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Image from Pexels

I love learning, therefore I love podcasts. Seriously, though. It seems like there is one for any subject I am interested in; I’m addicted, and you should be too!

The Oxford Dictionary defines a podcast as “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.” It is similar to the radio in many ways: it communicates, conducts interviews, and entertains. The difference between a podcast and a radio lies in the last sentence of the definition: podcasts consist of episodes, are usually updated every week to month, and allow for people to subscribe. So if you aren’t a fan of a podcast, there still might be an episode or two you may enjoy.

The purpose of the podcast has expanded past the range of the radio (in fact, radios regularly upload podcasts online), but generally, podcasts are educational: whether it is to learn about another point of view, hear a lecture, or be entertained, these soundbytes can really make a difference in what you know. I’ve written about a few podcasts that have really helped me, whether in school or in life.

Science Podcasts

As a science major, I gotta say, science is awesome. It’s difficult, but it really is amazing what you can learn! Whether you know you want a career in science, are considering it, or are avoiding it altogether, these are some podcasts that are definitely worth your while.

The Naked Scientists. Yes, that’s what it’s called! To explain the name, the hosts describe themselves as “media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public.” Stripping down, indeed. For more, visit the Naked Scientists.

This Week in Virology. Virology is the branch of science that studies viruses. This is incredibly important, since they often mention diseases that are common in our population, and what the status is on a search for a cure. Sometimes they even mention ways that you can contribute, like the video game FoldIt, which has contributed highly to the need to understand HIV. Visit their website at Twiv.

History Podcasts

Let’s be real — if there was any way to cover all of history, AP history exams would be impossible (not that they don’t already feel that way!) Unfortunately, as a result, a lot of really great fun stuff gets left out of the history textbooks and lessons. Historical figures were people too — and a lot of their stories are more relevant to our daily lives than we ever think possible. I highly recommend these podcasts as an alternate way of learning history, especially if you aren’t a fan of history classes (they CAN be awfully dull) and want to learn what interests you.

Stuff You Missed in History Class. Hosted by Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey, the goal of this podcast is to cover facts that you may not have covered in history. This includes learning about events that have never even been mentioned, or going into depth on topics that are only superficially covered. This podcast was recommended by Celeste Jackson. To listen, visit Missed in History.

The History Chicks. Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider are out to increase representation of women in a world where history textbooks are dominated by men. They summarize their show in four short sentences: “Half the population. Several thousand years of history. About an hour. Go.” There are also great visuals and extra information in the post. Check it out at The History Chicks.

Language Podcasts

Communication and podcasts go hand in hand. Whether you want to learn a language or improve the one you already know, a podcast can be an interactive and effective way to do it.

Audiria. When trying to learn Spanish, many people find that they are not exposed enough to auditory aspects of the language. What better way than to listen to a podcast that aims to go over Spanish, at whatever level you’re at! Especially important since, depending on the topic, they speak quickly, which can help you survive talking to a native speaker. Find it at Audiria.

Grammar Girl. Do you want to kick your comma habit, but don’t know how? Interested in what words were invented by Shakespeare? This podcast, hosted by Mignon Fogarty, is your go-to guide to English grammar. With more than 400 videos, you’re bound to find something that will help you nail that paper. And no, you don’t have to identify as a girl to listen! Get started at Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

Financial Podcasts

Past, present, future–no matter where you go, finances are a huge deal. Since we are all of college age, it is especially important for us to get a grip on personal and work-related finances. Although there are other great ones, I’ve included two that are straightforward and easy to learn from.

Conquering Nonprofit Chaos. Interested in working in the nonprofit sector? Don’t know what it really entails, especially from a financial perspective? Bradley Burck hosts a great podcast on nonprofit management. He discusses fundraising, marketing, and staying true to your vision. He even interviews people with tons of experience in the field! To hear more, go to Conquering Nonprofit Chaos.

Talking Financial Literacy. In an era where college tuition costs are through the roof, it is important to become financially literate. The hosts, Mark Gura and Dr. Kathleen P. King, are passionate about teaching young people about finances and getting them on their feet. Here is a podcast that presents financial information in an accessible and professional way.

Miscellaneous Podcasts

Snap Judgment. One of my absolute favorite podcasts. While this one isn’t explicitly educational, I think there is much to be learned from the stories of others. Glynn Washington hosts the show, though I think a better way of describing him is that he is an incredible narrator. He describes the podcast as “storytelling with a beat.” I am always amazed at the end of every show. For more, see Snap Judgement.

Radiolab. Primary host Jad Abumrad, as well as others, are a part of a podcast that aims to appeal to your inner curiosity and make science more accessible and super fun. Legend says that it explains the history behind poop, so if you like fun poop stories, there might be something for you here; if not, there is something for you here anyway! Note that this isn’t an explicitly scientific podcast, but also delves into history and philosophy. It was recommended by Lianna Johnstone. Check it out at Radio Lab.

Democracy Now! Want to stay up to date on world affairs? This is the podcast for you. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez have been hosting this award-winning podcast since 1996, at many times risking their lives for the information. It’s an investigative show, and definitely a great news source if you want something extensive. You can watch or listen at Democracy Now.

What did you think? Do you have any to add? We would love to hear your comments below!

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the author

Lillian is a member of the Pitzer Class of 2017, where she is an anticipated Biology major. She is a first-generation college student that is interested in dental medicine (floss please!), mental health, visual arts, and political activism. Combining these interests, it is Lillian's life goal to heal communities on a micro and macro scale through medicine, art, and activism. You can learn more about her on her personal website. Since she will be retiring from TP at the end summer '14 in order to prepare for her study abroad in Ecuador, please subscribe to her blog to follow her journey!

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