There was a time when online degrees were faced with skepticism by employers. When a job applicant shows a certificate for an online degree as part of the credentials, it’s not necessarily met with enthusiasm. Over the years, however, the popularity of online courses and MOOCs or Massively Open Online Courses has increased.
Educational institutions like colleges, universities, graduate schools and even private companies are putting their resources towards offering free education online for those who’d like to take advantage of it. Anybody can now enroll in any of the hundreds of free courses available online. Not only can you enhance your knowledge, but your hiring potential can also increase as you earn online certificates.
Read on to find out more about why it pays to take online classes, and which courses are the most useful.
Why Take Online Classes in the First Place?
Before counting down the most useful online classes that you can enroll in, let’s take a look at why you should take online classes in the first place:
- Online courses fill the void that traditional colleges and universities leave behind.
Among the many problems faced by traditional educational institutions are higher tuition fees, budget cuts, shortage of facilities, courses or even the number of student enrolees. Today, almost 3 million students are enrolled in a fully online degree program while 6 million students are taking at least one online course as part of their degree program. With studies showing that online learning can be equally effective as getting education in physical classrooms, there’s no doubt that the popularity of online courses will soar even higher over the next few years.
- You can take your pick from a wide array of online programs and courses.
Adults who did not finish their high school education can do so through online courses. Those who are already working but would like to earn a college diploma can also finish their degree online. For those who already have a degree but would like to branch out their skills and knowledge, there are plenty of online courses to take.
- The costs involved are lower.
There are short online courses which are available for free while others are available for a fee. Although we can’t necessarily say that the tuition fees of online courses are lower than courses at universities or colleges, the overall costs are definitely lower. With online courses, you can deduct room and board; the cost of books; and even miscellaneous expenses like food allowance.
- You can study at your own pace and free time.
Through online courses, the learning environment is a lot more comfortable and you can study at your own pace, at your own time. This is especially useful for adults who feel that they cannot keep up with the pace of students who are younger than they are. With online courses, lectures are held and study materials are sent electronically. Test results are also sent online, and those who are holding a day job or are taking care of their families can study at their own free time.
- You can gain career advancement, keep up with any classes you might have missed or continue in your profession.
Finally, the flexibility of online courses lets you gain career advancement, continue with your work while studying or keep up with any classes that you might have missed before. All in all, the freedom offered by online classes allow you to study your lessons at your own pace and at your own time, so you have utmost flexibility.
10 Useful Online Classes
If you would like to maximize the free time that you have while working, if you’re fresh off college and are looking for fun classes to take or if you’re a professional who simply want to acquire more knowledge or a new skill, here are some of the most useful online classes that you can enroll in:
1. Entrepreneurship: From Idea to Launch
Offered by: Udemy
According to Udemy.com, this entrepreneurship course explains the process from the creation of an idea to the successful launch of a new venture. The site offers a variety of free online courses, ranging from languages to music to sports. For Entrepreneurship, 32 lectures and 10 exercises are included – which you can study at your own pace and free time.
The goal of the course is to guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the steps that will greatly increase their chances of successfully turning their ideas into a successful business.
2. Personal Finance
Offered by: Missouri State University
Personal finance management is not necessarily something that’s taught in schools or even by parents of kids at home. From the Missouri State University comes this course for personal finance which includes eight classes. Videos and lectures for personal saving, credit management, budgeting and retirement planning are included here. You can easily access the course through iTune U, YouTube and Open Culture.
3. Designing Your Life
Offered by: MIT OpenCourseWare
Would you like to take charge of your own life? This is exactly what you will learn from this course by MIT OpenCourseWare. The goal of the online course is to provide an ‘exciting, eye-opening, and thoroughly useful inquiry into what it takes to live an extraordinary life, on your own terms’. It will also teach you how to succeed in your own terms, be proud of what you have in life, and be happy with it.
4. Useful Genetics
Offered by: Coursera
Unlike other online courses which are more flexible, Useful Genetics is more specific – there are start and end dates which you need to follow. Offered by Coursera, it aims to teach a college-level understanding of how genes function. What’s the role of inheritance? Is there such a thing as a ‘gay gene’? What does race have to do with genes? If this is something that interests you, you should definitely enrol in this online course.
5. Introduction to Statistics
Offered by: Udacity
This self-paced course by Udacity requires a student to be knowledgeable about basic Algebra. If you’re planning to establish your own business, you will definitely benefit from this course because statistics and data analysis are skills required in almost every industry. Through it, you will learn how to interpret and gather data; visualize it; and understand its relationship with mathematics.
6. MIT: Introduction to Microeconomics
Offered by: MIT OpenCourseWare
Another self-paced online course offered by MIT OpenCourseWare is Introduction to Microeconomics. Over the years, economics has had a bad rap with people – especially business owners who would not like to concern themselves about this subject. Microeconomics is all about making the best decision if you have scarce resources like money or time.
7. Wharton/Coursera: An Introduction to Financial Accounting
Offered by: Coursera
This ten-week course is very useful for those who are running their own business, or those who simply would like to take charge of their financial life. No background in accounting is required and the commitment is six to eight hours per week, depending on your availability. Through this online course, you will learn about the basics of accounting, how to read a balance sheet, how to interpret income statements and cash flows.
Accounting is the language of business so those who would like to take charge of their finances should definitely think about enrolling in this course.
8. Wharton/Coursera: An Introduction to Marketing
Offered by: Coursera
An Introduction to Marketing is a nine-week course offered by Coursera, where you can commit to studying around five to six hours per week. It’s better if you have a business background when taking this course but if you really would like to learn about marketing, there’s no stopping you from enrolling in it.
The classes are taught by three of Wharton’s marketing stars, Peter Fader, David Bell and Barbara E. Khan. Entrepreneurs who would like to know how to relate to customers, how to sell their products and how to improve their business in general should enrol in this course.
9. MIT/EdX: Introduction to Biology
Offered by: EdX
Lasting for 14 weeks, this online course requires individuals to have studied biology and chemistry in high school. The per-week commitment is about 12 hours. Written by Kevin Carey, this Introduction to Biology course is virtually the same biology class that students at MIT take. It’s a fascinating look at how life works, and is something that you should consider enrolling in even if you have no wish to be in the health care or medical industry.
10. Udacity: How to Build a Startup
Offered by: Udacity
Finally, feel free to pace yourself when taking this Udacity course called How to Build a Startup. In it, you will learn about the practical side of starting your own company, how to develop a viable product, and how to figure out how your business is actually going to make money once it gets off the ground.
Computer science, artificial intelligence, software, innovation, commercialization, money and banking – the possibilities of what you can learn from online classes are practically endless. With very little or no money at all, you can study the subjects at your own pace during your free time – and gain new knowledge and skills along the way.
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