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How to receive an education on a tight budget

Throwing hats
Throwing hats

" Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," Nelson Mandela. Education is absolutely necessary. However, it is also necessary to have the funds to support yourself. Whether it's to receive a required certification, a degree to further your career, or to have an interesting topic to bring up at the next party you attend, you have the right to be educated.

This right sounds great in theory but once the reality of bills, rent, children and other occurrences of life set in, it becomes more and more challenging. This article will give you five ways you can receive an education on a tight budget.

The first step is to have a plan. Figure out your calling in life. What lifestyle would you not regret 20 years from now? Time is money and if you are wasting time, you are wasting money. Make a goal list for your self starting with goals you will achieve in six months, then a year, two years, five years, ten years and finally life time goals. It's important in life in general to have a plan but you must be open and willing to allow it to change. If your goal is to enroll in a program for higher education within a year, yet you do not have the funds to support your goal, wait. Unless you have a scholarship of some sort, school isn't going anywhere. Having a plan is great practice but if you aren't intelligent with your plan, you might as well have never made one. You don't want to go into debt. That's another stress of life that you don't need. If you don't have the needed amount for what you want, save money until you can afford exactly what you want.

Enroll in a community college. Community colleges for some reason have a negative stigma of not being a real school. Yes, there are people that are wasting their time because they don't know what they want to do and community colleges have a higher drop out rate but that says nothing about your character or education. Community colleges are great ways to get ahead of the game to further your education. They're cost effective and offer classes all throughout the day which allows students to work around their class schedule. Most community colleges offer summer classes for high school students which allow them to take a couple classes before actually enrolling, which in turn looks amazing on university and job applications as well as gives you bragging rights. These type of schools have a lot to offer. The degree completed at the end of one's stay at a community college is the associates degree. It takes about two years to finish and is relatively the same classes most four year university's require in the freshman and sophomore year. Most colleges are affiliated with their state college, meaning your credits will transfer over if you wish to continue your education. Thankfully, your GPA is not likely to transfer over. So those nights before a big test, where Netflix was more calling than studying, disappear. You get a fresh start which gives you another leg up. Besides a degree, community colleges offer certificates, trades, and classes to refine your skills.

Use your resources. We live in the time of information. With the power of Google, one could discover the name of the extra actor on their favorite show to theories about multidimensional worlds. This information is right in front of you, it's in your pockets, it's the conduit of which you are reading this article. Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, iTunesU and online colleges all offer knowledge from the comfort of your home. A small fee will unlock the world around you. Find local events and lectures that will enhance your learning and challenge you in ways that you may not have on a daily basis. Surround yourself, to the best of your ability, with people that you wish to emulate and will stimulate your mind. If you are in school use the buddy system! Borrow books from your friends, rent your text books and try to sell them back once you're finish with them.

Lastly, apply for scholarships, grants, work-study and make use of financial aid. Again, there is some sort of stigma with using financial aid of any form. Many people use a white lie and say they have a scholarship or a grant, to cover up the fact that they can use financial aid. If anyone is looking down on you for your financial situation, this is not a person you need to entertain with your thoughts. Someone like that will have a rude awakening and does not deserve to have a space in your mind.

Having an education is important. Knowledge is power. However, you must keep a few things in mind. Having a certification or degree is not a measure of complete intelligence but is a legal documentation of qualification and physical evidence of tenacity. If you have little to no interest in furthering your education, then don't. This is your life. It's your choices, no one else will write your papers, pay your bills or live you life.

Figure out your priorities. Write out your goals. Follow your dreams.

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