It seems like in the last ten years or so on-line colleges have starting popping up all over the place. Everywhere you look there are advertisements for either a brick and mortar college that is offering on-line classes or ones that are strictly distance learning. So the question becomes how do you decide which college is best for you?
Most on-line colleges are set up the same way. You have one or more classes per session or block that you take on-line. There are instructors, but they are more like facilitators than teachers as you will probably never hear a lecture in the classes you are taking. There are a few on-line colleges that have pre-recorded lectures that students watch whenever it is convenient for them on-line. For the most part students are expected to complete the required research and reading in order to complete projects and final exams. Final exams are usually in the form of essays.
The first thing you need to consider when looking at on-line colleges is whether or not the institution is accredited in your state. Colleges must also be accredited to issues degrees in each subject they are teaching. Make sure that the degree you are working towards will actually be worth more than the paper it is written on when all is said and done.
Secondly, you need to look at class structure and block or session start and completion dates. The length of on-line classes can vary from five to ten weeks. Some colleges give you a couple weeks off between blocks other do not. Some will allow you to take one class at a time while others have a minimum of two classes per block. You must take into consideration that you will be doing more reading, research, and essay writing than you probably would if you were taking traditional college classes. You will not have the support of follow students to study with or face to face discussions with your classmates.
Another big variable when it comes to on-line colleges is the cost per credit hour. Just like traditional colleges, on-line college tuition is not all the same. Some colleges charge per quarter or year and other charge anywhere from $200.00 and up per credit hour. If you are paying for college through Financial Aid you may want to take into consideration how many credit hours you can take with the aid you are getting when making your choice of institutes of higher education.
Keep in mind that the Admissions personnel at some of these on-line schools are just a tad shy of being used car salesmen. They will tell you what you want to hear in order to get you to go to their college. After all, that is their job. Your job is to do research, ask people who have attended classes on-line, and check the Better Business Bureau for claims against the colleges you are looking at. Do not let them rush you into classes because they are starting right now. Chances are they have classes starting every couple of weeks.
Choosing an on-line college is just as big of a decision as choosing which traditional college you will attend. Choosing the right college can make all the difference in whether your college experience will be a good one or a nightmare. So, take your time, weigh your options, and make sure you find the college that is right for you.