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2 months ago
Admissions Advice

Are Udemy/edX courses worth it? Do they help in admissions?
Answered

Hi! I'm a rising Junior in high school.

I want to stand out, like everyone else, when it comes to extracurricular activities. But unfortunately, I don't have any impressive or out of of the box ones, mostly because of some financial obstacles. I want to do something I'm passionate in but the only thing I can think of is this, so please bare with me;

I want to do Udemy or edX courses. I'm interested in anything related to Computer Science and both Udemy and edX offer tons of great courses teaching whole subjects like code such as Python, C++, Data Analysis, Software Development, etc. I can grow my knowledge in computer science and really understand it, and enjoy it. I hope to apply what I learn in the future through research, internship, etc. *With my library card, Udemy courses are free for me.

Though, these courses are nowhere near getting a degree. Udemy doesn't offer accredited certificates, courses are uploaded by people who work have experience in their field, but edX does offer certificates if you pay (not sure if I'm able to do that but I'll still take the free course)

***Does this seem like a good/impressive extracurricular to put on applications? Something that colleges would be impressed by? Taking my time to really understand a concept I like even if I don't get credit for it? (Certificate) I understand it might be a loaded question but any advice would help thank you!

*My current extracurricular activities are:

- MESA (since 2016, Position: Member)

- Mock Trail (since 2019, brand new to our school/new team/won 3 comps so far, Position: Underclassmen officer (Lead and prepare underclassmen for their first year in Mock Trial))

- Paid Internship for city of Annapolis, MD (June - August 2021), researching grants for the city and gun violence education programs for youth that will be used (Using internship to save up for a car)

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2 answers

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Accepted Answer
2 months ago

Certificate courses don't impress AOs unless you use that knowledge to do something meaningful.

If you want to take certificate courses solely because you think it will help your application, then it's just not worth it.

BUT

Since you're a rising junior, if you take certificate courses and apply that knowledge in the relevant field (let's say you get an internship) then it will definitely impress AOs.

I totally understand the financial obstacle part because I have faced it all of my life as well. Can you try to volunteer/lead NGOs? That's what I did (it won't hurt your pocket). Otherwise, maybe you have a marketable skill? You can use that to leverage your application by opening a business maybe? I'm just throwing ideas but try to think about what meaningful thing you can do without money. If colleges see that you're a low-income student, they'll not have absurd expectations from you.

Hope this helps!

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2 months ago[edited]

If you are an Int'l Student and have no ability to take APs or IBs at your high school in your country, because of lack of school funding or support, I highly recommend self-studying for these kinds of courses with the help of online MOOCS like eDx.org.

There are many AP courses offered on eDx.org, some through top universities. These will give you a full course on the subject and then you can sign up and take the AP course in your country during the following Springtime (May 2022).

I often read about the lack of access to APs or IBs in many countries but if you have limited funds and an internet access, you can definitely make your application look robust with say 5 or more MOOC AP courses.

AP English Literature and Composition: (21 weeks total, price: FREE)

taught by UC Berkeley

https://www.edx.org/course/ap-english-literature-composition-part-1-stories-2

https://www.edx.org/course/ap-english-literature-composition-part-2-poems-2

https://www.edx.org/course/ap-english-literature-composition-part-3-plays

AP Physics 1 (18 weeks, price: FREE)

Taught by Rice University

https://www.edx.org/course/ap-physics-1

AP Microeconomics (12 weeks, price: FREE)

Taught by MIT

https://www.edx.org/course/ap-microeconomics

Also if you just want to take some advanced STEM courses, then MOOCS are great for that as well. Like this 3 course (10 months) Calculus track in Single Variable Calculus taught by MIT for ($250)

https://www.edx.org/xseries/mitx-18.01x-single-variable-calculus

or 5 class tracks in Differential Equations taught by MIT for $382

https://www.edx.org/xseries/mitx-18.03x-differential-equations

These are all taught by MIT professors.

There are many legitimate challenging courses on eDX.org so if you aren't 100% sure, post your question here first and someone will weigh in and see if that will help your narrative or not.

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