At some point or another in adulthood, most of us consider going back to school as a means for enriching or evolving our careers. Then, we look at the undergraduate student loan payments we’ll still be owing when we’re 80 and we resign ourselves to having to learn new things through the Netflix documentary section instead. No matter how good the film, however, it’s likely not going to teach you how to use Photoshop, navigate the ever-changing world of digital marketing in 2017 or become a better leader. So, here are a ton of free or affordable online classes that will do all of that without making you further indebted to Navient (whatever that is!).
Beginner's Guide to Editing in Photoshop: Photoshop can be daunting if you've never used it before, and these days it can be helpful to have a basic understanding no matter what your profession. This course is 100% for beginners, but for $29 a month you can access all DigitalTutors courses, including more advanced Photoshop tutorials.
InDesign Made Easy: This is another one of those skill sets that certainly can come in handy, and this course's whopping 105 lectures are free.
Make a Website: It can't hurt to know the fundamentals of HTML and CSS. You can get some portions of this course free, but for full access you'll need to pay $19.99 a month for Pro membership. (This gets you access to any number of courses on Codecademy, though.) You can also take a free Introduction to Computer Science via Harvard, of all places. The Ivy League institution offers a lot of great paid online courses in the web development arena as well. UC Davis' Introduction to Web Development, offered through Coursera, is a great starter class as well.
Online Advertising: If you've ever had a job that requires knowledge in this field, you know how often the landscape can shift beneath your feet. This one-month course will get you up to speed, and it's free.
Digital Marketing Specialization: Digital marketing is an extremely complicated field as, again, strategies become obsolete the moment you master them. This course from the University of Illinois costs $79 and actually entails five different five-week courses.
Google Analytics: If you work in any sort of digital field, you know how ubiquitous is the use of Google Analytics for forming strategy and tracking the effectiveness of marketing initiatives—it's such a cool tool, but it's also totally overwhelming if you've never used it before. This is a quickie course at around two hours, and it's free.
SEO for Beginners: We know people who get paid tons of money for their SEO knowledge, and we want to be among them. This free course involves 16 lessons that'll help you better understand SEO and how to make it work for you and your business.
Getting Started in Email Marketing: Learn the ins and outs of email marketing—a necessary component of almost any business—from Mailchimp's Allyson Van Houten. This course is free.
How to Get a Job Using Social Media: Your social media presence matters, and it can 100% help you land a job. This course takes just five days to complete, but if that's still too much of a time investment for you, you can check out our 5 Ways to Leverage Instagram for Your Career instead.
Social Media Marketing: For a much more in-depth course on how to best use social media to the advantage of your career or business, try this five-course immersion. It starts at $79.
Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content: This UPenn class offered via Coursera will help you craft a workable strategy around virality, a critical skill for anyone who works in content in 2017.
Facebook Marketing: Facebook is forever changing its algorithms, so if part of your job entails trying to market your company or product via the elusive platform, this $129 course may help.
Copywriting for Social Media: Learn how to maximize your shares, retweets, pins and clicks with this $99 class from Mediabistro.
Introduction to Journalism: This course covers six topics—what makes a good news story, writing news, writing features, opinion writing, politics and journalism and investigative journalism. It comes from the University of Strachclyde in Scotland and is taught by a mix of professionals from the school. This course is 100% free.
Grammar and Punctuation: We all need this refresher course, and it's free so there are no excuses for not taking it.
Create Income Opportunities By Learning Power Writing: If you don't feel super effective at work, this class may be worth your time. Learn how to exert influence and authority through your business correspondence, in 45 minutes, free of charge. We also like this $79 Business Writing course from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Develop a Successful Freelance Writing Career: This is one of the toughest career tracts out there, so if you're thinking of going this route, we highly recommend investing the $129 in this course.
Copyediting Intermediate: Much like the grammar class listed above, we could all likely benefit from this course. It's $129 from Mediabistro.
Travel Writing: Because this is everyone's dream job. This course is $149 on Mediabistro.
How To Build An Online Business: Want to make $5000 a month in passive income? This is the course for you. It will teach you how to build a website portfolio as a side hustle that will actually make you money. It's free, and takes 11 hours to complete.
Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans: Don't even think about trying to launch a business without a professional plan in place. This free MIT course will help you get your act together, stat.
How to Build An iPhone App: Everyone has an app idea, but not everyone is willing to dedicate the time necessary to see their dream to reality. This free course will help you build your own app, for free, in just 4.5 hours.
Contract Law: This class is free from Harvard, and the information you learn will likely prove invaluable as a new business owner.
Patents, Copyrights, and the Law of the Intellectual: Navigating this element of business ownership can be difficult, so we recommend taking this free MIT course if you're planning to go through the patent or copyright process soon.
Early Stage Capital: Raising money is the hardest thing you will ever do as an entrepreneur. This free MIT course will help you strategize, negotiate, and more. We also like How to Finance and Grow Your Startup Without VC, a $49 course from the University of London Business School.
Building Your Leadership Skills: This course is brought to you by HEC in Paris, a world-renowned business school. It's $79, and will teach you the 4 steps for successful leadership: Introspection, Conversation, Resilience and Responsibility toward Value Creation.
Managerial Psychology: This free MIT class "introduces you to behavioral science theories, methods, and tools and provides opportunities to use and apply them to problems you will encounter in your work and career." In other words, this course will better help you to navigate office culture.
Communication for Managers: The only thing worse than having a boss who doesn't communicate well is being a boss who doesn't communicate well. Don't be that gal—this MIT course is free, so no excuses.
Building and Leading Effective Teams: Are you trying to hire a team for the first time, and feel like you have no idea what you're doing? This free MIT course may help.
Mastering Data Analysis In Excel: We fell asleep just reading the title of this class, but we know it would be good for us regardless. It's $79 and comes to us via Duke University. Udemy also has a lot of affordable Excel-based courses.
PowerPoint Slide Design: We don't want to need this skill, but that doesn't mean we don't. This course is free from Udemy.
How To Negotiate a Higher Salary With Any Employer: In the tight-fisted business culture of 2016, this is an important skill worth doling out $27 in order to learn.
A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment: We're pretty sure the entire syllabus for this course reads "Quit Your Job and Move to Bali," but even if it doesn't this class is bound to improve your working life in some way.
Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis: What if you could quit your job and become a wine professional? This UC Davis course offered via Coursera can get you started in that direction or, at the very least, just make you really good at impressing dates.