4 Ways Founders Can Go Back To School Without Spending an Arm and a Leg Jonathan Herrick Do you ever wish you could go back to school, now that you really know you need to understand to run your business successfully? Many entrepreneurs do, but that’s not always practical. Cost is a big obstacle. The average college tuition is $32,400 at a private four-year college, and at a public college, $23,890 for out-of-state students and $9,410 for in-state students, according to the College Board. MBA programs are not inexpensive, either. The average cost of an online MBA at the Top 25 schools in the website Poets & Quants’ Online MBA Ranking is $52,264, but many programs are pricier. So how do you go back to school without spending more than you can afford or going into debt? Here are four strategies to use. Try continuing education. Many community colleges and universities are making a big push to stay relevant at a time when students’ educational options are proliferating. If you haven’t looked at the adult education programs offered by traditional educational institutions in your area, check them out. Professionals who work in fields such as social media marketing and web design often teach continuing ed courses, so you’ll often pick up lots of practical knowledge—at a much lower cost than through a traditional degree program. Explore online learning platforms. Platforms like edX and Udemy offer low-cost courses that may allow you to pick up the know-how you need without setting foot in a traditional classroom. edX offers free courses from the world’s top universities—such as Columbia, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology–and a program where you can take a cluster of courses for a small fee each and, if you pass exams on the material, put them toward a “MicroMasters” credential. Some universities will allow you to apply the MicroMasters credits toward a traditional degree. Among the courses: Micro-economic principles: Decision-making under scarcity; Business Communications and Family Business: Strategy Essentials. Udemy offers many courses by experts from both academia and outside of it. Some current offerings on Udemy: Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing Mastery Guide 2018, Leadership Skills: Leading Teams to High Performance, Sketch from A to Z: Become an App Designer and a Complete Guide to Building Your Network by Keith Ferrazzi. On Udemy, courses range from $19.99 to $199.99. No entrepreneur can do it all, so don’t overlook the value of training your employees in skills you don’t have time to learn. Udemy for Business offers more than 2,000 courses to employers and their teams. Turn your car – or your treadmill—into a classroom. Some of the best business thinkers around are running podcasts to sharing their unique business wisdom and that of the experts in their network. If you do a lot of driving or work out on cardio machines, why not use some of that time to tune in? Even if you’re fighting traffic, you’ll find that time passes quickly when you’re listening to one of your business heroes or an up-and-comer you’ve just discovered. There are so many great podcasts it’s hard to pick just a few, but some that are popular among entrepreneurs include The Tim Ferriss Show, The James Altucher Show, Noah Kagan Presents, Dan Pink’s Office Hours and Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness. Head to a Meetup. In today’s economy, there may not be a university course in everything you need to learn to grow your business. Sometimes, dropping into a Meetup where you can hear an author speak about a new business book, listen to a talk by a local angel investor or network with fellow business owners can be the best way to gather information on something you need to know. Hint: Don’t rush out early. Stick around for the Q&A session at the end, if there is one. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions of an expert you might not bump into every day. These days, business changes so quickly that the best teachers are often entrepreneurs and leaders who have already experienced what you need to learn. You’ll be surprised at how many are happy to share their knowledge with you, whether in a continuing ed classroom or the many new learning venues opening up.