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20 Best Podcasts for College Students – Free or Low-Cost

best podcasts for students

Podcasts are sometimes listed among the most Millennial things ever, along with avocado toasts, pumpkin spice lattes, Instagram brows, and Twitter wars. However, podcasts keep growing in popularity as Gen-Zs join in. According to the latest statistics, about 48% of monthly podcast listeners are aged 12-34. However, podcasts grow in popularity across all demographics. There are approximately 105 million podcast listeners in the USA today, and this number is projected to grow another 20 million by 2022.

By the way, Daniel Ek, founder and chief executive of Spotify, has recently credited the service's 24% year-on-year increase in paying subscribers to podcast popularity. "We are confident that podcast usage has been a factor in the accelerated net additions," he said.

Maybe it's because podcasts are so flexible. They give you the sense of immediacy similarly to live streams, but you don't have to tune in on time, so there is no FOMO pressure. They can be very information-rich and educational, but they don't command your full attention. You can listen to them while doing chores, working out, or commuting, so they don't encroach on your free time. You can even speed them up to consume information faster. What's not to love, regardless of age?

However, podcasts offer a unique opportunity for college students to broaden their horizons. They fit their hectic schedule. They are free or very budget. They come in many flavors – from hyper-focused topics for enthusiasts by individual creators to high-quality productions with a broader appeal by renowned organizations such as TED, National Geographic, and BBC. By the way, education is the second most popular podcast genre (topped by comedy and closely followed by news.)

With so many podcasts available, it's easy to get lost in search results. As Doug Imbruce, CEO of Podz, a startup trying to address the difficulty of podcast discovery, puts it, "The experience of discovering and consuming podcasts is ancient. It literally feels like browsing the web in 1997."

That is why I have decided to help you out by curating this list of podcasts for students. Some of them target college students specifically (especially career and lifestyle-themed ones), while others cater to anyone interested in a particular subject. Some of them are available only via subscription services like Apple Music or Spotify. However, most of them you can access absolutely free on any platform of your choice or directly from a podcast's website.

By the way, checking official webpages of your favorite podcasts is a great idea since they often supplement each issue with info links and useful materials. Some attach a transcript of each episode – a great writing helper should you decide to quote the podcast as a source in your research paper.

Miscellaneous Brain Food

50 Things that Made the Modern Economy

From Guttenberg press to QWERTY, from punch cards to GPS, from greenhouses to fast food franchises – our world wouldn't be the same without these crucial innovations. Hosted by Tim Harford, this podcast explores the stories behind the inventions that shaped the economy we know today. The official website already lists over a hundred episodes, which is excellent, even if it makes the name somewhat misleading.

The Memory Palace

This podcast brings the past to life with storytelling and artifacts. It’s is all you have expected but never got from your history textbooks. The episodes are not ordered or serialized – it's a jigsaw puzzle of human experience through millennia. Narrated by Nate DiMeo, they are anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes long but equally engaging and fascinating.

You Are Not So Smart

Overconfidence, biases, and irrationality may sound like other people's problems to you, but they are fundamentally human. You will be surprised how many of these you are harboring, undermining your learning, growth, and well-being. Host David McRaney urges you to come over to the rational side and defy conspiratorial thinking, blind spots, confirmation bias, naïve realism, and many, many more issues with how our brain works.

On Being with Krista Tippett

This award-winning radio show and podcast explores timeless issues, such as what it means to be human and what is the meaning of life. Interviews with the guests, answers to questions from the listening community, and special episodes from the host herself will leave you pondering, even if you never considered yourself a particularly "spiritual" person.

Health and Lifestyle

Good Life Project

A weekly podcast about living a full and purposeful life from thought leaders such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Ken Robinson, Gretchen Rubin, Brene Brown, Seth Godin, and featured guests. "Live Life Colorfully," "Wisdom for Anxious Times," "Unlocking Your Brain's Potential," and "Redefining Cool" are just some of the topics Good Life Project focuses on.

On Purpose with Jay Shetty

A podcast about the wisdom of self-acceptance is particularly beneficial for young college graduates feeling anxious and lost on the doorstep of independent life. Interviews with star guests, insightful questions, thought-provoking conversations, real solutions, and practical advice – all delivered humbly and openly. Go there for relationship advice, combatting self-doubt, and raising self-confidence.

Collegehood Advice

Hosted by college success coach Katy Oliveira, this weekly podcast is aimed primarily at freshmen. However, Collegehood Advice will benefit everyone who wants to thrive in college. It is full of insightful tips on building necessary skills and habits, tools for improving grades, and advice on figuring out your major and your future career.

