How to Become a Renaissance Man for Free

In this post, we will discuss how to become a Renaissance Man for free. This is the process that I used after not being able to afford college and picking up multiple careers simultaneously during my 20s.

How to become a renaissance man for free is not an easy task. It takes hard work, dedication and practice. If you want to be a renaissance man, you must focus on your strengths and weaknesses. Read more in detail here: how to be a renaissance man.

Vitruvian man illustration from renaissance old book page.

We spoke about how important it is to strive to reach your full potential by being a real Renaissance man a while ago. While we live in a culture that fosters specialization, a man should strive to study as much as he can about as many topics as possible and to stretch his intellect to its limits.

Being a Renaissance man used to be a privilege reserved for the well-heeled. Only the upper crust could afford private teachers and high-priced literature. Today, thanks to the advancement of technology, any individual may achieve his ambition of being a real polymath. A contemporary man may spend a lifetime learning anything from philosophy and theology to cookery and music without ever having to pay a penny. If you want to expand your intellect without breaking the bank, here are several options to consider, along with my personal suggestions for each. Of course, books and the internet can’t teach you all a Renaissance man needs to know, but they’re a good place to start if you want to augment your hands-on instruction.

To learn how to think like a Renaissance man, listen to our podcast: 


The Great Courses Series from The Teaching Company

If you spend 10 hours a week driving around in your automobile like the typical male, you’ll be in the driver’s seat for 520 hours a year. That’s 22 days a year, which equates to over a month of your life spent behind the wheel! What are you going to do with all that free time? Are you sick of hearing morning show DJs make jokes about Lindsay Lohan?

The Teaching Company’s Great Courses are collections of CD (and sometimes DVD) recordings of college-level lectures given by academics. If there’s a college course you wish you had taken or a topic you wish you knew a lot more about, listening to these CDs while driving around is a simple way to learn it. There’s something for everyone here, from history and art to economics and philosophy.

Although these CD sets are pricey to purchase, the most of them are likely to be available for free at your local public library.

Although the Teaching Company boasts that all of its courses are taught by the best professors in the world, some of these men may induce you to doze off and crash into a tree (at least the prof won’t notice). So all you have to do now is try them out and see which ones you prefer; for more information, read the reviews on the Teaching Company’s website. Here are a couple that I’ve listened to and liked:

Well-known Greeks

Known Romans

Books That Have Changed History: Books That Have the Potential to Change Your Life

-Dr. J. Rufus Fears is the instructor.

As a student at the University of Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Fears in person; his courses were usually packed within minutes, and students would sit on the floor and in the hallways attempting to get into his class. Dr. Fears on CD isn’t nearly the same as the live-action version; witnessing this bald little obese guy pretend to decapitate and stab students is a big part of the experience. His lectures, on the other hand, will give you a wonderful kick in the pants if you wish to be inspired by the heroes of the ancient world. Dr. Fears is an old school guy who skillfully examines the lives of history’s great men, distilling their lessons in how to live a more moral and ethical life. While many history professors these days focus only on the “sins” of our past, Dr. Fears is an old school guy who skillfully examines the lives of history’s great men, distilling out their lessons in how to live a more moral and ethical life.


Religious History in the United States

-Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is the instructor.

The Transcendentalist Movement and Emerson, Thoreau

-Dr. Ashton Nichols is the instructor.

European Culture and Thought in the Nineteenth Century

European Culture and Thought in the Twentieth Century

-Dr. Lloyd Kramer is the instructor.

Podcasts from Universities

Many schools and institutions have begun to make free audio of their teachers’ lectures available online. You get to hear from some of the world’s greatest academics without having to complete any homework or produce a single term paper. Here are a number of websites to look at, the second of which is very useful since it organizes the lectures by school and subject:

University and College Podcasts (@openculture) (@openculture) (@openculture) (@openculture) (@openculture) (@openculture) (@openculture

100 Free Podcasts from the Best Colleges in the World to Save You Money on Tuition (

170 colleges provide free lectures that you may download and listen to on the move via iTunes U.


On YouTube Edu, you won’t discover a youngster high on laughing gas, but you will find a plethora of films from schools and institutions. You’ll have to sift through the videos since institutions don’t simply publish lectures; they also broadcast random videos related to their institution. Here are a number of my favorites:

Professor Marian Diamond’s lecture on the organization of the body in Integrative Biology 131.


Professor Leonard Susskind’s Special Relativity in Modern Physics


Chef Joe DiPerri of the Culinary Institute of America demonstrates how to make fish tacos.


Books that are in the public domain are considered classics.

Perhaps our list of 100 must-read books impressed you, but you didn’t want to spend the money required to begin building such a collection. The public library is always a good choice, but many of the books on the list, as well as many more, are available online. Public domain books are now accessible for download and reading for free. When I’m searching for anything, I usually go to Google Books, although there are plenty of other options. Mashable has a wonderful list of these sites, and the comments section has even more suggestions:

@mashable has a list of 20+ places to get public domain e-books.

TED compiles presentations and lectures from intriguing individuals from many areas of life, not just academia. TED presentations are less formal than academic lectures, are often humorous, and focus on fascinating ideas and concepts. Most are around 20 minutes long, making them ideal for folks with short attention spans. Here are a few I’ve recently enjoyed:

Are we in charge of our own choices, wonders Dan Ariely? ?


Why are we joyful, wonders Dan Gilbert?


“Don’t eat the marshmallow yet,” Joachim de Posada advises.




The “how to be a renaissance man reddit” is a subreddit that has become popular recently. It’s an online community that discusses how to become a Renaissance Man for free.

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