Continued Education Doesn’t Have to Mean Going Back to School

Holly Hanau

University is expensive. As much as I would’ve loved to continue going to school, and “avoid” the responsibilities of the real world and a salaried career, it wasn’t really in the cards for me financially. Thankfully we are in a unique period of history where we have all the information we could possibly want at our fingertips. We can use that to our advantage and be lifelong students in this world because being a student doesn’t mean you have to be enrolled in costly university classes. Even if you don’t have a structured curriculum, there are countless opportunities to learn about subjects that interest you.

Illustration by Carley Uys

When I thought the pandemic was going to be “two weeks off of work to flatten the curve”, I partied with my roommates and didn’t think twice about how I was spending my time. I binged numerous series as the two weeks drifted to two months and scoffed at my friend who was filling up her days exploring her interests. Now I can see why she was so passionate about learning new things and spending her time wisely. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my series and I think it’s important to find time to rest and relax in ways that don’t require a lot of brainpower. Now I find myself more curious than ever and using my free time to expand my skills. 

Learning Languages

This is one of my favorites, as there are numerous benefits to learning a new language. It helps you gain more empathy as you learn the ways of other cultures and ways of life. You can communicate with people who don't speak your mother tongue, which I have found to be incredibly empowering. Some of the most influential people in my life don't speak more than five phrases in English, and I would have never formed these relationships had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and learned their language. It also improves brain function and memory and helps you better understand the nuances of your own language. It expands your world in so many ways and helps you navigate other countries independently. The best part is, you don’t need to enroll in a language school or university classes to learn the language of your choice. There are myriad resources at your disposal to go at your own pace, including podcasts (Coffee Break is my personal go-to, no this is not sponsored by them in any way), YouTube videos, and so many affordable apps and programs. If you’ve been curious about learning another language but didn’t know where to begin, this is your sign to start today — you never know which doors it will open for you in the future. 

Online Platforms

Whether you’re curious about personal development and wellness, building upon your current degree or career, or a passion project, there is someone out there teaching your subject of interest. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, either. Websites like Masterclass (I’m sure you’ve seen the ads) make knowledge from respected individuals who have dominated their field of interest widely accessible. Udemy often has flash sales on their individual classes at affordable prices, ranging from online marketing to interpersonal communication skills to gaming design. Skillshare helps you hone your technical and creative skills — and the list goes on. Making small investments in your personal growth and career can only benefit you, and your future self will thank you for it. 

Connect With Friends

Talk with your friends about your passions, and you might discover that you have similar interests. If you enroll in an online class or decide to study something new with someone else, it can help you feel more motivated. You’ll have someone to hold you accountable and you can share your knowledge together as you learn while you deepen your relationship. 

Start by tapping into what you’re drawn to and what excites you. These topics appeal to you for a reason. Something that seems arbitrary that piques your excitement will come in handy in your career or life someday in a completely unexpected way. Your newfound knowledge is likely to spark a passion for something you hadn't previously explored and may set you on a whole new career path. Or you could find a new hobby that brings you joy and brings a nice balance to your life. As the famous B.B. King quote says, “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” 

This new knowledge is yours, and yours to keep. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

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Holly Hanau

"What makes the human experience so incredible is that we have the power to heal one another. By sharing our stories and embracing our differences we can confront the topics and paradoxes that make life both interesting and challenging. I love learning from and working with a diverse group of women from around the globe — we can embrace the unknown and explore the unfamiliar as we all navigate this world together."
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