According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of college tuition (including room, board and other fees) for the 2015-2016 academic year was $22,432. If you multiple that amount to account for the four years it takes to get most college degrees, then the average cost of higher education at that time would have been almost $90,000. And with prices only increasing every year, it’s obvious that getting a degree puts a serious dent in a person’s finances. It’s the price you pay for the convenience of growing and learning in a one-stop spot. But for those who can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, there are other options. Take a look at some of the many ways you can be exposed to a community that values and inspires learning and offers you the skills you need to succeed without shelling out your funds for typical college courses:
Visit the Library
It’s easy to overlook the obvious. Your local library holds thousands of lessons. Pick a topic and start reading. Millions of people teach themselves what they need to learn without once setting foot in a college classroom.
Helping others expands your perspective. It compels you to consider the world in new ways. Meet and work with people from differing backgrounds and cultures. It will inevitably teach you facts about the world that staying in your own bubble couldn’t possibly provide.
Roman philosopher Seneca said that “men learn while they teach.” Offer to mentor or tutor someone. It will force you not only to be coherent (as you discover how to explain and guide and lead), but also to be personable and open to relationships. Post an instructional video online. Offer to help local Girl Scouts earn a new badge. These types of hands-on experiences provide opportunities for exposure and growth, the basics for any learning endeavor.
Join a Club or Special Interest Group
Being around people with similar interests allows for frequent discussions, sparking debate that challenges and sharpens your knowledge base. If you’re interested in immigration law, find an eb 1 lawyer and ask to attend a networking meeting. If you’re curious about public speaking and want to broaden your leadership skills, sign up with the local chapter of Toastmasters International. Enlarging your circle of acquaintances is a great way to observe and grasp insights.
Attend a Community Event
Make use of as many free opportunities and events as possible. Most towns, regardless of size, will provide free lectures, plays and panel discussions. Even public city meetings can be valuable learning opportunities. Go to an art show. Sit in on a booktalk. Audit a class at a local school. You can even go online for free courses from top universities and corporations.
Do Something. Anything
Experience is the greatest teacher. Just start something. Write a blog. Learn to cook or change a tire. Self-directed learning begins with a passion and can change your life just as much as a college education can when it’s used to gain experience and broaden your views.