How MOOCs Can Help You as a Single Parent Returning to College

Massive Open Online Courses–or, MOOCs–are college courses on the web offered up by some of the world’s finest institutions of higher education, including Harvard, Saylor, Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, Yale, Northwestern, Dartmouth, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, and more. MOOCs are different from traditional online classes in that anyone with an Internet connection can take them, and without having to pay (yes, they’re FREE!) or apply to the colleges that offer them.

Of course, you won’t get college credits for MOOCs (although many of them offer certificates of completion) . . . but what you will get is an education in the subject(s) of your choice, provided by world-class schools and professors. What does this mean for you, the single parent in college? I can think of a number of ways in which you may use MOOCs to further your endeavors:

  1. Save time and money on remedial college courses. If you’ve been out of school for a long time, then it’s possible that you might have to take remedial math and/or English courses as prerequisites to the courses you actually need for your degree requirements. Remedial courses cost just as much as credit courses and take just as much time. By taking free MOOCs to refresh your knowledge in subjects that you are a little bit rusty in, you can skip out on the time and money it would cost you to take remedial college courses.

  2. Broaden your knowledge base and make money. In my College with Kids ebook, I detail a number of ways in which you can make extra cash by marketing your skills and talents as a freelancer, contractor, part-timer, or home-based business. MOOCs can be a great way to broaden your knowledge base and make money as a parent-student. For example, if you want to earn an income as a web developer, you can take MOOCs in everything from graphic design to computer coding in order to establish a foundation of expertise that will help you do that.

  3. Advance in your existing career. If you are employed and looking for ways to advance in your existing career, then you can use what you learn in MOOCs to impress upon your boss that you are due for a promotion and raise.

  4. Make better grades in your college courses. If you rely on scholarship money to pay your way through college and/or support your family while you move through your college career, then it is likely that grades are very important to you. It is inevitable that some of your courses will be more difficult than others; this should not have to stand between you and your scholarship earnings. MOOCs can be a great way to supplement and reinforce what you learn in class, so that you can bring home the grades that bring home the bacon.

If you are interested in finding MOOCs that may enrich your life as a single parent college student, then you can find a complete list of MOOC offerings at this MOOC List site. Whatever your area of interest is, from marketing to physics, you can be sure to find a number of MOOCs to fit the bill. Sign on for your first MOOC today, and spread the word about this opportunity to others in your shoes. If you have a MOOC experience to share, please comment here. We’d all love to hear about your success!


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