Most Online Courses Are a Waste of Your Time — Here’s How You Know

A quick guide that helps you find the worthy ones.

Eva Keiffenheim
Age of Awareness
Published in
5 min readSep 27, 2021


Picture bought by the author via Canva.

This year I spent around $5000 on online courses.

Warren Buffet said, “the best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.”

But his statement is flawed.

Not all learning investments are created equal. People who’ve excelled at their craft are often not the best teachers. Likewise, creators who write the best sales copy don’t offer the most value.

Here’s precisely how you can spot bad online courses so that you won’t waste your time and money.

1) They Tell But Don’t Show

Most online courses are useless because they focus on the why and what instead of the how.

In a Medium writer’s online course, for example, the instructors spend 90% of the time exploring what writing consists of. They have an hour-long conversation about the importance of consistency. Yet, they don’t show the students how they can write consistently.

The medium star could’ve talked about the roadblocks and how he overcame them. He could’ve shared his calendar or accountability system. He could’ve shared strategies for when you’re struggling to get started. But he didn’t. For me, the course felt like a time-waster.

“Never tell us a thing if you can show us, instead.”

Steven King

What to look out for instead:

Look for how material instead of endless talks on the why and what. Valuable things often include templates, tutorials, spreadsheets, and screen-sharings.

Here are some examples, so you know how to tell the difference:

Source: Created by Eva Keiffenheim.

2) Instructors Teach in One Direction

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Eva Keiffenheim
Age of Awareness

Learning enthusiast, TEDx speaker, and writer with +3M views | Elevate your love for learning with my free, weekly Learn Letter: