How to Keep Learning When You’re No Longer A College Student

by | Posted April 1st, 2013

Ok, so you graduated from college, your diploma *finally* came in the mail, and with any luck you’ve settled into a job or freelance work or an internship, or some delightful combination of the former. You’re paying off student loans, you’re settling into your work routine, you’ve moved into an apartment (or back into your childhood bedroom), and it’s finally sinking in that you’re no longer a student.

Now, that is not necessarily true. Besides the more obvious choices like graduate school or other types of higher education, you are in fact, still a student. The only difference is that you can pick what you want to learn (and there’s usually no one waiting to give you a rolled up piece of paper at the end).

There are numerous ways to continue learning even after you leave your dorm room or college campus. You can, for instance:

Read. Read everything under the sun. Books, magazines, blogs, newspapers, web comics, Twitter feeds, etc. My favorite thing lately has been re-trying out all of the classic novels and bits of literature that were skimmed at break-neck speed during my undergrad English classes. Now I can kick back and enjoy some Steinbeck or Bradbury (or Julia Child and Ingrid Bergman biographies) at my leisure, and not have to worry about looking for symbols or finding applicable quotes for a final paper. Or, if you miss those final papers, you can blog about what you liked/disliked/discovered along the way.

Go back to “school.” One of the my favorite discoveries during post-college life have been online tutorials and actual “classes” you can take. Some examples include Codecademy, Coursera and Hack Design. Best part? Almost all of them are free, and you can learn at whatever pace is comfortable, or if you work full-time, convenient for you.

Listen. If your eyes are already tired from staring at computer screens all day or you have a lengthy commute, try a podcast, or NPR, or one of those books on tape/CD if you’re feeling a bit old school. Or, find people that you think are interesting, or who are doing interesting things in your field, and hear what they have to say, whether it’s through a speaking engagement, a phone call or initiating a conversation via your favorite flavor of social media.

But hey, maybe some of these things are a no-brainer, and that’s fine. Maybe some of you have other methods of learning that you prefer, and that’s fine too.  Heck, maybe you actually are still in school but you like to add things to the coursework you’ve already completed (that’s more than fine – in fact, go you!). All that matters is that you keep on learning new things. And if you like what you find, share it with others.

Noelle Sciarini is an alumni of MSU’s Professional Writing program. Now a resident of Ann Arbor, she currently works as an email marketing copywriter for a series of charitable “click-to-give” websites. Sometimes she’s on Twitter, where you can tweet her at @NoelleSci