5 Ways College Students Can Learn Outside the Classroom

Learning happens everywhere — not just in the classroom. Here, we introduce five ways college students can learn beyond their textbooks.

portrait of Dr. Samantha Fecich
by Dr. Samantha Fecich

Updated March 7, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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5 Ways College Students Can Learn Outside the Classroom


Learning is one of the most important responsibilities of a college student. Besides being physically present in class, it's critical that you minimize distractions and focus on the topic at hand. You do this by taking notes, asking questions, engaging with your professors and peers, and actively listening.

But learning doesn't need to be limited to the classroom.

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Ready to start your journey?

By exploring other learning avenues, you can expand your knowledge base. It also allows you to experience a different perspective or see alternative solutions.

Below, we discuss our top five ways college students can begin learning outside the classroom.

1. Listen to Podcasts on Topics That Interest You

How about taking learning into your own hands — or ears, in this case. Podcasts are an ideal way to do just that. Whether you're commuting, working out, doing laundry, or simply relaxing in your pajamas, podcasts can help you learn more on a huge variety of topics.

To inform my pedagogy and practice for preservice educators, I started listening to podcasts to get more insight into different teaching topics. These audio shows cover various subjects you can search for depending on your major, interests, and career goals.

Podcasts typically last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or more. You can listen to podcasts on just about any device, including your laptop and smartphone.

What's more, subscribing to podcasts is generally free. My favorite podcast apps include Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pocket Casts, and TuneIn. You won't miss an episode when you subscribe to podcasts since the app downloads it immediately.

As an educator, I believe that learning on the go through podcasts has helped me stay up to date with hot topics in education. I can offer students other perspectives from leaders in the field. Sometimes, I even assign a few episodes to listen to for homework.

2. Watch Video Tutorials

How many times have you wanted to figure out how to do something and you find a video on that topic? I do this daily! I love finding a good tutorial about how to do a task. I can pause it, repeat it, play it, and do it again, allowing me to learn at my own pace.

Some go-to YouTube channels I recommend for college students include the following:

3. Attend Conferences and Webinars

Professional conferences and webinars might sound intimidating. But they're definitely worth attending, especially if you're hoping to grow your network.

I attended a conference during my undergraduate studies as a future teacher. It was an incredibly insightful experience. Besides learning from professionals outside my college, I was able to connect and network with other educators in my field.

Some conferences allow you to submit a paper or proposal to present. You can learn to write a proposal, design a presentation, present in a professional context, and network with like-minded individuals.

To find out about local or virtual conferences you can attend or present at, contact a professor. You can also search online for local conferences in your field of study.

4. Read Articles From Trusted Sources

Most college students have to read a lot of textbooks. It can also help to read articles related to the content you're learning. But don't limit yourself to Wikipedia — you want to find well-researched, reliable information.

In addition to using Google Scholar, you should consult your campus librarian for help finding scholarly and peer-reviewed resources. Your librarian can find full-text PDFs of articles and show you how to search with filters and specific parameters of content.

They can also do an interlibrary loan for an article available at another institution.

5. Get Work Experience

If you can get work experience in your field, do it! For example, education majors might get a part-time job as a substitute teacher or teaching assistant over the summer. During breaks, try looking for an internship or externship.

If you can't find paid work, are you able to volunteer or job shadow someone in your field?

It's important to get as much work experience as possible before graduating. This way, you have a glimpse into what it might be like working full time in your field.

You can then add your work experience to your resume. Additionally, you can build connections, network with others, and apply what you've learned in your classes in a real-world environment.


Feature Image: RgStudio / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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