According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 41 percent of all American adults who completed any education beyond high school went into debt in the process, with 44.2 million Americans currently carrying student loan debt.
However, there is a way that you can obtain the same outstanding education as students at some of the top universities around the world without paying a cent or even leaving the comfort of home. The magical method involves taking courses called MOOCs.
A MOOC (massive open online course) is course content provided over the internet to anyone. There are no prerequisites, no books to buy and no fees to pay. The publicly shared curriculum may include readings, problem sets, videos and interactive forums, as well. Colleges supply the content via websites such as edX and Class Central as a means of providing access to education for anyone, anywhere.
All eight Ivy League schools—we’re talking Harvard, Princeton and Yale, here—offer MOOCs. Not only can you find free Harvard online courses, but some of the most renowned universities worldwide have jumped on the MOOC bandwagon as well, giving you the opportunity to quench your thirst for top-notch knowledge while sitting on your own sofa.
Of course, there is a caveat to this outstanding opportunity. Since you are really only auditing the class, you do not receive credits or earn degrees for taking MOOCs. However, you can include relevant MOOCs on your resume to show potential employers that you have the know-how to do the job and some will provide a certificate of completion for a fee.
Check out some of the impressive institutions around the globe that are bringing elite education to the masses.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a website dedicated to open courseware, with offerings that include “Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Biomechanics,” “The City of Athens in the Age of Pericles” and “Becoming the Next Bill Nye: Writing and Hosting the Educational Show,” just to name a few.
Ranked fifth tech school in the world overall, California Institute of Technology provides a handful of MOOCs via edx, including “Principles of Economics with Calculus,” “The Evolving Universe” and “Quantum Cryptography.”
An assemblage of 11 institutions forms the most comprehensive university center in France known as Sorbonne University. Courses such as “Christianisme et philosophie dans l’Antiquité (Christianity and Philosophy in Antiquity)” and “À la découverte du théâtre classique français (Discovering Classical French Theater)” might be the perfect opportunity for French immersion, as well.
The oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford only recently joined the MOOC movement. Online learners can audit “From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development” free via edx or pay a small fee to receive a verified certificate for the course.
Top Chinese research university, Peking University provides a lengthy list of course offerings, such as “International Criminal Law,” “Intermediate Chinese Grammar” and “International Economics and Trade.” Courses are taught in Mandarin.