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Too Broke For College? Here are 5 Unique Ways You Can Further Your Education

Since graduating from college, Sallie Mae has been around, popping in and out of my life like a stalker ex that won’t catch a clue and leave

Workin’ Girl

Since graduating from college, Sallie Mae has been around, popping in and out of my life like a stalker ex that won’t catch a clue and leave me alone.


When I get ready to shop online, she shows up.

When I’m getting ready to pay for a trip, she shows up.

When I check my bank account, she’s there.

She shows up to my house, in emails, and through my cell phone. Sallie even had the nerve to show up at my mom’s house one day and that’s when I decided, ‘this is too much.’

My relationship with Sallie Mae wasn’t mutual in the beginning. She wanted me, but I didn’t know if I wanted her. It was too much of a commitment for my liking and she was too damn expensive as well. But like many of you I thought I needed her so that I could one day reach my goals of becoming a professional. Five years after my commitment, I have learned that to be successful, I don’t need Sallie Mae and never did. There are so many ways that I could have paid for college and furthered my education that are just as effective, but way more affordable.

Here are 5 ways you can make yourself more marketable and further your education without involving Sallie Mae.

1. Attend a lecture

Believe it or not, you don’t have to be enrolled at a university to sit in during a lecture. Although it is not advertised, many universities and colleges offer aspiring learners to sit in on lectures for free.

Good news = You are getting access to free education

Bad news = You won’t get college credit for it

Depending on your goal or purpose for taking the class, the “bad” news may outweigh the good. If you are wanting to attend a lecture to just learn a new skill or topic and the credit doesn’t matter, then this learning option may be good for you.

[easy-tweet tweet="#xoTip: You don’t have to be enrolled at a university to sit in during a lecture" user="brittanilhunter" hashtags="xonecole"]

2. Take free/discount Ivy League classes online

Many Ivy League schools like Harvard, Berkeley, Duke, Yale, MIT, and Stanford offer opportunities to take classes to receive online certificates in certain areas of interest. For these same universities, sometimes the courses are either discounted or even free. You can qualify for free courses based off of need and the course availability. To enroll in some of these courses and start learning, search for the school’s name online and use a search term like “free/discount courses” along with it.

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3. Don’t sleep on YouTube

There are so many courses that you can learn just from YouTube. If you don't want attend a lecture in person, you can find lectures from your favorite universities through video. Also on YouTube, you can watch videos from influencers and experts in your industry, as well as view several how-to videos and learn how to do impressive things like how to build your own website, how to set up an eCommerce store, or learn how to code. Depending on the industry that you want to work in or climb up the corporate ladder in, you may not need a degree or certificate - just knowing the skill and being able to demonstrate the skill may be enough.

4. Use your iPhone

A little over one year ago I discovered iTunes U.  This app for iOS users allows you access to courses from schools and gives you access to a digital catalog of free educational content - directly on your Apple device. I love this app because it is very user friendly and since I have an iPhone, I can literally learn wherever I am.

[easy-tweet tweet="#xoTip: Use iTunes U on your #iPhone for free courses and content" user="brittanilhunter" hashtags="xonecole"]

5. Sign up for online courses

Through sites like Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare, Lynda, and edX just to name a few, you can take online courses for free or for discounted prices. The courses on each site are either from universities, professionals, entrepreneurs, or influencers. My favorite site, Udemy, often has classes on sale and because of my email alerts, I’m always notified when they are having a special.

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If you have decided you want to further your education, take time out to really think about why you want to do it. If you are wanting to do it for personal reasons, looking into a free or discount course may be the best way to go. If you are wanting to further your education to receive a degree for personal or work-related reasons, then seeking admission or accolades from a college may be the way to go. However, at all times, don’t discredit free or discounted courses, or the opportunity to learn from various options online.  

What are some creative ways that you expand your knowledge without emptying your bank account? Drop a comment below and share!

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