What would you give to back to school? For free?

Photo credit: Flickr user Sean MacEntee

Photo credit: Flickr user Sean MacEntee

What would you give to go back to school? I’m giving up an hour a week – not a bad trade for college courses!

Lately, I’ve been missing my days on campus. I loved college. I didn’t take the standard route of going right after high school. I went to community college and then entered the workforce. I didn’t go back to school until I was 24 – about the time everyone else I knew was getting a real job.

Fast forward to today and my undergrad and MBA are behind me. I’ve got a “real job” and the student loans to prove I’ve moved past my higher edu days. But lately, I’ve been really missing the process of learning.

Sure, I do a lot of learning at my job but it’s not the same as my time in college. I started looking at going back to school and then I remembered the pieces of school I didn’t love:

  • the late nights writing papers,
  • the weekends being antisocial because a project was due,
  • the financial burden of school, the tight deadlines,
  • the stress of getting it right.

Maybe going back to school wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for.

I have a full time job, a long commute, multiple blogs to write for, and a slew of personal interests. Getting another degree doesn’t fit into my world without serious disruption. It’s a price I’m not currently willing to pay. But how do I scratch that learning itch?

Enter Coursera! I was searching online for free university courses and while I stumbled on a few, Coursera really hit home for me.

Coursera provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses for anyone to take, for free.

I’ve started off taking two self paced classes and signed up for a future course:

  1. Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity  (self paced)
  2. Fundamentals of Management (self paced)
  3. Women in Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change (starting in September)

Admittedly, the self paced piece means that I’m going slow with these courses. I have a history of losing track of my priorities and so I’m going to take my own advice and schedule time for Coursera into my week.  Every Tuesday, I am going to set aside an hour to commit to the course work.

One hour a week might not seem like a ton of time to commit at first, but I want to start out with a schedule I can stick with. I can always add more time but without an easy commitment, my chances of sticking with it decrease.

I’m about 20% into both my self paced classes and I’m really enjoying them. The information is helpful, especially in my professional life and the videos are engaging. It’s not exactly like being back in school but it satisfies the desire to keep learning. Plus it’s free and there are no stressful deadlines. It’s a perfect fix for someone who wants to keep their education going, but really isn’t willing to take a traditional route back to school.

Have you tried Coursera? Are there any other organizations you’ve worked with for University courses online?

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