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Online Courses an Alternative Back-to-School Option

August 17, 2018 • Education

September signals back to school and renewed commitment to self-improvement. Lifelong learning can help you stay competitive, land a good job, and get a raise or promotion. However, conventional classroom learning just isn’t possible or feasible for some people. It may be too challenging to juggle kiddos, a full-time job and full-time studies.

Fortunately, online learning caters to nearly interest and circumstance. Discover an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills and advance your career—all from the comfort of your home or office, and at times most convenient for you.

There are now thousands of online courses, many offered by top colleges, universities and other organizations. Some are short introductory courses that merely scratch the surface. Others are part of a specialization track, culminating in a certificate or credential. From accounting and anthropology, to web design and world religions, there’s something for everyone.

Features and benefits of online courses

College and university courses often have pre-requisites and a formal application process. Online courses are open to everyone and don’t require an application.

Students use apps on a computer, mobile device or television to

  • participate in labs, experiments, discussions and assessments
  • connect with other students in easy-to-use discussion forums
  • measure progress with self-scoring quizzes, as well as graded assignments and exams
  • learn through captivating lectures and presentations, some of which include video and interactive tools

In some cases, students who successfully complete an online course can

  • earn a certificate they can present to employers
  • receive credit toward a professional certificate
  • receive credit toward a college or university application

The following online course providers are listed in no particular order.


edX offers courses from the world’s best universities, institutions and industry leaders. Professional certificate programs can help you build skills to help you get ahead.


Coursera’s online modules include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums.

Want to master a specific career skill? Specializations let you complete a series of rigorous courses, tackle hands-on projects based on real business challenges and earn a specialization certificate.

Feeling particularly ambitious? Coursera offers flexible, affordable online degree programs in business, computer science and data science. helps its members learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Access’s video library of engaging, top-quality courses taught by recognized industry experts. Choose from single courses or directed learning paths such as a digital marketer, project scheduler, songwriter or digital illustrator.


Udemy’s extensive library of over 80,000 online courses lets students master new skills and achieve their goals. Learn about a vast array of subjects, from piano to Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam preparation.

Ready to get started? Great! Put on a pot of coffee, pull up a chair and embark upon your journey of learning and discovery!

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