Free courses are one of the best luxuries that the flexibility of online highschools can afford. There is no doubt to the fact that online high schools provide a wide array of course choices to students. In contrast, traditional schools have much-limited course options.
The curriculum taught at high schools are almost similar to that taught in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. However, self-paced learning, vast resources and certified teachers make online high schools a popular choice. According to a survey performed with Washington State Students, almost 26 percent of them preferred online high schools because the courses of their liking were not available on traditional campuses.
Moreover, online high schools provide interactive and fun activities, contests, trips and virtual clubs apart from the standard coursework. Thus, students enrolled in online high schools reap benefits that are strange to those who attend traditional high schools.
The one resource online high school students can make the most of is "open online courses". Many of these courses can be considered free, open for public access to learning materials. These resources are organized into various components that include video lectures, assignments, readings, quizzes, and discussions. While some of the open courses require students to pay a fee, others are free to get enrolled or subscribe.
However it is crucial to know how the online high school curriculum works, and the types of high schools before we dig deeper into the free online high school course scenario.
What Type Of Free Courses Are Available For High School Students?
Free structured high school courses are provided by many online schools and sponsors. However, before getting enrolled for a free online high school course, be ready to compare a vast multitude of options available. Two things you can ask yourself are:
- Do you want the course to be completely self-paced or do you want it to have deadlines to help stay on track?
- Do you want to make connections with your instructors and class teachers?
There are a plethora of factors and considerations to take care of while comparing free online courses. While most of the high school open courses are free, some of them may need you to pay a fee in order to get a certificate or earn credits. However, there are tonnes
of great free highschool online courses, where you do not need to pay to get a certificate or earn credits. We will look into those courses later in this article.
Massive Open Online Courses(MOOCs)
Online MOOC platforms like Coursera and Edx have thousands of free courses available for high schoolers. These courses are based on high school core subjects like science, mathematics, foreign language, social studies, and much more. Opting for MOOCs helps high school students push their academic limits. As most of the courses are free, students can enroll in a new subject without worrying about any outcome. After the completion of the MOOCs course, you may be required to pay for a verified certificate.
The certificate will be proof that you finished the coursework and will make your college application stand out. However, if you are taking a free MOOC for just testing diverse academic fields, it is not necessary to pay for a certificate. Collecting certificates for courses that are different from your intended major will not help you to boost your academic profile.
The MIT OpenCourseWare or Open Courses
Back in 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology started the OpenCourseWare initiative. As a result of the OpenCourseWare, all the MIT courses, syllabus and Video Lectures were taken online and made open for public access. These courses are especially helpful for aspiring STEM students, who are still in high school. Most of these courses strengthen the K-12 core mathematical and science concepts. For high schoolers, the OpenCourseWare features around 2600 video and audio clips, assignments, lecture notes and animations, all taken from the courses taught at MIT. All of these courses are designed to match the Advanced Placement Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology curriculum
Tuition-free Online High School Programs
Most of the online public schools offer either full-time high school diplomas or subject-specific courses for free. These schools follow state education standards and serve students in grade K-12. The curriculum taught at online public high schools is almost similar to those in traditional schools. So, the students are free to take courses that are equivalent to the ones taught at their home school. At the end of these courses, the student may also apply for credit transfers. There are a lot of accredited online high schools where you can take free courses or earn the entire high school diploma for free.
Open Education Platforms
Open online education platforms like StraighterLine offer a lot of online courses for free. Most of the open education platforms are accredited and assist the credit transfer process. Taking free courses from such platforms are especially beneficial for high schoolers who want these open courses to count towards their college applications or degree requirements. Many of the free courses available at open education platforms are certificate courses, that is, they provide a certificate on course completion. High-Schoolers may take these courses to explore new subject areas or earn credits required towards getting the high school diploma.
Which Free Online Courses are available for High School Students?
Open online courses are free for public access, hence anyone can make use of the vast resource and learn. For high school students, exposure to different formats, systems, and courses presents a wide array of opportunities. As these courses are completely free, high-schoolers are free to explore a completely different topic on their own, without the help of instructors. Some of the free online high school courses are:
On-Ramp to AP* Physics C: Mechanics
This course is designed to teach high school students with a basic knowledge of high school physics to get ready for Advanced Placement Physics C: Mechanics. The course is provided by WestonHS, the duration is two weeks and is self-paced. This course is available for free at Edx.org.
Preparing for the AP Physics 1 Exam
The course work is specially designed for students who are preparing to take the AP Physics 1 exam. This course includes topics like gravitation, motion, forces, rotation, energy, and momentum. The course duration is 34 weeks and follows a course schedule led by an instructor. The course module ends with an AP mock test and can be taken simultaneously with the High School AP course. This course is available for free at Edx.org.
