Free Online Ivy League Courses and How to Prepare for Them How to Prepare for Online Courses Preparing for online courses is quite a bit different than preparing for traditional courses in a classroom setting. We want you to get the most out of this new experience and successfully complete the courses that you enroll in. We have some tips on preparing for online courses, so let’s get to it! Gather Your Tools Your experience taking online classes will be much more enjoyable if you make sure that you have all the tools necessary to fully participate while in session. You can hop onto the course website to see what you need in terms of computer requirements (internet speed, RAM, processing speed), virtual learning accessories (microphone, speakers, printer) and to make sure that you have the correct software needed. You may have to update things like Adobe or Java, but any other software needed for the course is usually provided for download from the course provider. Make Some Room Find a little corner in your home that is ideal for keeping all of your course stuff like your notebooks, printouts, pens and books that you will use regularly for class . It’s no fun having to hunt for things when it’s time for class or to study, so find a spot for everything when it’s not in use. You’ll be able to avoid scrambling around like a mad person this way. It’s much easier to stay organized and in the learning zone if you don’t have to spend needless time in search mode. Take a Sneak Peek It can be a bit tricky to learn the new landscape of your virtual classroom and can leave virtual students feeling a bit stressed out. Take some time before you start the course to take a virtual tour of your new learning space. Logging in to click around and get comfortable is a great way to ease some fears you have while boosting your confidence when you see that you figured it out on your own. Scope Out the Course Some free online courses have a syllabus ready to give new learners all of the important details about the course. If you can get your hands on one, definitely read it as many times as you need to. It will be so much easier to go through the course if you know what to expect and how things are done. It’s easier to focus and avoid feeling overwhelmed if you know what’s coming down the pike, which is nice pay off for only a few minutes of reading. Reach Out Those message boards and student forums are there for a reason, so use them! Connecting with your fellow virtual classmates can prove to be of real value and can help you succeed in your online course. You can bounce course topics off of each other, form study buddy teams and share thoughts or ideas. So, get on your course message board and introduce yourself! You don’t have to write your life story out, but a short and sweet introduction is perfect. Deep Breath – You’ve Got This! We know that this new experience can be a little intimidating at first, but don’t worry! You will get the hang of online learning in no time, which will allow you to enjoy your time learning and enable you to get the max out of the experience. Free Online Courses for Everyone Did you guys know that there are real online courses available that are free? Yep, you read that right and no, you don’t need to get your eyes checked. We are going to blow your minds with this next piece of information. Are you ready? Ok, here it is…You are also able to earn real, legit college credits this way too. Not all courses offer up real credit, but they still offer a free chance to learn at your own pace and about anything that you’re interested in. While you recover from us blowing your mind with this awesome news, we will fill in the blanks about how this this works. We’re also going to tell you what courses are available and where you can get your learn on. We’ve got a lot to cover here, so let’s get busy. Online Courses for Credit There is a wide world of free online courses out there for you to take advantage of if you are interested in continuing your education. The course materials are available to you in text form any time of day or night and you are able to study at a pace that suits your lifestyle. You can kick it up to the next level if you’d like to have access to video lessons and quizzes that will give you an idea of the progress you are making. This step up in freestyle learning usually requires participants to pay a member fee that is usually pretty reasonable…especially when you consider the cost of tuition at regular colleges. There are a ton of courses available as part of the OpenCourseWare(OCW) project and there is surely something to tickle your fancy and hopefully fulfill any course gaps that you may have. Do you want to see some of the free courses that you can take online for free? Yeah, we figured that you might! Developmental Writing: A course like this offers you the chance to take an in-depth look that the key processes, theories and methods that will help you become a better writer. You’ll also spend some time learning how to write effectively on a college level and how to use things like drafting and content revision to your advantage. Business 103: Introductory Business Law: If you are interested in the history of constitutional law with a side of employment and international business law, then this may be a course that tickles that fancy that we previously mentioned. There is a good amount of information covered in areas like contract examinations, contract terms, legal capacity and breaches as well. Western Civilization II: Calling all history buffs! Here is your chance to beef up your jeopardy skills and learn some interesting details about the French Revolution, World War II, the Cold War and much more. You’ll get the chance to learn more about many of the great thinkers, artists and inventors of the past that helped mold Western culture into what it is today. Economics 102: Macroeconomics: This particular macroeconomics course covers complex concepts like economic scarcity, supply and demand and wages inflation. As if all of that isn’t enough to make your head spin, you will also get to try your hand at calculating opportunity costs and mastering the ability to distinguish the difference between comparative and absolute advantage. Biology 101: Intro to Biology: An introductory course in biology is the first step to taking further science courses down the road if that’s something that you are interested in, so this is a good place to start. This biology class will give you a cursory glance at the basic theories of biology such as genetics, physiology, plant and animal biology, ecology and evolution. Precalculus: Oh the joys of math! You will have a chance to dust off your algebra skills at the start of this course in preparation to tackle some of the more complicated areas of this course. Hold onto your hat, though, because once you are in the algebra groove again you will have to show trigonometric expressions and functions who’s the boss while you learn how to properly model and solve applications while using linear systems…all with one hand tied behind your back. All we have to say about this is: better you than us! Introduction to Religion: Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism…oh my! In all seriousness, this course seems really interesting! It covers a lot of the religions of the world and even has some sections about alternative and new religious movements that are cropping up today. Political