Online Colleges: Now More Than Ever
Online schooling is becoming more popular by the day, spurred by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The upcoming fall semester will pale in comparison to the fall semester of 2019 for most college students as the learning environment has changed drastically.
With reduced class sizes, less frequent lectures and the need to travel away from home to attend campus, many students are expected to instead enroll in online studies; many see no point in uprooting their lives to get a second-rate college experience.
Students will also turn to online colleges to mitigate costs as the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased financial strain on the majority of people.
Online colleges eliminate many of the costs traditionally associated with an in-person college education, including housing, meal plans and other miscellaneous fees that come along with having access to the physical institution, such as travel costs.
Online College Benefits
Besides being cost-efficient, there are many non-financial benefits associated with getting your degree online. The most obvious examples are freedom and flexibility. There are a plethora of ways in which online learning increases your freedom, whether it be through schedule flexibility or a larger amount of class selection.
Online learning allows you to choose your own hours and schedule your studies around your other responsibilities. In addition, being able to study from anywhere means you can attend any college without the need to move cities in order to receive the best education in your chosen field.
Some other notable benefits are broader networking opportunities, testing flexibility and the ability to pursue a career and your degree at the same time.
While it may seem to be paradoxical at first, an online degree really does give you access to better networking opportunities because your classmates and instructors may be spread across the country or even the globe.
Online learning also offers benefits to those who need testing accommodation, as it is easier to curate assessments to the individual student. This means students with learning or testing disabilities can choose learning and exam methods that are a perfect fit, something in-person classes are woefully underprepared for in most cases.
Online education also gives you the unique ability to pursue a career at the same time as getting a degree, greatly offsetting the cost of college education and making online learning a great fit for working professionals.
Should I Earn My College Degree Online?
If you are already enrolled in college, now might be the best time to switch to online learning. Due to COVID-19, the majority of schools are not completely returning to normal until fall 2021.
With this in mind, consider the tuition costs you could save by pursuing two semesters of your degree through online learning. You could then put these savings toward the latter part of your studies once the situation has returned to normal.
As long as you attend an accredited online college, you should be able to transfer your credits from online learning back toward your degree at your chosen institution.
For some, these benefits are not enough to convince them to pursue online studies as nagging concerns remain. Let’s now address some of these common concerns.
Online College Learning Concerns
Considering online learning is a relatively new phenomenon, many people have concerns about available resources, the quality of education they will receive and if their money will be well spent.
Quality of Online College Education
Many people have questions regarding the quality of education received at an online institution. It may therefore surprise you to learn that some studies suggest online learning is a more successful method of instruction than traditional schooling.
A 2009 study conducted by the Department of Education found that students taking classes online were outperforming their peers. Additionally, almost all accredited online colleges use the same staff as their in-person courses. This means you are receiving the same quality of education online, from the same instructors, as you would in person.
Online College Student Resources
Almost all accredited universities give their online students access to the same student resources as their in-person counterparts. This includes career counselling and academic advisors, two of the most crucial services schools offer to their students.
Video conferencing software now allows you to speak face-to-face with your advisors about your classes and career trajectory. However, you will have to schedule your meetings within the working hours of your online institution, which can be an issue if you live in a different time zone.
Online College Costs
Possibly the most frequently asked question about online college is related to its cost when compared to in-person programs. While this will vary between institutions, online classes usually cost less per credit than their in-person counterparts. The cost also continues to go down as you factor out other university fees and external costs, such as book fees, meal plans or your commute.
With all this considered, it’s now time to look at a few of the top online colleges in the United States.
Top Online Colleges in the US
With the benefits of online learning established, let’s take a look at some of the most respected online colleges in the United States.
University of Florida Online
One of the most accredited and well-known online universities is the University of Florida Online. This institution offers the same degrees online that it offers to their in-person students, with 25 different majors to choose from.
The majors offered range from microbiology to sports management, giving students a great degree of choice when it comes to the path they want to pursue in their academic career.
This institution is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is one of the seven most widely accepted accreditation bodies in the United States.
Peirce College Online
The Peirce College online curriculum is also one of the most well-known online colleges in the United States, priding itself on its longstanding online curriculum as well as its cost-effectiveness.
While online classes at this college are not cheaper per credit than in-person classes, they have not raised tuition rates since 2017 and have many ways individuals can earn credits outside the classroom.
Previous work experience can also be applied toward your degree and counted as credit. Those who served in the military enjoy the benefits of special support teams and financial aid opportunities. The Peirce College online curriculum is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Ohio State Online
While Ohio State University might be well-known for its campus culture and football team, they also offer a phenomenal online degree. This school’s online degree program is more focused on medicine and health science, giving it a more tailored approach for those interested in biology careers.
This focus allows their online program to hone in on creating the best possible experience for their biology and health science students. Many other colleges follow the same path as Ohio State, tailoring their online degrees to a specific group of students. If you are not a biology student, you should research other institutions that offer similar levels of specialization.
The Ohio State online curriculum is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
While online learning may not be for everyone, you should at least consider the benefits of transitioning to an online learning environment. While some people may excel in an in-person learning environment, online learning offers a greater degree of flexibility that towers over brick and mortar learning institutions.
Online learning may lack the physicality of in-person learning, but it makes up for this in its ability to give you greater control over the trajectory of your education and life. Additionally, if you decide that online learning is not the fit for you, you can always transfer your credits to an in-person university as long as your credits are from an accredited institution.
Before enrolling at an online college, make sure you double-check the institution you are paying is accredited by a reputable organization so you are not stuck attending a university you cannot transfer credits from.