To Enroll, or Not To Enroll

The decision whether to sign up for an online learning platform, perhaps to pursue another degree, has been weighing on my mind for months. I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately, and it seems a shame to waste a golden opportunity to expand my horizons and add to my resumé.

Today, by chance, I took another glance at the UK Open University website and realized the deadline for registration for the next course offerings is tomorrow. Half in a panic, I spent hours contemplating what my options were. Just this past autumn, I chickened-out of enrolling with the excuse that I couldn’t really afford to join a degree program. After picking through the Open University website, I have since learned there are several other online course and certification platforms out there which are quite affordable and interesting.

I discovered FutureLearn, where there are myriad courses across all subjects to engage the mind and pad the CV. There are free classes to appeal to your interests and hobbies, as well as certificate coursework for continuing education; there’s even the possibility to have certain courses assessed to earn UK university credit. OpenLearn, a free learning platform offered by the Open University, is also chock full of opportunities to hone your skills and gain new knowledge. Some of the classes only take two weeks, while others span eight or more. Certain courses are mostly passive learning, but others are more rigorous and involve testing.

Education is an extremely important topic in many respects. It is essential to civilisation, the economy, and personal development. Every individual is born craving knowledge. However, much can go awry in the pursuit of education. Society pressures us to obtain as much of it as possible, but degrees and titles are only awarded to those who can invest the time and money required to reach those goals. Faced with the dilemma of financing a degree, I think it is fantastic that there are now so many online platforms that offer paths to higher learning which are easily obtainable by a broad spectrum of people from around the world. The amount of courses and programs available for very little money was actually overwhelming.

So, whether or not I decide to go for an online degree program right now or not, I am at least going to try one of these platforms. The University of Glasgow has a course starting on FutureLearn in February called “Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime”, which grabbed my attention immediately, even if it’s not a CV enhancer for me per se. As the saying goes, you have to start somewhere, so I guess I’ll dip my toes into the web-learning pool by trying out a course that interests me and without any pressure. If that goes well, then maybe it will be on to bigger and more expensive things – like a degree. It’s probably better to test the water on a freebie, though, before getting in over my head and drowning in a sea of obligation. A three-week art class is as good a place to start as any. Let the enrollment begin!