Course Hero is an online learning platform providing access to study resources to educators and students. These resources include study guides, practice tests, flashcards, documents, and more. Course Hero has become very popular amongst students as it allows them to access a vast database of educational content to help them learn. However, full access to Course Hero comes with a paid subscription. This often leaves students wondering if there are any ways to use Course Hero for free.
This article will provide an overview of Course Hero, discuss its pricing and subscription plans, and explore multiple methods students can access Course Hero resources without paying. The legitimacy and ethics of these methods will also be analyzed. The key methods that will be covered are:
- Using the free trial
- Sharing logins and accounts
- Searching for free document previews
- Accessing uploads from educators
- Finding third-party websites with free unlocks
- Using promotional offers and scholarships
- Joining group plans and splits
- Using VPNs to view blocked content
An Overview of Course Hero
Course Hero was founded in 2006 by Andrew Grauer as a platform for students to access educational resources and study tools from other students and educators. The website contains over 40 million course-specific study resources, documents, questions, and answers. Subjects covered span the humanities, social sciences, science, engineering, business, mathematics, foreign languages and more.
Course Hero’s mission is to help students make every study hour count by providing access to the largest library of online study materials curated by top-tier institutions, professors, and students. The platform aims to have materials for all university courses across all disciplines.
The website is popular for the ability to search for specific study resources for a university module or course. For example, students struggling with econometrics can find lecture notes, practice exams, summaries, flashcards, and, more specifically, for their econometrics course. These materials are uploaded by other students who have taken the same course previously or by educators themselves.
Course Hero also offers tutor support, where users can ask questions and gain help from qualified tutors around the clock. Other helpful tools include document readers using AI, citation tools, math solvers, etc.
The company has confirmed over 10 million registered users. However, only a portion of registered users pay for premium subscriptions.
Course Hero Pricing and Subscription Options
Course Hero offers three levels of membership:
- Basic (Free)
- Premier ($9.99/month billed annually or $19.99 month-to-month)
- Premier Plus ($12.99/month billed annually or $24.99 month-to-month)
The free basic membership allows users to:
- Access over 40 million course-specific study resources
- View resources & previews for 3 free unlocks per day
- Search Course Hero’s Q&A Library
- Ask unlimited questions and receive support from the Course Hero community.
- Access citation and plagiarism-checking tools
With Premier, users get:
- Unlimited unlocks on all documents, flashcards and practice problems
- Access to Course Hero Tutors for unlimited 24/7 tutoring
- Additional expert Q&A responses
- Ad-free browsing
Premier Plus includes all the benefits of Premier, plus:
- Additional monthly unlocks
- Faster document and question turnaround times
- Priority Tutors access
A free membership allows very limited access, while full unrestricted access requires a paid subscription.
Ways to Use Course Hero for Free
Now, let’s explore methods students might use to gain full access to Course Hero without paying.
Method 1: Using the Free Trial
Course Hero offers new users a 30-day free trial of their Premier Plus membership. This allows full unrestricted access to all content for 30 days without being charged.
To utilize the free trial, students can:
- Go to the Course Hero website and register for a new account by providing your email and creating a password. Use a genuine email as confirmation will be sent.
- After registering, you should see a prompt offering the 30-day free Premier Plus trial membership. Click on “Start Free Trial”.
- Course Hero will ask for payment information but will not charge you until after 30 days. Enter a valid credit card or PayPal information.
- You now have full access for 30 days. Ensure to set a reminder to cancel before the 30 days are up. Otherwise, you will be auto-billed $24.99 for the first month of paid membership.
The free trial gives students one month of completely free access to Course Hero. You can avoid being charged if you remember to cancel your subscription within 30 days.
Method 2: Sharing Logins and Accounts
Since Course Hero has a limit on free unlocks for non-paid members, students sometimes share paid member accounts or login information.
For example, a student with Premier access may share their login credentials with a classmate, giving them full unlocks. Or multiple students may chip in to share the cost of a Premier membership, sharing one login between them.
However, this method is against Course Hero’s terms of service. Rules explicitly prohibit the sharing of accounts. If discovered, Course Hero may terminate the account. There are also risks associated with sharing login credentials.
Method 3: Searching for Free Document Previews
Within Course Hero, students can search for study resources by course, university, textbook, etc. When you click on a document, you are shown a small preview with a few pages visible. For some documents, enough pages are previewed so that they may contain all the information you need.
Students can search for and only use these select documents that provide previews with the information they need. However, this method would require spending time searching for and identifying documents with sufficient preview content.
The benefit is this allows access to select information without unlocks. However, truly comprehensive information on a course/topic would require full unlocks to all documents.
Method 4: Accessing Uploads from Educators
Some educators who use Course Hero upload resources they have created themselves, such as lecture notes, study guides, practice tests, etc. Students can sometimes access these educator uploads for free.
You can filter search results by selecting “Educator Content” or searching for a specific professor’s name. If an educator has allowed free access, you can view their documents without any unlocks.
The amount of truly useful content that can be accessed this way varies greatly. It requires an educator to actively upload and allow free access. So, it is not comprehensive but allows access to select materials uploaded by educators themselves.
