While many students look upon the advent of summer with wide grins and visions of impending laziness, others see it as a time to pack more unique experiences into their resumes and college applications. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are popping up on more and more applications as students seek to find new ways to learn, and to distinguish themselves in the competitive race for top-notch colleges.
Millions of people have signed up for MOOCs, open to anyone who has an Internet connection, for enrichment or specific training, and a high number of those millions are young people looking to take classes their schools do not offer. Often the courses students can take don’t add up to any kind of actual educational credit, but students don’t want to miss a chance to exhibit different knowledge than their peers might have, according to The New York Times.
Some universities now offer free online courses as well. Princeton recently announced its MOOC on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, a course which will last six weeks and students will have access to video lectures. Arizona State University also recently launched an MOOC titled “Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy.” Though admissions evaluators at universities don’t give MOOCs listed on applications all that much consideration, it can’t hurt for students to list them.
Dan Akim, a junior at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, opted to take a number of MOOCs over the summer, even while traveling. “I didn’t really know exactly how valid or how common it was to put this kind of thing on a college application, but I had some open space in my summer,” the 18-year-old told NYT. “I didn’t want it to seem like I wasn’t doing anything.”
At the very least, MOOCs provide an accessible way for education to become more universal. People can study what they’re interested in and enrich their knowledge, and that can only be a good thing.