Spend Your Summer Learning With MOOCs

Looking to impress your prospective colleges and learn something new this summer? Consider a massive open online course to boost your intellect and résumé.

For many high school students, it can be difficult to find intellectually stimulating activities during summer break. Depending on where you live and your financial options, you may not be able to attend summer camps or pre-college programs at university campuses. So why not reap the same benefits from the comfort of your couch? Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, allow students of any age to pursue their academic interests during summer break. These courses aren’t complicated to enroll in, usually only requiring an email and user name, and are relatively stress free. Also, many of them are free!

What can you learn about?

Topics include film study, sports management, computer repair, and many other categories that don’t normally receive any emphasis in high school. In some cases, course providers will also offer some form of college credit or recognition that can be added to your transcript or résumé. Even online courses that don’t offer any official credit frequently award students taking a class with a certificate. Just be aware that these certificates may cost you money, even if the course is free. For college-bound students, taking these courses may show initiative and a desire to think outside the box to admission representatives at your prospective colleges.

My first experience with a massive open online course was during the summer of my sophomore year, with a course titled “50 Years of Hitchcock” through Canvas Network. This course, provided by a partnership between Turner Classic Movies and Ball State University, allowed individuals to gain a greater understanding of the movements and techniques surrounding the illustrious career of director Alfred Hitchcock. Those enrolled in the course could participate in Hitchcock film–related games, discussions, and quizzes on the week’s content in addition to several modules of information for each unit of the course. The course administrators frequently live-tweeted with informational tidbits on the various films as they aired on TCM, making the class even more interactive.

The course concluded with a live video chat with the director of a new film about the shower scene in Psycho and several fan panels on specific elements in Hitchcock films. The certificate of completion I received is displayed proudly in my house. “50 Years of Hitchcock” illuminated my passion for film and film analysis and served as an adequate proving ground for my aspirations to minor in Film Studies in college.

Related: 4 Summer Activities That Will Impress Colleges

Where can you find MOOCs?

edX is a wonderful place to start your search for these courses. On this website, course offerings from top institutions such as MIT, University of California Berkeley, and Harvard are available to anyone with very few strings attached. Some of these courses focus on a niche interest among learners, while others can be on broader topics. In recent years, Fortune 500 companies and other large enterprises have begun to offer MOOCs as they recognize how certain courses can be utilized to cultivate new employees with greater specifications in their talent and knowledge base. However, MOOCs are just as valuable to those not seeking a job as they are to individuals who need to learn the basics of a program or software in a short amount of time. There are many opportunities for people to learn through MOOCs if they’re willing to take a little time to look for them.

Why should you take a MOOC?

One way MOOCs can be useful to students is by preparing them for the basics and structure for online learning. Online courses are increasingly being used in schools across the country for their accessibility, from high school to graduate school. While MOOCs can be designed differently than other online courses, they both require the ability to compartmentalize information. They also require students to budget their time and efforts in a specific way without the standard structure of a classroom environment. Finally, both foster a sense of independence with those participating. The absence of a traditional teacher forces students to work diligently and reach out to new sources to fill gaps they may have from when course material was originally presented.

Related: How You Can Benefit From Massive Open Online Courses

What better way to supplement your education than with classes with no grades, no finals, and no early alarms required? Consider a MOOC to boost your intellect and your résumé. You won't regret it! 

For more tips on crafting the best résumé and college applications possible, check out all our College Admission articles and advice!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Aaron Partnow

My name is Aaron Partnow, and I’m a junior at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska. I enjoy studying government, politics, and United States history. When away from school, my passion is film and the art of cinema, especially the films of Alfred Hitchcock. I plan on attending college on the East Coast and pursuing a major in Political Science or Political Philosophy while minoring in Film Studies. One day I hope to work in the US Senate in some capacity or become a constitutional lawyer.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Keaun Brown

Keaun Brown

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2020

As I transition to furthering my education, I can say with certainty that it simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous organizations such as CollegeXpress. Those who initially founded CX had no idea their platform would give a plethora of information to a first-generation homeless kid native to the ghettos of over half a dozen states. Everyone at CX and Carnegie Dartlet gave me a chance at a future when the statistics said I had none. And for that, I thank them.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

Tinuola Dada

Tinuola Dada

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2015

I am very excited to be this year's recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship. This scholarship will bring me ever closer to my academic and professional goals. CollegeXpress has been an exceptional resource to me, and I recommend it to all rising seniors as they begin to navigate the college application process.

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

High School Student

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Rider University

Lawrenceville, NJ

Whitworth University

Spokane, WA

Malone University

Canton, OH