Free online courses, also known as MOOCs, are a great way for teens to learn about more advanced subjects outside of the traditional classroom. These free courses can have up to 100,000 students, all learning at the same time from distinguished lecturers representing universities worldwide. With courses on every possible topic imaginable, free online courses give teens the option to test whether they are interested in a particular career path at college level. These online courses use videos, articles, multiple choice questions, and interactive communities to teach subjects at a pre-college level, and can be a fun way for teens to dip their toe into higher level learning. Many courses also give the option of paying for a certificate when the course has been completed which can be useful for written college applications and CV’s.
Course providers often set an age limit of over 13’s to access their courses, and it can be a good idea to review the course content before your teen begins learning. Finding a free online course is easy by using course aggregator websites such as Class Central, or by looking on course provider websites such as Futurelearn, and Coursera.
Here are some of the most interesting free online courses for pre-college teens.
Studying business at a college level gives transferable skills to many different job roles; from marketing to strategic management. This series of free online courses explores marketing, financial accounting, social capital, corporate finance, operations management and more. Developing basic literacy in the language of business, this course is vital for any teen looking to apply to a business school for college.
Law is a tempting option for many pre-college level students, and this free online course from Yale University gives budding law students a head start into this complex discipline. The three week course explores the terminology, concepts, and tools lawyers use to make arguments, and looks at the fundamentals of legal structures and rules. Students can familiarize themselves with the main tenets of the legal discipline before diving head first into college applications.
This two week free online course charts the progress of an archaeological treasure chest at the Vale of Pewsey near Stonehenge in the UK. Learn about every aspect of archaeology, from deciding where to dig, to the collection, recording and storage of artefacts. In the second week, the course looks at being a teenager in Medieval England, and examines the archaeological methods employed in the study of the dead.
Dentistry is a popular choice for many pre-college students, and this six week free course explores the dental profession and the impact dentistry has on modern society. Lecturers from the University of Sheffield describe what different dental team members do, how to carry out dental charting, aspects of dental anatomy, and the latest research into dentistry. A must for any teen looking to go into healthcare.
Recording and writing experiments, results, and discoveries is a key part of science. This two week free online course explores the different types of science writing, from news articles and blog posts, to scientific journals. Students will develop their own piece of science writing by structuring a narrative, learning about interview techniques, and evaluating scientific evidence. The course is a good introduction to more complex writing skills that every student needs going into college.
From working in Starbucks to beginning a career in finance, every teen should be career smart. This course looks at how to explore your successes and identify your professional skills and capabilities. As part of the course, students create a portfolio to describe their current experience and to sell their core skills.
Coding is a great skill for every teen to have, and teens can take advantage of hundreds of free online coding courses. Learning how to code encourages critical thinking, problem solving, and can improve job opportunities in every discipline. This seven week free online course from the University of Michigan teaches the basics of Python from variables and expressions, to loops and iteration. Part of a series of coding courses, students can complete a capstone project to showcase their learning, and apply for a paid certificate at the end of the course.
Many teens are fascinated by how the mind works and why we behave in certain ways. In this free online course, thought-provoking psychological experiments, concepts and theory are taught by expert lecturers. Topics such as learning, memory, the social mind, mental illness, and sensation are all investigated, giving teens a great foundation for studying Psychology at college.
College is an important part of growing up, but many teens look to a different path, and this series of free online courses teaches students how to start a business. With topics ranging from being an entrepreneur, searching for great ideas, creating a business plan and more, the course gives students a structure to start planning and executing a new business idea.
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.