Studying further doesn’t have to be expensive. We take a look at six ways that you can further your education for free whether physically, or online.
Keep up-to-date with current affairs
Previously you might have had to purchase a newspaper or book, currently the internet has made knowledge freely available to everyone – making it not only easier than ever to study with convenience, but also providing a simple way to keep up-to-date with current affairs.
Many online news publications and thought-leading blogs are free to access, meaning that you can read more about current affairs and expand your knowledge of your surroundings at any time.
If you don’t enjoy browsing many different websites, you can also use online services to deliver a curated batch of content directly to you each day! By subscribing to online newsletters, you’ll often be provided with a host of interesting articles and content from many different publications all grouped around the same topic.
Using news-reading apps, Google News, or other online services can also help deliver relevant material directly to you – meaning that you’ll be able to continuously learn and enhance your education as you prefer.
Many popular social media accounts also share interesting and relevant content - a good idea is to search through popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, while many interesting accounts can also be found on platforms such as YouTube.
Sign up for online courses
Attending a public or private university or tertiary institution might sound attractive, but you don’t necessarily need to attend a lengthy course or complete a diploma or degree to expand your knowledge and enhance your skills. Thanks to the internet, a large variety of learning materials can be accessed directly from your mobile device.
Online learning hubs such as Khan Academy and Coursera offer thousands of courses and lessons which can help you master new skills, as well as learn new materials that are relevant to your interests or your career. Both offer free online learning material and will even offer a certificate at the end of a course and milestone to cement your newfound knowledge.
If you happen to use online tools in your workplace or wish to become better acquainted with online software, you can enroll in online courses often that will expand on and explore the various features available to you. Large companies such as Google, offer free online training solutions for their various products – all of which can be completed online.
Attend free seminars
Many companies and learning institutions will regularly host free talks or seminars that are open to the general public, which can be a great way to develop your understanding of a certain topic while in conversation with an expert on the subject. Often, academics who have completed a recent area of study will present their findings in a public forum – where you can attend and directly ask questions to the author of the research in question.
Not only can this be a great way to gain more insight into an area or speciality, but this can also be a great means to network and engage with like-minded people who are interested in the same subject material as you are.
Many public universities will often organise ‘summer’ or ‘winter’ course offerings, which usually happen outside of the academic term. While some courses might have a small fee, others are offered free of charge. Writing a test or exam will usually provide you with a course certificate to reward your completion, participation or results.
Join a book sharing club
Many libraries and groups throughout South Africa participate in book exchanges, where you can borrow a book to read while lending one to someone else at the same time. By doing this, many people can gain access to rare books or materials that could cost a great deal to purchase.
Often, book exchanges will work around a particular theme or interest. When you join a group that is relevant to your interests or studies, you can access relevant material and engage with like-minded people at the same time. Many libraries around South Africa charge a small monthly fee, but book exchanges are free to join and will not incur a cost so long as you return whichever books you borrow on-time.
Join a community college or skills-sharing college
Across South Africa, many community colleges operate skills-sharing, where members of a community share their knowledge and expertise for free. By joining a community college, which is usually free of charge, or at a minimal cost, you can enrol in courses that interest you where you can learn practical skills that can help further your education and enable you to master money-making skills as well.
At a community college, you can participate in academic study, as well as further learn practical skills ranging from arts and crafts all the way to hard services such as plumbing, where you can quickly pick up essential skills that you can use to earn extra income.
Ask your employer to fund relevant studies to your career
If you happen to find a study opportunity that aligns to your career goals or would directly empower your abilities and understanding in your present occupation, you can ask your employer to consider paying for your education fees while you study further.
Many businesses will consider funding an employee’s studies if it aligns closely to their field of work, as that employee can expand their knowledge in their field and become more productive in either their current role or in a future position.
Studying further while working can be an excellent way to enhance your position in your workplace, and can even help you work towards a promotion in either a new or more senior role.
It is important to note, however, that your employer might expect you to fully pass any tests or evaluations before fully funding your studies – meaning that if your results are not as desired, you may have to pay a portion of your fees yourself. Clarifying this arrangement beforehand is always a good idea.
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