Science 102: American Government: This is the course for you if you’ve ever wanted the chance to learn about the history of the U.S. Constitution and some interesting details about the birth of our government. You will walk away with a pretty solid understanding of the judicial system, legislature, federal structure and of the division of power between federal and state governments. Personal Fitness & Wellness: Fitness and health are both things that are trending in our society. So, why not get in on the craze with a class about fitness and wellness? You will learn a lot about the important elements of exercise programs, how to design them and how they ultimately affect the body. Nutrition is another important element in the wellness community and you will gain some knowledge in this area too. You’re kind of killing two birds with one stone when you take this class. How? Well, you are learning what you need to and earning credits of course, but you will probably get on a healthy track by implementing what you’ve learned. Free Online Non-Credit Courses The non-credit courses that are available for free online are a great option for anyone that just wants to learn for the sake of learning. If your knowledge tank is running a little low and you’re looking to top it off, you’ve come to the right place. The best part of free online courses is the ability to try one out whenever you want and for whatever reason you want? Finding a reputable college that offers free online courses is also another pretty awesome thing to put in the plus column! You will get to learn from those that really know their stuff and have the credentials to prove it. OpenCourseWare is up at bat here again and helps to make all of this possible. The non-credit courses out there are usually video based and recorded weekly. There isn’t a need to buy any books or other course materials since everything you need to complete the course is available online. You will be able to participate in online forums with others enjoying the same experience that you are. The ability to participate with other people makes this whole thing even cooler and similar to a real in class experience. Here are some of the too legit to quit schools that offer free online non-credit courses! Carnegie Mellon University: There are a ton of free non-credit courses with free course materials available with Carnegie Mellon University. The online system for courses is called the Open Learning Initiative and it is a super important part of the self-paced lessons and assessments that are available through CMU. The current open courses are really cool and will get your brain whizzing for sure. A small sample of the courses are as follows: Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Media Programming and Elementary French I. As you can see, there is a little bit of something for everyone. Link: http://oli.cmu.edu/teach-with-oli/review-our-free-open-courses/ University of Pennsylvania: One of the missions of the University of Pennsylvania is to provide everyone with the ability to learn, to learn from some of the best in education and to do it all for free. They have certainly accomplished this with the Open Learning courses that are available for free on the university website. The free non-credit courses at Penn are in the form of weekly video recorded sessions that is about 2 hours in duration. Two of the coolest things about the Open Learning courses at Penn is that many of them have discussion boards where you can interact with other students. The second is the kudos you earn for completing your courses by way of a completion certificate. We know that it doesn’t serve any official purpose, but it will feel good to receive it in the mail. Some OL classes that may be up your alley here are: Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, An Introduction to Marketing and Gamification. Link: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/onlinelearning/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): We all know MIT as the college that all of the super smart people go. Well, now you can add yourself to that list when you start taking any one of the 2,000 undergrad and graduate courses that are available. The OCW courses offered at MIT are available in text, audio and pre-recorded video formats. To accommodate an even wider net of participants, some of the course work is even translated into other languages. The perks of taking free non-credit online courses at MIT keep adding with the bonus access you will have to lecture notes, some course materials and even the occasional exam. Never one to lag behind other schools, MIT makes sure that they step up when it comes to the courses offered online. You may be interested in trying out Introduction to Photography, Human Origins and Evolution or Managerial Psychology. Link: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/find-by-topic/ Binghampton University: As part of the State University of New York, Binghampton Univesity offers up over 600 free non-credit online courses that will provide a great start to continue your education for professional reasons or just for the sake of learning. BU seems to specialize in areas of business, health care and information technology, but this doesn’t stop them from offering courses that work for the person enrolled in an attempted to shape the course on an individual basis. Tailored courses and other available resources, such as forums, seminars and workshops, make success a virtual guarantee! The list of available courses is wicked long and we know you don’t have all day, so we will just toss out a few that may spark your interest. Here are a few course options: Accounting Fundamentals, Certified Ethical Hacker and Certificate in Meditation. Link: http://www.binghamton.edu/cice/non-credit-programs/ Utah State University: Thanks again to OCW, you can take free non-credit courses online through Utah State University. This university is dedicated to helping people succeed and believes that access to learning avenues that are easily accessible, free and of great quality is the way to achieve it. The courses available through Utah State University are the same as the ones that students use in a regular on-campus classroom and are all at your fingers tips. The courses that are open at this university are awesome and explore a wide net of topics. You can enroll in courses like Cultural Anthropology, General Ecology and Avalanche and Snow Dynamics. Link: http://ocw.usu.edu/courselist/index.html So, as you can now see, there are a ton of great opportunities and course options available anyone that is interested in some free, high quality courses. Check out some the courses or schools to see which is the right fit for you! Wait Right There! Watch This… We have one final thing we want to show you today before you venture off to explore the world of free online courses! Sometimes a little perspective from someone that has been in the same spot you are and has come out the other side already can be super helpful. It was with this in mind that we wandered over to YouTube to find a channel we recently heard about that specializes in making education centered videos. We wanted to find a video for you that came from someone that knows the ropes of online learning and can use real experiences to provide success tips. The PenguinProf channel had just what we were looking for and more. So, kick up your feet and watch this video!