How to Find a Good Online College

Online college courses are the way many students today, and many more in the future, will be getting higher education, job training, and even post-graduate degrees. For those who are considering classes to complete a degree, or for some students just starting out, a good online college may be a wise decision.

There are reasons why some people decide to learn online. They may be beyond the traditional college age and feel more comfortable in the online setting, they may be physically challenged, there may be small children and a full-time job to consider, the driving distance to a college campus may be a factor, or the cost of going to a traditional college may make it impractical to attend school on a physical campus. No matter what the reason, online colleges are a good and popular alternative to traditional college campuses.

Since you want to get a good education and a good school is important for advancement in the future, it is important to choose a college or university carefully. Some research on the Internet can provide lists of schools that offer the education needed, and the research is fairly easy.

You can pull up a list of “Top 10 Online Colleges” or universities to find the most highly regarded schools of this type. These lists will include the most reputable of all the online colleges. You can go beyond this list to find lesser-known schools that still offer quality education, perhaps at a lower cost. Although the cost is important, this choice will depend on factors beyond the cost of your education.

You first need to have a goal. With this goal in mind, you can develop a plan for your education. The goal should be what you want to do with your education once you have your degree. The plan will be the courses you will need to make the goal a reality, and the college or university that will provide your education.

When you do your Internet search, you will type your goal into your search window. For example, “online degree in teaching.” A list of schools will come up that offer such degrees through online classes. The colleges listed will be a mix of online only colleges and traditional campuses that offer online classes as well as traditional classes. They will be located all over the United States and abroad. You will compare the schools by reading about each one and learning as much as you can from the information provided. Some you will like, and some will obviously not be for you. Some will not offer what you’re looking for.

During this search, probably near the very beginning, you fill in a form with your name, address, phone number, education level already achieved, your study interests, and various other bits of information. In a very short time, you will start receiving phone calls from each of the schools that will be trying to recruit you.

If you have already found a school online that interests you, you may only be interested in speaking with representatives from that school, but it pays to speak with each school that contacts you so you have all the information necessary to make a wise decision. Be sure to keep track of each school’s information. Take notes to refer to when you are pondering your choices.

Listen carefully to how classes are set up, what platform is used (method of teaching,) how long it will take you to complete your studies, if can you double up on classes, cost per credit, additional fees, whether any prior credits will transfer to the school, whether credits earned there will transfer easily to other schools, what they say about their accreditation, when you would start classes, and any other information they provide.

Ask questions – this is very important. Ask a campus college about its sports teams; this may sound silly, but it is an indicator of the legitimacy of a college that claims to be a long-standing traditional campus college. If it really is, it will have sports teams.

Many colleges and universities have sprung up on the Internet in the past decade which are solely for the purpose of online learning, and have no physical campuses. Some are very good as online-only schools.

Other schools have long and honorable reputations as traditional campus colleges or universities which are now offering online classes for people who prefer online learning.

Example: Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa. This regionally accredited school will appear in most lists of online schools, and has a long, stable reputation as a campus university established in 1918. Originally named Mount St. Clare College, it was then changed to Franciscan University, and is now Ashford University. Campus activities continue with a diverse student population, but students attend online from all over the world. Online degrees are obtained through Ashford’s “College of External Studies” and classes are accelerated, fast-paced, well taught by excellent professors, and challenging.

Still other schools allow students to mix online and classroom studies, and this may be the best of both worlds for some who want the experiences offered by each method of learning.

Find out about financing your education… what options are available to you? You may wish to choose your school according to cost and what you will owe when you’re finished with your classes or degree. With most of the online colleges, you will have the same financing options you would have with other schools, in the form of scholarships, grants, and different types of loans. You will be filling out applications for these and furnishing supporting documents. Unless you are paying as you go, you will have binding financial obligations when you are finished, so study the financial implications carefully.

Choose the online school that seems to be a good fit for you and your educational goals and plans. Don’t neglect traditional campus schools in case the one you really want to attend has just started offering online classes in your chosen field. Online colleges and universities frequently add to the courses and degrees they offer. Many have added Master’s and even Doctorate degrees to their offerings. You may be fortunate enough to find an online school that suits your needs early in your search.