For many of us, the demands of day-to-day life (kids, career, volunteering responsibilities and household needs) make a return to college an unsavory option. If you're like me, you may not even feel the urge to go back for a second degree or to advance an existing one. Honestly, I have no need for a doctorate in my career field and I have no intentions of switching fields.
Yet at the same time, I do want to know more. Learning and discovering new things is both enjoyable and it adds to the quality of life. Since I don't care about a new fancy degree or need transcript credit for classes, I have chosen instead to spend some of my free time pursuing education for fun. You know, as a hobby.
For example, I struggled with math in high school and college. I took the minimum number of credit hours and called it good. Now that I'm helping my older son with math, I am finding it easier and more enjoyable. This lead to an urge to understand more. Thanks to Khan Academy, a free online education initiative, I am reviewing my algebra and getting ready to move into pre-calculus.
I'm also taking an astronomy course for free through Coursera. I love Coursera. There are tons of courses, on almost any subject, put together by professors from top schools. Many classes are self paced although a few are instructor led so you must study the material and turn in assignments on time.
Another awesome and free self-education option is MIT's EdX program. Although still in the beginning phases, you can take free instructor-led courses online. For a small fee, you can even get a certificate of completion. Learning really is a lifelong proposition!