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"When I realized I could follow along with an MIT course... I thought, 'I can handle this!'"

OCW user Ali Sheikh.
Ali Sheikh, a second-year electrical engineering student, appreciates how comprehensive MIT OpenCourseWare content is.

When Ali Sheikh was studying for the AP Physics exam, his teacher directed him to MIT OpenCourseWare for additional help. "There are a lot of sites out there for taking classes online or studying. But OCW was comprehensive. Not just a couple of exercises, or one or two videos. It had all of those things and described the theory behind the concepts."

A confidence boost

That focus on the theory behind the concepts is a particularly important one to Sheikh, a second-year electrical engineering student at Penn State. "Courses like [Walter Lewin's] Electricity and Magnetism gave me a confidence boost. I always knew I wanted be in applied math or science in college. When I watched those videos and realized I could follow along with the content in an MIT course... I thought, 'I can handle this!'"

Now that he's in college, Sheikh's use of OCW has shifted into other areas than physics, to courses such as Gil Strang's Linear Algebra, and for help with electives like biology.

Sheikh believes students focus too much on grades and just getting through the next test. "People don't realize that when you understand the theory, those good grades will come naturally."

Logic and methodology

After he completes his degree, Sheikh's next stop is law school. That might seem a surprising choice after engineering school, but Sheikh says it makes perfect sense. "Engineering and law are all about logic. There's a methodology to each; they're philosophical. OCW helped me understand that in the first place."


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