Method 5: Finding Third Party Websites with Free Unlocks
Some third-party websites claim to provide Course Hero unlocks for free. Some examples are chlorineplus.com, techfilx.com, and givememore.info. They provide access to unlocked Course Hero documents by routing your requests through their own servers.
However, the legality and legitimacy of these third-party unlocking sites is questionable. They likely access student-paid accounts illegally to generate unlocks. There are also potential risks like viruses.
Method 6: Using Promotional Offers and Scholarships
Course Hero periodically offers promotions that reduce membership costs or offer free access to resources.
For example, they often offer discounted Premier subscriptions during back-to-school promotions. Occasionally, free study guides or test preps are provided for specific college courses.
Students can also email Course Hero’s support team to check for any available discounts or scholarships. These offers are not always advertised publicly. However, some users have reported receiving special access or offers this way.
Of course, discounts may still require payment, and free access would likely be limited. But it’s worth exploring for any potential savings or free content.
Method 7: Joining Group Plans and Splits
Course Hero now offers group membership plans for teams and organizations. With a group plan, a discounted Premier subscription is provided and shared across a group.
Students could explore creating or joining a group plan to split costs. For example, 10 students could pay $10 each annually and share a single $99 Premier plan. This reduces the cost for each individual student.
Group plans require a designated group administrator who manages membership and payments. There should be trust between members. Access can be monitored and revoked by the admin.
Method 8: Using VPNs to View Blocked Content
Course Hero blocks access to study resources for users when they detect you are accessing the site from certain countries where they don’t have the right to display the content.
Students can use VPN services to bypass country-based content blocking. By routing your traffic through another country’s server, you can trick Course Hero into enabling access to the blocked documents.
However, using VPNs violates Course Hero’s terms of service. If detected, they may ban the account. There are also legal risks since this exploits regional rights to illegally access content.
While the methods above can potentially grant free access, evaluating the ethics of utilizing such methods is important.
Sharing accounts, using third-party unlocking sites, and exploiting VPNs to bypass regional blocks all enable gaining access in ways not intended by Course Hero. Violating terms of service agreements for personal gain is ethically dubious.
The educational content on Course Hero is created through contributions from other students and educators who expect compensation when their work is accessed. Circumventing this is arguably unethical.
On the other hand, the high cost of education and the inherent value of knowledge make Course Hero’s paid subscription model exclusionary. Wider access to educational materials could be seen as an ethical good despite violations of legal or terms of service.
Instructors and institutions may have differing views as well. Some may consider the use of such methods akin to academic dishonesty. Others may view it as students taking the initiative to access helpful study aids.
There are good faith arguments on both sides of this issue. In practice, individual students must evaluate the methods in light of their own ethical principles before utilizing them. Moderation and discretion is likely the prudent approach.
The Efficacy of These Methods
It is worth noting that the effectiveness of these free access methods is variable and often limited.
The free trial provides full access for 30 days. But after that, only limited content can be unlocked each day without a paid subscription.
Shared logins work until discovered then accounts get banned. Document previews reveal only partial information. Educator uploads and third-party sites offer inconsistent resources.
Promotions and group plans lower costs but still require payment for full Premier access. VPN access could get barred if detected.
Often, the “free” access enabled through these methods is fleeting, inconsistent, or risky. A paid subscription is still necessary for comprehensive unlimited use of all Course Hero study resources.
Students should consider if inconsistent access to random content assortments will meet their learning needs or if investing in a subscription may be more prudent in the long run. The more flexibility, consistency, and breadth of knowledge desired, the less viable strictly free options become.
Course Hero grants students access to a massive database of study resources that can accelerate learning and improve grades. However, paying the subscription fee can be burdensome for some learners.
There are ways to gain free access, but each method has limitations. True unencumbered use of Course Hero’s platform realistically requires a paid membership. However, students struggling financially can explore some of these options first to unlock as much value as possible at no cost.
Students should know ethical concerns, long-term efficacy, and account risks when using these free methods. Moderation is wise, as is discussing the topic openly with educators to better understand their perspectives.
If affordable, students are often best served by purchasing an official membership. Having unlimited, unrestricted access removes the hassle of hunting for content piecemeal. However, some free options may provide an interim solution when finances are severely constrained.
Course Hero Website: https://www.coursehero.com/
Course Hero Membership Options: https://www.coursehero.com/membership/
Course Hero Terms of Service: https://www.coursehero.com/terms-of-use/
Analysis of Course Hero’s Free Trial: https://www.forbes.com/sites/anitatitlebaum/2020/04/27/this-website-will-do-your-homework-for-free/?sh=788785866580
Ethical Analysis of File Sharing Sites: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6227142/
Study on VPN Usage to Bypass Geoblocks: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0736585317303708
Efficacy of Study Tools for Improving Grades: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/87567555.2016.1222574
Subscription Costs and Exclusivity in Education: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.p20171065
Role of Study Aids and Cheating in Education: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780203788684-11/study-aids-cheating-higher-education-randall-s-davies-jeremy-d-england