Learning Outside the Classroom


With a new school year just around the corner, you may already be overwhelmed by your course load. Conversely, you might be underwhelmed with your course selection and find yourself feeling uninspired by the thought of what you’ll be learning throughout the upcoming semester. Whether you’re entering your first or final year of university, here are some ways to learn outside the conventional classroom.

Distance Education

Distance education courses are essentially online classes offered by your post-secondary institution or another one that count for official credits.They’re a great way to compliment in-person lectures, take some pressure off your course schedule, and even complete your degree. It’s not too late to drop an in-class course and register for a distance education course instead. Many universities throughout Canada offer distance education courses that you can enroll in from virtually anywhere. Before you get too excited though, make sure that your institution approves the courses you want to take first.

Why You Should Consider Distance Education

Distance education gives you more freedom to work at your own pace because you don’t need to attend class. Courses are generally comprised of readings and videos which you can study at your convenience with a recommended timeline for what you should accomplish each week.

Of course, assignments and exams are still a big component of distance education courses. Because these courses are geared towards convenience however, you might find that you’re able to achieve a better work-life balance.

It Can Even Save You Money

If you’re just a few credits short of graduation and want to complete your degree via distance education, this may allow you to move back home or somewhere with a lower cost of living while you complete your studies. Also, it can save money on textbooks because many readings and course materials are online.

Taking a Class Outside of School

Taking classes outside of your school that have nothing to do with what you are majoring in can help you build new skills, develop lifelong hobbies, and even find professional passions. It’s a great opportunity to learn in a unique environment that can stimulate fresh insights on your personal and working life. Below are our recommendations for two types of classes you can take and why you should consider them.

Creative Arts

While your ultimate goal may not be to become a professional chef, artist, or musician, taking a course that fosters creativity is a great way to expand your imagination and meet new people who share your interests.There is an endless selection of classes and workshops across Canada available for cooking, visual arts, and music which are easily researched by city.

Improv and Public Speaking

An improv or public speaking workshop is another route that allows you to develop an entirely different skill set. This type of class can help you overcome social anxiety, improve your communication skills, and gain a better understanding of leadership and teamwork. All of this is in turn directly transferable to being a successful candidate and employee in the workplace. As a starting point, check out Toastmasters International for more on public speaking and The Second City for improv classes.

Pick up a New Language

The ability to speak more than one language is an extremely valuable skill that can open all kinds of employment opportunities. Many Canadian cities have language centres such as the Spanish Centre in Toronto and the YMCA International Language School in Montreal. The classes offered at language centres are generally geared towards students and professionals so you’re likely to find one that easily fits your schedule.

Whether you want to create a better work-life balance by utilizing distance education courses, learn a new language to expand job opportunities, or just try something entirely different, know that learning is not limited to the classroom or the campus. Indulge in your curiosity and go out there to explore what learning means to you. You might gain a lot more than you bargained for!

About the author

Jennifer Caven Jennifer graduated from McGill University with a BA in English Literature and Communication Studies before going on to study Public Relations at Ryerson University. In addition to writing, her passions include cooking, travel, and reading. In her spare time Jennifer can be found binge-watching her favourite TV shows and attempting to prevent her cats from destroying her apartment.