Online College Courses: Love It or Leave It?


Students must create an account to access any of the classes from this non-profit learning platform.

In my search for something productive to do during the quarantine, I started an online course on a site called It offers free online lectures from top universities like Harvard, UC Berkeley, MIT, and Boston University. My class was interesting, not too time consuming, but most importantly, it gave me insight into how college is going to be.

Let me explain.

edX has everything: Computer Science, Language, Data Science, Business & Management, Engineering, and Humanities. The most popular class is the HarvardX CS50, a course on computer language and programming.

Since I’m interested in architecture, I enrolled in Architectural Imagination. I audited the course, but you can also earn a verified certificate by paying a certain amount of money. It is taught by K. Michael Hays, an Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Architectural Imagination is a 3-week course with about 3-4 modules each. Since all the lectures are pre-recorded and there is no actual homework, it didn’t clash with IISJ school hours. There are no prerequisites, so I found it easy to keep up with. And because the course is self-paced, I spent about 20-30 minutes per day listening and practicing.

The course focuses more on the historical, logical, and design aspects of architecture rather than the engineering aspect. It teaches about the ability of design to bring people in, the different styles and tones, and at its core, the basic functionality that ties it all together.

Hays, the professor, is a well known American architectural historian. His way of teaching is quite simple and straightforward so you can understand the subject matter quite easily even if you don’t have any prior knowledge.

The class gave me insight into what college classes are like and how they are paced.”

Once you join an audited course, you have a set amount of time to finish it. After that, the course is archived and you can no longer access the content. However, the time allotted is usually 3-4 months, so you should have enough time to finish the course. If you pay the extra fee for the certificate, you have unlimited time to finish it and will receive more information and exercises compared to the audited course.

The main downside to this online course is that you cannot interact with the professors and ask questions. However, edX does offer a “Discussion Box” below every lecture where students can write questions in real-time and get them answered by assistant professors or other students.

Is the class worth the time? Most definitely. It taught me so many things. It was a great experience and gave me insight into what college classes are like and how they are paced. I recommend all high school students try an course. You never know. It might change your life, all from the comfort of your home.