As more and more classes are offered online, students across the country are opting to take their classes in their pajamas rather than in person on campus. Not only is it more convenient for students to log into class from the privacy of their apartments, taking classes online allows non-traditional students to earn the credits they need to further their education – sometimes from miles away.
If you’re a non-traditional student, or you’ve thought about going back to school as a working individual, online classes might make things easier, logistically speaking. But that doesn’t mean online classes are easier; in fact, online classes usually require the student to take more responsibility for learning the content of the course. Online classes usually require the student to complete more work on their own, giving students the opportunity to learn to manage their own time and motivate themselves to complete their assignments. It’s not the same as sitting in a classroom with a professor telling you when your assignments are due, lecturing on the chapters you were supposed to read the night before.
Online classes sometimes have recorded lectures, but oftentimes, you’ll be left to fend for yourself. You’ll be in charge of learning the material at your own pace — completing assignments as deadlines come and go. Think of it as the payoff for getting to “attend class” in your pajamas.
Regardless of your academic situation, there are some classes offered online that you should absolutely be taking advantage of. Ask yourself what you’re trying to gain from taking a course: are you working your way up in your job? Taking on a side hobby of photography? Or are you looking to earn an additional degree? Depending on what you’re looking for, there are a number of courses offered online that you could be taking advantage of:
1. Introduction to programming.
If you’ve been even remotely interested in learning how to write code, you should invest in yourself a little bit and take a class on computer programming. At some point in your life, this skill might come in handy.
Harvard University has a free introduction to programming course, and you can add the certificate for just $90.
Interested in getting in touch with your designer side? Taking a class on photoshop might be to your benefit. Editing isn’t always obvious – there’s definitely a craft to be perfected. Signing up to take a class on Adobe for beginners might be intimidating, but by the time you complete the course, you’ll have a skill you’ll never lose.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you’ve ever been interested in publishing content online, SEO isn’t a stranger to you. Take a course on optimizing your SEO results, making your published material even more accessible to your audience.
Udemy offers a free beginner’s course on SEO. You might look into it.
4. Google Analytics
Numbers can be one of the most interesting ways to tell a story. If you’re interested in getting up to speed on how to take advantage of the analysis Google can get you, check out Udemy’s beginner course. You’ll be able to interpret raw results into a story that can be told over and over.
5. Introduction to Public Speaking
This is easily the thing people fear the most. Are you interested in conquering it? Check out the course created by the University of Washington through edX. Stressed about the time requirement? This course requires about 3-5 hours of your time every week for ten weeks.
If being able to write great speeches (for more than just your best friend’s wedding) is on your list of things to learn how to do, taking a course on speechwriting will definitely improve your skills.
7. Starting a Startup
For some people, starting their own startup company is of utmost importance. Have you ever thought about becoming an entrepreneur? Udacity has a free training that can help get you started. It’s free, but you’ll need to dedicate about a month of your time to learning about entrepreneurship in your spare time (which I’m sure you have a lot of).
At some colleges, there are opportunities to take “electives” in entrepreneurship. If you haven’t declared a minor, you’re still a college student, and you’re looking for a great place to get “plugged in” on campus, this department might be perfect for you.
8. Improving Your Writing
I had no idea there were free courses through MIT’s Open Courseware, specifically for people to enjoy on the internet for free. This class is scheduled in two 3-hour sessions per week. There are readings, assignments, and getting a portfolio together by the end of the semester. Taking advantage of a course like this can take your writing from freshman year college student to graduate level work in a matter of weeks. It’s all about intensive study and focus.
Because online classes are becoming more and more accessible to students across the country, there are hundreds of thousands of ways to improve your knowledge on various topics. Whether you decide to do it in your spare time or you sign up for an online class in addition to your typical class load at your university, investing in yourself is the best way to improve your overall quality of life.