Overview: The Great Courses Review
Ready to hit the books? With the recent explosion of online courses and educational materials available, more and more people are going back to school – in a radically new way.
Online learning, through services like The Great Courses, has been proposed as an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. It has even been lauded by some professionals (for example, this MIT professor) as a solution to inequality in education and extreme loan debt. According to a Forbes.com article, in spite of some initial skepticism, online learning is growing rapidly and becoming more accepted in academic communities.
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With many different options available, it makes sense that you would want to do some research about online learning services. While reading individual reviews can be helpful, reviewers may have pre-existing biases. Also, when it comes to something as personal as learning, people have very different experiences based on their previous academic courses and degrees.
Instead of just getting a glimpse at a course from an individual review about The Great Courses, we want to give you the big picture. In this guide, we will present a comprehensive guide to the services available at The Great Courses. Since AdvisoryHQ is primarily a resource for financial reviews, this Great Courses review will specifically focus on the financial literacy programs the company offers.
By the conclusion of our The Great Courses review, you will have a thorough understanding of what its courses can offer you. We will begin with a background of The Great Courses and continue to explore the personal financial management course offerings.
A History of Greatness
To begin The Great Courses review, let’s go back to where it all began. The Great Courses, published by The Teaching Company, was founded in 1990, making it one of the earliest online learning options. Its founder, Thomas Rollins, was inspired by a videotaped lecture series that he watched while at Harvard Law School.
After serving as the Chief Counsel of the US Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Rollins began recruiting professors and experts to create video courses distributed by VHS.
One of the unique characteristics of the company is that the courses developed and instructors chosen are driven by customer feedback. Another is that the courses are purely for academic enrichment (learning for fun) and do not include any tests, homework or certificates.
In the early 2010s, the company began to partner with national organizations, including The Culinary Institute of America, The National Geographic Society, and The Smithsonian, to produce specialized courses. The courses are primarily for adults, but some series are developed with high school students in mind.
As technology has improved, The Great Courses has expanded its formats. Courses can be accessed through audio and video streaming, CD, DVD, downloads, and transcript books as well as through services like Audible.com and Netflix. They are also available for iOS and Android mobile devices.
Currently, The Great Courses offers over 500 course options. They range in price and length; the shortest courses have six lectures while the longest have over ninety. There are a wide variety of topics available, from history to parenting to food and wine.
In 2015, the company rolled out a new unlimited-streaming subscription service, The Great Courses Plus. Currently, it is offering a one-month free trial of the service. The company also hosts sales on certain courses. For example, Modern History courses and selected best-selling sets are currently 70% off.
Financial Literacy Programs at The Great Courses
To continue The Great Courses review, we will focus on a topic that we hold near and dear to our hearts at AdvisoryHQ: financial literacy. One of the top-selling categories at The Great Courses is Economics & Finance. There are 22 courses available in this category that can help improve financial literacy for college students and adults. Of these, 16 are on sale! The most inexpensive course begins at $15.95.
Here is the price breakdown:
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The courses cover a wide range of topics. The available courses are (in order of purchasing popularity):
- Understanding Investments
- Critical Business Skills for Success
- Financial Literacy: Finding your Way in the Financial Markets
- How the Stock Market Works
- Thinking like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision Making
- Advanced Investments
- Money Management Skills
- Money and Banking: What Everyone Should Know
- Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide
- Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond
- Economics, 3rd Edition
- The Economics of Uncertainty
- Understanding Complexity
- Unexpected Economics
- Legacies of Great Economists
- History of the US Economy in the 20th Century
- Thinking about Capitalism
- Foundations of Economic Prosperity
- Why Economies Rise or Fall
- America and the New Global Economy
- Modern Economic Issues
- China, India, and the United States: The Future of Economic Supremacy
Under each course, you can find out the formats in which it can be accessed, an overview of the material, and short descriptions of the lectures. You can also read The Great Courses reviews for each course. Some are taught by one professor while other courses (that are usually longer) are taught by multiple. All of the courses are rated with at least three stars.
In addition, there are six sets for purchase. Each combines two of the aforementioned courses. The sets are:
- Big Data & Games People Play
- Behavioral Economics & Thinking like an Economist
- Money Management & Financial Literacy
- Economics of Uncertainty & Understanding Investments
- Financial Literacy & Understanding Investments
- How the Stock Market Works & Advanced Investments
These courses cover many different topics in finance. Depending on what your specific interests are, you will probably be interested in some of them more than others. Although this is a detailed Great Courses review, it would take us an extremely long time to provide details for each course.
Therefore, in the rest of The Great Courses review, we will examine the highest and lowest rated Finance courses as well as the set of the two courses that are most focused on improving financial literacy for college students and adults: Money Management & Financial Literacy.
The Best: How the Stock Market Works
Image Source: TheGreatCourses.com -How the Stock Market Works
The Finance course that has received the most positive TheGreatCourses.com reviews is titled How the Stock Market Works. It is rated at 4.7/5 stars from 14 reviews. The course consists of 18 lectures, and its goal is to help everyday people understand the stock market and use it for profit.
The lectures are given by Dr. Ramon P. DeGennaro, who is an award-winning professor from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. He teaches and researches banking and finance. His course focuses on the stock market’s role in the global economy and the investment options that are available to you. He also equips you with the knowledge of how to determine the relative soundness of stocks.
Customers seem to value his wisdom, as 93% of reviewers recommend the course. Positive reviews laud the professor’s concise and engaging teaching style as well as the up-to-date nature and depth of the information. These reviews included approval from both financial professionals and newcomers. The only somewhat negative review complained that the course did not cover the “invisible mechanics of the market,” which seems to indicate that the person did not fully understand what the course would cover.
Depending on what format you want, the cost of the course varies. The least expensive option, the audio download, is $24.95 while the most expensive, the DVD, is $59.95. If you are interested in learning about the stock market and how you can improve your investment strategies, then this course may be very beneficial to you.
The (Relative) Worst: Advanced Investments
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Of the financial literacy programs offered through the courses at The Great Courses, Advanced Investments has the worst review. However, it is significant to note that some customers enjoyed the course. Its rating is 3.3/5, and 47% of customers would recommend it.
At the start of the course description for Advanced Investments, the language implies that it is for people who have some prior knowledge of investing and that it will teach “cutting-edge investment principles and practices.”
Reviewers that disliked the course found that the material was extremely technical and detailed. Even some people with academic backgrounds in finance and computer science struggled to follow along. Reviewers said that the course involves complex financial math statistics and theory and not enough real-world applications.
On the contrary, there were a few TheGreatCourses.com reviews that praised the course; these were written by people with strong financial backgrounds. Overall, it seems that people who did not expect the “advanced” nature of the course were unpleasantly surprised whereas those who did found it to be extremely valuable.
In order to pacify unhappy customers, The Great Courses offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on any unsatisfactory courses. The company even commented on negative reviews to remind them of the option. Therefore, even though multiple people did not like this course, the effort on behalf of The Great Courses to remedy the situation is commendable.
Money Management & Financial Literacy
If you are reading this The Great Courses review because you are interested in a personal financial management course, then one of the best options available is the Money Management & Financial Literacy set. The set combines two popular courses as a bundle, which allows you to save.
The course Money Management Skills is about creating financial security through learning from the most recent research about financial decision-making. The course is for everyday people (with little financial background) who want to develop their financial future. It will provide you with knowledge of how to manage your finances as well as alert you to potential pitfalls.
Money Management Skills is rated 4.5/5 stars, and TheGreatCourses.com reviews highlight the fact that the engaging information is presented in a professional yet easy-to-understand way. As a beginner’s guide, it may be especially useful for developing financial literacy for college students and recent graduates.
While the first course delivers broad knowledge about finance, economics, and psychology, the second delves deeper into the macroeconomic world of financial markets and provides a foundation for investing.
Financial Literacy: Finding Your Way in the Financial Markets has a rating of 4.2/5 stars. Some reviewers critique the professor’s emphasis on certain topics and the fact that the audio version was lacking. However, many reviewers believed that the course was an excellent introduction for people who have little financial experience.
By purchasing both of these courses together, you should be able to acquire a thorough introduction to finance and your role within the market. The bundle allows you to get both courses for a discount, and, at the time of this article, the set is on sale.
The audio download is $53.90 (reduced from $219.90 – a savings of about 75%!). However, since multiple reviewers commented on the importance of the visual aids, we recommend that you purchase the video download ($88.90) or the DVD ($102.90).
Are the Financial Literacy Programs at The Great Courses Right for Me?
Out of all of the online learning resources available, The Great Courses is one of the oldest and most reputable. Its large selection and 100% Satisfaction Guarantee ensure that you will either enjoy your experience with it or get your money back.
In order to balance The Great Courses review, we should mention that there are a few reasons why someone might not want to take a course there. The courses do not come with any strict structure for evaluation, such as tests, quizzes or homework. Some learners may prefer to have those as motivators. On the other hand, the relaxed structure of the courses means that you can complete them at your own pace.
The price of some courses may also deter customers. While the courses are not extremely expensive and many are on sale, there are other online resources with free or more inexpensive options. However, the author of The Great Courses Review on PCMag.com comments that The Great Courses products tend to be more professional, engaging, and consistent than many free massive open online courses (MOOCs).
The courses range from introductory to expert, and the positive Great Courses reviews suggest that many people have found these courses to be worthwhile. If you are looking to expand your financial literacy or to take a personal financial management course, then exploring the course options available at The Great Courses is a great way to begin.
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