When you think of CAS activities, online courses may not be the first thing to come to mind. That’s totally understandable: CAS is a way to get out of the school mentality and to do rewarding activities and projects that you love. However, it is still worth considering taking time to do these online classes as they seem to kill three (yes, three!) birds with one stone: you can log them as CAS creativity hours, they can help you study for your current IB classes, and you can boast about them to universities.
So, what are these online courses?
Online classes are courses of varying lengths that you can take to show your proficiency in certain subjects. For example, if you’re interested in computer science but your school doesn’t offer it as an IB subject, taking an online course on CS is a great way to show your interest in the topic and to explore whether you really like it or not.
Where can I find them?
Harvard has recently made ALL of its classes online and free -- all you need to do is look up ‘Harvard online classes’ to see a list of the full courses that the university has to offer. These courses are particularly good as they have been taught and designed by Harvard professors, who are experts in their field and know how to teach challenging subjects very well. For more variety, edX also offers courses by MIT, Stanford, Boston University and more. The courses on edX have an additional advantage: you can get a certificate proving that you have passed the course, which can serve as evidence to universities. However, often these certificates can cost up to 100 dollars, which is very expensive -- but all of the courses themselves are free.
Another site similar to edX is Coursera, which has over 4,200 courses to pick from. They have courses on everything from analysing emotions to learning about driverless cars. Not only do universities like Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Yale offer these courses but Google and IBM have also created a few. Like edX you can obtain a certificate to show that you have undertaken the course and passed the assessments, but these usually cost around 50 dollars. Nevertheless, you can complete the courses for free and learn new skills and information that may prove useful in university applications.
Wait - tell me again why I’m doing this?
Well, if you’re reading this around the time that I’m writing it, you’re probably stuck in quarantine. This is a great way to log some CAS hours when many of your other activities may have been shut down. Also, these courses are often university level and can be very impressive to some universities, as well as help you understand your current IB subjects more. They are all free, and you can take them at your own pace, meaning that they won’t be a financial or time-taking burden on you.
Online courses may not be for you, and that’s okay. But to anyone who is considering this, I truly recommend that you go check some out!