What you should know about the best Online Colleges
With the use of technology becoming so commonplace everywhere today, distance learning has also become a popular and convenient means for students to get a quality education. It can be difficult to juggle so many responsibilities in life, from full-time work, to kids and family. All of these responsibilities can be a hindrance to those who want to pursue their education further and open themselves up to better job opportunities. However, being able to virtually attend class in your PJ’s and work from home sounds a lot more doable, right? If this sounds totally up your alley already, you have come to the right place.
How does online education work? It’s quite simple, actually. Basically, students enroll at a college that offers online programs in their desired major. Many colleges these days recognize the demand for distance learning, so they have integrated it into many subjects offered on campus. Online learners take the same courses as students in the traditional classroom take, except online. Students will have an online portal where they can log in at any time of the day to complete assignments, engage in classroom discussions, ask teachers questions, chat with other students, and more. Exams are usually open-book, but are designed in a way where students still need to have a good grasp of the subject in order to succeed.
Those who choose to study really hands-on subjects like fire science or biology may be required to complete laboratory hours in addition to their normal online coursework. In such cases, most schools will require that students meet on-site a few times during the quarters to complete experiments and hands-on projects. These assignments are designed to test students on their ability to apply what they have learned from the books, and to give them a glimpse of what they can expect at work should they pick a career in what they study.
If you have reliable Internet at home and a busy life, then looking into online education would be a great choice. Students who choose to study online should ideally be independent learners, as it can be a little more difficult getting help from a professor one-on-one. It is definitely possible for students to set up appointments with professors to meet on campus at a designated time, but it’s easier if they are able to work well on their own for the most part. There are also plenty of online tutoring services that many schools will offer, so it’s important to check with your college and see where you can utilize that resource.
Getting a degree online is also a wonderful choice for those who don’t quite know what they want to do with their life in the long run, career wise. Since students do not have to commit a ton of time to commute and sit in class for large chunks of time, they can study when they do have the time and explore different topics before deciding on one. There are also plenty of general education subjects for students to take online.
List of the Best Online Colleges
If you study best independently from the comfort of your own home, online education may be right for you. Explore the many options of online colleges using our easy-to-use search tool below.
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Defining Online Colleges
Many community colleges and 4-year universities offer online degree programs for students who are looking to earn a degree on a flexible, convenient schedule. Studying online means that an individual can virtually work from anywhere with a reliable Internet connection and complete projects and assignments on time. Online school is a great option for those who work best on their own pace, in their own place, rather than be confined to the traditional classroom setting.
Is Online Schooling for You?
Before committing to an online college, here are some things to consider to make sure you’re making the best choice.
- Do you have your own laptop or computer to work on?
- Do you have reliable Internet connection at home or wherever you plan on studying?
- Can you work with little to no direction?
- How are your time management skills?
- Do you already have a high school degree or a GED?
- Are you goal-oriented and motivated to succeed?
- Are you comfortable working in front of a computer for several hours a day?
Which Online College is the Best?
Every college is unique and has its pros and cons, so the best college for one person may not be the best for another. With this in mind, it is imperative for students to identify their short and long-term goals in order to make the best decision for themselves. Those who are looking to just take a class for personal enrichment or get a basic educational foundation, for example, may benefit from starting at a community college. Community colleges often offer more affordable classes. Those who want to take classes to eventually earn a 4-year degree may want to consider a 4-year university. The classes from a 4-year university are usually a bit more costly and competitive.
When choosing an online college, it is important to make sure that it is accredited. Accreditation ensures not only the legitimacy of your degree upon graduation to employers, but also that completed credits are easily transferrable to other colleges should you decide to continue your education. For example, those enrolled in an associate’s degree program online might want to eventually earn their bachelor’s degree elsewhere. If you enroll in an accredited college for your associate’s degree, then you will get the credits earned from that school and not have to retake classes when you transfer schools. Accredited institutions are also required to offer the same services to online students as they do to those in the traditional classroom. By making sure that your college is accredited, it saves a lot of time and hassle in the long run.
Did you know? Distance learners are also qualified for financial aid under certain conditions. See if you qualify by applying for it. Simply fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online before the deadline of each academic year. It is a fairly quick and easy process, and totally worth it if you are able to cut down on tuition costs!
In addition to financial aid, students can also look into grants and scholarships that they may qualify for. Many of these will require a short essay or certain requirements like a minimum GPA or SAT score, for example. The award amounts will vary greatly depending on the supplier of the grant/scholarship and possibly what you have to do to be considered.
Many students also opt for online learning because it is more affordable than traditional learning in some cases. This is definitely true to an extent because students who study online often will be given digital textbook material, allowing them to cut down on textbook costs that can really add up. Additionally, students can skip the commute and parking related fees.
While online learning may sound a lot easier, don’t be mistaken. Yes, it sounds amazing to be able to work from anywhere in the world that best fits your lifestyle, and be able to “attend” classes whenever you want. However, it is important to keep in mind that online students need a lot of self-discipline, organization, and scheduling skills to succeed. It can become easy to miss deadlines if you do not have reminders for yourself and a set schedule to complete work on time. Exams loom up quickly before you know it, and you may not necessarily get any reminders from your peers or professors. Students who choose this path must be dedicated to success just like those in a traditional classroom, and take responsibility for their own education.
Those who learn best with hands-on teaching may want to look into online programs that offer such an element. Fire science, biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics are just some of many that may offer laboratory time for students to apply what they have learned and conduct experiments with their peers.