Coursera receives approval for course credit

Coursera, one the leading providers of free online courses has announced that this week they have recieved approval to provide actual college credit for students who are taking some of their online courses. This marks the first time that a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) has won approval for credit equivalency, which means that those classes can count towards a college degree. Approval came from the American Council on Education (ACE), and of now it applies to five courses:

  • Pre-calculus from the University of California, Irvine.
  • Introduction to Genetics and Evolution from Duke University.
  • Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach from Duke University.
  • Calculus: Single Variable from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Algebra from the University of California, Irvine (but only as a vocational credit).

To be eligible for the credit, Coursera students must sign up for the course’s Signature Track, which requires is an extra validation step that attaches their user information to their real identity. Additionally  Signature Track students take an online proctored exam prior to completion. The Signature Track costs $60 to $90 and the proctored exam costs $30 to $99, bringing the cost of these credited courses to just under $200.

So far the partnering universities have been very forthcoming about promoting this announcement, and each of the schools have made announcements online and in the local press, echoing sentiments similar to this from Duke Provost Peter Lange:

“We are excited by this opportunity to experiment with new ways of using our MOOC  courses to extend our educational reach and provide credit for students who would not otherwise have access to our faculty.”

And, giving insight into the larger plan of the accredited course offerings, Andrew Ng, Co-Founder of Coursea had this to say:

“Ever since we launched Coursera, we’ve known that university degrees are important. We wanted a more systematic way for students to earn academic credit… This is just a step in that direction.”

ACE approval means that Coursera classes could be eligible for credit at approximately 2,000 U.S. colleges and universities. There are still many hurdles remaining, and schools are by no means required to accept the credits, but the possibility now exists, whereas before it could not even be attempted. This approval is a very significant milestone and it signifies that schools are in fact looking to embrase new means of learning, and that MMOCs are becoming more widely accepted and recognized.
Read More about the announcement here:

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Chosing a major and highest paid careers

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A big question often seen with Freshmen and Sophomores at the University level, is which major to chose.

In today’s economy, picking the right major is important for a healthy living both emotionally and financially. Students struggle with this important decision as our society pushes them to chose quickly and before any experience is acquired.  Today we’re going to focus on the financial aspect of the careers of tomorrow.

Top Paying Jobs

Surgeons – $219,770

Chief Executives – $167,280

Lawyers – $129,020

Computer & Information Systems Managers – $120,640

College Professors – $109,150

Most of the Top paying jobs reside in the medical field, and if that is a path you chose, that is great! Although medical school is no walk in the park, the financial rewards start as low as $39,000 during residency, but will quickly escalate past $80,000 with experience and certifications.

If you have your heart set in a field other than medicine and you worry about making ends meet, don’t worry! There are several well paying jobs that don’t require 8+ years of school to start making money. If you are tech savvy you can follow an IT path or web administrator and start out at $50,000.

The problem many students face is misinformation and pressure. Before even graduating High School, the expectations are raised for students by their parents, friends, and society.  Some families who are not native to the United States and unable to find jobs due to the language barriers rely on their children after graduation. In other cases, roughly 34% of teen students before the age of 20 get pregnant early on and end up having to support a family before getting an early chance at education.

In the end, choosing a major should be something that makes you feel good,  but also one that can be financially sustainable. Regardless of the major, having a plan ahead of time goes a long way for sustainability. We will be touching up on Internships on a future article, but its worth mentioning that employers look highly upon them. It can show several things including work ethics and experience.