Online Courses

You work late. You don’t have time to attend night classes or aren’t interested in going back to college. But you want to learn. Perhaps you need the certification, or maybe you just want to make your resume more competitive. There are many reasons why people choose to take online courses. With the increased emphasis on technology in recent decades, we now have dozens of online options available for continued learning. Many four year universities and community colleges are offering online courses, some of which are even free.


If you take an online class directly through a university, you are often charged a tuition fee to take part in the course. However there are many other available resources that provide online classes- either through museums or universities- for free. Here are just a few:

  • Coursera — this website provides a huge amount of online courses through museums and universities from all over the world. Including such institutions as Yale, Duke, and the Museum of Modern Art, Coursera allows you to expand your knowledge on a broad range of applicable topics such as programming languages and neuroscience. It is important to note that Coursera contains both free and for credit courses that you have to pay for.
  • iTunes U — run through iTunes, this program is similar to Coursera in that it offers a variety of free courses from universities, museums, and public media organizations around the world. You must have an iTunes account in order to download these lectures. They operate on any PC or mobile device and you can listen to them on the go.
  • Open Culture — this website provides downloadable video and audio courses from a variety of well known universities such as MIT, Harvard, and Yale. With 1200 free courses and over 30,000 hours of material, this platform is sure to have something for everyone.
  • Public Libraries — most public libraries have access to online courses and programs, especially centered around language learning. In addition to this, public libraries often house online courses in practical areas such as writing courses, personal finance, and business skills. They also have test preparation resources for the SAT, ACT, GRE, and LSAT.

Important Things to Know

While taking online courses can be rewarding, it’s important to realize that online classes have their limitations. Often, especially with free online courses, you don’t get the resource and support of a physical instructor. If you’re lucky, you might get an online professor who you can email with questions or participate in a chat room with other students. However, if you’re just listening to an online lecture you won’t have these kinds of resources. Here are a few tips to help keep you on top of your work and help you make the most of online courses.

  • Time Management : it’s important that you stay on top of your work, particularly for an online course, as it’s easy to procrastinate when there’s not a class that requires your physical presence. Try making a study schedule and time out how long you will dedicate to each task.
  • Self Motivation : online courses are in some ways more challenging than traditional classes, because they require a strong amount of self motivation. You have to hold yourself accountable for getting things done because otherwise things can rapidly spiral out of control.
  • Finding Additional Resources : if you find you need extra help with the material, consider seeking out some additional resources. Public libraries are a great place to start. They have access to a whole host of resources and are staffed by librarians who can help you find information even if they don’t have it on hand.
  • Technical Problems: if you’re like me, technology is not always your friend. Technical problems can be a real challenge if you’re taking an online course. Be prepared to face these challenges and find someone who can help you overcome them.
  • Isolation : because there isn’t as much human interaction with online courses, some people can feel isolated when they become frustrated with their work. If you are having trouble understanding your material, consider finding a tutor or joining a study group to help you connect with others to learn the material.


Online courses are easy to take because you can work on them pretty much anywhere with an internet connection. A lot of them are also self-paced, allowing you to fit them into your busy schedule. So if you’re looking for a way to boost your resume, consider taking an online course. It shows dedication and interest, as well as a commitment to expanding your skill sets. With the huge assortment of free online courses, taking a certified college level course doesn’t even have to break the bank. So go out there and find a course that interests you; stay engaged in your education and build that resume with an online course!