Inside the indeterminate walls of the Internet, a plethora of useful services and learning tools await. With the infinite resources the web provides, it's not terribly difficult to find websites that will teach you new and interesting skills. What is hard, however, is finding free sites that can educate you, without forcing you to fork over your hard earned bitcoins—or at least a few incriminating selfies—to gain some sterling nuggets of knowledge.
These 31 outlets of digital know-how will enlighten you, excite you, and if you stick around long enough, you may just learn a life-changing lesson in the process. College is overrated. Consider this list your debt-free alternative.
1. Learn a new language
In case you ever want to ditch the translation book, or just order food at your favorite taco joint with classy authenticity, head over to Duolingo for a totally free alternative to night classes or Rosetta Stone.
2. Learn the basics of psychology from a Yale professor
If you are trying to understand why your girlfriend says she's not hungry, when you know she definitely wants you to take her out to dinner, try out this Intro to Psych class from one of the most renowned professors in the entire world. It probably won't save your relationship, but at least you'll know why.
3. Learn how to code
In today's world of teenage dot-com millionaires, coding is an extremely valuable skill. Just look at how many jobs have "HTML knowledge is a plus" on their descriptions. Luckily, there are resources like Codecademy to give newbies a place to learn and practice their coding skills. 24 million people have joined. That's 24 million people that are already ahead of you. Get on it!
4. Learn to manage your money competently
Making money is useless if you don't know how to manage it. With an app like Mint, you'll learn to take control of your finances, while getting all the necessary tools to maintain and exploit your newfound knowledge in the process. All for the low, low price of absolutely nothing.
5. Take a Harvard course on American Government
There is no other American school with the sterling reputation of Harvard University (despite what those Yale guys have to say). That's why they're the only people I'd trust to fill me in on American Government, a course you can take for free through their open course channel. You know who went to Harvard? Natalie Portman. That's good enough for me.
6. Speak in public, without freaking out
Public speaking is the number one fear for Americans. That means most people would rather be inside of a casket than delivering a eulogy (thanks to Jerry Seinfeld for that one). With this course available online via the University of Washington you can learn to deliver a competent public speech, without falling flat on your face.
7. Learn to play guitar
As someone who has been playing guitar for over a decade, I can assure you the hardest part is learning the basics. To start you off, or get you over a tough learning "plateau," you can turn to Justin Guitar or Ultimate-Guitar for interactive lessons and easy-to-use tablature (sheet music, for people who can't read sheet music) that will have you melting faces in no time.
8. Take photographs like a professional
Photography is halfway between a science and an art. So essentially, it's hard as hell. There's no shame in asking for a little help while you are trying to up your Instagram game, and with this free course from MIT, you can learn the basics of photography from some of the guys that make the world turn.
9. Brew your own beer
The only thing more delicious than a beer you went out and bought, is a beer that came from your own hop-stained hands. The guys at HomeBrew Academy have set up a resource that will get you started in the world of home brewing, with everything you need to know about making a tasty, scandalously-named IPA, for your eyes only.
10. Learn Economics and Physics from MIT professors
MIT is known for being the school where the people who make everything you care about go to pull elaborate pranks. And maybe get an education, I guess. So when you get the chance to learn about Econ, or Astrophysics from some of the certified geniuses that teach there, you should probably take it.
11. Cook chef-caliber meals
If you are attempting to be a fully functional adult, you should learn to cook a decent meal or two. And if you are going to learn to cook a decent meal or two, you might as well go full Bourdain and learn to cook like a freakin' chef. Allrecipes is a great resource for...um...all the recipes you'll ever need. While the free section of the site is more than enough to keep amateur-Batalis at bay, there's also a comprehensive "cooking school" for those willing to shell out some shekels. Time to bring that bacon home, and cook it, too.
12. Take a full college course on gardening
If your green thumb has turned pitch black, check out this full college course on Botany from Oregon State, now available in its entirety online. If you don't have the most bitchin' cherry tomatoes on your block, how do you even sleep at night?
13. Become fluent in sign language
I took sign language in college, and I've been amazed at how handy it has become in my life. It's one of those things (like condoms) that you never think you'll need, until you really, really need it. The ASL Browser was created by Michigan State to provide an online portal for anyone to easily learn sign language, online. As was LifePrint, another reliable online outlet to learn ASL.
14. Learn to knit better than your grandmother
Knitting may not be considered the most macho of skills to be learned, but you know what's manly as hell? Knitting your own jet-black wool sweater, with a big middle finger on it, and wearing it all winter as a big F-U to mother nature. This step-by-step guide to knitting by Instructables will deliver grandma-level knitting skills in a matter of weeks.
15. Learn how to invest your money in stocks
You probably haven't been investing in stocks much. Which is probably why you don't have stacks of Scrooge McDuck-style money to dive into. Investopedia may sound like a debilitating stomach disease, but it's actually an excellent resource to introduce yourself to the world of stock investing. Always be selling. Or maybe buying? I'm not sure. Consult the site.
