As summer began, Dan Akim, a junior at Manhattan’s ultracompetitive Stuyvesant High School, planned to attend debate camp, to study for the PSATs and to go on some family vacations.
Yet he felt that he could pack more into these months, so he also signed up for three online courses, in precalculus, computer science and public health. While on car rides with his family in Italy, he would sometimes use a mobile hot spot to chip away at one of the courses, while his mother asked why he was not soaking up the view instead.
“Why not multitask!” Mr. Akim said.
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were originally intended as college-level work that would be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. But among the millions of people who have signed up for these classes, there are now an untold number of teenagers looking for courses their high schools do not offer and often, as a bonus, to nab one more exploit that might impress the college of their dreams.
College admissions directors, as well as administrators of the Common Application used by many schools, say that such online classes — for which students are not likely ever to see credit — are popping up on college applications, adding to the list of extracurriculars, like internships and community service projects, that have helped turn summer vacation into a time of character and résumé building.
[ Full article available at The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/nyregion/online-summer-courses-attracting-college-bound-high-schoolers.html ]