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With more and more people taking courses and getting more qualifications to further their career, we thought we’d look at whether you need loans for educational purposes to do this or whether there are decent free (or at least, much cheaper) options available.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably thinking about taking a course or studying for a certification that’s going to help you develop in your career (or, perhaps, make a career change).
That’s awesome news. Just the act of actively working on your professional development is going to look great on your CV!
However, we also bet you’ve seen some professional development courses that are eye-wateringly expensive and have made you think twice about investing in your career…
So, what if we told you there were some options that didn’t involve applying for loans for educational purposes?
That, thanks to the internet, there are so many ways you can further your career without paying a penny?
You’d be interested, right?
Well, step this way and we’ll show you just a few of the awesome ways you can further your career without taking out loans for educational purposes.
Free courses that don’t need loans for educational purposes
Option #1: Take some free online courses
The internet might have a few downsides, but it’s also been a revolutionary tool for education.
Wikipedia has saved millions of teenagers from spending hours in the library researching obscure history, YouTube has taught droves of people how to play everything from the guitar to — erm — drainpipes… and apps like Duolingo have taught people all around the world how to speak new languages.
In fact, one of our favourite things about the internet is the way that it has democratised learning.
You no longer need to take out a huge student loan to learn from some of the best universities in the world. In fact, many of them now have free courses available online.
Here are a few of our favourite places to get a world-class education without leaving the comfort of your sofa:
Geared heavily towards professional development (but still with plenty of educational and academic courses) FutureLearn lets you choose from universities around the world to study for qualifications in everything from Digital Marketing to History to Coding to Business Management.
And, even better, all of the courses are 100% free.
You sometimes have to pay a little fee to get a certificate at the end of the process, but all the knowledge and learning is completely free.
Although aimed mainly at high school children, Khan Academy has courses on everything from maths to English, coding to entrepreneurship and is great for brushing up on the knowledge that you perhaps didn’t quite listen to as much as you should have in school.
This is the creme-de-la-creme of online learning sites; a treasure trove of courses available from some of the best universities in the world — like MIT or Yale or Harvard — on everything from Business to Philosophy to Engineering.
Take a nose around and we’re sure that you’ll find a course that floats your boat. (Plus, imagine that on your CV: studied for a qualification from Harvard!)
Option #2: Online Courses
If you’re looking to develop your skill set (whether you want to progress in your career or even change career paths), you can’t go wrong with using an online learning platform like Skillshare.
Packed to the rafters with online courses from professionals of all kinds (from designer to writers to big names like Simon Sinek or Roxanne Gay) you can learn almost anything you like on these self-paced courses, from graphic design to public speaking.
And while lots of these courses are more aimed at refining your skills and adding new strings to your bow, there are lots of beginner and entry-level courses too, which means that it’s perfect for picking up a new skill and developing it into a new career path or improving your skills to take your career to the next level.
Now, there are lots of free courses on the site, but for around £10 a month (they charge in dollars, so the rate changes…) you get unlimited access to every course on the platform, which seems like an absolute steal when you check out the courses they’ve got on offer.
It’s like Netflix for personal and professional development! How cool is that?
We mentioned it earlier when we brushed over the videos on how to build drainpipe instruments, but it definitely warrants its own section because it’s a treasure trove of videos for personal development.
Youtube is awesome if you want to learn how to do anything. There are videos on there about learning to play the guitar, to write better work emails, how to code, how to design websites…
You name what you want to learn and get better at and there are videos on Youtube that cover it, we guarantee it.
Plus, there are entire courses from Yale University on there too, if you’re so inclined!
Ok, this one isn’t entirely online, but we can’t deny that the invention of the internet (and LinkedIn, Facebook, etc…) has made it much easier to find a professional mentor and get in touch with them.
Now while mentors don’t come with qualifications you can put on your CV or even a structured plan to teach you things, they can help your career immensely by teaching you new things, introducing you to the right people or — if you’re really lucky — taking you under their wing.
Now, it’s a serious commitment from both parties to enter into a mentor/mentee relationship, but if you think you could benefit from career advice and help from somebody who you really respect and admire, why not reach out to them?
Google them, find their contact information and ask them if you can take them for coffee. From there, shoot your shot. Be humble, genuine and express how much you admire them and then ask if they’d consider mentoring you.
Even if your mentor doesn’t have the time to mentor you, they’ll see your enthusiasm, tenacity and ambition and will remember you. They might even put you in touch with a colleague better suited to helping you.
Either way, you make a valuable connection that could further your career for the price of a cup of coffee, all from a quick Google search. Like we said, the internet is amazing, right?
University and other paid qualifications
While there are lots of amazing free options on the internet, sometimes there are courses that you just can’t find for free or opportunities that aren’t available to you without paying.
Not to mention, some universities and qualifications have such a good reputation that simply having graduated or qualified from them is likely to improve your career drastically. (And those are the kind of courses worth paying for.)
In those circumstances, it might be time to think about loans for educational purposes. You can either apply for a student loan, a personal loan or, if you’re fortunate, get your employer to sponsor your studying (AKA, pay the fees for you).
Now, if your employer can’t sponsor your education and the course doesn’t qualify for government help through a student loan, loans for educational purposes can be a good option.
By applying for loans for educational purposes, you can spread the cost of the course out over a couple of years and — if you get that dream job or pay rise — pay everything back early with no additional fees.
But remember: with all these amazing courses available on the internet, there’s nothing stopping you trying out the free options first while you save some money towards the paid courses!
Or, if you really want to impress your bosses, there’s nothing stopping you applying for a paid course and taking some free ones online. There really hasn’t ever been a better time to further your career without breaking the bank!
To read more about student loans, budgeting and whether loans for educational purposes are considered good or bad debt, check out all the things we’ve written for students over on the Bamboo Blog!
- Author The Bamboo Team
- Posted 6 September 2019