- Chris Jagers/Flickr
It’s safe to say that even if you aren’t paying tens of thousands of dollars, grad school is expensive.
But you don’t have to pay so much to further your education. There are programs and classes outside traditional classrooms that allow you to keep learning for less time and much less money.
Jeffrey J. Selingo, a higher education adviser, highlights the transformation in how how recent college graduates supplement their education before starting a career in his upcoming book, “There is Life After College.”
“Rather than plug into the formal learning structure of traditional higher education, new graduates are increasingly turning to a new set of providers that offer education in short spurts, online or in face-to-face classes, for a fraction of the cost of graduate school,” Selingo writes.
Obvious exceptions to the alternative grad school path are professionals such as lawyers or doctors, but for someone who wants to further their education without a firm idea of how or where, a traditional graduate degree might not be worth the years of debt.
Here are three alternatives to traditional graduate schools:
- Kim Bhasin, Business Insider
Students who want to learn how to code or gain other web-related skills can take advantage of bootcamps, which target a specific topic or skill in a short period of time.
“Bootcamps have a simple goal: to get you the job,” writes Selingo.
General Assembly is a great example of a resource for bootcamps. The company offers courses ranging from web design to social media marketing. Selingo explains that they’re “designed according to how the brain learns: lectures in short time blocks only, a focus on a few key concepts, immediate application of learning in a real-world environment, frequent feedback – all completed in a few weeks.”
The bootcamps can be six to ten weeks long, and can cost several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. You may even be able to get student loans for some bootcamps, reports Business Insider’s Nathan McAlone.
- Flickr / Velkr0
2. Massive open online courses (MOOCs)
These six-to-ten-week courses are free, and cover a variety of topics.
In 2015, the most popular courses offered through Coursera included an introductory financial accounting course from the University of Pennsylvania, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation course from the University of Virginia, and a course on mastering data analytics in Microsoft Excel from Duke University.
In many cases, you can take a course for a certificate of completion, or pay a fee for an identity-verified certificate that is considered more legitimate in the case that you need to prove your accomplishment to your employer.
MOOCs are free, meaning you aren’t held accountable the way you might be in a bootcamp or a traditional, in-person course. Completing the course is entirely your responsibility.
- Francois Mori/AP
3. Digital learning resources
“The web is full of DIY education sites where students can piece together their own curriculum,” writes Selingo.
Khan Academy is free, and its founder recommends professionals start with courses on everything from programming to business skills to a 15-minute history of the universe.
Lynda.com requires a membership, for $25 (basic) and $35 (premium, which allows you to download project files and courses to view even offline) per month. If you pay for a year upfront, you’ll get a discount: $240 for the basic subscription and $360 for premium.