10 Genius Online Courses You Can Sign Up For in July 2019

Brian Kersey, Getty Images
Brian Kersey, Getty Images

For students, summer can mean a welcome break from formal education. But some dedicated knowledge junkies will still be hungry for more information. Fortunately, online education providers like edX, Udemy, and Coursera offer a wide array of e-classes that can keep your brain busy all season long. Here are 10 of the most interesting online courses you can sign up for starting in July.

1. Foundations of Positive Psychology

Not all psychology revolves around unearthing repressed emotions and examining mental struggles. In this specialized course taught by Martin E.P. Seligman and presented by the University of Pennsylvania, students will have an opportunity to explore how positive psychology can enrich and improve both your personal and professional life. It would be an excellent follow-up for those who loved Yale's wildly popular online happiness course.

Sign up on Coursera and enjoy a seven-day free trial. Access to the specialization course is $79 per month. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

2. American Sign Language Level 1

Many people learn a second language to better communicate and relate to others, but don't forget that not all languages are spoken. This novice guide to American Sign Language covers all the basics, including letters, numbers, expressing feelings, colors, and more. By the end of the course, students will be able to communicate an entire short story using only their hands.

Sign up on Udemy for $13. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

3. Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work

Professional stress got you down? Learn a number of proven strategies to cope with work obstacles in this course provided by the University of California, Berkeley, including the practice of mindfulness, or experiencing life on a moment-by-moment basis. You’ll find yourself more relaxed, more productive, and far more equipped to handle Mondays. (And if you like it, we also recommend UC Berkeley's Science of Happiness at Work edX professional certificate.)

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $149.

4. Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology

For more than 50 years, Star Trek has proven to have cultural influence far beyond its small-screen beginnings. Explore how Gene Roddenberry’s science-fiction saga has inspired real science and acted as a powerful metaphor for contemporary political issues by celebrating diversity.

Beam up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $40.

5. Work Smarter, Not Harder

If you struggle to check off all of your professional obligations, consider a lesson in productivity with this tutorial on time management, goal planning, and the act of minimizing things than slow you down. University of California, Irvine instructor Margaret Meloni will help you learn and apply smart work habits that will last a lifetime.

Sign up on Coursera and enjoy a seven-day free trial. Access to the specialization course is $39 a month. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

6. Psychology of Popularity

Does being well-liked translate into personal and professional success? This course taught by Mitch Prinstein, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the book Popular, will explore how popularity can affect your adult life, what it means to be popular, and how you can adopt (or avoid) certain traits that can influence your likeability.

Sign up on Coursera for free and get access to all materials except graded items. The optional certificate costs $49.

7. Songwriting: Writing the Lyrics

Musically-inclined? Learn the tips and techniques that can help you compose a winning piece of music by understanding what makes for successful lyrics with this class offered by Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music. Methods for rhyming, line lengths, and other nuances are all covered.

Sign up on Coursera for free and get access to all materials except graded items. The optional certificate costs $49.

8. Learning How to Learn

While it might sound redundant, taking the right approach to learning requires a little bit of learning. This guide will teach you how the brain absorbs and retains information, memory tricks to help you store valuable knowledge, and tips for understanding even the most complicated subjects.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

9. Fundamentals of Graphic Design

Learn how graphic designers influence the world around us with this comprehensive course offered by the California Institute of the Arts for people looking to develop their own visual skill set. You’ll become proficient in font types, colors, visual patterns, and other compositions that can turn good graphic design into iconic work.

Sign up on Coursera for a seven-day free trial. Access to the specialization course is $49 a month. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

10. The Ultimate Drawing Course

Admire artists but have trouble drawing a straight line? Brush up on your illustration skills with this primer on the building blocks of art, from recognizing and drawing geometrical shapes to understanding shading and perspective. Don’t forget a paper and pencil.

Sign up on Udemy for $13. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

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The Hidden Meanings Behind 11 Common Tombstone Symbols

Tombstone symbols can sometimes be hard to interpret.
Tombstone symbols can sometimes be hard to interpret.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Walk through any cemetery in the world and you’ll find a solemn landscape that honors loved ones that have passed on. Accompanying the inscriptions of names, dates, and family crests are some common symbols that crop up repeatedly on tombstones. If you’ve ever wondered what they could mean, take a look at some of the explanations behind the graveyard graphics.

1. Eye

The eyes have it.Valerie Everett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you feel someone may be looking at you in the cemetery, you might be near a tombstone engraved with an eye. Often surrounded in a burst of sunlight or a triangle, an eye typically represents the all-seeing eye of God and could denote that the decedent was a Freemason.

2. Clasped Hands

Hands on a tombstone can mean several things.Christina Ramey, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Seeing two hands clasped together can illustrate shaking hands or holding hands, depending on the position of the thumbs. A handshake can mean a greeting to eternal life. If clasped hands have different cuffs, it could indicate a bond between the deceased and a spouse or relative. If one hand is higher than the other, it could also mean that a person is being welcomed by a loved one or a higher power. The hand engraving grew into wide use during the Victorian era.

3. Dove

Doves appear in a variety of poses on tombstones.Tim Green, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A dove usually symbolizes peace and the Holy Spirit, but its specific meaning depends on how the bird is posed. If it’s flying upward, the soul is ascending to heaven. If it’s flying down, it represents the Holy Spirit arriving at the baptism of Jesus Christ. If it’s holding an olive branch in its mouth, it refers to an ancient Greek belief that olive branches could ward off evil spirits.

4. Broken Chain

Chains on tombstones can be linked or broken.Carl Wycoff, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Medieval wisdom once held that a golden chain kept the soul in the body. In death, the chain is broken and the soul is freed. If the chain is unbroken and if it features the letters FLT (for Friendship, Love, and Truth), it probably means the deceased belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization that seeks to promote charitable causes and offer aid.

5. Book

The meaning of a book on a tombstone isn't always easy to read.Carl Wycoff, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Was the deceased an avid reader? Maybe, but not necessarily. An open book on a tombstone might refer to a sacred text like the Bible, the “book of life,” or the person’s willingness to learn. If you see a dog-earned corner on the right side, it could indicate the person’s life ended prematurely and before their “book” was finished.

6. Finger Pointing Up

An index finger pointing up can direct visitors to look up.Christina Ramey, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A hand with the index finger raised skyward is one of the more ambiguous symbols found in graveyards. It might be pointing to heaven, or indicate the fact that the decedent has risen from the land of the living.

7. Corn

Ears of corn could mean the deceased was a farmer.mike krzeszak, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A corn stalk on a tombstone means the deceased could have been a farmer; it used to be a custom to send corn instead of floral arrangements to a farmer’s family. It might represent other kinds of grain. Alternately, corn seeds can symbolize rebirth.

8. Scroll

Scrolls on a tombstone can refer to an unknown future.Kelly Teague, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A scroll engraved on a tombstone with both ends rolled up can indicate that part of life has already unfolded while the future is hidden.

9. Lamp

Lamps can mean a love of knowledge.Sean, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

A lamp on a tombstone could speak to a love of learning or knowledge, or it might refer to how the spirit is immortal.

10. Camel

Camels aren't something you'd expect to see on a tombstone.Glen, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

While this particular camel signifies the Imperial Camel Corps that occupied desert regions during World War I, a camel can also represent a long journey or a skilled guide—in this case, for the afterlife.

11. Hourglass

An hourglass can be a message to the living.justiny8s, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

As you may have guessed, the hourglass symbolizes the march of time. An hourglass on its end may mean the deceased died suddenly, while a winged hourglass communicates how quickly time flies. It may also be construed as a message to the living—time is short, so don’t waste it.