Online Colleges and Degrees

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The rise of accredited Online Colleges has done more than change how students learn. It has also changed when and where they learn. If you’re a busy person and want to earn a degree, we can help you find an online school. Get matched for FREE with our online college finder! Just tell us which programs you’re interested in. We’ll do the rest! 

Is there a career goal you want to reach? An online degree may be the solution. Many online students work full time and have needs other students may not have. If this sounds like you, an online degree program could help you balance school, work and family. Take a look at these benefits to an online college.

5 ONLINE COLLEGE BENEFITS 

Online colleges depiction

Online colleges may offer several benefits for both undergrad and grad students.

  1. Cost of Online Colleges 
  2. Online Classes Are Flexible
  3. Access to Online Colleges
  4. Rolling and Open Admissions
  5. Resources
 

1. COST OF ONLINE COLLEGES

It may be more affordable to attend college online. A school with low tuition may offer great value for your money. Tuition and fees are different at each school. But there are some common savings. For example, you save money on travel fees and even study materials. Many online colleges use ebooks and other digital tools. Some schools also loan students a laptop or tablet for the program.

Cheapest Online Colleges and Universities

The NCES tells us that the following list of online colleges offer the cheapest tuition.

 BACHELORS TUITION# of Students
Taft University$3,292751
Aspen University$4,2304,973
Shiloh University$4,51053
Columbia Southern University$5,41520,818
City Vision University$5,600113
Western Governors University$5,78098,627
Huntington College of Health Sciences$6,155166
Midwives College of Utah$6,400247
Grantham University$6,5409,303
American Public University System$6,88046,420

2. ONLINE COLLEGES ARE FLEXIBLE

When students study on campus, they come to class at a specific time. But many online schools let students choose when they want to complete their course work. If you need a flexible schedule, then online college may be an attractive option for you. Here are the are two types of formats for online learning.

  1. Synchronous: This is also called real time learning. You and your teacher are present at the same time. This often includes live discussions, group projects and lectures.
  2. Asynchronous: This is also called self paced learning. You log in to an online learning platform. It is usually available at any time. Think of it as a virtual classroom.  The readings and assignments are there whenever you’re ready.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning

 Real TimeSelf Paced
When do classes take place?At a set timeWhenever you want
Tools & methods used
  • Web conference to present and share information
  • IMing for quick, real time chats
  • Video conference to have in person meetings as if in class
  • Phone conference for student – teacher discussions
  • Online whiteboard to share ideas and for team projects
  • Emails to connect with classmates and teachers
  • Class material delivered via streaming audio and video
  • Discussion boards for class discussion 
  • Wikis for collaborative editing
  • Play, pause and stop buttons
May suit a student who has these traits
  • Likes collaborating
  • Wants to enhance communication skills
  • Enjoys peer interaction
  • Prefers to see and hear a professor
  • Prefers scheduled learning pace
  • Disciplined
  • Goal and task oriented
  • Wants the ability to pause, rewind or fast forward course content
  • Has time management skills
  • An independent learner
  • Needs a flexible schedule

If you play to your strengths, you may complete your degree on time. An adviser from the online school you want to attend may be able to help you with this choice.

3. ACCESS TO ONLINE COLLEGES

You can save time by enrolling in an online college. Instead of having to travel to school, you simply jump on the Internet. You don’t need to put a career on hold. You don’t have to struggle with trying to balance education with work and family duties. Research shows that a whopping 92% of online students enroll in an online college for career related reasons. The same study shows that close to 80% of online students live within 100 miles of a campus where they are enrolled. This means you may be able to attend your local college online.

The list of online programs available today makes it easier for working adults to earn a degree. These are the top 5 online fields of study according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

  1. Business 
  2. Information Science
  3. Social / Behavioral Sciences
  4. Health
  5. Education

According to the NCES, 5.2% of online undergrad students have not declared a major! So, if you’re not sure what to study, you could choose to enroll in a general Liberal Arts program.

4. ROLLING AND OPEN ADMISSIONS

At an online school with rolling admissions, you don’t have to start in the fall or spring. Some online colleges offer new start dates every month, or every other month. You may prefer this type of college if your schedule doesn’t line up with a normal school year.

Open admissions are different from rolling admissions. A school with an open policy would not ask you to provide test scores or recommendation letters as part of the application process. More often than not, these schools accept all students.

ROLLING ADMISSIONS

5.RESOURCES

An established college will usually provide the same services to campus and online students. But just because there is no school building does not mean there are no resources for online students. Many accredited online colleges offer support services. Do your research ahead of time. That way, you can find out what those resources are, and how to use them. Here are some resources to ask about.

  • Orientation for online students
  • Web based learning systems (for example, Blackboard)
  • Tech support for online students
  • Inter library loan system
  • Online libraries and digital textbooks
  • Online student advising
  • Tutoring 

ARE ONLINE COLLEGES RESPECTED?

Yes. Many more colleges now offer online degree programs. But beware: There are still diploma mills out there. A diploma mill does not care about student outcomes. That’s why you need to be careful about selecting where you pursue your degree. You should rank programs based on these factors.

  • Accreditation
  • Support services offered
  • Stats such as retention and graduation rates

When comparing online colleges, take time to talk to people from each school. Learn about the careers that recent graduates have pursued. It’s always good to find out that actual online students are happy!

  • About 60% of undergrad students report being completely satisfied with their investment of time and money
  • 70% of grad students report the same
  • Almost 90% of online students report that online study was equal to or better than classroom study

Reputable & Accreditation

How do you find out about an online college’s reputation? Find out the school’s main accreditation. The best online colleges are accredited by outside agencies. These agencies make sure that schools meet accepted standards of education. The chart below shows what accreditation you should look when deciding on a school to attend.

There are two types of accreditation, regional and national. It’s important to remember that regionally accredited online colleges usually don’t accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools.

Regional vs National College Accreditation

 RegionalNational
Focus AcademicsTypically offers vocational, career or technical programs
Who Belongs?Both nonprofit and for profit colleges hold regional accreditationTypically for profit schools
Recognized by the Department of Ed?YesYes
Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)?YesYes
Agencies
  • MSCHE: Middle States Commission of Higher Education  
  • NWCCU: Northwest Commission of Schools & Colleges 
  • HLC: Higher Learning Commission
  • NEASC: New England Association of Schools & Colleges
  • SACS: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools
  • WASC: Western Association of Schools & Colleges 
  • ACCJC: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges 
  • ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges 
  • ACCET: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training 
  • ACICS: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education
  • Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools
  • COE: Council on Occupational Education 
  • DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission 
  • Association of Institutions of Jewish Studies
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools

What is Program Accreditation?

Just like regional accreditation, program accreditation is awarded by an outside agency. These agencies set academic standards for specific professions. Nursing, accounting and psychology are some areas where program accreditation may be important.

A program accreditation is not a replacement for regional or national accreditation. It is an addition. Basically, the main accreditation evaluates the entire school. A professional accreditation evaluates a certain program at the school.

DO ONLINE COLLEGES ACCEPT ANYONE?

Yes, some online colleges accept anyone who applies. There are also some online colleges that have very high acceptance rates. But keep this in mind: Every online college has its own admission standards.

A high acceptance rate is not always an sign of quality. In an online setting, there is no physical classroom. So this may allow some schools to offer unlimited attendance.

It is important to research a school’s online college admission process. An online program may allow more students to pursue a degree. For example, many schools ask for SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendations or specific GPAs. But there are other online schools that waive requirements such as a GPA.

© Education Connection 2020. All Rights Reserved.

EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.

Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.