“You blew 150k on an education you could have gotten in $1.50 in late fees from the library.”
-from Good Will Hunting (1997)
I’m a believer in self-taught education. I like being around people who are considered autodidacts (people who self-teach themselves). There is something great about watching a person demonstrate or talk about something they care about. They talk with so much passion and knowledge yet they never went the traditional classroom route to learn it. I’m sure most people have come across at least a few people like this (have you seen the vast amount of 12-year-olds teaching things on YouTube?)
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have given people, regardless of location or experience, the opportunity to learn. Moocs have been covered a lot lately in the news. Embracing the thought of people wanting to learn outside the traditional classroom, I put compiled a list of some great sources to find free courses available to people (offered even from high-end universities).
UCLA offers many open and free extension courses on writing. Some of the topics include: Working on a Personal Brand, Screenwriting, Writing a 1-Hour Drama Pilot. There is basically a course for almost anything a person can think of. You may notice there are courses that cost money, but plenty that are available for free.
Stanford University has a program called S.E.E. (Stanford Engineering Everywhere) that offers ten open courses for anyone to take. The courses use the same lecture videos and assignments that regular Stanford students use (and the courses are free!). Some of the courses they have include Artificial Intelligence and Introduction to Computer Science.
Carnegie Mellon University has a program called the Open Learning Initiative. The program is just that, open learning available to anyone. They have courses on biology, math, psychology, and more. There motto is “No instructors, no credit, no charge.”
iTunes offers the free app that can let a person took for and take free courses with no additional materials like textbooks needed.
Udemy is the ultimate in free online learning. Their goal is to “democratize education by enabling anyone to learn from the worlds experts.” The website allows anyone to take or teach courses.
The point of this post is that students often feel restricted by many things. They feel trapped by their major, unable to take interesting free electives. They think that their degree may limit them, and so on. This does not have to be the case. Working towards your college degree is worth it. In my experience, through taking some free open online courses, I was able to build upon what I was learning in the classroom. I was able to explore more into my major than ever before. Through the exercises and assignments, I was able to refine my thinking about how to use my degree to my best advantage.
So next time that winter/spring/summer break rolls around, consider using the resources above to take some free courses.