WHY CHOOSE AN ONLINE DEGREE?

Global Online Offerings

Did you know? About 95% of schools with student populations of 5,000 or more have online course offerings.

Distance Courses

More than 25% of students at Title IV institutions are taking at least one distance education course. Nearly half of these students take all their courses online.

Distance Enrollment Growth

Fully online four-year schools are growing. In 2013 enrollment grew by 7.2% at public four-year online colleges. Enrollment shot up 12.7% at private, not-for-profit four-year online colleges.

Flexibility

FLEXIBILITY

Earn your degree at the pace that works best. With many higher education programs online, you have the flexibility to slow down or accelerate. For example, an associate degree program offline usually takes two years to complete... but fully online you could finish in one year, two years or three. Class time is another kind of flexibility. For the most freedom, choose a university or community college that lets you virtually attend at any time. The online courses they offer are called ”asynchronous,” which means that you and the professor don’t need to be present at the same time. Sometimes you’ll need to attend class online at a specific time for group work or testing, but web-based learning can be friendly to your schedule overall.

Easy Access

AFFORDABILITY

Pursuing a college education can be pricey, but online education opportunities can cut costs. The biggest savings is room and board. Besides that, many online classes use 100% online course materials, which lets students save hundreds of dollars on books every semester. Another area for savings is transportation: You won’t spend money on gas or public transport to get to school; you won’t pay for parking; and you won’t add wear and tear to your vehicle. Distance education can also help you save money on your wardrobe, childcare and meals. All these savings add up and can help prevent or lower student debt.

Affordability

VARIETY

Compared with local options, your online opportunities for higher education could be far superior. This is especially true for prospective students in isolated rural areas… but wherever you live, you can benefit from school reciprocity without leaving town. School reciprocity means that in certain US states besides your own, you can get in-state tuition and other discounts at select public community colleges and four-year schools. With access to special rates in more than one state system, you have a fantastic variety of classes and degree programs to choose from... Study anything from accounting to zoology with help from state-to-state agreements.

HOW DOES DISTANCE LEARNING WORK & WHO IS BEST SUITED FOR SUCCESS?

Before deciding on a specific online program or college, delve a bit deeper into how distance learning works and how to succeed.

HOW IT WORKS

Have you chosen a college major? For online bachelor and associate degree programs, you can start with or without a declared major. It’s OK to have “undeclared” status — and it might comfort you to know that many “declared” students change their majors by year two.

In most college programs you can spend at least the first semester fulfilling general education requirements. Your credits will apply to whatever major degree program you ultimately choose. But as you take general education classes, ideally you’ll get more insight about your interests, talents and career goals.

College Savings Tips: You can save money on your general college credits in different ways.

  • Test out of an online course requirement. For example, it’s typical for a bachelor degree program to require foreign language credits. If you’re already bilingual, you can show your knowledge on a test. Earn college credits without taking college classes. Other examples are testing out of algebra, introductory statistics and English composition. Save big money! Just a couple strategies are taking AP classes in highschool and taking CLEP tests.
  • Save money on college credits by studying at community college. That is, for a bachelor degree program, earn your general course requirements from a community college, where credits cost less. Then transfer your credits and finish off your four-year degree at a university.

At the best online colleges, each student is assigned to a guidance counselor who helps with course selection. Also, for most online education programs you’ll take an orientation class. This will teach you how to upload files, take tests online, chat with classmates online, use the school library from a distance, and so on.

Before a class starts, you’ll get an email about how to get started. You may be given log-in credentials for the online portal where video lectures, class discussions, digital learning materials, exams, and assignment submission take place.

Most lectures take the form of pre-recorded videos, so students can access them at their convenience and revisit material before an exam. Many portals these days also have a chat function, allowing students to communicate easily with their professors about any of the course material covered. The online portal is also often equipped with a discussion board. Students might be required to address a topic every week or couple days to earn “participation” points toward their grade. Classroom assignments are usually submitted via email to the professor or uploaded into a folder on the classroom portal.
Exams are often open-book in online learning. Still, that doesn’t mean they’ll be simple. At a good online college you’ll be expected to think critically on tests and show true learning; you can’t just flip through books and notes to find an answer. For success it’s it’s crucial for students to stay on top of readings, lectures, and assignments — just like they would be in a traditional classroom setting.

Online schools also have proctored exams. You might have a webcam set up to help ensure during a test — or you might need to attend a testing location in person. The best online university security systems check your ID before a test online or in person, and they have other safeguards to thwart cheaters.

HOW TO SUCCEED

Unlike in the traditional classroom setting, online learners do not have the luxury of handholding at all from professors or peers. With that said, here are some tips on how to succeed and maximize your resources during your college years:

Don't procrastinate

Don't procrastinate

It’s easy to get distracted and derailed from your studies, but procrastination will lead to serious stress as due dates and exams draw near. Even though online classes allow the flexibility to work at your own pace, it is up to you to make sure that pace isn’t stressful.

Give yourself enough time

Give yourself enough time

In addition to not procrastinating on school work, you should also give yourself enough time to really use your resources, ask questions, and study for upcoming tests with time to spare. When you are able to block off ample time, you won't find yourself stressing out needlessly before a test.

Always stay motivated

Always stay motivated

Motivation is of course tied to success. It’s easier to stay motivated when you’re interested in the course material and your career possibilities. You can also maximize engagement by choosing a school that uses cutting-edge technology. Colleges use different online learning platforms, and you can usually sample an online course before applying to a school.

Use a planner

Use a planner

Most online students are busy people. Jobs, family, and community compete with schoolwork for their time. Having a digital planner and physically writing tasks down can help ensure all-around success.

Zero out distractions

Zero out distractions

Once you've blocked off time for your school work, it's important to follow your schedule and minimize distractions during that time block. Some suggestions include turning off the TV, working in a room with a closed door, and putting your phone on “silent” and away from your workstation.

Make sure you have reliable Internet

Make sure you have reliable Internet

You can virtually attend school from anywhere, whether it be from home or a coffee shop or military base -- but wherever you might be, uninterrupted Internet access is essential to success in most online degree programs.

Take advantage of online tutoring whenever you can

Take advantage of online tutoring whenever you can

Not every college offers free tutoring, but take advantage of this valuable perk if you can! Online tutoring lets students interact with experts in real time to better understand coursework materials.

Create an organized work space

Create an organized work space

Generally speaking, students thrive in clean, organized work spaces that are free of clutter. A calendar, large whiteboard and filing cabinet are good additions. We recommend color-coding your course materials too. For instance, use yellow notebooks for math courses and green notebooks for English.

Our Latest Research and Rankings

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