5 Ways to Get a Free Education

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If you’re just out of school or looking to brush up on skills, you can take classes for free.

Whether you’ve just graduated or plan on becoming a continuing education student, college life can get hectic and expensive. According to The Project on Student Debt, average student debt is more than $26,000 – and that’s just for a bachelor’s degree. While technical and vocational schools may be an option, they can also be pricey.

Even with college putting more people in debt each year – total student loan debt has now exceeded credit card debt – you can get an education without putting your finances on the line. Check out these ways to take college courses and certification classes free.

1. Coursera

More than 200 classes start every few weeks, depending on the subject matter. You can pick a course that lasts one month or 12 weeks, depending on your desired class. Professors range from Princeton, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and nearly three dozen more. See a class you like but it already started? You can still jump in. Some classes offer certification for completion of the course. Example? Introduction to Astronomy.

2. Open Culture

Like Coursera, Open Culture offers hundreds of classes. But their list of courses offering certification not only comes with a handy key for what type of certification is available, but it’s also listed by when the courses are available. This is helpful for students looking to see if a specific course comes with certification and the soonest opening for it. Many of the courses offered are curated from Coursera, but include offerings from individual universities as well. Browse the site for how to get free audio books, textbooks, and even language lessons.

3. edX

In May of this year, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a partnership to offer free online courses, known as edX. Berkeley also offers a few courses and the University of Texas classes will be listed in summer 2013. So far, the listing is short, with only nine entries as of publication time.

4. Stanford

The course offerings from Stanford are more than double those of edX and range from computer science to the humanities. Some are curated from Coursera like Open Culture is, but there are a handful of other platforms that courses are offered on. They usually coincide with regular class listings – the ones currently on the website show fall-only classes.

5. Your local library

You may not get an official certification for a class, but many local libraries offer free textbooks and course books. For Kindle users (both the device and app), check out the selection of free textbooks on Amazon. If you’re looking to upgrade your skills or adapt some new ones to show off on your resume, don’t discredit your library!

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Stacy Johnson

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