Adulthood Made Easy

If you are tired of buzzwords like "growth" and "positive mindset" being tossed about with not much sense attached to them, you need to give Adulthood Made Easy a try. Hosted by Sam Zabell, this podcast takes the listeners' real-life struggles and delivers practical solutions to their problems. It's down-to-earth and realistic, but it's powerful and transformative, making you realize your full potential.

News and Politics

The Daily

As a college student, you probably don't have more than 25-30 minutes daily to update yourself on the world news. The Daily from The New York Times is the perfect fit for you. Episodes come out every weekday at 6 am and focus on one major story per issue. After discussing the story in detail, other global events are then mentioned in passing. Although this format has its limitations, many will find this focused reporting a welcome change from being bombarded with news 24/7.

NPR News Now

For those who have even less time but want to stay regularly updated, there is NPR News Now. This hourly updated podcast comes in five-minute issues covering at least five news stories in each episode. These are strictly domestic: NPR News Now doesn't cover international news unless they are somehow connected to the USA.

Pod Save America

For students interested in politics, this podcast offers a serious discussion and critical analysis of daily news. Hosted by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Victor, Pod Save America comes out twice a week and features interviews with journalists, politicians, activists, and entertainers. If you seek to make sense of what is going on in the country, the knowledgeable conversations held on this show will help you.

The Slate Political Gabfest

Hosted by David Plotz, this weekly podcast is a quick and fun entry into American politics. Sensitive topics are covered in informative and educative ways and presented as an informal intellectual conversation. Voted "Favorite Political Podcast" by Apple Podcast listeners and arguably the most popular of all audio shows by The Slate, this podcast should be in every student's ears.

Language and Literature

6 Minute Grammar

As it is already evident from the name, the content is bite-sized, so even if grammar rules make you yawn, you aren't at risk of dislocating your jaw with this podcast. Each episode focuses on one key area or particular difficulty of English grammar and explains it in an accessible and entertaining way. Since writing is the alpha and omega of a college experience, improving your grammar skills is a great investment of your time, no matter what your major is.

Grammar Girl

This award-winning weekly podcast and the associated quickanddirtytips.com website year after year stay among the best resources for anyone who writes – authors, journalists, and students alike. Host Mignon Fogarty comes up with creative tips on remembering the rules, explains grammar engagingly, and just makes language as fascinating for you as it is for her.

Lingthusiasm

This harbor of linguistic nerdery is for students more interested in exploring language as a phenomenon rather than just using it as a tool. "A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistic" is co-hosted by Gretchen McCulloch from Canada and Lauren Gawne from Australia and explores every facet of spoken language – from phonetic to phatic. If you are thinking about making Linguistics your major or simply need more linguistics in your life, you should definitely give this witty podcast a listen.

The History of Literature

From the Epic of Gilgamesh to newly discovered talents, this podcast explores humanity's literary achievements through the ages. Hosted by an author and literature expert, Jacke Wilson, this audio series is a perfect way to brush up your knowledge on world literature and delve deeper into touching human stories behind well-thumbed classic works.

Finances and Career

The College Investor

Either you are still in college or have recently graduated, chances are high that you are financially illiterate. It's not your fault – our educational system just won't address these vital issues. The College Investor is here to change that. Strategies to repaying your student debt, landing your first job, finding a perfect side-hustle, saving, and investing – everything you need to get on track to financial independence.

The School of Greatness

What unites successful entrepreneurs, celebrities, top politicians, and professional athletes? They are all incredibly good at what they do. Hosted by Lewis Howes, The School of Greatness will help you to discover your passion and learn what it takes to be great in your field. This podcast hits the perfect balance of inspirational and actionable content.

Squiggly Careers

Hosted by the founders of Amazing If, Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper, this audio show is full of practical advice on choosing your career path, changing it, keeping a life-work balance, and thriving. If you want to make mindful and informed choices about your career, this is the place to start. Squiggle Careers helps you discover your core values and defeat your "confidence gremlins."

Career Talk

Host Stephanie Dennis takes a lighthearted approach to a serious topic. Yet make no mistake, she means business and gives holistic career advice in every punchy episode packed with relevant tips. Whether you need help with your resume, insightful advice on finding your way in a working world, or just a little pep talk on a bad day – Stephanie is your girl.

Now, with nearly 850,000 active podcasts and 30 million episodes available out there, I don't claim this list is anything more than a very subjective suggestion. It is handy for those wanting to dip their toes into the sea of podcasts for the first time. I hope you will find at least one interesting podcast on this list, and this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship for you.

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