Free summer college courses


I am registered for my four fall classes needed to complete my associate’s degree, the one that will hopefully help me transfer to a good college next year.

I decided this summer NOT to take any summer courses, even though it would have made the fall semester easier. I’m tired. I’ve been tired since falling and chipping a bone in my elbow last fall. Although I only have pain if I bump or lean on the elbow, I can’t seem to recover my energy levels (whatever they were before the fall).

So I have been resting this summer. I didn’t even plant a garden.

I confess that I miss school. I miss feeding my mind with new concepts, historical facts, and interesting ideas.

Last week I took the morning to think about what I wanted to study this summer on my own. I settled on Old English literature. I love the epic poem, Beowulf. I fell in love with it when I took Mythology last year and have remained in love with it after buying Tolkien’s translation which was published last spring. I now have my third translation, a prose translation by Donaldson.

After reading the introduction in the Tolkien translation, I ended up finding several used books on on Old English. I then had the idea that I wanted to expose myself to Norwegian poems and bought a copy of The Poetic Edda by Hollander. Somehow I want to discover connections between Norwegian poetry and Old English poetry.


This morning I decided to see if MIT had a free online course on the subject of Old English. Of course they did. I have now downloaded the course material and have in my Amazon wish list two more books necessary for this course. I found a third one used at a very reasonable price and already ordered it.

I’m almost ready to go. I will use the MIT course as a guideline for my studies. Oh how I wish I could take that course on campus. Only 12 students are accepted at a time, they sit around a conference table, and the professor’s approach is one of shared exploration. He mentions in his course description several times how smart the students are that attend these classes and how he must work to challenge them. Lucky students.

Here is a little information for those who weren’t aware:

MIT — yes, that is Massachusetts Institute of Technology — offers free online courses for anyone to take. You download the course and progress at your own pace. You do not get college credit.

MIT Open Courseware

With the cost of a college education prohibitively expensive without outrageous student loans or scholarships (which I am hoping for — worked hard to qualify), many individuals are choosing to not go or postpone college.

These courses are an amazing resource for anyone who wants to be exposed to college-level content or wants to learn about a particular subject. They are quite rigorous. However, since they are not audited courses or for credit, you can proceed at your own pace.

I encouraged my sons to explore the website. They are both underemployed at this time and have put off college until later.

The only expenses are books. Some courses, such as the Old English and Beowulf course I am taking, require a lot of books. I had already purchased several of those used in this course (to my delight), and only need 3 more. All of those books will be books that I want in my home library anyway. I was thrilled to discover two of the titles were not in my list to buy. Sometimes trying to find the best, most affordable books on a subject is difficult without help. The course syllabus was invaluable in this department. The professor’s book descriptions and their value to the course were extremely helpful.

Want to learn about physics? Curious about astronomy? What about genetic engineering? Wondering if you could learn computer programming? The humanities offerings are extensive.

MIT Open Courseware has classes on every subject you would find in undergraduate college catalogs.

Happy learning, folks!

2 responses »

  1. Hi Michele! I have just found your blog and spent a bit of time reading it. It brought back so many memories to me. I am from Argentina but at some point life took me to the USA where I lived for five years, two and a half in CT and two and a half in MA. I graduated from a Community college in CT in 1992 and then transfered to Smith College in MA where I got my BA degree in 1994. Please, if you haven´t heard of the Ada Comstock Scholars programme at Smith, take some time to do research. It is a wonderful programme designed for non traditional age college students. I am not sure what the situation is right now but they had very good financial packages back then. You sound like the kind of women they appreciate having at school. I wish you all the best! I was also a member of PTK ( I found my pin the other day and showed it to my kids!!!)


    • I will check into Smith College. I am planning on moving back to the Austin area before starting at a four-year school, but life doesn’t always go the way we want it to go. I am keeping all options open. Thank you for taking the time to share.


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