One of my dad's favorite sayings is, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." The website Coursera is an example of why that saying needs the word "probably". The idea of taking real college courses from top-notch instructors at prestigious schools for free sounds impossible, yet students around the world are doing just that.
When I first heard of Coursera, I was skeptical. To try it out, I enrolled in some basic undergraduate courses so that I could see how they stacked up against the classes I took at KU and Emporia State University. I am currently taking precalculus at UC Irvine, organic chemistry at Illinois, and calculus at The Ohio State University. All three classes are superlative. The video lectures give me new insights into familiar concepts, and the online quizzes motivate me to practice my skills and keep them sharp and up-to-date. Best of all, they haven't cost me a dime, and I can attend class from the sofa!
As you can tell, I've become something of a Coursera evangelist. I convinced my husband to take a look at the website, and he is now enrolled in two scientific computing classes. Already, he has several ideas on how to apply the information from his classes to his work as a chemist.
Coursera classes (at this point in time) aren't for college credit; they are simply about learning. Some offer a certificate of completion, and all offer a sense of accomplishment. Hence, you can enroll in a Coursera class without risking any negative consequences for your GPA or your wallet.
If you are a high school student wanting to try a college class, Coursera is a perfect opportunity. Coursera is also perfect for returning scholars wanting to get back into the academic swing of things and for professionals who want to hone their skills. I can't say enough about how powerful this website is, but I can provide a url so that you can see for yourself-- http://www.coursera.org