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I took 156 credits in 8 semesters during my undergraduate career. That’s an average of 19.5 a semester, and most music classes didn’t offer interim options. I spent my entire undergrad deeply overloaded. Why? Because I had this deep, ingrained idea that once I graduated, that was it. That was my chance, and I wasn’t going to get the opportunity to learn this stuff in the future. I have the same urge now, in my master’s, which isn’t surprising considering that I took no gap years and just kept right on trucking.

However, I’m trying to avoid that urge. Why? Why avoid knowledge?

I’m not. What I’m doing is acknowledging that opportunities for learning will not evaporate the second I leave school. With that in mind, here’s a big list of in-person, real life ways to gain knowledge after you’re done with your current degree.

Advanced degrees. 

Okay, first the obvious. If you decide most of the way through your bachelor’s that you actually want to do something in a different but related field, you can often go and get a master’s in the other field. Plenty of people get performance degrees and go into music history for their master’s, or get a communications B.A. and get an MBA in operations or finance. You can even sell it as a “well-rounded” background for future employers.

College classes as a non-student.

If you live nearish a college and get permission, you can often audit a course for at max a couple hundred dollars. Once you’re in the real world, learning a new skill or topic for less that the price of a new set of tires is often worth it, especially if you’re truly interested in it.

Certifications.

A certification can be gotten a lot of places, for usually less time and paperwork than a full degree. Certifications are usually for specific skills. For example, you can get a legal transcription certificate, a performance certificate, an education or an editing certificate, etc. These certifications are great for if you want a credential for a certain field without having to dedicate literal years of your life full-time to doing a new thing. I’m probably going to get my editing certification in the next few years!

Conferences.

Finally, there are always conferences. If you attend a conference, you get an intense day- to week-long dose of the topic you want, for about the price of auditing a class. The time commitment is relatively similar, but condensed into a much shorter timespan – say, a eight hours a day for a long weekend instead of three hours once a week for a semester. They also involve a lot more networking, since people from around the country will probably come, instead of just people within commuting distance of your nearest school.

All of these are great ways to keep learning once you graduate. If you can’t take that acting course, or that extra instrument, or that intro to business class or whatever you want right now, you can alway learn it later. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion! You won’t remember nearly as much then, and that’s just a waste.

Take care of yourself, and never stop learning. You got this.

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