Introduction to Physical Chemistry
The course covers complex topics such as thermodynamics, kinetics, and quantum mechanics. All these concepts are crucial for first-year undergraduate physical chemistry students. The course duration is 10 weeks and has 18 hours’ worth of material. The instructors for this course are Patrick O'Malley, Michael Anderson, and Jonathan Agger, and is provided by the University of Manchester. Students can get this course from Coursera for free.
The Advanced Chemistry course by the University of Kentucky covers selected concepts from Advanced high school chemistry. The topics are correlated to the standard topics given by the American Chemical Society and include Chemical Equilibrium, Kinetics, Acid-Base Equilibria etc. The course is 5 weeks long and is taught by Allison Soult and Kim Woodrum. High-Schoolers can get this course for free from Coursera.
Fundamentals Of Biology
This course is designed for high-schoolers and is focused on basic principles of molecular biology, recombinant DNA, genetics, and biochemistry. All these concepts are necessary to understand human health and disease, environmental quality, etc. The course format includes video lectures by the MIT faculty, Interactive concept quizzes, a list of important terms with definitions, and exams with solution keys. The course is self-paced and can be accessed from the MIT OpenCourseWare.
The course is designed to bridge the gap between traditional high school biology classes and the practical implementation required in the real world. The course structure includes topics such as cell biology, genetics, conservation, etc. The course duration is 5 months, with a suggested pace of 2 hours/week. The instructor for this course is Melanie Puffer and financial aid is available. The course can be accessed from Coursera.
Spanish For Beginners
This course teaches beginner-level Spanish and covers basic communicative topics such as— to greet others, to ask for directions, to give personal information etc. Other topics of linguistic competence include a tense, verb, basic Spanish vocabulary, adjectives, and prepositions. The course duration is 6 weeks, with a suggested pace of 8-9 hours a week. The instructor for this course is Prof. Dr Javier Bravo Agapitoand is available for free at iversity.com.
Italian Language and Culture: Beginner
The course covers situational videos, downloadable podcasts, video interviews, discussion board etc. to teach students four basic skills( Listening, Speaking, Writing and Reading). The course is 12 weeks long and the suggested pace is 2-5 hours a week. The instructor for this course is Daniela Bartalesi-Graf, and it is available for free at edx.
What things you should look for before enrolling in a free online high school course?
Not all the free online high school courses work. Some of them come with certificates, whereas some give access to the course material for free and require students to pay for certificates. Some courses reward credits after completion, while some do not.
Also, there is a difference in the course format, topics covered, the course material and content, the technology used. Not only that, all the courses are designed differently, and there is a difference in outcomes you can expect as a high-schooler. The format keeps on evolving. However, here is a list of few things you should look out for before getting enrolled in a free course:
Most of the courses that award credits on completion are reviewed by organizations like the American Council on Education. In other cases, an accrediting agency approves courses for credits. However, students should keep in mind that the credits may or may not count towards their high school transcript. Moreover, most of the free courses charge some fee for certificates and credits. Thus, students should check-in with their academic counselor before getting enrolled for a course. Also, it is recommended that they clear their doubts about the credit requirements and whether they should spend on a certificate.
Content And Course Structure
The format varies for different courses. Some of the courses are scheduled and led by the instructor, while others allow self-paced learning. Most of the online cases are designed to mirror the traditional classroom courses and give strict deadlines for assignments, quizzes and weekly lectures.
On the other hand, self-paced courses are loosely structured, allowing students to learn course material with less interaction with instructors or classmates. Free open online courses require the students to sign-up and get enrolled in a course through a web-based form.
While most of the online courses are entirely free to learn, some of them charge for certificates. The aim behind the design of Open online courses is to develop skills in students and contain the course material, regular assessments, and assignments. Students should determine whether they want to take the course for skill development or to earn a certificate or credits to showcase in their college applications.
Where can high-schoolers get free online courses?
There are loads of online platforms where students can find plenty of free online high school courses. This section will cover several learning platforms from the web, where high-schoolers can find courses of their choice for free.
The online learning platform has hundreds of free courses for high schoolers. The course topics range from mathematics to literature. Students get to choose from multiple course formats including instructor-led courses and self-paced courses. The major partners of this learning platform include Arizona State University, MIT, and Harvard.
