School isn’t for everyone. There are just too many required classes that you must take in order to get to the stuff you actually want to learn. Plus the whole homework and testing system… I’ll just stop there. There are tons of ways to educate yourself quickly and for much less money than with a college education. Skip the Writing 101 class, save yourself $200,000 and try out some of these handy methods if you’re looking for some post-high school knowledge:
Online Courses/Lectures – Too attached to the university system to totally let go of collegiate-style education? Well you can still attend lectures, but from the comfort of your own home, at any time of day. Not to mention lectures are available online from many prestigious university so you will not be missing out on anything but frat parties:
Stanford has an extensive collection of podcasts here
Berkeley records hundreds of lectures and puts them all online in different formats. Check out all of their free courses here. Here is a list of the free courses offered on their site:
MIT has 0ver 1900 free online courses available here
For a more complete list of University courses offered online, check out this article from LifeHacker.com
Podcasts – iTunes has thousands upon thousands of free podcasts, recordings like radio shows, about every topic imaginable. You can learn German, listen to the latest Indie Music through NPR, get the NBC nightly news or really anything that you want. It’s all on iTunes and able to be downloaded and listened to or transferred to your mp3 player. Listen to them on the way to work or whenever you have free time and get some extra knowledge with time that would usually be wasted.
Stuff You Should Know: HowStuffWorks.com — A tri-weekly podast, each detailing a fascinating idea from different disciplines. Ex. “How Deja Vu Works”, “Is the World Going to End in 2012?”
Learn Spanish: SpanishPod101 — The most popular Spanish-learning podcast on iTunes. 5 teams from 5 different Spanish-speaking countries work together to put out this podcast so it is sure to help you in your trek to learn the language!
Abuse Your Local Library – Of all the stupid things our government spends money on, libraries are one of the most useful AND most overlooked. They house thousands if not millions of books, all of which are filled with the condensed knowledge of people who took the time to attain such knowledge and cared enough to document it. Like in the movie The Matrix, when Neo is trained by having information programmed into his head (“I know Kung Fu…”), the library is a huge source of knowledge just waiting to be programmed into us! So go abuse it, just be careful of those pesky late fees
Audible.com – A great alternative for buying books because: 1) it’s much cheaper! Depending on your plan, one book will cost you $7.49 or less as opposed to $15-$30 for printed titles 2) Having audible books make it so that you can “read” and therefore learn anywhere that you have an mp3 or CD player. Their library is now pushing 60,000 titles with everything from classic fiction to the most modern non-fiction you can find. The site also has stand-up comedy, speeches, podcasts, radio shows, magazines and television for those less literature-inclined.
Informational Websites – Sites like Wikipedia, HowStuffWorks and VideoJug (a site that explains everything through user-uploaded videos) are amazing for quick learning. The internet was originally created for the sole purpose of sharing knowledge and these sites do just that. Abuse them thoroughly!
Google University – Google.com is the single most powerful tool on the internet for getting what you want if you know how to use it. For this particular endeavor, try searching “site:.edu ________” and fill in the space with what you want. Eg. If you want an online lecture on vvolution, search “site:.edu lecture evolution.” This method of searching only goes through University websites and brings your right to the content you want so you don’t have to wade through ads for online schools and Darwin rants on obscure forums.
Hang Out With a More Intellectually Challenging Crowd – The people around you definitely affect you and the way you think. If you hang out with intellectually-shallow people, you will find yourself engaging in ignorant conversation and activities! So stimulate yourself by starting to interact more with friends that actually challenge you. Even if they come off as pretentious sometimes, at least you won’t have to turn off your brain to enjoy their company. Make your social time a supplement to your learning process so that you can be as efficient as possible in your quest for knowledge.
Exercise Your Brain – Little things like crosswords, puzzles, memory problems, and even the occasional math problem will work to keep your brain young and quick. Learning will only become easier as your brain increases in processing power and memory ability. Children learn things much quicker than adults for a number of reasons, but most importantly because their brains are constantly active and being challenged to learn new things. Keeping your mind active is a must for maximizing your ability to suck up knowledge like a sponge. For more methods on how to do this, check out Overhaul Your Brain.
Travel – There are so many different disciplines, educational programs, world views, and especially different people around the world. Visiting different cultures can do nothing but increase your knowledge and enhance your intellect. Even a Ph.D holder is ignorant if he knows nothing outside of his own country. Knowing everything about American language, politics, news and science still leaves you lacking knowledge of 99% + of the rest of the world. If you want to increase your intelligence, becoming more worldly is a great start.
Challenge Yourself – in every way possible. If you don’t know how to do something, figure it out yourself. Find your weaknesses, both mentally and emotionally and attack them head on. You will become smarter for it, even if in just street smarts.