How to Get Your Education for Free

This post isn’t about how to get your education for free through scholarships. Rather, it’s about how to get your education for free through unconventional methods.

You see, my co-worker Jamie is leaving this week. She’s moving to follow her husband around the globe. She’s leaving her career as a copywriter to pursue her love for her husband and to focus on her small children.   She’ll freelance to help make ends meet, but besides that she doesn’t really have a plan. I admire her for her free bird approach to life, but wonder about her journey.  Will the stress of reducing the family income by 40% overburden her husband?

I can’t predict the future, but I can encourage her to plan. I took her out to lunch to chat about her preparation and plans for the future.

What Have You Done to Enhance Your Skills?

I asked Jamie if she had taken any classes, gone to many conferences, or joined professional groups during her time with our company. Sadly, she replied no.  Apparently no one had ever asked her if she was interested, and she was too busy with work to ask. In the five years that she worked for our company, she never asked for a single learning opportunity because she didn’t think she could. She felt sad and disappointed by her lack of initiative, and asked me if there was anything she could do to get started in the right direction. It was getting late so I gave her a few pointers and promised to follow up soon. Here’s what I said.

How to Get Your Education For Free

There are many sites that provide a way to get your education for free. The key is wading through the noise and finding one with content that helps you grow. Blogs are a great start and its often easy to find the leader in your space with a little bit of research, asking your peer and co-workers, participating in forums or in online groups, or picking up a copy of the latest professional magazine and following the writers on Twitter. Then read, watch, learn, and take one action towards implementing what you’ve learned.

These are my favorites:

  • Coursera-I’ve taken classes online at Coursera, from writing to marketing to psychology there are hundreds of college level courses to choose from. Sign up for a class and check it out.  There’s no charge and you can always un-enroll if you find it’s not your thing.
  • iTunes Podcasts-I always have at least four podcasts queued in my phone. Most of them involve something business related and they keep me up to date on the latest trends and business tips. Visit the iTunes Podcast store to find a podcast that interests you. If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe. You’ll need to download the Podcast app to play it on your phone.
  • Overdrive Audiobooks-I use the Overdrive media app to check out audiobooks from my library for free.  I can’t tell you how many hundreds of dollars I have saved on audiobooks using this tool. You can also checkout e-books as well, but check with your library first to see if they participate.
  • Amazon Kindle-Amazon offers free books all the time. The key is to find one that’s worth reading. The best tip I have here is to follow your favorite author or tribe leader by blog or Twitter. Occasionally, they will give a away their books for free to attract more readership and increase their brand recognition. Here’s my affiliate link to the free book list: Amazon.

Upgrade to the Cheap Seats

Once you’ve saturated your brain with all of the free information that you can stand, it’s time to upgrade to the cheap seats. You can only get so far by reading what you can find for free. {Tweet That} At this point you’ll want to invest in more formal education specific to the skill you want to acquire. This might include joining a professional society, visiting your local recreation center or library, joining a niche membership site, or taking a course online that you can’t get anywhere else.

Often times the cheap seats are so affordable that you could pay for them yourself. If you are working for a company that utilizes your skills, I would ask them to pay for it first. You might be surprised to see your manager sigh with relief at the $30/month membership or the $200 small business conference. After all, the rest of management just got back from spending $10,000 each to attend the I’m An Awesome Manager conference. The $30/month will pretty much feel like free after that.

Front Row and Center

Once you’ve gotten the OK from your manager to pursue your education in the cheap seats, you’ll want to explore conferences and other premium opportunities to take you to the super star level. I’ll give you some tips on how to propose budget for this activity in the next post.

Take Your Steps

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for my free Best Version of You program, it’s not too late.  I’d love to help you get started on your journey by helping you identify your native genius, discover your dreams, and take actionable steps to achieve them.  This is not your mama’s coaching program. {Tweet That} There is no cost to go through this program, and I think you’ll find it worth your time.  Click here to get started.

At the end of our lunch Jamie looked at me with a little sadness in her sky blue eyes and explained that no one had ever posed the questions that I just did. She had a lot to think about. She promised me she’d look into free education when she got settled in and then we parted ways. I wonder if she’ll take those steps. What do you think?

How to Get Your Education for Free

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