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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 March 15, 2019

                          How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                          How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                          When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

                          Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

                          In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

                          What Makes a Leader Fail?

                          A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

                          If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

                          And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

                          What Is Effective Leadership?

                          Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

                          Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

                          Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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                          “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

                          How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

                          To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

                          1. Courage

                          The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

                          “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

                          Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

                          For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

                          In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

                          It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

                          Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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                          2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

                          If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

                          The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

                          To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

                          3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

                          Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

                          Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

                          4. Likability

                          Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

                          When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

                          Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

                          So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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                          5. Vulnerability

                          Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

                          When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

                          6. Authenticity

                          Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

                          Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

                          7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

                          Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

                          Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

                          Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

                          Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

                          As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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                          “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

                          8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

                          Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

                          This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

                          9. A Passion for Continual Learning

                          Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

                          These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

                          Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

                          The Bottom Line

                          No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

                          Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

                          More Resources About Effective Leadership

                          Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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