Unless you have a scholarship, education can cost an arm and a leg. And let’s face it, even after all those years in school, you still may not feel you are armed with the necessary knowledge. Free online courses are becoming a popular method of developing one’s self.
Even business schools are taking the heat these days, as an MBA degree from top schools will cost you up to six figures. This makes it difficult for the average Joe or Jill to go back to school to pursue further studies.
There is no better investment than investing in yourself, and education is one of the best ways you can do that. For that reason, some colleges and universities have begun to provide free online courses for people interested in enriching their lives through learning.
By making quality education that was previously not available to individuals more accessible to everyone, the increasing incorporation of digital technologies in the academic sector stimulates more learning and helps level the playing field.
While it is unusual for a university or college to grant a completely online degree for free to the student, some do provide a variety of courses to pique the interest of people to reignite learning.
Universities and colleges that provide free online courses
- Harvard University
You read that right. While Harvard University is considered an exclusive school – a year’s tuition will cost you $50,000 – you can consider yourself a Harvard student as long as you have a computer or smartphone and an internet connection. You do not have to pay a single cent to enroll.
Here is a list of free courses from HarvardX. Take note that if you want to have a verified certificate, you will have to upgrade by paying a fee.
- Justice. This is a 12-week course taught by esteemed professor Michael Sanders. Learn more about classical and contemporary theories of justice.
- Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking. Learn how to use a variety of rhetorical tools in writing and public speaking. Professor James Engell leads this journey. Expect to devote 2 to 3 hours per week for 8 weeks to complete the course.
- Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science. You are in for a delicious treat once you enroll in this course. After studying for 16 weeks, you will never look at food the same way again, and we mean that positively.
- CitiesX: The Past, Present, and Future of Urban Life. Get an expert look at the past, present, and future of cities with this course. It will help you better appreciate and improve urban areas.
- PredictionX: Omens, Oracles, & Prophecies. This is one of the shorter courses that HarvardX offers. It will only take one week to finish since it is only an introductory-level immersive course that studies pre-scientific prediction systems.
- Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather. This backyard meteorology course from Harvard promises its students that they will learn to forecast weather just by peeking out their window. It can also be a life-saver, as it teaches students how to avoid getting struck by lightning. Other topics include estimating the speed of wind and cloud identification.
- Fundamentals of TinyML. Tiny machine learning is one of the most popular topics today. This course offers a foundation for students to have a firm grasp on this emerging field. Get the basics of deep learning, machine learning, and embedded devices and systems, like smartphones and other small devices.
- Brigham Young University
This institution provides free online university courses in a wide array of subjects. Family life, family history, and religious scripture study are just some of the courses that you can take. They are generally called Independent Study Personal Enrichment courses on the internet but are always free online university courses.
- The University Of Washington UW Educational Outreach
This is a program created to do just what its name suggests. The free online courses here are outstanding because they deal with a wide range of subjects, from Hamlet to HTML basics to World War II. These free online courses are bound to have even the wariest academic become interested!
- Lancaster University
This British institution provides free online learning in fields related to basic computer language and web design. These free online university courses are created to introduce students to the extensive world of the Internet.
- Eagle Forum University
This online school website provides basic free online learning with courses about American history and government. These courses are interesting, fact-based, and are available to anyone with an Internet connection and a computer or smartphone. They are solely designed to inform all Americans and outsiders of the basic history of the United States of America.
- University of California at Berkeley
You can find UC Berkeley’s free online courses on edX. They offer writing courses, including business, academic, and social media writing. Learn the best practices for writing business letters, reports, emails, and social media posts. You can upgrade for a fee to get a verifiable certificate.
Why invest the time?
Unlike your investments in stocks, you will never lose the person you have become. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone allows you to grow.
Here are a few more reasons why investing in yourself through learning is important.
- You can keep the best people
Finding and keeping the best people are two different things. The best talents can get restless. They are ambitious, and they need you to challenge them. That is why you should always be one step ahead of them, otherwise, they may look for new challenges elsewhere.
- You will be ready to face any opportunities that come your way
Getting the necessary training provides you with valuable tools to thrive during uncertain times. Always find ways to learn so that you will be ready to face new challenges that show up.
- Your new skill will remain with you during good times and bad
The knowledge you will gain from studying will stay with you no matter what. If you do not upgrade, the skills you have now might eventually be obsolete.
As useful as they are, the free online education that most universities and colleges offer is not for credit. You cannot use the courses as part of a degree.
Still, the content may serve to stimulate a field of interest in you. If it does this, then the free online university course that you take has served its purpose. After all, it is there to promote learning.
You should also be suspicious of for-profit colleges that offer expensive online courses that may not help you in the job market.
To make the most out of these free online courses, choose the ones that interest you, then set aside some time to learn. If you are disciplined enough, they can help you advance your career and expand your options.