We just don't have the time to visit colleges this fall. Do you know of any creative way our son, who will be a senior in high school next year, could learn about what college courses are like? -- Curious


Your son would really get the feel of how college courses are taught if he could sit in on a few classes. Is there a college close to where you live where it would be possible for him to visit and experience a few classes this summer? At his own high school, he also could get an idea of what college courses are like next year by taking an AP class.

There are many opportunities online for your son to see what college classes are like. One choice is Coursera (coursera.org), which offers more than 900 courses in partnership with top universities worldwide. All these courses are free. Many will be given this summer and will only last from four to six weeks. Whether he elects to take a college-level class at Coursera or some other website, he should make sure he is taking a freshman-level class.

At Coursera, he might look for courses on succeeding in college or effective writing skills. The University of Kentucky has given one called "How to Succeed in College." It was only five weeks long and required 1 to 3 hours of work each week. Another five-week course given in the past by Mt. San Jacinto College is "Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade." It required 4 to 5 hours of work each week. Many similar courses will be available.