on almost every topic under the sun, some of which are free of charge.

2. Trade magazines

Trade magazines are crafted to appeal to members of a particular industry by presenting ground-breaking developments and recent trade and industry news. You may or may not be given complex formulas or solutions to dilemmas you encounter daily in the workplace, but these publications can serve as a starting point to direct you to a broader understanding of a particular field.

Also, check out the extra articles on the website that weren’t included in the magazine, but are equally useful.

3. Nontraditional online courses

Online learning communities are popping up all over the Web. And the most appealing element is the fact that you can take a course from an expert in a field or subject matter for a fraction of what you’d spend at a college or university — or even for free. Looking for a few platforms to try out? Take a look at:

4. Free Ivy League education

You definitely read that correctly. While you won’t exactly earn a degree from a prestigious institution, you can get a quality education just as its on-campus students do. Check out these free programs from Ivy League and other prestigious institutions of higher education:

5. Self-study modules at your place of employment

During my tenure as a governmental accountant, I frequently took advantage of the continuing education courses offered to employees to facilitate the comprehension of system operations. If you have the same opportunities available to you, don’t shy away from attending, even if most of the other trainees are new employees. If you ignore these free opportunities, you may miss out on valuable information that can be taken with you to the next level.

6. Local conferences

Connect with other business professionals in your area, your alumni association (if applicable) and the local Chamber of Commerce to be in the know about local conferences related to your industry.

7. Professional associations

This is another fantastic way to network with others in your industry and perhaps connect with mentors who can guide you along the way and refer you to low-cost or free continuing education events/alternatives.

8. Web searches

You probably weren’t expecting this, but there’s so much knowledge that can be acquired from the Internet — if you successfully weed through the massive volume of information to find the steak and potatoes. When using an online search engine, don’t limit yourself to the first page of results. Instead, play with the search criteria and dig a little deeper to find those hidden gems.

9. Mentors

Experience is one of life’s greatest teachers, so why not find a mentor in your field of interest and shadow that person to get a feel for how she or he operates on a daily basis. During the shadowing process, that mentor will more than likely deposit bits of wisdom into your brain.

And you will also have an opportunity to ask questions and tie up any loose ends regarding matters you are uncertain about.

10. Dictionaries

Improving your vocabulary has many benefits. Study a dictionary like Webster’s New World College Dictionary for a few minutes every day, or find the online version. Combine your studies with some fun: Play the game of Scrabble. That will give you an opportunity to put your new words to use, reinforcing what you’ve taught yourself.

Do you have any additional suggestions? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's "205 Ways to Save Money" as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

Check out our hottest deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,073 more deals!

Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • Don Lowery

    Funny how you mentioned this topic today. Just finished my first online class last evening from Coursera at Emory University from one of the top experts in the Hebrew Bible for free. Been wanting to take another programming class for the past 30 years…they have one from a professor here in Colorado Springs at UCCS for the cost of a $10 book from Amazon. Sure…it’s not for a degree…but that Bible class I took taught me so much I didn’t know that the only thing it cost me from an expert in the field was six weeks of my time at three hours or so a week.

  • shondell mann

    I appreciated the point of dig deeper when looking up words in the dictionary. Recently I changed my smart-phone to a more economical service provider. The funniest thing about that is the more expensive phone did not have as much service on the internet than the less expensive service provider. This change in phone service has really proved to be beneficial when
    it comes to studying it is nice to have Wikipedia with you at all times, You can even challenge your vocabulary when you are bored and have nothing else better to do !