A data science masters programme from an extension of a renowned university would cost you around $35,000. You might flinch a little bit about the cost but you would consider it, given the reputation of the university and the prospects in view. An online course from an institute in India can offer you 3 different courses on data science using R, data science with Python, and machine learning, for something around $1100 but you would rather look for some free material. This is real data which I just pulled out from the internet for free.
Yes, the internet is a brilliant, or if I am allowed to say so, revolutionary tool for the democratization of knowledge. We have free access to information which would have cost good amounts of money in a different generation. But does that mean that it has really nullified the need to pay for an education? I would think not otherwise the best data science institute in Bangalore which provides online education would go bankrupt by this time. But that is not the case; let us find out why.
Not all of us are industrious enough
The internet is a gold mine as well as a trap. It takes a lot of persistence and focus to find out enough free material to really learn something. It takes even more work and focus to learn that. Remember, there is no one examining you or asking you to submit an assignment. Without that element of urgency your efforts can really go south and take a dunk in the Indian ocean.
It really depends upon what you want to learn
There are a lot of advocates for free online education. Most of them are quite established in their respective fields. This confuses us even more. What you need to understand is that acquiring a ‘how to’ information and learning a skill from scratch are two completely different things. Suppose you are a guitarist, you have been playing the instrument for years. Now you need to know how to tune it in a certain way, you can simply watch it on youtube. But if you are just an enthusiast with no musical knowledge who wants to start, free lessons will not take you anywhere. So, you need to understand your position and think whether you are looking for information or education. There is no point of paying for information and there is also little sense in not paying for education.
Counselling, community and network
These three things are worth paying for. The counselling helps you choose the right course based on your skills. The community helps you jump the hurdles and the network you build stays with you and you can only realize its importance after you have landed onto the real world.
These are some of the many differences that a paid certificate course can make. R