Coursera provides access to 1700 classes offered by 138 partner institutions. While most of these courses charge a fee for enrollment, many are entirely free to access. Also, the paid courses come with financial aid. Students are required to complete a capstone project to get the completion certificate. The partner universities include Brown University, National Geographic, Rutgers, etc.
The platform features around 20,000 courses, both paid and free, taught by 20,000 instructors. High School students can get free courses in their favorite subject areas and earn certificates as well as course credits. Also, individuals can design their own courses and share them on the platform.
FutureLearn provides a vast multitude of free online courses for high school students. The platform has almost 80 partners that include government agencies, universities, and museums. Students can search for free courses by category. However, certificates of completion are available for a fee.
With the skyrocketing popularity of online high schools, the demand for free courses amongst students has increased. High-schoolers take these courses to earn credits or add to their university application. In contrast to traditional on-campus courses, students get a wide array of choices through online platforms. Moreover, these courses often come with financial aid or are entirely free to take.
Talking of free online high school courses, there are many online platforms like Udemy, edX and Coursera that provide courses on a vast multitude of subject areas. High school students can enroll in these courses and access the course material for free. Furthermore, there are a plethora of MOOCs platforms where students can find the best open online courses for free.
For high school students intending to major in the STEM field, the MIT OpenCourseWare comes in as a life savior. The official website has thousands of science and technology-based courses for free. The course format includes video lectures, podcasts, assignments, problems, and keys.
Prior to choosing a free online course, high school students should talk to their academic counselors. They should clarify their doubts about credit and certificate requirements. Moreover, it is recommended that students enroll for a free course according to their own learning style, as most of the courses are self-paced, while others are scheduled and instructor-led.
How To Earn Online High School Credits For Free?
If you are a high schooler looking for ways to graduate early, make-up for several classes, or earn high school credits, you might be searching for free online high school courses. To student's relief, there are several states that offer high school online courses for free. So, now you can earn free highschool credits that will help you take a step towards your graduation.
You can start by searching for a free online high school course for credits in your state. Moreover, before settling for a particular course, talk to your guidance counselor at school. Clarify your doubts about the additional classes you need to take or any specific requirements that you may need to meet in order to graduate.
The next step would be to get registered for the free online high school course. While some of the courses have a specific time to get enrolled and complete the course, other free courses allow you to register and complete the course at your own pace.
After the completion of your free online high school course, find the course-related materials. Even though the course might be free, you may still be required to purchase certain materials and borrow them from the local library. You might also require regular access to a computer and the Internet.
What online school provides free high school courses?
Much similar to traditional on-campus schools, online high schools too can be divided into two categories— Online Private Schools and Online Public Schools.
Online Public High Schools Or Chartered Schools charge no tuition, are licensed by the state, and have certified teachers to teach the curriculum. Moreover, these schools follow the state education standards and provide legal high school diplomas. The student is required to complete the required core courses, electives and meet the credit requirements. The online high school courses are free in public virtual high schools, as these schools are funded by the government.
Online Private High Schools, in contrast to public online high schools, follow their own education standards. These online high schools are not government-funded and charge tuition. The online private schools are privately funded and often cost $13000 on average for full-time courses.
However, both public and private online high schools require the students to reside in a particular state or school district. There are online schools that charge tuition from out-of-state students, that the in-state students are not required to pay.
What free online maths courses are available for high school students?
High school students can choose a free math course of their favorite topic from the MIT OpenCourseWare. The topics on which courses are available are:
- Problem Solving
- Single Variable Calculus
- Multi-Variable Calculus
- AO Calculus Exam Prep
Moreover, students can get free math courses from the open education database. The courses available are:
- Applied Math
- Differential Equations
- AP Calculus AB and BC
- Quantitative Reasoning
What free online courses are available for high school students in Literature?
High-schoolers can choose from a wide range of free literature courses from edX. The platform features free courses from top institutions around the world. The free literature courses available are:
- Modern Masterpieces of World Literature
- AP English Literature and Composition— Part 1: Stories
- AP English Literature and Composition— Part 2: Poems
- AP English Literature and Composition— Part 3: Plays
- Shakespeare's Life and Work
- Ancient Masterpieces of World Literature
These courses are entirely free, and require the student to pay a fee to obtain the course completion certificate.
What free online courses are available for high school students in History?
The free online courses in history cover a variety of topics ranging from ancient to modern. These free courses include:
- Women making history: Ten objects, Many stories
- A global history of Architecture
- The Civil War Reconstruction
- American Government: Constitutional Foundations
- European Paintings: From Leonardo to Rembrandt to Goya
- Hollywood: History, Industry, Art
All of these courses are available for free at edX, and require the students to pay a fee for the certificate.