General, Personal Finance 

Take College Classes For Free

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If you went to college within the last ten years, you’ll recognize that a lot more of the information once distributed in class and on paper is now available entirely online. If you were diligent enough, you could read all the course notes from a prestigious college without having to pay a cent in tuition or in books (you wouldn’t, however, get the networking or the benefit of a capable instructor, two critical selling points of actually going to a school). Well, in the spirit of such openness, MIT OpenCourseWare is one central place where MIT lists all its freely available course materials. There are 34 departments ranging from Aeronautics & Astronautics to Writing and Humanistic Studies and each department is chock full of course (23 in Writing and Humanistic Studies).

The thing that interested me the most was the Sloan School of Management because I’m currently enrolled in Johns Hopkins School of Professional Studies in Business and Education and I wanted to see the difference. About a year ago I was reading some of the course notes of an economics course taught at The Wharton School at UPenn and I felt that the Wharton courses were far and away superior (mathematically) to JHU’s economics courses (I have an economics undergrad double major) but “they” say that Hopkins focuses more on management and less on the numbers.

So I pulled up 15.010 / 15.011 Economic Analysis for Business Decisions, Fall 2004 and started looking at the lecture notes and recitation notes. Every lecture is available on PDF and nearly all the handouts are also available on PDF as well!

The hard part is that the lecture notes are presentation slides so you’re missing the expertise of the lecturer filling in the details and telling the war stories, so it’s difficult to gauge the differences. But I am starting to see a real difference between part-time MBA programs, JHU specifically, versus full time programs, Sloan and Wharton…

Regardless, I think that the real value in this is in those programs/majors in which I never took a course. When you’re shelling out tens of thousands of dollars each year, it seems frivolous and irresponsible to take courses in another major if it wasn’t a requirement. I think it’d be fun to take some of the Political Science courses and in fact, I think I will.

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One Response to “Take College Classes For Free”

  1. Tool Man says:

    You failed to mention a really important point: that you don’t get college credit for the courses. But I also think it is a great idea. I plan on using the MIT courses to teach myself (ahem), with their notes and material of course, a second language such as Spanish, or even Chinese, though that might be quite a project!

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