Public Universities to Offer Free Online Classes for Credit

By Rajkamal Rao 

Jan 23, 2013

We have often said that it is important to track what is trending in the United States so that you could plan your own campaign better.  Today's news presents an important opportunity to illustrate this idea.

The New York Times published an interesting article on education - Public Universities to Offer Free Online Classes for Credit.  The first sentence says it all, "In an unusual arrangement with a commercial company, dozens of public universities plan to offer an introductory online course free and for credit to anyone worldwide, in the hope that those who pass will pay tuition to complete a degree program".

Readers to our site know that US colleges and universities are hurting badly and have to increasingly rely on innovative ways to raise money through tuition fees, especially from international students who generally pay the full tab.  Many schools started online degree programs for this reason - they are less expensive to run and the potential for increased enrollment from students anywhere in the world can add much needed fees.  The best part was that there was no limit to the number of students signing up for an online course - you could have hundreds, even thousands taking the same degree program and it would not cost the school one extra cent.

But there are so many online programs to choose from and competition for students is tough.  So, what some US schools are now doing is to offer one online course for free in the hope that students will pay full tuition for the remaining courses.  Think of this as getting a free drink as a bonus when you buy a regular sized pizza at full price!  Who would have ever thought that schools would employ a Loss Leader strategy for education? 

Here's a partial list of schools promoting this MOOC2 program.  [Recall that MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses].
  1. Arizona State University
  2. Cleveland State University
  3. Florida International University
  4. Lamar University
  5. University of Arkansas System
  6. University of Cincinnati
  7. University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing
  8. University of West Florida
  9. Utah State University
Why is this news relevant to an international student such as you who wants to go to the US?  If you are considering applying to a school that offers a free online course, it may be worth to take it even before you arrive in the US.   The course is free but as opposed to a MOOC course that we discuss in Step 7: Finalize your application, you can get credit for a MOOC2 course!  And if you do well in it, you can brag about it in your application and show your commitment to the school.  Remember the key theme of Step 7 is to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Of course, some schools above would not pass muster in our Step 3: Choose Your Target States by Better Understanding the US Economy.  But the MOOC2 trend is still early.  Over time, more schools are sure to join this program. 

We are glad you are here.

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