“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
I feel lucky to nurture this thirst for knowledge and learning. There is a myriad of courses and classes that I am eager to take, just to enrich my soul. If money was no object, I hope that you’ll feel inspired by one of the Ivy League courses described below.
Chandra Steele has compiled for PC Magazine the following list of courses from prestigious universities that you could take without paying any tuition.
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An Ivy League education is incredibly aspirational but comes at high costs, that is if you are qualified. Luckily it is possible for you to take some Ivy League classes without investing anything more than your time.
The eight institutions that comprise the Ivy League join lots of other places of higher education in offering some of their courses online and frequently for free. Though they are not for credit, they can enrich your life in lots of ways. Taking an online course doesn’t have any of the pressure that being in school has. There are no deadlines for papers, no tests you forgot were today. Instead, you can focus on actually absorbing the material. When there is coursework such as readings or quizzes, it’s completely optional. So you can choose to get involved with some side projects or just enjoy the lectures.
“once you stop learning you start dying”
― Albert Einstein
Finding these classes takes a little work, though. Apple’s iTunes U once had half a million classes available for free, but it shut the service down last year. (There is an archive online.) Now there’s a smattering of classes available on the sites of individual schools and other platforms like edX and Coursera. We’ve put together some of the more interesting offerings below. (Be sure to check out our full roundup of the best online learning services as well.)
Fantastic Places, Unhuman Humans: Exploring Humanity Through Literature (edX)
This Brown class asks us to consider what makes us human by examining what’s not: robots, androids, and aliens. Students will create an avatar along the way of this unusual literary journey. The class takes about three weeks and is archived so you can start it at any time. (Take the course.)
Indian & Tibetan River of Buddhism (edX)
This class from Professor Robert Thurman is perennially packed at Columbia. Thurman was the first American Buddhist monk and was ordained by the Dalai Lama. (He’s also Uma Thurman’s dad.) This class covers the history and philosophy of Buddhism throughout India, South and Southeast Asia, Tibet, and Central Asia. Here you can get a seat right in front and take your time in completing the approximately 12-week class. (Take the course.)
Sharks are the subject of so many of our fictions and the victims of many of our misperceptions. This Cornell class adds a delightful exclamation point to its title and blends lectures from three professors to cover their biology, place in ecology, human-shark interactions, and more. The class takes about four weeks and is self-paced because it’s archived. (Take the course.)
The Engineering of Structures Around Us (edX)
For a different perspective on the constructed world, consider this engineering-focused class. Though it lists high-school algebra and geometry as prerequisites, you really don’t need them because you’re just taking this class for yourself. Instead, you can just enjoy the discussion of what goes into structures from an engineering and creative point of view. There are also opportunities to design, sketch, and build projects on your own. The class takes about five weeks and is self-paced and archived. (Take the course.)
Poetry in America: Modernism (edX)
Even if you don’t think you’re a poetry person, this class could convince you otherwise. It’s a dynamic look at modern American poetry. You’ll witness lively discussion, sit in on interviews with poets, and even take field trips to places such as Robert Frost’s cabin. This class takes about eight weeks and goes at your own pace. (Take the course.)
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Hollywood: History, Industry, Art (edX)
There’s so much more to Hollywood than you see on a screen. This class goes through the history of Hollywood, teaches you how to analyze films, talks about the effect the internet has had on the industry, and more. The class takes about four weeks and is self-paced and archived. (Take the course.)
Imagining Other Earths (Coursera)
Here on this planet, it’s a time when a lot of people feel alone. Imagining Other Earths asks: What if we’re not? Professor David Spergel leads students on an astrobiological tour of the cosmos and lets them imagine their own. The class is about 26 hours, is self-paced, and can be started at any time. (Take the course.)
Introduction to Classical Music (Coursera)
Whatever your level of interest in classical music, you’ll learn and be inspired by Professor Craig Wright’s lectures. They get to the fundamentals of music and why we enjoy it. (Take the course.)
It’s befitting to end this post with this motivational quote by a great man:
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela
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