How To Be A Lifelong Student…For Free!

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Just because you graduated from college doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. In fact, I’d say keeping your mind sharp is just as important as staying physically healthy. It’s been shown over and over again that constantly challenging your brain lowers your chances of getting dementia later on in life.

Now, thanks to the internet, you can take a real class from such institutions as Harvard, Duke, MIT and hundreds more. They are taught by actual professors at these respective schools. The subjects range from astronomy to psychology, philosophy, math and everything in between. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a class for it.

Where Can I Find These Classes?

There are 2 websites I’ve gone to in search of free learning opportunities. The first is Coursera. They offer over 700 different classes from over 100 partners. The classes cover just about any subject you can think of, provided by major colleges and universities. All the classes are free. However, if you want to get a verified certificate, then it will cost about $50. The benefit of a verified certificate is they confirm your identity and that you’re the one actually taking the class. Whether or not this is worth it, is up to you.

The next website is called edX.  This website was founded by MIT and Harvard to give everyone access to a good education. They’ve since expanded to include over 200 classes and have many colleges and universities as partners. You can view the list here.

Like Coursera, edX is free for everyone. The only cost involved is if you want a verified certificate of completion.

What Are The Benefits?

This is a hard one to answer because the benefits aren’t tangible and you won’t see them right away. Obviously, the first benefit is that you get to learn about the subject of your choice from high quality professors at world-class schools. Also, when you successfully complete the course you will usually get some kind of certificate. Think of these as trophies in your pursuit of knowledge.

Will taking these classes benefit you in the job market? It’s hard to say. If you’re interviewing for a job in sales and you’ve mastered several classes in astrophysics, there’s little to no chance it will have any bearing on whether or not they decide to hire you. However, if you have been out of the job market for a while, an interviewer might ask what you’ve been doing with your time. You can say you’ve been taking online classes in astrophysics (or whatever subject you’ve been studying). This shows initiative and that you’re a self-starter.

Do I Get Real College Credit For Taking These Classes?

I wish. These classes are not for credit, so you can’t use them to help you get a degree. It’d be nice if there was a way to get credit for taking these courses and, in theory, get a degree. But remember, colleges and universities are in the business of making money (whether we like it or not), and they don’t make money by giving away their classes for free.

Final Thoughts

I really believe in the use-it-or-lose-it idea of the mind. If you spend all your time watching television, then your brain will become dull and your critical thinking skills will begin to diminish. The good news is that you can reverse this by re-engaging your mind. Things like reading books, crossword puzzles and taking classes will help you stay sharp. There’s a lot more you can do, but those are an example of some activities you can do.

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