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Forget Paying for Harvard: Get an Ivy League Education for Free!

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Dreaming of an Ivy League education? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, though, the odds of getting into a prestigious school like Harvard or Princeton are incredibly slim. And to add even more fuel to the fire, the costs associated with these elite universities are most likely out of your league—pun intended.

As you already know from your day-to-day life, the Internet has revolutionized nearly everything we do. These days, it’s making massive waves when it comes to the Ivy League. Thanks to online education companies Coursera and edX, average Joes and Janes are able to take free online college courses from honest-to-goodness Ivy League universities. Why pay for Harvard or Princeton (or Columbia, or Brown, or…) classes when you can take them for free in the comfort of your own home?


The founding partners behind edX are none other than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. University of California Berkeley and the University of Texas System have also joined edX. In addition to bringing online education to students around the world, edX will also be used to research learning and distance education.


Thirty-three universities have already partnered with Coursera, which was founded by Stanford University computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. In addition to Ivy League institutions including Brown, Columbia and Princeton, well-respected schools such as California Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Duke, and the University of Michigan are also offering online classes through Coursera.

How Does It Work?

Although edX and Coursera courses have start and end dates just like traditional college classes, students can work at their own pace. Courses involve video lectures, interactive quizzes, and yes, even homework. Students and professors can interact with one another in online discussion groups. While these courses may not earn you college credit from an Ivy League university, a certificate that shows you successfully completed the course can be obtained for a modest fee—which will still look impressive on your resume. Courses for credit are also in the works.

Is the Ivy League Worth It?

If you’d rather take the traditional route and attend an Ivy League school in person, remember that tuition and fees at Harvard, Cornell, and the like averages around $55,000 per year—substantially more than the median American annual income. Even so, some experts believe that an education from an elite school will most likely pay off in the long run.

Considering that Ivy League schools have some of the most stringent admissions standards in the country, the simple fact that a student was selected to attend the institution in the first place signifies that they’re a high achiever with excellent standardized test scores who graduated in the top of their high school class. This fact alone means that Ivy League students mingle and collaborate with “the cream of the crop” in terms of students.

It’s Who You Know

Faculty members at elite colleges are also respected and well-known in their fields. “Students at higher end schools are taught by faculty who are leaders in their fields,” Dr. Patricia Brandt, associate dean and director at Stanford University, told the media.

That said, having an abundance of Harvard grads and professors as LinkedIn connections definitely can’t hurt. Recruiters and human resources officers are likely to pay closer attention to candidates with Ivy League degrees listed on their resumes than candidates who were educated at lower-tier schools.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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