Coursera – Alternative Education

Let me start by saying that post-secondary education in Canada (and America) is freaking EXPENSIVE. “How expensive is it? It can’t be that bad! Here in [insert any other country here] our education is either paid for by the state or $1000/year! It can’t be any worse than that!”. Oh yes it can.

If you are looking into getting a college education, it can cost you $60,000/year, maybe even more. Yes, that much. There are a few ways you can maybe afford it:
1. If your parents can set aside enough money for your education.
2. If you get a very good scholarship.
3. Student loans.

Let me tell you a few things about my situation. My parents were far from rich. They worked very hard just to make ends meet. They didn’t have money to spare to put aside for college, and that’s okay! We had a roof over our heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear. My parents worked hard to give my brothers and I good lives, and I love them for it.

“Yeah okay, we get that, a lot of families aren’t rich. So why didn’t you get a scholarship then?”

My experience in school, especially high school, was a nightmare. There are four core subjects that you need to have exceptionally high grades in in order to be considered for University or College. I was good at two of them. My Math skills are awful. I have never been a lover of Math. Social Studies was great until we starting learning about current events and politics. I preferred the history side to Social Studies. Don’t even get me started on “position papers”. U G H . However, I excelled in English and Science. English was great for me because it gave me a chance to be creative and write. I could write anything: stories, poems, essays, etc., and my reading comprehension was top notch (much to the surprise of my English 30-1 teacher, who happened to be CONVINCED that I was an idiot). Science was fun too because it encompassed all of the topics that are usually associated with said study. We covered Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Geology. It was amazing!
Even though I graduated with extra credits because of my non-core subjects (Band, Drama, Art, Wind Orchestra), I didn’t have a high enough GPA to stand a chance at being accepted into post-secondary school. It also didn’t help that many of my teachers thought I was stupid. I vividly recall my Social 30 teacher telling me quite heatedly, “Calindy, you shouldn’t even BE in this class this year because you’re just going to fail and I don’t have the time to give you extra help. In fact, I don’t even think you need this class in the first place!!”. When I told her that I did, she raised her voice at me and said, “for WHAT!?”. So I yelled back, “because I want to be a TEACHER!”. That shut her up for a few moments. She then sighed, rolled her eyes, and told me to take my seat. I tried and I failed, just like she said I would.  It’s okay. I’m no longer in high school, so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

“Okay, so your family wasn’t rich and you didn’t do great in school. That’s fine. Why not take out a student loan??”

Guys. While I can agree that taking out a student loan would be a great option in order to afford schooling, I don’t want to end up spending half of my life trying desperately to pay it back along with the interest it accumulates over the years. My Mom did that and it made her miserable and stressed out. Right now, the idea of spending that much of my life paying back a loan is not appealing. So, no thanks.

“Okay, fine. So why Coursera? What is it? What are the pros and cons?”

I’m so glad you asked that! Coursera is a site that offers free and affordable post-secondary level classes. You can choose the classes that you want to take and work on them whenever you have the time. At the end, you earn a certificate saying that you completed said courses with said grades. You can even earn a specialization certificate if you pay for the specialization course. Right now, I’m enrolled in a free class called “Introduction to Game Design” via CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). It’s pretty amazing so far! I’m actually thinking of upgrading to the paid version (which is close to $400 if I pay all at once or $79 if I go the “Pay-by-Course” way). They even offer financial assistance!
The pros of Coursera are as follows:
– Online study means you can work on your classes when you have time.
– There are many classes to choose from so you can basically study whatever you want.
– You have a real teachers that grade your work and want you to succeed, and real peer evaluation.
– There’s a mobile app so you can take your classes with you where ever you go.
– You earn an official certificate at the end. This is great because a lot of jobs will say, “you need a certificate in the following studies”.
– In actual College/University you are stuck studying for a specific degree that might not land you a job. There are many cases where, for example, people go to school to get their degree in Computer Sciences (sorry, it’s the first study that popped into my head) and then cannot find a job in said field, which sucks!
– If you are already in University or College and you take these courses, they can sometimes count as extra credit towards your in-school classes.
– The courses you take can help you to expand your career and maybe even help you find a new one (if you want).
– There’s no one to judge your appearance, your looks, or your intellectual abilities. If you want to study in your pajamas, study in your pajamas!! If you want to take a course at 11:00 at night, you can do it!
– You can finish a course faster than the set deadline, if you want to.
The cons of Coursera are as follows:
– You won’t earn a degree. If you want that you, unfortunately, need to pay to go to school.
– Some jobs may not recognize your certificate. Note: I’m not sure of this yet, I’ll have to look more into it.
– You don’t get the “College experience”.

That’s all I can really think of right now for cons, since I just started working on my classes today. If I find any more cons, I will let you know.

If you want to check out Coursera, you can check it out here: .

So tell me, which do you prefer? Do you prefer the online alternatives to College education, or do you prefer the in-classroom experience? Leave me a comment and let me know!


“I want to oppose the idea that the school has to teach directly that special knowledge and those accomplishments which one has to use later directly in life. The demands of life are much too manifold to let such a specialized training in school appear possible […] The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgement should always be placed foremost.” – Albert Einstein


2 thoughts on “Coursera – Alternative Education

  1. Barbados doesn’t have anything that I want to do. Well once I make up my mind. My mother keeps messing me up with my choices. Either Italian (I have my associates but I can’t remember anything because it’s been over a year since I finished) fashion, I need to do a lot before I can even be accepted into FIT in Manhattan or Early Childhood education ( there’s a teachers training school here but I want to go overseas and have a better opportunity, meet new people and have a new life. I’d need about 120,000 bbd for 3 years for either New York(depending on if I wish to stay 1-2 hours from manhattan by train or stay in a dorm) or England. I guess it’s good to save the money and do courses online. For me I can’t do that. I get distracted too fast and can never pay attention to notes online! I don’t know what choices I have anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! It sounds like you have a lot of options open to you though! Which is really good! You just need to start at the beginning. What do you want to do? Can you take Italian and Fashion at the same time? Or maybe Early Childhood Education and Italian?
    It’ll be really awesome once you start selling your crafts because you’ll be able to save the money from that to go to College. 🙂
    If you get distracted by doing the courses online, you can always take a break and come back to them later. Sometimes I can only do 1 out of the 4 parts of a course. That’s what I like about it because you can take a break whereas in regular school you can’t just get up and walk out of class when you’re bored or distracted, lol! Anyway, just start at the beginning with your options. Make a chart so you can visualize your options, and do some research too. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s