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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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                          Kayla Matthews

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                          Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                          How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                          How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                          Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

                          You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

                          In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

                          “Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                          The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

                          Creativity also emphasizes values.

                          “The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

                          This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

                          In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

                          And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

                          1. Cultivate Focus

                          In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

                          You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

                          However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

                          In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

                          In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

                          How to cultivate focus?

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                          Take a 20 Minute Walk

                          Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

                          I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

                          Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

                          If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

                          Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

                          2. Build a Structure

                          When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

                          The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

                          The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

                          Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

                          The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

                          Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

                          How to build a structure?

                          Create a Morning Routine

                          Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

                          We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

                          Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

                          You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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                          3. Find Motivation

                          There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

                          Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

                          Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

                          Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

                          In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

                          For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

                          This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

                          How to find motivation?

                          Connect to Your “Why”

                          Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

                          ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

                          When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

                          The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

                          Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

                          Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

                          If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

                          4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

                          Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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                          So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

                          If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

                          The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

                          Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

                          How to become an expert?

                          Make a Mastery Training Plan

                          Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

                          1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

                          Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

                          2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

                          Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

                          3. Review your progress

                          Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

                          How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

                          5. Create a Conducive Environment

                          A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

                          “a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

                          I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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                          I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

                          I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

                          It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

                          If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

                          This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

                          How to create a conducive environment?

                          Add or Subtract Stimuli

                          Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

                          If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

                          On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

                          Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

                          Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

                          In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

                          The Bottom Line

                          Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

                          To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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                          Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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