Last Updated on April 8, 2016
In order to find success in today’s job market it helps to think outside of the box. Jobs can be hard to come by and competition is high across all industries. How can you stand out among the crowd? One way is by having a college degree. A degree is imperative in today’s market and opens up many fields of employment. However, the rapidly turning wheel of modern technology dictates the need for continuous learning.
Continuing education is often expensive but with a quick search and click you’ll find that there are a myriad of free online courses that are available.
Some argue that getting certificates in free courses is no substitute for a degree, and they are right. However, there is a way to use these free courses
to your advantage.
First, check out websites such as Elance and Brainbench that offer free skill tests. Complete a free online course in a skill that you want to polish. When you finish the course, you can sign up with the freelance job websites and most likely score very high on the skill test from your recent course. Employers do look at these test scores, and high-test scores can set you apart from the crowd. In addition, these tests are a useful aid for you to determine areas of expertise that you need to review.
You may be surprised to learn that top-notch universities such as Stanford and Harvard offer free online courses. EdX.org is one free education website founded as a non-profit by Harvard and MIT. Available courses on this website include choices in liberal arts, science, and philosophy.
EdX.org Course Examples:
- Our Energetic Earth: This course entails how energy forces enable the planet to maintain life.
- The Science of Everyday Thinking: This course will teach you to think and argue more effectively.
- Jazz Appreciation: Listen and learn what makes jazz an original art form.
- Paradigms of Computer Programming: A functional and project oriented course in data programming.
You will also find a very diverse selection of courses available at Udemy.com. Although not all courses on this
website are free, a simple search will separate free courses from paid ones. This user-friendly website offers 15 categories of learning, ranging from
crafts and hobbies to humanities. They also keep you update to date about what is popular by listing trending, new, and staff picks.
Udemy.com Free Course Examples:
- Entrepreneurship: From Idea to Launch: Learn how to go from idea to launch.
- Four Life Truths: This inspirational course will teach you how to change your life.
- Real World Graphics: Learn how to design using Photoshop and Illustrator.
Coursera.org is another site that offers free online courses. Coursea is an education company that partners with universities in order to bring classes that are of high quality. Coursea offers courses that cover a wide range of topics from humanities to math and science. They are set up to be interactive by offering exercises and feedback to ensure the concepts are sinking in and being mastered by the user.
Coursera.org Free Course Examples:
• Care of Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease and other Major Neurocognitive Disorders
- Leadership in 21st Century Organizations
- Child Nutrition and Cooking
A fourth site to look into is Udacity.com. Udacity’s mission is to bring “accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the word”. They make it easy to start by building an account and then having access to classes. Certifications are also provided upon completion of a course. The courses fall in the following categories: Business, Computer Science, Design, Mathematics, and Science.
Udacity.com Free Course Examples:
- The Design of Everyday Things
- Mobile Web Development
- Differential Equations in Action
These samples show you the diversity of the free courses available for anyone to try. However, these are not necessarily just for job seekers wanting to spice up their resume. Retirees looking to keep their mind sharp, or high school students with a thirst for knowledge can also benefit from these free offerings. Maybe, you have a hobby that you are looking to kick up a notch to the next level. There are dozens of class choices in fields such as photography, yoga, or cooking.
It seems surprising that so much free knowledge is available for us to absorb in the privacy of our own home. The founders of YouTube should receive at least some of the credit for making this wonderland of free learning possible. They are responsible for creating an easy platform for educators to upload full courses on video. This has made the virtual classroom a viable setting that is accessible to anyone who has a computer.
One thing the Internet has undeniable achieved, is to offer the worldwide population unparalleled access to knowledge. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but it is also exciting to have the unlimited potential to tap into so many great minds. Just imagine that thing you have always wanted to know more about. The knowledge is waiting for you, and all it takes is a stroke of the keyboard.