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The Best Places to Get a Top Grade Education For Free

The Best Places to Get a Top Grade Education For Free

We all want a good education. We want to learn, become better informed and be at the top of our “A Game.” However, one of the most common complaints that arise from getting a great education always circles back to costs. Whether it’s a community college, digital school, university or night class, school costs money. Not just pennies, top dollars. Enough to break the bank.

Naturally, therein lies the problem. It’s really a catch-22. We need an education in order to work in the ever-growing competitive world to make money, but we need money in order to earn an education. Is there a solution to this problem? Luckily, there are many new avenues to acquire top education. And what’s better? They’re free. So, if you’re in the market for life-long learning or want to nab that job, take a look at some of these high-quality places without the top-shelf prices.

Institutional Courses

Stanford University

Stanford

    Who knew one of the best schools in the country gives away valuable information? Check out Stanford’s website to learn about free webinar opportunities and to access other free, online resources. The next free webinar series is scheduled to take place May 14!

    Harvard’s open learning courses

    Harvard

      In an effort to make its high-quality education more accessible to the general public, Harvard University offers a number of free courses, lectures and web series. Check out their site to learn more about “Harvard edX” opportunities.

      Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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      MIT

        Yes. The infamous MIT offers free courses for students and non-students alike. While some of them require registration in advance, many of them are available via video on the MIT OpenCourseWare website.

        Brown University

        Brown

          Not to be outdone by MIT, Stanford and Harvard, Brown also offers free online courses that web users from all over the world can access to expand their learning. Learn more about the free courses offered by Brown on their website.

          Dartmouth University

          Dartmouth Library

            Beginning in the Fall semester of 2014, Dartmouth University will be offering free courses via the edX program used by Harvard. A number of other reputable universities and colleges also provide free learning materials via the edX program. Check out the edX website to learn about all of them.

            Your hometown university’s free lectures and presentations

            local college

              Many colleges and universities offer a free lecture or after-school presentation. The trick is that, in many cases, you have to live near these areas to attend them. Many free resources are advertised on local radio stations, via flyers around campus or by word of mouth. Keep and eye and ear out for these events and you could learn a lot of new things.

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              Informative Talks and Free Info

              The library

              Stockholm Public Library

                 

                You know that little card you keep tucked away in the back of your wallet collecting dust? It’s a library card, and guess what, it unlocks many free resources in order to foster self-education. When it comes down to learning, you have to be your biggest motivator. You put forth all the work and effort and instill it into your brain. Why not be your own teacher?

                The library has excellent resources in every subject from print texts and scholarly articles to videos, journals and internet archives. The best part? It’s all free and ready at your fingertips. The library is a great place to start, especially when you are searching for a topic of study.

                Google Books

                Google books

                  If you are more of an internet junkie, Google Books is very similar to a public library in digital form. You have the opportunity to browse and preview or read books for free. If you’ve recently found a hobby, you can look up unique topics like basket-weaving or polymer clay jewelry.

                  With its easy navigation, this site can help you search for what you’re interested in or update your credentials. Say you’re on a business trip and looking for a new job. You have your laptop handy and you’re not familiar with the area. In your hotel room, you can search for books, get caught up on your work and explore your educational interests.

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                  iTunes U

                  itunes u

                    Newsflash: iTunes isn’t just about listening and downloading the greatest hits on the radio. With iTunes U, educational institutions from Kindergarten through college can post and upload materials and information for free. Set up like a Podcast, you can subscribe, stream and download information. Also, one of the best features is that you can learn on the go and just about anywhere with your mobile phone. It’s perfect for those that wish to stay active, are working or transitioning into a new venture.

                    Additionally, iTunes U features audio books, slideshows, lectures, PDF files and many resources from upstanding universities and covers many areas of study. While searching, you don’t have to download full lectures and courses to get information, you can choose piece by piece. You can foster your own education.

                    SlideShare

                    slideshare

                      Viewed from an infinite scroll platform, SlideShare is a great way to visually search for information and learning materials. From Spanish terminology to case studies of different countries, this platform has many avenues to explore.

                      As another social networking resource, you can like slides, share them with others and communicate on different content. If you’re looking for specific study or a unique topic, this is a great place to acquire statistics, facts and information.

                      TED

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                      TED

                        In 1984, the original TED conference began by forming three ideals together: Technology, Entertainment and Design. Today, TED features online talks and conferences that inspire, educate and entertain. Currently, you can stream over 1,400 TED Talks.

                        If you want to become a life-long learner or enjoy absorbing something new, this is a great place to start. So, download and stream these talks wherever you go.

                        Khan Academy

                        Khan Academy

                          Looking for a lecture? The Khan Academy has over 3,600 video micro-lectures. Beginning in 2006, this non-profit website offers tutorials stemming from basic mathematics, history, marketing, healthcare and other subjects.

                          Say you are beginning a new career or starting from scratch. The lectures are easily understood and taught in a relatable manner. Try this source if you want to start from the ground up and enjoy the free videos at your disposal.

                          Inspire Life-Long Learning

                          No matter what educational road your life takes you, it’s important to constantly be learning and gathering new insights and information. Who says you have to pay a fortune to learn? Propel yourself to success and go out and try some of these free educational platforms.

                          Featured photo credit: ockenden via flickr.com

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                          Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                          What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                          Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                          Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                          According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                          Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                          Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                          Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                          The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                          Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                          So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                          Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                          One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                          Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                          Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                          The Neurology of Ownership

                          Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                          In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                          But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                          This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                          Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                          The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                          So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                          On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                          It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                          On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                          But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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                          Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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