Why I Am Taking Free Online Courses Before Going To Grad School

Why I Am Taking Free Online Courses Before Going To Grad School

The current state of free education in the US and how I am taking advantage of it.
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After graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Journalism I realized that I had been in school, of one form or another for 18 years of my life. Being in my early twenties, that means that most of the time I have been alive has been spent in classrooms.

Granted, after high school, college was a gift in more ways than one, I learned what I wanted to do in and out of the classroom. It was education on my terms, not me sitting at a desk trying not to fall asleep as the teacher tries to inform me about letters that symbolize numbers.

But once I got my degree I realized that I needed to take time to do other things and decide whether to go back to school down the road.

As a form of a Gap Year I joined a ten month service term with AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps, and from that I received an Education Award, a sum of money I can use to pay for education.

Education in terms of student loans or tuition costs. I had not thought too intently on going to graduate school, mainly because I was unsure of what I wanted to study and tired of the school book lifestyle.

Now that I have put some miles and minutes between me and campus life I do miss it, but most importantly I now know that I want to go back. I like the structure school provides while simultaneously inspiring me to be creative with it and make it my own.

So now I have the want to go back, the problem? I am still not sure of what I should study, and I am not about to pay thousands of dollars if I do not know what I want to do.

A family member mentioned free online courses, and truthfully my initial reaction was disinterest. Having just spent a whole lot of moolah on education, it was hard for me to believe that any quality courses were offered for free.

But, I am not one to run with my initial reactions on things, I am the research type that needs to see firsthand if things really are what they seem. An empirical learner, if you will.

So I began to research and happened upon edX. They offer free courses from Harvard, Berkeley, Boston University, University of Queensland Australia and many more. The courses offer a certificate of completion at the end and sometimes the piece of paper does cost money, but nothing compared to the money it costs to be a full-time student.

Like any college course, edX classes have lectures, interactive labs, quizzes and tests. The best part?

It is on my schedule and there is absolutely no risk.

I can access course material anywhere there is Wi-Fi, and I do not have to throw money at an uncertain cause. And it gets better, they offer a variety of courses from Architecture, Business, Engineering, Medicine to Language courses.

I want to make sure that going back to school is what I really want right now or if it is just what Barney Stinson refers to as “Graduation Goggles”, as if I am somehow romanticizing the memory of the atmosphere of college versus the actual schoolwork. My first edX class begins January 10th on International Law, and I am excited to test the waters. To dive back into the pool of education, (to weirdly continue with the water allegory).

All this consideration of free education got me thinking about two things: 60 Minutes and Bernie Sanders.

An episode of 60 Minutes covered Sal Khan’s story in his creation of Khan Academy. A nonprofit that stemmed from one YouTube video that the MIT and Harvard graduate made to help his young cousin with Algebra. While the organization has expanded immensely from when CBS originally aired that piece, I imagine the feedback and praise Khan has received since has been even more positive.

Khan Academy has lessons on k-8 math to Organic Chemistry and Macroeconomics. The idea behind the free courses being, “Changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. All of the site's resources are available to anyone”, according to their posting on www.volunteermatch.org.

Bernie Sanders comes to mind because an integral piece of his presidential campaign was offering free college education. His campaign on free education exclaims, “In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best-educated workforce in the world. It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country and our future, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades. That shortsighted path to the future must end”.

Sanders is not alone in his convictions, Green Party’s Jill Stein raves about the importance of forgiving student loan debt altogether. Now Sanders is part of a proposal to make college education free for families that earn less than $125,000 per year in New York, according to a story "Politico" published. California is said to be making strides towards it as well.

As Sander’s campaign website states, the concept of free education is not new in fact it has shown positive results in Germany, Norway, Sweden and others.

My thought is, why not? Education should be accessible to everyone and the idea of putting a crazy price tag on it is irresponsible. While there are necessary costs to consider and serious changes to be made to accommodate free education, it is doable. We just have to get a little John Lennon with our mindsets and stop holding onto the archaic traditional arguments.

So, until the day that tuition is free or at the very least more affordable I am taking advantage of what is out there until I figure out if I am ready for the workload and what I want to study.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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22 Girl Names Your Random College Roommate Will Have, And The Type Of Roommate They Are

Will she be your BFF?
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Every roommate situation in college is going to be different.

All you can do is hope and pray that they'll just leave you alone for the most part. A lot of the time, you can get a hint about what kind of roommate they'll be just knowing their first name.

1. Hailey

Her dad pays her rent. She can't cook. Litters the kitchen with take out boxes from the local vegan joint.

2. Beth

Totally wants you to go to SoulCycle with her at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Room is littered with leggings and sneakers.

3. Michelle

Comes home at 3 a.m. after a night of heavy drinking. Loudly makes some sort of frozen meal. Sleeps through her noon alarm.

4. Victoria

Probably has dark hair and an acoustic guitar. Keeps pretty much to herself. Does homework in the living room at obscure hours.

5. Madison

Was on the dance team in high school and has not stopped telling you about how great it was. Does work out videos on the TV in the living room.

