Originally published on Bella Naija by yours truly – 09.05.2016

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.” – Abe Lincoln

It’s unfortunate (or fortunate?) that there are no shortcuts to success. If you want wealth, you must put in work. Every occupation, even a life of crime demands creating foolproof plans and executing them perfectly.

As youths in Nigeria with all the recent issues – no fuel, no electricity, traffic congestion, increasing unemployment – we have our work cut out for us. If you’re dealing with all these right now, remember: You are not alone, you’re tougher than you think, and this too shall pass.

One way to accelerate your professional progress is to make the effort to learn something new about life and business everyday – not just learn to learn, but learn to become. Learn because you’re wise enough to know that to excel, you have to have more than the basic knowledge handed out in our universities.

Online courses are a fun, independent and easy way to learn about any topic. With online courses, you can move at your pace, connect with other participants from all over the world, and never have to pay a dime (for most courses, you only pay if you want a certificate).

Here’s a list of 21 free online courses to choose from. It’s my hope that this list motivates at least one reader to create time to improve him/herself.

Lifestyle
Unlocking Your Employability from edX
A degree is necessary to secure a corporate role, but employers are looking for much more. The key is showing a potential employer that you can offer more beyond your credentials. This course covers all that matters to employers, and how you can develop them. You will learn how to take your experiences, extract what you’ve learned from them and present them in a way that would be attractive to an employer.

Introduction to Personal Branding from Coursera
Though the concept of personal branding isn’t new, questions remain about how to create and maintain one. Participants in this course will understand both what personal branding means and how to manage their brand. They will establish themselves on at least three social media platforms, create a mission statement, build a board of directors for their brand, and become familiar with the basics of digital security and reputation management.

Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills from Coursera
We all negotiate on a daily basis. We negotiate with friends, landlords, car sellers, employers, etc. Negotiation is the key to business success. Within a company, negotiation skills can lead to your career advancement; as an entrepreneur, your business will not survive without profitable contracts. In this course, you’ll learn about and practice the four steps to a successful negotiation, with one module for each step.

A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment from Coursera
What makes a happy and fulfilling life? This is one of life’s biggest questions. This course draws content from a variety of fields, including psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral decision theory to offer a tested and practical recipe for leading a life of happiness and fulfillment.

Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance from FutureLearn
This practical six-week course explores the science, practice and philosophy of mindfulness. You will learn how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your life to reduce stress, improve mental health, and enhance your personal and professional life by paying attention in the present moment instead of worrying or dwelling in the past.

Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship and Family Business from Open2Study
Interested in learning about entrepreneurial characteristics and psychology, intrapreneurship, or family businesses? If any of these topics sound exciting to you, then enroll in this course. You’ll study everything from the role of power and politics in businesses to managing the family while managing the business.

How to Make Money Online: The Passive Income Business Plan from Udemy
This course aims to help you make money while you sleep. The course materials were designed to make you $5,000 per month in passive income earnings. What’s more, the skills you learn in this course will allow you to build all kinds of online businesses in the future.

Entrepreneurship 101: Who Is Your Customer? From edX
Although this course was originally taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, don’t expect to watch a series of lectures. Instead, every session in the syllabus is an in-depth and focused case study of MIT entrepreneurs from areas as diverse as mobile applications and 3D printing to power electronics and international development. From these case studies, you’ll learn how to go from having an idea to gaining an understanding of who will buy your product.

Growth Strategies for Business from Alison
This course is created for anyone who is interested in starting his or her own company, and wants to learn more about the factors involved in growing a business. You’ll gain knowledge of the changes, transformations, strategies, and mistakes that need to be considered when growing a business internationally.

Writing and Communication
Business Communication—Fundamentals of Business Writing from Alison
Being able to express your thoughts and ideas through writing in a clear, concise, and efficient manner is crucial in the business world. Whether you’re sending an inquiry to a company or submitting a cover letter for a job application, how the letter is written can make the difference between having it taken seriously or not. That’s why this course aims to give you the skills—and the confidence—needed to write professionally in any situation.

How to Write an Essay from edX
This course focuses on essay development, grammatical correctness, and self-editing. You’ll learn strategies for writing longer texts and thesis statements and master the skill of writing effective introductions and conclusions.

Introduction to Journalism from FutureLearn
This course is perfect for everyone interested in journalism. Run by a team of internationally renowned journalism practitioners, this class gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the professional world of reporters and editors. The six topics are: what makes a good story, writing news, writing features, opinion writing, politics and journalism, and investigative journalism.

Start Writing Fiction from FutureLearn
Intended for anyone with an interest in fiction writing (with no prior experience necessary), this course teaches you how to develop your ideas and reflect on the writing and editing process. You’ll hear other writers talk about their approaches to research and consider different plot strategies.

Online Marketing
How to Get a Job Using Social Media from The Muse
This class will teach you how to integrate social media into your job search strategy. Apart from learning to establish your personal brand and network with people online, you’ll identify job opportunities via social media and turn leads into real-life job opportunities.

Diploma in E-Business from Alison
This course will help all business owners increase their knowledge of what online marketing is and how to go about implementing a successful online marketing strategy. Concrete skills you’ll have by the end of the course include using AdSense and AdWords, analyzing revenue metrics and custom reporting, and navigating Google Analytics reports.

Google Analytics from Alison
One of the premier tools for analyzing web traffic, Google Analytics is useful whether you’re running a major international commercial website or managing a personal blog. At the end of this course, some of the skills you’ll have mastered include knowing how to see how well your paid keywords perform, determining the keywords that bring high value visits, and identifying problem areas in your campaigns.

Hubspot Academy
HubSpot Academy offers free inbound marketing education and training for digital marketers. Over 30,000 marketers have passed HubSpot Academy’s free inbound marketing certification course, a comprehensive 5-hour online course and exam that covers all aspects of inbound digital marketing.

Programming
Make a Website from Codecademy
Take this short, three-hour course to learn how to build a website from scratch using HTML and CSS. You’ll be asked to create a recent version of Airbnb’s home page and learn the fundamentals of web development in the process.

An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 1) from Coursera
Anyone with a knowledge of high school mathematics is welcome to take this class. To make learning Python easy, instructors of this course built a new browser-based programming environment. You’ll learn to build simple, interactive games like Pong, Blackjack, and Asteroids.

JavaScript from Codecademy
Join more than five million students in learning JavaScript—the programming language of the web. You’ll develop everything from a simple “Rock, Paper, Scissors” game to an address book and even a cash register.

Java Tutorial for Complete Beginners from Udemy
Just like the courses title says, this class is designed for anyone with no prior programming knowledge. As long as you have a desire to learn to code, you’re fit to take the class.

For more online educational resources on any subject, check out these websites:
Business 2 community
1200 Free Online Courses from Top Universities
MOOC list
edX
Coursera
Codecademy
Open Learning
Harvard Online Learning

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