How to choose the right course for you

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When it come to learning a subject through a course, you have multiple options. However everyone has a slightly different learning style, constraints, motives and spending power. Choosing the right course by thinking through all these factors will increase the chances of success.

Answering the following questions can help you pick the right course for you.

What is the purpose of taking the course?

What are you taking the course for? Wanting to learn a skill, tool or just to explore an area? Are you looking for certification? What kind of certification are you looking for? Are you looking for in-depth coverage or an introduction to the topic?

How much time do you have?

Do you have just a few hours, a few days or few weeks? Or even months? Some courses on portals like Coursera, Udacity and EdX are offered by Universities and tend to cover a topic in more depth. So they tend to last for anything from 6 weeks for an individual course to 24 weeks if they are specializations comprising of multiple courses.

One the other hand, courses from portals like Udemy, Teachable and Skillshare tend to be offered by mostly seasoned professionals who are not attached to an educational institution. These may have varying acceptance in the industry.

What type of learner are you?

There are some courses for a topic that take 10 hours of your time. And there are some courses that offer to teach you the same in just 6 hours. All topics being taught, I like to go for the shorter course. I like to get the gist of a topic and do my own research, create my own projects to practice and play around. However some learners are just the opposite. They like the instructor to dig deep into the topic, give them assignments to solve, and projects to complete. Either ways are fine. Decide what you like and choose the course that offers that.

How much money can you spend?

Some courses can cost just a few dollars but some courses $$$$. Depending on the complexity and purpose of learning the topic for me, I spend $$$ on some courses but spend just $$ on some. If I’m just exploring, I’ll tend to spend much less. However, if I’m serious and want to use that to some practical end like pivoting my career, starting a business, getting a job or that promotion, I won’t mind spending more to get that certification.

How many reviews are there and how do they rate the course?

Do not look at just the ratings but how many reviews are there. A course with 4.3 rating over a few thousand or even a few hundred reviews is generally more reliable than a course with 4.8 but with just 10s of ratings. Then also, go through the reviews themselves as they may give you some insights that star ratings cannot. It will give you pros and cons of the course as perceived by the learners as well as highlights that you possibly can’t get from just reading the course description.

What experience does the instructor have?

Seasoned professionals vs relatively new professionals. Online learning portals tend to have courses from both the types. Specially on portals like Udemy, Teachable and Skillshare, where instructors are not usually affiliated to a college or university, you will find a mix of very new and experienced professionals. Not that either is necessarily bad, but you need to be aware of who would be better for the type of course you wish to take. Is it an established subject with much traction over the years? Maybe a more experienced professional will be better. Is it something new like a new software? Maybe a new instructor will be as good or even better than an experienced one.

Do you like the instructor’s style?

Remember how you liked some teachers more than others when at school. You liked the way they spoke, taught and explained the topic that made it interesting. The same is true of online courses. If you like the instructor and their style of teaching, you will enjoy the course and will be more likely to complete it. And you don’t have to find out after you signed up.

Some portals like Udemy allow you to preview samples while some others let you take the course as audit for free or pay for the certification. Wherever possible, preview the course in some way before you pay. Some portals will have a money-back guarantee for a certain period, but don’t count on it with every site.

Does the course offer a specific topic that you are looking for?

Is there a very specific topic you are looking for the course to cover? Every course has a syllabus with topics and chapters listed for you to review. Go through those and find out if they contain the ones that you want to learn. When I was recently reviewing a Figma Essentials course on Udemy, I knew that a good course had to cover auto-layouts and components and variant. I specifically looked for those topics in courses and ignored the ones that didn’t call it out.

These are the 8 points you should consider when choosing the right course for you. I sincerely hope you find them useful. Do you have some other tips that you would like to share with our readers? Do write those in the comments below.

Happy learning!

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