Startup executives usually will have gone through college and earned a degree – many Bachelors and Masters, and maybe even some Doctorate degrees. However, with the way business is changing, especially in the tech industry, it’s absolutely necessary that leaders continue to learn and grow after formal schooling.
Recent college graduates know all too well the cost of formal education. Getting even only a bachelor's degree can cause tens of thousands of dollars, which will take years to repay if covered by a student loan. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to continue your education past college, many of them free or very reasonably priced. Here are some tools to help you with your post-college learning.
1) The Library
Your local library is a treasure trove of knowledge and learning opportunities. There are books on every subject available, in print and also online, all free of charge with a library card. Many libraries also have movies and music that you can check out or even telescopes if you want to learn more about astronomy. The library is also a good place to go to find out about community events. There could be poetry sessions or read-alouds you could attend, or possibly different types of classes, like cooking classes or arts and crafts. However, if you want to start slow, just take some time to explore your library and go into sections you normally wouldn't go into and find books that interest you. You would be amazed at what you can find.
2) Online Courses
There are a lot of online courses offered by top-rated schools, and a lot of those courses are free. This is a perfect option for people who do not necessarily want another degree but still love taking an actual class. Websites like EdX have courses that you can take for free from colleges like Harvard and MIT. These classes can be a lot of fun and they can also help you learn additional skills, including finance and technology skills. If you want, you can also take classes for a skills certificate you can show employers for a reasonable fee. If you like the idea of online education but do not want to commit to a class, you can also use sites like Course Hero, where you will have access to study guides and flashcards from different courses, as well as essays and notes on hundreds of classic books.
3) Attend Lectures
You can find lectures outside of a classroom everywhere, and often they are more stimulating than your morning general education lectures. You can probably find some local lectures at libraries and museums in your area, or maybe even local coffee shops. You can also go to conferences and conventions to hear lectures and presentations. You can also look to see if there are any TED talks in your area.
4) Join a Book Club
The average American adult only reads five books per year. Perhaps it is a relief not to have such an aggressive reading schedule like most experienced in college, but reading is great for pleasure and to keep your brain sharp. It can be difficult to find time to read for pleasure in your adult life, so joining a book club is a great way to keep yourself accountable. On top of that, you will be able to talk about the book with other bookworms. You can look for a book club in your area or you can form one with your friends or business colleagues. Many companies offer an in-house book club for their employees.
5) Take Field Trips
Adults can take field trips, too. And you don't even have to have a buddy system or a paper bag lunch. Go to museums, aquariums, planetariums, and national parks in your area. Take tours or explore on your own. You can either go with a group of friends or by yourself. You will also be surprised about what quirky small museums are in your area. For instance, if you live in Maine, you could visit the Cryptozoology Museum where you can see specimens of unidentified animals. If you live in Utah, there are many Mormon Pioneer museums where you can learn how the early settlers of the state survived in harsh conditions with minimal supplies.
There is learning all around us, but it requires that we step out of our comfort zone. If you take the leap, you will see a great difference in both your personal and work lives. You will become a better leader and a more influential follower by applying the things you learn to your current situation. Best of luck in your learning!