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Whether you’re a student who loves being in school or someone who is just trying to get through one semester at a time, you’re probably well aware that education doesn’t just happen inside the classroom. Learning happens all around us, from the more expected sources to the completely unexpected, and whether you revel in your classroom time or you’re not the biggest fan, surrounding your whole life with education can be a beautiful thing.
You might be taking a year off from school, on a break or even just looking to expand on what you’re already loving in the classroom. No matter your reason for looking other places to expand your mind, there are so many ways you can bring learning into all different corners of your world. Learning and education are all around you — it’s just a matter of where you look. Here are five ways you can educate yourself outside of school.
The public library is a fixture seemingly as old as time, but plenty of people forget about it. Of course, the public library offers a sea of books completely for free, but there’s also so much more you can find at your local library that you may not even know about. Many local libraries now offer digital content like ebooks and audiobooks that you can download and listen to, and most libraries also have a collection of films and music. Some have even started to use streaming platforms for easy access.
In addition to these resources, public libraries also offer opportunities for connection for people of all ages. If you check out your library bulletin, you’ll likely find things like book clubs, reading groups, classes, writing groups, and even hobby and community service groups. The library truly is a rich world with so much to offer, and you’ll likely find something to give your brain a workout, no matter what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for reading material you don’t have to return, head to your local bookstore or order online. Nowadays, you have access to more educational material than ever before on almost any subject you can imagine. Whether you’re looking for your own anthology of English literature (Amazon) or book on the history of western music (Amazon), you have so many avenues for finding resources on what you want to learn.
Another completely free resource that you can use to educate yourself is the wide world of podcasts and audio content. Podcasts are great, because you can take them on the go and listen to them when you’re doing something else or short on time. Who wouldn’t want to squeeze in some learning on your commute? You can pretty much find podcasts on every subject, and once you get started, you can find even more to add to your repertoire. They’re also completely free. Some of the best sources have podcasts to their names — The New York Times, National Geographic, This American Life, and so many more.
If you’d rather bring in some visuals to your learning, documentaries are some of the best ways to learn a lot about specific topics quickly. By watching documentaries, you can dive deeper into all kinds of different topics in just a few hours. Just like podcasts, there are pretty much documentaries for every single topic you can think of, so you’ll never get bored. You can find documentaries on any streaming service of your choice.
From Netflix to Prime Video, there’s a lot to explore on just about any platform. If you’re looking for a bit more high brow or independent content, Kanopy might be worth a try — especially because many schools and public libraries offer free subscriptions to the platform.
4. Online Ivy League
You may have already heard of the free online Ivy League classes, but in case you haven’t, there are over 450 Ivy League courses you can take from the comfort of your own home, completely free of charge online. While they do offer a certificate if you pay to take the course, auditing and learning is totally free of charge.
You can take classes in just about any subject you can think of, from coding to art history. This is a great option if you’re looking to keep your mind active over break, or if you’ve always wanted to explore a topic you haven’t been able to fit into your course schedule before. This resource allows you to learn from the best of the best, all while having fun and expanding your mind.
5. Get a New Hobby
What better way to learn than by doing? If you’re looking to learn about a craft, skill, or hobby, simply picking it up and getting started is one of the best ways to get your mind working. While, of course, seeking out traditional learning resources can be helpful, getting your hands in there and learning through experience in whatever hobby you choose can be a true gem.
Education Happens Everywhere
No matter why you’re looking to find learning outside of the classroom, expanding your mind is a beautiful thing. There’s so much to learn about in this world, and there are so many places you can go to do it. From the stacks at your public library to the online Ivy League, learning begins whenever you say so.