4 Questions On Free Online Colleges

  • November 2012
  • Posted By JohnnyG

The value of free online colleges is significantly increasing, especially with current developments that have made the cost of attending traditional colleges and universities extremely expensive.  The good news is that there are a number of progressive colleges that are finding ingenious ways of reaching out to those who do not have the means to take advantage of traditional education for lack of financial capability.

The best way to accomplish this is to maximize the advantages presented by the Internet.  With its extremely low cost distribution method, it provides the almost perfect vehicle to deliver learning topics to those who cannot afford to pay for it.  Even better is that it is capable of hosting both textual and audio contents to create a more interactive approach to learning.  Before you spend time on the various websites of free online colleges, consider the following questions.

  1. Are resources of universities open for use?

The availability of University resources is actual the basic foundation that makes free online colleges possible.  Educational institutions that provide this type of service normally make courses, lectures, and assignments downloadable or viewable directly from their website.  Depending on the actual format being used, third party software applications may be required to actually view the contents of the file and take advantage of them.

In some instances, initial registration may be required, which means providing a valid email address.  This email address will be linked to an account that will be created, which will also be the username that you will use to access the available University resources.  However, for the majority, no registration or login process is required, which means simply being able to locate the right section of the website where the files are stored.

The attempt to provide free education using the Internet is such a noble task that many world-class learning institutions have taken the initiative to make their learning materials available online.  These educational materials are not limited to static text files, but can also include streaming videos that can enhance the learning experience.  Some of these world-class learning institutions include:

  • Berklee College of Music
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Gresham College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • Open University
  • Stanford University
  • Tufts University
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Washington
  • Utah State University
  • Utah Valley State College
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Yale University


  1. What are the benefits and drawbacks of free learning institutions?

No matter how advantageous and noble the attempt to provide free learning programs may be, there are some drawbacks that can come with free educational materials.  One of the most common drawbacks would be the fact that no college credit can be provided with these courses.  There will also be no instructors involved or an established class, which means no classmates.  In some instances, the reading lists may include books that are not available for free, which means having to make a purchase to get a full appreciation of the course.

There are also a number of free educational trainings that are made up only of ten pages of web content at the maximum.  They normally are made up of brief text and are concluded with a multiple-choice type of quiz.  This type of teaching technique may not be effective for some students to gain substantial experience as compared to interactive classroom discussions or group study sessions that are part of traditional educational programs.

Do not be disheartened though because there are many free online colleges that actually provide unexpectedly comprehensive instructional materials with numerous hours of audio file lectures, interactive quizzes, supplemental movies, as well as self-directed coursework.  These types of online training programs present the best benefits of this free learning program.

  1. Are free online colleges dependable?

With such a cost-free deployment of learning materials, it is inevitable that some doubts will be cast on the dependability of the online educational institution.  The reality though is that there are some formidable online learning courses that are given out for free and still retain high quality standards.  Of course, it would be hard to demand all online educational institutions that give out learning materials for free to subscribe to a specific standard of quality.

This means that students who want to take advantage of the free learning incentive should also exercise considerable amount of research to establish which is worth their while.  There is no doubt that finding the right types of materials will be worth every minute invested in understanding the concepts.  It should be pointed out that despite being considerably dependable, the free learning materials are not meant to replace the efficiency of traditional classes.

  1. Will you be able to earn real credits from the free courses online?

Earning credits directly from these free courses online is not possible.  However, there are some options that can allow students to earn credits by taking and passing examinations that will allow transferring of credits to the college courses of students.  This makes the free courses more meaningful to those who invest time in learning it.

The first examination that can be taken is the CLEP, which tests for general education requirements.  The credits from passing the examination can be accepted in 2/3 of the colleges and universities currently operating in the United States.  The Excelsior College Credit-by-Exam is another option that will allow for credit transfer, which subsequently can result in the ability to earn three full degrees for free.

By addressing these four basic questions, the concept, benefits, and limitations of free online colleges will be better appreciated by students.


Leave a Reply