You already know college can be pricey, but did you know you may be able to go to college for free?
Aside from scholarships and grants, which are awesome but sometimes competitive and tough to get, you can go to college for free online. New classes called massive online open courses (MOOCs–sounds kinda adorable, right?) are starting to get more popular with universities. Since a lot of really intelligent guys and girls (like you, smarty pants!) may be less likely to afford the $20,000-60,000 that a typical year of tuition can normally run, colleges are looking for alternatives to draw students in. And it’s not just the online colleges you sometimes see cheesy commercials for, either: some top universities are letting students go to college for free from their own laptops, including UPenn (Ivy League!), the University of Virginia, Carnegie Mellon and more.
There are a few good things about online courses: You save money on commuting, you don’t have to put on pants (woot!), and depending on the type of course and what your professor’s teaching style is, you may be able to study at your own convenience and around your own schedule (which comes in handy if you work to pay for school or have an internship).
Of course there’s a big caveat: Right now, the courses don’t count towards your degree. However, The New York Times says that will likely change sooner rather than later, and if a class is free and interesting, you may just want to learn something cool in your down time. Another thing we’re not sure we’re into, though? To keep you going to college for free online, the colleges may keep their own costs down and make their money by selling information about you to advertisers, which is a little creepy, right?
So far, MOOCs mostly appeal to students overseas, but colleges are looking to open them up to students right here in the U.S. pretty soon. The courses are comprehensive and free or super cheap–so even if you’re not going to college for free, you’re still paying so much less than you would by paying for books, the dining hall, a dorm, or a sorority.
Online classes obviously aren’t for everyone–a big part of the college experience for a lot of girls is the whole dorming, partying, social aspect. But if you want to learn about building robots in your pajamas without distractions (Sign. Me. Up.), going to college for free from the comfort of your own room may not be a bad idea.
Would you take a free online course if it didn’t count toward your degree? Are there certain courses you’d rather take online than in person or vice versa? Would you go to college for free online or would you rather have the full “college experience?” Tell us in the comments!