University education is undergoing a major change and is moving away from the classroom. Coursera, Kahn Academy, and TED are just a handful of groups that offer an alternatives to traditional in-class learning. Some universities, like Harvard and MIT have posted their entire course catalog online for anyone to learn from, and other schools are beginning to offer more experiential and hands on learning options, but in general it is left up to the student to utilize these learning tools and step away from learning only in class.
As a finance student in New York I have been able to gain some technical skills from my traditional classes like Fixed Income Securities, or Speculative Analysis, but class has been a small part of my undergraduate education. I have added tools like the ones listed above, and I have been able to supplement my education in many ways outside of university.
Living in New York City, the finance capital of the world, has presented me countless opportunities to supplement as well as enhance my business school classes. These opportunities first presented themselves at university in the form of clubs and other events. As the president of the Israel Business Club, a board member of the university’s venture community, and an active member in many other clubs I have been able to organize and/or attend countless amazing events. Whether hearing from successful venture capitalists and CEO’s, participating in start-up pitch competitions, or through site visits to companies like Bloomberg and Sirius XM. Looking within the walls of the university, but beyond classes can be a great way to get more out of school.
One of the greatest contributors to my education and network has been conferences, and MeetUps around outside university, and New York City. Websites like GarysGuide.com, Crain’s, Xconomy, and StartUp Digest post hundreds of events around the city, like New York Tech Week, and StartUp NY. While many of these events are free, some do charge an entrance fee, but often times give free or discounted tickets to students, so just ask. If they do not offer free/ discounted tickets, offer to volunteer at the event. I have been given free tickets to events like the NYVCA’s Ingenuity Conference and have gained access as a volunteer to events like the World Business Forum, and the USI Business Conference. Additionally, my participation in entrepreneurship groups like the Kairos Society and the NYTech Meetup have allowed me to attend many events where i learned from inspiring and successful speakers as well and build an amazing network. The entire city became my classroom… a NYC University of sorts.
While I have written this post from a business viewpoint, there are still similar opportunities for non-business majors. Students can often find free or discounted tickets to medical and other industry conferences, you just need to ask. So go ahead and find events and conferences and turn your city into an extension of the classroom.