Coursera and Edx are two leading sites containing MOOC in various areas of interest aligned with the course of study in the department. Most of these courses (actually almost all of them) allow a financial aid option for university students (especially those in developing countries with different costs of living) to do the courses free of charge, or at close to zero cost. While almost all MOOC sites offer this, I will focus on two main ones that offer this option.
Coursera lets you obtain financial aid to complete courses completely free of charge. All you need to do is fill up their application. However, there is waiting time of 15 days for it to get approved, so if you plan to start a course, apply for aid as soon as you as can.
The application contains some small questions and the way to find the application is to search a course page for the financial aid option. There will be a button similar to the one in the image below. Click that, complete the application, apply, and wait for 15 days to get it approved. Do not start (audit / free trial) the course until you get financial aid: this would make your application void.
EdX also contains a similar application for financial aid, but they only offer a 90% fee waiver; you need to pay the remaining 10% to obtain the course certificate. However this option allows you to complete the entire course including tests (may have changed now).
Their financial aid application policy is quite different to Coursera’s: you may begin to audit the course anytime, and apply for aid, and continue to audit the course until your application gets approved. Audit refers to seeing the free content on a course (which often includes almost all the videos expect assignments and grading).
Completing the Applications
These applications ask you a few questions on why you deserve this, what your plans are, and why you cannot pay for it. A few pointer to filling up the applications are listed below.
- Explain how you’re a university student highly interested in the subject of the course
- Explain how you plan to apply what you will learn to various projects and activities at uni
- Explain your future career / academic goals and how this may really help you
- State how you have been highly interested in the subject area previously
- Explain how the cost of living in SL is different making the course price a high amount
- Explain that you are a university student who has no direct streams of income currently
Why do courses?
You may be able to follow some of these on youtube or through books. However the main benefits I see are:
- Getting financial aid / paying for a course motivates you to somehow complete it (because if you don’t you are wasting the opportunity for someone else to do the course or money).
- These courses have a more structure approach with graded assignments and exams that get accessible only after registering.
- You will get a fancy online verified certificate that you can add to your linkedin profile / CV (like the ones below)
Hurry up and get started on some courses that interest you. However its useless to just do a bunch of courses if you’re not going to apply them in your work: you’ll simply forget what you learned. So try to do things that interest you, and apply those to some of your projects in a practical way.