6. Kim

Brings her boyfriend over every night of the week. Brings different boys home on the weekends.

7. Megan

Actively avoids cleaning the bathroom. Leaves her dishes in the sink. You haven't seen her shower in four days.

8. Erica

Normal. Quiet. Wants to be a high school English teacher.

9. Erika

Wild. Emotionally distraught always. Is always hosting the pre-game. Never comes home with all of the clothes she left wearing.

10. Sarah

"Definitely should have got into Harvard, but I ended up here instead." Too into trying to get a 4.0 to pay attention to you.

11. Julia

Studies music performance. Screams expletives at her keyboard. Cannot play the trumpet, but still tries really hard.

12. Hannah

So tall she almost hits her head on the doorways. Plays basketball. Raps to old Kanye in the shower.

13. Jenny

Should not be allowed to go out. Goes out every weekend anyway. Throws up in your bathtub and doesn't always address it in the morning.

14. Heather

Stressing about her internship. Is currently failing all of her classes. Will somehow still get a 3.5 GPA this semester.

15. Grace

You never see her, only the hairballs she leaves all around your place.

16. Emma

Only has guy friends because "it's easier." Guy friends who leave empty beer cans out after every sporting event on TV.

17. Caitlyn

Has a 4.0 as a biology major. Is going to med school. Sterilizes her room, the bathroom and the kitchen sink every four hours.

18. Sam

Always has a paper about feminism to write. Rosie the Riveter poster in her room.

19. Alex

Is probably dating her boss. Has straight Ds in all her classes.

20. Taylor

Is somehow always home when you're home. You know nothing about her other than where she's from.

21. Alyssa

Trying to become the next big YouTuber. Has lighting equipment all over the place. You constantly hear the phrase, "Hey guys, welcome to my channel!" She squealed because yesterday she hit 25 subscribers.

22. Jesse

Is probably plotting your murder. Lurks around like a cat.

Cover Image Credit: Morgan Yates//YouTube

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11 Things To Look Forward To After Finals

Need some motivation to push through finals?
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It’s nearly that time when the library is packed and the stores are running out of coffee. That’s right, finals week is approaching! Finals are not fun, but finals week getting closer means that Summer break is also getting closer! Here are 10 things to look forward to after finals to help get you through them!

1. No more homework!

I know that one of the many stressful things about finals is the homework that’s assigned right before. Finals are stressful by themselves, so it’s never fun when professors assign homework that’s due the week before the final or even the week of sometimes. But, I remind myself that after that one last week of finals, I won’t have to worry about any homework at all.

2. Having time to eat

Days spent studying for finals are some of the longest days of the year in my opinion. Sometimes I’ll leave in the morning to go to class and the library to study, and I won’t get back home until late that night. By the time I get home, I don’t have a ton of energy to make anything extravagant for dinner. Just thinking about how I’ll actually have time to eat real meals after finals is a motivator to get them done!

3. Swimming

Besides the people who don’t like hot weather, who doesn’t look forward to Summer because of the outdoor activity-friendly weather? Swimming was always one of the main things that I looked forward to about summer when I was little, and it’s still something that I’m excited for. Whether I’m going on vacation or not, the end of finals means the beginning of being able to go swimming!


4. Getting more hours at work

I know working over the summer isn’t necessarily a highlight of the break, but finals being over with means no more having to work around your class schedule. No more finals means more hours, and more hours means more money to do other fun things over the summer!

5. Change of scenery

Living on campus is fun and exciting, but sometimes a change of scenery is nice. Especially if you live in dorms, getting finals done means no more living in a cube!


6. Seeing family

I don’t know anyone in college who hasn’t gotten even just a little bit homesick at least once. The sooner I’m done with finals, the sooner I get to see my mom and my dog!

7. Getting to see friends outside of college

I love my friends that I met at college, but I’m still close with a couple that I knew before college. Finals week coming to an end means a summer catching up and spending time with old friends is coming to a beginning!


8. Ice cream (and other frozen treats)

When I was younger and people would ask me what my favorite food was, I would say ice cream. Although it might not be my favorite food anymore, it’s definitely in my top 10. Second-semester finals being over with officially marks the beginning of nice enough weather to eat ice cream, or slushies/other frozen treats, without getting cold (or without it dripping onto the study guide you’re cramming the day before the final).

9. Time to travel

I don’t know how many people who have time to travel during the school year, but it’s probably not very high. Finals wrapping up means no more class, and no more class means more free time! Even if it’s just a weekend trip, not having to worry about a class on Monday can make it a lot more fun.


10. Watching Netflix without feeling guilty

I don’t know how many times that I watch Netflix and tell myself that I’ll stop to study after the episode I’m on, and then the next thing I know it’s multiple episodes later. After finals are done, no more feeling bad for binge-watching your favorite shows!


11. Actually having free time

One of the things that I'm looking forward to the most about being done with finals is actually having some free time. Finals week is full of cramming and studying, but just the thought of having some time to sit back and relax makes it all worth it!

Those are just some of the things to look forward to after finals!

Cover Image Credit: Karen Ketay

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