16. Brush up on your math skills
Whether you are helping your little brother study up for a test, or just really embarrassed that you can no longer do basic multiplication and division in your head (thanks a lot, smart phones), you can brush up on your arithmetic skills with the aptly-named Shmoop, a site that gives you infinite math drills and/or lessons, and allows you to track your progress. So you can watch yourself go from "grossly inefficient" to "slightly-below-average."
17. Take a course in proper pet training
No one likes a poopy pet or a ball-sack biter, so make sure your little fur ball is a well-behaved pooch with Dog Training Central, a comprehensive online database of doggie lessons and tips for pet owners, with accompanying videos in most areas. It's the second-best thing you'll read about dogs all day.
18. Make your own GIFs
If you have an excellent video of your Uncle Marv falling off the stage at your cousin's wedding into a pot of flaming hot New England Clam Chowder, but would prefer it in GIF form for infinite-looped hilarity, check out Giphy. The site is a Supercompressor favorite, and in my opinion the easiest platform to make good-looking, easily sharable GIFs with the adoring public.
19. Become a better writer
If one day, you'd like to take my job from me, or at least just get better at composing your Facebook rants, check out Macalester College's excellent online course/video series dedicated to honing writing skills. Before watching, I was actually illiterate. Please don't tell my editor.
20. Learn how to appreciate poetry, with a course by a published author
If you are one of those guys who desperately wants to be artsy-fartsy (like James Franco), but a proper understanding of poetry has always just zoomed over your head (like James Franco), check out this Yale course taught by published poet Langdon Hammer. Discover why a rose, by any other name, would still smell just as sweet. Unless you called them stink blossoms, obviously.
21. Get a crash course in Philosophy, from an actual philosopher
As someone who spent thousands of dollars on a Philosophy degree (I also have a business degree, so don't make fun of me please) it pains me to see a course as well-curated as this one available free of charge to anyone with a computer. It's legit, therefore I'm pissed.
22. Master Photoshop
YouTube is a stellar place to learn Photoshop basics, because you can see people using it in real time. Out of all the clustercuss of videos out there, the bluntly-titled You Suck At Photoshop series sets itself apart as the most comprehensive and entertaining way to learn how to photoshop Scarlett Johansson out of your dreams and into your vacation photos.
23. Draw like a real artist
I have never been a gifted artist. In fact, I can barely sign my signature without punching a hole through the receipt. But that shouldn't stop you, reader, from joining a site like Drawspace, which features hundreds of online lessons for free. With classes ranging from "beginner" to "advanced," artists of every skill level can hone their craft between shifts at Starbucks.
24. Learn how to program an awesome mobile game
If you've ever wasted an entire weekend playing Temple Run, or an entire lifetime playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, you know just how important mobile gaming has become in our world. If you'd like to try your hand at designing your own game, but don't know where to start, this online course offered by the University of Reading will get your toes wet in the mobile gaming world.
25. Work out like a personal trainer
Finding info online about working out is just about as easy as finding pictures of Paris Hilton naked. Finding legitimate work-out advice online is just about as easy as finding pictures of Conrad Hilton naked. But AskTheTrainer is a respectably thorough site that gives you a multitude of workouts, isolating every muscle group in your body. It's not as good as a real life personal trainer, obviously, but if you don't mind a few annoying pop-ups, it's one of best free site on the web for working out. Another option is BodBot—a de-facto online personal nutritionist and exercise coach. It's not as polished as some options with a price tag...but hey, it's free.
26. Win every argument, even if you are wrong
If you are the kind of person that likes to argue with people, even if you know for a fact that you are 100% wrong, this site will come in handy: Austhink. It will teach you to win arguments you have no right winning. This shouldn't be allowed. Don't argue with me.
27. Learn how to repair your ride
AutoEducation: Your mechanic hates this site! As they would say, on the the Internet.
28. Finally understand finance, with help from a tenured professor
Finance is a fickle, complicated beast. In order to get a grasp on the world of financial things (like money), you can turn to this University of Michigan course to help wrap your mind around the world of currency, and all that it entails.
29. Become a Yogi
There's a glut of Yoga advice out there. But it's best to get your moments of serenity by people who are proven to be chock full of positive karma—like Yome. If your downward facing dog is more akin to face-first-in-the-dirt, you might want to check out their library of free videos to namaste for days.
30. Get a crash course on Excel
It isn't the most exciting offering on this list, but basic Excel knowledge is pretty much a must for every job that doesn't involve a deep fryer. Chandoo is benevolent enough to spread their Excel wisdom with the general public. You best take advantage of their generosity.
31. Be a chicken farmer
In case you ever want to give it all up and raise chickens, go here. Rejoice, rurally.
Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Supercompressor. He eats chickens like that for breakfast. No, seriously. Follow him @WilFulton.
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