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Here's the problem with higher education post-high school: it's EXPENSIVE and - for a lot of people - it's not actually all that useful in getting a job (e.g. the only point of school). Hell, it's so expensive that it's the one of the biggest and most common reasons for debt in America - with student loans that can follow you for the rest of your life (since lobbyists got Congress to pass laws excluding student loan providers from bankruptcy proceedings).

Luckily, the internet has stepped in (as it usually does) to help with this issue. Realistically, you don't need to go to a 4 year college and take a bunch of meaningless courses for your desired career - especially if you're just trying to learn a trade like programming, online courses might be your best option. Not tedious travel or commuting, no expensive university fees, and you can take the classes on your own schedule. It's especially valuable if you're a little older and just want to learn one thing in whatever free time you can muster. So we've gathered together a few online courses that you can take for cheap that will improve your professional aims and personal ambitions.



1. Learn To Code

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Here's the terrifying reality - LOTS of formerly manual jobs will be replaced by automation in the near future, and that future may be approaching faster than you realize. Automated cars are improving every day, and it's not inconceivable that every taxi or Uber driver, every trucker, and every delivery driver find themselves out of the job soon. And what's replacing these gigs? People designing the software that makes everything work.

Coding is huge - the dominance of software and the internet have made it one of the most important and necessary tools for working in our society. Almost every business needs coding to some degree - whether it's for a website or internal software or anything else, it's key to have people who know how to code.

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And for about $20, you can take $1,573 worth of online courses dedicated to coding - everything from Python to how to make iPhone apps. Seriously, you're getting it for nearly 99% off (if you're confused how this works, remember that this is not a physical class, nor is there a sleepy professor who takes too long to grade your papers) and you get an insanely valuable understanding of coding (if you're willing to take the classes seriously and put in some work).

You can access these classes whenever you want and however many times you want, and all-in-all, they make up over 150 hours of learning. If you were ever curious about coding, this is the deal for you.



2. Learn Excel

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I feel very fortunate that I don't have a real business job and am not expected to know all the ins and outs of Microsoft Excel - but if you've ever worked in an office environment, you know how HUGE Excel is. When you're parsing and analyzing huge amounts of data, knowing all the tricks in Excel can save you a huge amount of time. And as analytics get deeper ingrained in all businesses (Moneyball worked for a reason, folks), knowing Excel might make your life a whole lot easier.

Even here at CollegeHumor we use Excel pretty extensively to analyze post performance of articles and videos and a bevy of other metrics that will definitely put you to sleep if I explain it in any more detail (but trust me, they're important). And for only $39 (that's 99% off of the normal $999.00 pricetag), you can have an extensive, exhaustive online school (not course - it contains 8 individual courses) for Microsoft Excel.

Not only all of this, but the program will be continually updated as new versions and new iterations of Excel come out, so you'll alway be covered.

Seriously, you should get this. Your boss will be SO impressed when you say "I'll run a pivot table" and then actually able to do it.



3. Learn Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing is EVERYTHING these days - most people don't directly go to websites by typing into their browser anymore: if you want someone seeing your product or site, there's a good chance you're going to utilizing SEO (Search Engine Optimization, to appear higher in Google results), Google AdWords, paid Facebook posts, and just a general understanding of various online platforms and their specific tricks of the trade. Working at any internet business or business that deals heavily in the internet (which is...MOST businesses nowadays) means you have to know this stuff, because it's the only way to guarantee your stuff gets seen by anyone.

This digital marketing course (from internet experts Rob Percival and Daragh Walsh) offers everything you need to know to get started in this (constantly growing in importance) field - every business requires an online presence, and it's important to get low CPMs (wanna know what that means? Take the course!). Better yet, it's only $19 (that's 90% off of the original $200 pricetag), and will make you feel pretty smart when you get a cool job in digital marketing and can wear jeans and a t-shirt to work (the CollegeHumor marketing and social teams are amongst the most casually-dressed in the company, so we would know).

In case you wanted more details on the specifics, here's the description:

Get down to brass tacks with this proven formula to grow a business (your own, or the one you work at) fast! Digital marketing is one of the most important aspects of companies of all sizes, but especially in smaller and mid-sized ones. This massive course combines twelve courses to give you almost 20 hours of lectures, quizzes, and hands-on practice with the most important digital marketing tools available. From SEO to Google AdWords, you'll get a complete education in building a powerful, profitable campaign that will set either your business or your resume apart. 

  • Access 169 lectures & 19.5 hours of content 24/7
  • Explore marketing fundamentals & best practices of market research
  • Create your own WordPress website & get email subscribers fast
  • Write copy that sells & increases search engine traffic
  • Learn social media marketing techniques for YouTube, Facebook, & Twitter
  • Become an authority on Quora marketing
  • Design a data-driven approach to growth w/ Google AdWords & Analytics

Really - for only $20, you could have an entirely new (and more valuable than you'd believe) skillset.



4. Learn Adobe CC Essentials

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If you lean more towards the creative end of things, maybe some of the earlier courses didn't interest you so much (they're still valuable and they SHOULD interest you, but I'm not your dad so I'm not going to lecture you too much here). Maybe you dream of following your passion for something more artistic, but aren't sure where exactly to start. Well, here's where you start: Adobe CC Essentials (which include Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Illustrator).

Here at CollegeHumor, we used all of these EXTENSIVELY - our artists use a mix of Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis to make our comics, our video team uses Premiere Pro to edit videos, and we ALL use Photoshop constantly to make terrifying pictures of Grimace from McDonald's in various compromising positions (that's purely for internal use though). It's hard to overstate how valuable these programs are - if you want to make art on the internet, you pretty much NEED to have these tools.

And Adobe has made them fairly easy to use - for basic stuff, at least. But these are powerful programs that can do SO MUCH MORE if you REALLY know all the features of them and how to properly utilize them - which is why you should check out these courses - which, for all three, is only $29 (that's a mind-boggling 97% off of the original $1,197).

Realistically, this isn't just for artists either - if you're interested in graphic design or video editing or just like to sketch as as a hobby, these programs are going to end up being incredibly worthwhile to you.

Trust us, check 'em out.



5. Learn How To Manage Your Finances

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The courses up until this points were all about expanding your skillset to improve your professional ambitions - but here's something that you should get for both professional AND personal reasons: learning how to manage your dang finances.

Remember how student loans have led to over a trillion dollars in debt in the US? Well, being in debt isn't limited to just student loans - it's estimated that 80% of Americans are in debt, whether due to student loans or medical costs or bad investments or simply the cost of living. And while things like predatory loans are designed to keep individuals in debt, there's a lot you can do to keep your personal finances as healthy as possible - which is why the Personal Finance Course Bundle is the smartest investment you can make today.

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For starters, you can get the 8 courses included in the bundle for only $16.25 (that's 97% off of the original $656 value of the courses), which any finance expert will tell you is a pretty low amount to pay in exchange for taking more responsibility regarding your finances. And in exchange, you'll have hours and hours of financial advice and lessons that will make you better at budgeting, investing, and keeping yourself out of debt.