Free data science courses, while offering you an overview of the subject, do not carry the added advantages that come with taking paid versions of the same course.
While your social engagements may have been deferred amid the Covid-19 pandemic, your study plans need not. With numerous edtech platforms modifying their subscription plans during this time, even traditionalists are toying with the idea of signing up for online courses.
But with so many free courses available, is it worthwhile to invest in a paid one?
The answer could be in the affirmative, given that the benefits of enrolling for both are different. As elucidated in this story, free courses, while offering you an overview of the subject, do not carry the added advantages that come with taking a paid version of the same course. At best, it could serve as a catalyst to take up a proper course, that is, by paying for it.
Not convinced? Here are some reasons why it may be more logical to invest your time and effort into a paid course over a free one:-
High Quality Of Study Material
While there may be massive fluctuations in the quality of paid online offerings, they are generally several grades higher than those offered for free. One of the reasons is because these courses are developed in partnership with some of the best educational institutes, noted industry experts, as well as reputed publishers.
All sessions are led by well-qualified and knowledgeable instructors, who can be trusted to use proper academic material, and provide legitimate links, e-books and videos for additional learning.
Furthermore, users of paid courses may also get access to material that free users may not be privy to, as well as free entry into some online seminars. Compared to this, learners who have enrolled for free lessons will have to adapt to limited access to available material.
Also, unlike in free courses which mostly fall short of the required depth and provide only a cursory overview of the subject, deep knowledge on relevant topics is provided on paid versions. What is more, these are categorized into a well-structured format, with proper chapters and modules to avoid confusion among topics and make it easier to learn.
Mentorship can be a value-addition no matter how clear or vague your career goals may be. While your motivation for signing up for the course may align with set plans for your future, it is always good to explore multiple perspectives.
Given that mentors in paid courses come from a wide range of backgrounds and with varying years of experience, picking their brains on what course your career should take may be thought-provoking in the least.
In addition to helping you streamline your larger long-term career goals, they can also help clear your doubts on more urgent problems. Most paid courses have integrated doubt-solving sessions after the completion of every module, and learners can take advantage of this, rather than look for answers ‘online’, where learners of free programs take refuge.
Robust Peer Support
As explained in the previous section, paid courses offer you the flexibility of studying and interacting with instructors – as well as classmates – and take part in discussion forums.
Users of free platforms or courses, however, do not have access to the same social support network, and largely have only themselves to fall back on. While many may be comfortable studying in isolation, lack of a peer support system may not be an impediment for these learners. Yet, it may be advisable to open oneself to new approaches of learning.
Tests & Assignments
Unlike in free courses, paid versions provide proper assignments at the end of the course, and in some cases, even after the completion of particular modules. These tests offer learners the opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge into practical problems.
What is more, some popular and well-reputed online courses have mandated these tests to successfully complete the course. Which takes us to the next section.
Even if some free courses may offer you relatively good material, you would still not get a formal certification of completion of the course, which undoubtedly would have been a good value-addition to your resume. This is because a certification like this would prove to your potential employers that you have indeed taken the course.
What is more, some institutes are affiliated with several government bodies. This means that some (paid) courses come with certifications that are recognized by the industry at large.
Jobs & Internships
In addition to quality education, industry mentorship, and peer support, some paid courses also come with the promise of other career assistance services in the form of internships or even jobs. After successfully completing the course, some platforms – who have tied up with relevant institutes – initiate processes for internships or even job placements.