Learning New Skills (Without the Bills)

Posted by David Hoffman in blog | March 29, 2016

So, you never went to grad school. Maybe you never went to college at all. Or, maybe it’s been decades since you started your career and you’ve convinced yourself that it’s simply too late to go back to school. Does this mean the end of your education? Of course not.

A quick Google search can put thousands of free and inexpensive courses at your fingertips, teaching you everything from basic cooking skills to higher-level physics. You can even impress your friends, family members and potential dates by telling them that you’ve taken courses at Harvard, Yale and Stanford – for FREE (but, you can leave out that detail if you’d like). What am I getting at, exactly?

There are countless opportunities to develop new skills and strengthen the ones you already have, you just have to know where to look. So if you’re interested in learning new skills, but don’t want to have to apply for more student loans, consider this list of my top 3 favorite online education sites to get started on your path to educational enlightenment:

1. Udemy (Free and Paid)

Udemy is one of my all-time favorite sites, period. With over 40,000 courses offered, you can sign up for a variety of free and paid courses with subjects ranging from Adobe Creative Suite proficiency and marketing strategy to skill-based courses on subjects like drawing, speed reading, sleep hacking and even counting cards. Each course has a live professor and lets you view a preview before committing to buy.

I recommend signing up for their email list, since they frequently have massive discount codes on courses that get sent out every few months (e.g. getting a $300 course for $19).


2. Coursera (Free and Paid)

Ever had the desire to audit a course at a major university – or pick and choose courses and specializations without the tremendous cost of admission?

Look no further. As part of an ongoing educational partnership, Coursera offers courses from top universities all around the world, both discounted and completely free, that can be taken on your own time and schedule. From machine learning at Stanford to Social Media Marketing at Northwestern, over 1,800 courses are available to anyone with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn. And, for those who are especially dedicated (and not concerned about going back on financial aid), the University of Illinois even offers a fully accredited MBA for one-third the cost of traditional programs through the site. That’s a pretty good deal, if you ask me.


3. Khan Academy (Free)

Want to learn just about everything, but hate spending money? Check out Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a completely free resource of valuable courses for building fundamental or specialized skills. From life skills, like learning how to start investing or choosing the right credit card, to lessons in entrepreneurship, world history, computer programming, economics, math and more, Khan Academy provides an excellent collection of courses, interviews and reading materials for people of all ages. One of my favorite offerings on the site are the “hour” courses, such as “hour of code” or “hour of web pages,” where students can start learning basic fundamentals of Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL over the course of, you guessed it, one hour.


There you have it. With the thousands of courses offered on these three sites and the many others like them, there is virtually nothing keeping you from strengthening your skills, developing new ones or finally scratching that itch to return to school and continue learning. All that’s left is the biggest obstacle facing all of us: our own motivation.