How do I Choose the Best Free Online College Courses?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

People seem to have an ever-expanding catalog when deciding which free online college courses to take, and they can take them in many forums, such as through podcasts, videos or through more text based and traditional studies. It’s therefore difficult to advise anyone on which are the best free online college courses, since people’s interests can vary greatly. It is important to point out that the majority of these courses may not transfer to actual college credits, and this may be one aspect that informs choice for some.

Many traditional colleges offer free online courses.
Many traditional colleges offer free online courses.

Most of the colleges currently offering free online college courses are traditional and accredited universities, and there are some exciting colleges from which to choose. Anyone who ever envied others their education at a prestigious university doesn’t have to anymore if they study at MIT or Berkeley. However, courses are usually limited to a few, and any university offering these classes typically only has a handful of them.

Subject choice is various, and people will need to decide where their interests lie. There are classes in the sciences (physics, chemistry, earth sciences, geology, engineering, botany, and biology) and those in the social sciences (psychology, anthropology, and sociology). Other classes are available in subjects like architecture, art, history, literature, economics, and political science. A number of these classes are introductory in nature, and others presume some knowledge in a subject. Most don’t have prerequisites though, and many of the classes don’t have formal grading either.

The issue of grading brings up the issue of college credits. In most cases free online college courses are pursued for the love of learning only. Very few of them will earn people college credits, even if they do regular classwork and get graded for it. If the goal of taking an online course is to further a college career, most of these classes may not be helpful. Some schools do offer what is called a credit option, but at that point, in order for people to get credit they need to pay for having taken the class. Sometimes credit is not useful if the online school isn’t accredited, either, but many of them are and accreditation can be verified through the US Department of Education.

On the other hand, one thing that may be useful about free online college courses is that they can allow people to investigate a discipline and determine if it’s something they excel at, are interested in, or can comprehend. For students who are deciding what they might major in, or for those contemplating going back to school, a good introductory college level class can help students decide what they might like to do. Obviously, fans of learning in general may love taking a variety of classes too, simply because they can and for no other reward than knowledge gained.

It’s pretty easy to find different free online college courses. Simply search for the previous phrase on most search engines. This should open a host of websites that can connect people to exciting studies quickly.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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