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Now Anyone Can Be a Harvard “Graduate”

Now Anyone Can Be a Harvard “Graduate”

The learning is free, but the certificate costs a bit of cash.

Maya Suraya

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While your travel passport sits in a drawer somewhere collecting dust, education is the passport you need to the future. In the words of human-rights activist Malcolm X, “tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today“.

More Malaysians work from home than the global average

As the pandemic continues, more Malaysians are staying at home which gives them more time to reflect on their lives.

Some have lost their jobs while others are re-thinking a career shift. According to an article on Human Resource Director, 91% of employees are intending to upskill or reskill. That’s 1 in 5 Malaysians! And with Ipsos reporting that more Malaysians work from home than the global average, perhaps now is a good time as any for online learning.   

Motivation to upskill/reskill:

  • More than half (55%) want to be prepared for the accelerated automation and digitalisation of work
  • 21% are keen on switching careers or work in a different industry
  • 13% fear retrenchment

Many are looking to transition into an industry that is perceived to be recession-proof such as technology, research & development, essential goods manufacturers and e-commerce.

Jaya Dass, Managing Director, Malaysian and Singapore at Randstad to HRD
Credit: Vlada Karpovich / Pexels

World-class education from home

Since most of us are doing our part by staying home to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now easier than ever to achieve your academic goals. It’s free and all you need is good Internet connection, a working computer and the hunger to learn.

One of the most appealing is with prestigious Harvard University offering free online courses to advance your career, pursue your passion, and to keep learning. HarvardX is the Harvard-specific branch endorsed by online platform EdX which offers courses free of charge to students across the globe.

At the time of writing, there are 125 free online courses available at HarvardX which you can filter by subject area. There is also an option to choose the duration of the course, difficulty and also start date, though most run year long.

Technology is the present and the future

With technology being one of the top areas Malaysians are looking to build on, HarvardX’s CS50: Introduction to Computer Science is a good place to start. The course, associated with The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is currently opened until 31 December 2021 and will last approximately 11 weeks with a time commitment of 10-20 hours per week. Since the pace is at your own speed, it shouldn’t be hard to find a couple hours a day between Netflix binges for you to learn.

There are also more specific courses like Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python and there’s even a free introductory course about Mechanical Ventilation for COVID-19 for licensed medical professionals.

Pros and cons of online courses

One of the biggest pros about doing a course with an impressive name like Harvard attached to it is the branding. What parent wouldn’t be proud to tell their friends “my son/daughter is a Harvard student”. But before it gets to that point, do note that although the education and knowledge you obtain is free, getting a proper certification to add to your CV or LinkedIn comes at a fee. At HarvardX, the price to add a Verified Certificate will cost you US$199 (~RM819) and this includes graded assignments.

Another pro about taking a course online is the duration and flexibility. Courses run anywhere from 1 to 12 weeks and can be done at your own time.

The obvious cons to online courses is it takes away from human interaction that you would typically get in a class setting. Instant feedback from your lecturer is another factor that would be missing since most of these classes have been prepared ahead of time to suit everyone’s schedule.

Credit: Mudassar Iqbal / Pixabay

Harvard and beyond

Harvard University is one of many prestigious universities offering free online courses. Through edX, you can also enrol with other American universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgetown University. There are even courses with other international universities like The University of Queensland in Australia, The National University of Singapore, and renowned university with a centuries-old reputation- University of Oxford in England.

Remember, knowledge is priceless though getting proper credentials will come at a price – albeit a small one for you to build on in the new normal.


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