You might think signing up for continuing education programs will take too much time out of your day and too much money out of your wallet.
Fortunately, there are free or low-fee continuing education courses that can be delivered right to your inbox. They can kick-start your learning, or help you discover your interests for more formal education down the road.
3 email-based continuing education courses
You might already be spending a lot of time on email. Maybe you’re bombarded by discounts from online retailers, unusual requests from Nigerian princes, and other forms of spam.
Here are three address more worthy of your inbox space.
With daily 5-minute lessons comprising 10-day courses, Highbrow asks for the least amount of time and money to sign up. That’s probably why it claims to have more than 300,000 users. The site has 170 courses to choose from and keeps growing.
You can sign up for one course at a time, picking from 15 different categories, including arts, business, and productivity.
Highbrow’s structure is for those of us lacking discipline, as you can only take one course at a time, receiving one daily email. But if you prefer learning in chunks, you could archive the emails and review them at your convenience. Once the course has ended, you can also sign up for another, as Highbrow has no way of knowing whether you read all your lessons.
Each lesson hits your inbox bright and early so that you can you check it off the list as you pore through your morning messages. Ads might appear in your text-only emails if you’re a free subscriber.
Upgrading to Highbrow Premium ($4 per month) gives you more course options, ad-free lessons, and interactive quizzes. I haven’t found the need to upgrade after a few months of using the basic subscription; there are plenty of free courses to choose from, and the ads aren’t distracting.
If you have a genuine curiosity about learning certain topics — anything from creating a podcast to building a web scraping tool — Highbrow is a great, free resource. You might find the instruction too basic if you already know quite a bit about the course topic, but it’ll at least give you a foundation. Then you can jump off into more formalized continuing education courses, even pursue a professional certification.
Price: Free, or $4 per month for premium access
Pro: Great selection of courses might make the premium subscription unnecessary for most users.
Con: Highbrow’s one-course-at-a-time approach limits users from learning about different topics simultaneously.
Unlike Highbrow, which prompts you to pick what you want to learn about from a list, Curious.com takes a different tact. It asks you to complete a 10-part questionnaire that decides your courses for you.
It aims to fill out your eight wedges of curiosity. You’ll see topics ranging from STEM to sports because the wedges are meant to connect the brain’s varying learning centers. The thinking is based on scientific research on, in part, humans’ multiple intelligences.
Here’s a version of what you might see after completing the questionnaire:
This is how Curious.com decides which of its lessons — 3,500 lessons of the 25,000 lesson library are for free subscribers — to deliver to your inbox.
If this all sounds overwhelming, boil it down to one email per day. Whether you’re a free or paid subscriber ($9.99 per month), you’ll receive a personalized “workout” in your inbox. You can read your quick “Curio” lesson for the morning and move on within five minutes, or click to work on puzzles or watch in-depth classes based on your interests.
That’s the one clear downside of Curious.com. You can engage with the daily workout and read through weekly emails (like the Sunday Mindset Curio, above), but you’ll have to leave your inbox to find more in-depth lessons.
It’ll be worth it if you get to know your wheel. On the desktop version of the site, you can click on any wedge and take classes fitting your interests.
Curious.com also hopes its points system keeps you engaged. On the desktop version of the site, you earn points for completing lessons and competing against other users. I earned eight points, for example, by watching a 13-minute video about probability and statistics, a topic chosen from my colorful wheel.
If you’re someone who uses YouTube to watch video tutorials, think of Curious.com as a highly-curated version of the same thing. The teachers and their material — anything from beer brewing to, yes, math — has been vetted by the platform. You won’t have to click around until you find a lesson worth watching.
Price: Free, or $9.99 per month for premium access
Pro: Your lists of courses are customized for you, which is valuable for users who might not know what they want to learn.
Con: The most value of the platform — from the video courses to the points-based competition — has to be gained on the website, not in your inbox.
3. Now I Know
Whereas Highbrow and Curious encourage you to take courses based on your interests, Now I Know encourages you to be interested in anything and everything. The daily emails from Dan Lewis, the newsletter’s author, reach 100,000-plus subscribers.
The first week of topics to reach my inbox might make you think twice about signing up:
- Monday: The Squeegee that Saved Lives
- Tuesday: The Power of Being Bored
- Wednesday: What Happens When a Monkey Takes an Awesome Picture of Itself?
- Thursday: How a Good Breakfast Helped Create a Sneaker Empire
The cute titles of the lessons don’t always match up with the content. For example, one email used a light-hearted prompt to launch into a more serious discussion about copyright law.
Friday’s weekender email is not a continuing education course, more a review of the week. It includes educational content found around the web. You might see a link to a lengthy investigative piece from ProPublica, for example.
Also free, Lewis’ emails are supported by in-email advertisements and affiliate links. If you fall in love with Now I Know, you can volunteer to support its projects.
Now I Know is probably not going to teach you a new skill or trade, but it has a better shot at making you think about the world differently. Lewis’ posts, such as the one about President Lincoln creating the Secret Service on the day of his assassination, could also send you down a rabbit hole searching for more information. But that’s probably the point anyway.
Price: Free, but donations are welcome
Pro: The simple but interesting nature of the newsletter’s content makes it worthwhile and covers up for the in-email ads and affiliate links.
Con: Now I Know might engage your mind, but the content is typically not as practical as other email-based continuing education courses.
A warmup for continuing education courses
You might like the idea of Now I Know’s daily one-offs. Or maybe you prefer the more classroom-like content from Highbrow or Curious.
Either way, these emails are a good test for what you’d like to study via more formal continuing education. If you become immersed in Highbrow’s introductory courses on content marketing or coding, for example, you could end up seeking continuing education courses that upgrade your career.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|