Whether you are still in High School, in a job, unemployed, or recently retired, University is now more accessible than ever before.
A wide range of online University courses from top Universities from around the world are free – and they don’t have any entry restrictions – so anyone can do them.
High Failure Rate in First Year Uni
More than half the students who enrol in first year University subjects either fail, or drop out before their exams. Poor study and organisational skills are major contributing factors to this high failure rate, but so are unrealistic expectations.
Many new University students have very romantic views of what careers in their ‘chosen’ field are going to be like. As a result, they seriously underestimate the breadth and depth of knowledge required to operate at a professional level. They also underestimate the mental, emotional and social skills and commitment required.
MOOC – Taste and Try Before You Buy
Before you decide to do a full degree at a University that charges fees, I strongly recommend that you try a subject or two at a free online University. Not only will you get training in your subject area of interest, more importantly, you will get the feel and real experience of the commitment, self-discipline, reading skills, and organisational skills needed to perform well at University.
And that goes for High School students who are planning to go to University too. There are many introductory level courses available which would help them get a taste of University study, AND these courses will help them revise and develop their knowledge of some of their current school subjects. For example, there are quite a number of courses on Statistics, a subject that nearly all High School and University students need to do.
These free online University courses are called MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. This 4 min video will give you a feel for these courses:
MOOCs Are Not Magic
MOOCs are free or cheap, you don’t need to travel, and most resources are usually provided. In short they are a cheap and efficient way to study. You often get online contact with other students but this is not the same as working with other students personally.
However, just because courses are presented online, that doesn’t mean that they are always well produced or presented. A few MOOC courses use the technology in creative ways, but most are just online versions of lectures with powerpoint presentations – just like most face-to-face lectures.
There are plenty of mediocre teachers lecturing at Universities. And, quite a few of the teachers presenting MOOCs are not inspiring either. This is another important thing to learn about Tertiary education – the responsibility for learning is mainly on the student’s shoulders – it is the student’s responsibility to learn, not the teacher’s responsibility to teach.
In other words, Tertiary education is about becoming an independent learner so you are able to take responsibility for continuing your professional education after you have completed your course. If you are not prepared to take on this responsibility then you are not ready to do University level courses yet – so don’t waste your time, energy and money enrolling in the first place.
Finding a MOOC
Obviously you can search the internet. A good list of MOOCs can be found at Wikipedia’s: Massive Open Online Courses.
Here are a few of the better known free providers:
- Khan Academy
- Australian MOOCs are also available – start here with the Open Universities Australia offering of Open2Study. Watch their 2 minute video to find out more:
Finding the Time
Whether you are attending a University, or doing a MOOC online, you will quickly find that your biggest problem is finding the time do keep up with the study and the homework. Especially in the early stages of any course, there is a lot of vocab to master before you will be able to read deeply with good comprehension and memory.
I recently did a single MOOC course on Developing Emotional Intelligence. In their prospectus the University estimated that a student should put in 4 hours work a week. I was reasonably familiar with the topic before I started, and I am good at study, yet I needed to spend 12-20 hours a week to keep up with the course content at a level I was happy with. That was 3-5 times my original estimate.
Success at University Level Study
Working at University level is not hard if you have the appropriate background knowledge and study skills, and you are able to work independently. You can get help with a lot of the study skills required by downloading our free DIY Study Manual. It was written to help parents teach their children how to learn and study, but is just as useful for someone wanting to learn study skills on their own. Download our free e-book ‘7 Ways to Overcome Homework and Study Problems’.
We also offer personal tuition to help individual students at all levels succeed with their education. Unlike a MOOC course, you will need to pay. We have been teaching online since 1977 so we can help you in your own home no matter where you live (provided you have a good internet connection). If you would like to discuss your plans for University, or find out how we can help you improve your study skills, contact us now to organise a : free 15 minute consultation.
Why not follow some of the links to MOOCs above and browse courses to see if you find one of interest – then give it a go. You have nothing to lose but your ignorance.
High Performance Learning
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