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 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.99% – 5.64%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 6.77%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|1.99% – 5.41%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
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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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% 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 July 31, 2020, 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 7/31/2020. 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 [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 10, 2020.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. 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 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.