Much has been written about the recent trend of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in which college professors freely put their lectures and content on the Internet. This allows anyone to “enroll” in the course, although successful completion would not provide any formal college credit. Some observers predicted that MOOCs would be the end of higher education, as we know it. Traditional bricks-and-mortar campuses would disappear, and no one would pay for higher education. The reality is slightly different as Barbara Shelly explains (“A Lesson in Bold Claims Gone Bust.” The Kansas City Star. October 23, 2015, p. 9A):
“Whatever MOOCs aim to evolve into, they are not at this point a great equalizing force in higher education, or even a threat to traditional campus learning. The problem here was the hype, the baseless predictions that something offered for free could somehow prove sustainable, and the idea that a single phenomenon could change a hidebound institution.”
In addition to the way in which MOOCs have or have not influenced higher education, it is up to each individual exactly how he or she might choose to use MOOCs or any other option for higher education. Not every option works best for every person. Here are some perspectives to consider:
MOOCs. Have an interest in a particular subject, but just don’t want to be saddled with all the traditional coursework? MOOCs fit the bill perfectly. They are free and you have no commitments.
Fulltime Student Status. Usually this option works better very early in life. After high school graduation, a college stint is traditionally a very effective way to prepare for your career. College is not for everyone, and that is why you must do lots research and soul searching before you commit to that path.
Part-time Student Status. Depending on other personal, family, and career commitments, pursuing a degree part-time may be the perfect solution. Remember, you have the freedom to build the patterns of your life. Build a pattern that will work for you.
Timing. With so many matters in life, timing is everything. This is no less true of higher education. I have seen people pursue higher education and bomb out, only to return a few years later and become an A student. If the timing of your higher education endeavors does not feel right, then respect that. Your internal clock is trying to tell you something.
The bottom line is that higher education is your servant. You choose if, when, and how you use it.