Working adults need something different from college than newly graduated high-school students need, which is why on-line learning has become so prolific. Finding the right on-line college by searching for college rankings can be disappointing. Those rankings based on a number of variables that have less to do with academic virtue then they do with the type of environment they provide for very young people. Most on-line schools don’t even make the short list in popular “Best Colleges” lists, because their standards are not even ranked.
Five Questions to Ask When Looking for Online College:
1. Will I want to transfer to graduate school when I complete my degree?
2. Do I want to work in a specialized, competitive career field, where employers highly regard academic integrity of college degrees?
3. Do I want to be able to transfer all of my credits to another school if I decide to change my major?
4. Will I need hands-on training that an on-line school might not be able to provide?
5. How much money in school loans am I willing to take on, and will my future career pay me enough to repay those loans?
On-line Education From a Traditional School
On-line college does not have to come from an on-line school. Students who are looking to earn a degree from a publicly funded state college might be relieved to know that many state colleges offer many classes on-line. In fact, many public schools are now offering entire programs on-line. In-state tuition is generally much lower at a state college then at a private on-line college, so the loan repayment will not be nearly as big as it will be from a private institution.
An important benefit of attending an on-line program at a state college is that a student can be sure that the college is regionally accredited, meaning most college credits are valuable enough to transfer to another college. State colleges will offer programs based on the needs of the employer, so if hands-on training is required of a certain degree field, the online program will incorporate the proper internship requirements into the curriculum.
Online College From Private Schools
Private on-line schools are far more expensive then in-state colleges, and the educational value of private on-line college programs is arguably not as good as it is at public schools. The advantage of a private on-line college; however, is that the schools normally target the non-traditional student. Students who work full-time, have children, or who need to complete a degree in a relatively short amount of time, will find the flexibility and shortened semester options of private schools to be very appealing. Many private on-line colleges offer eight week semesters back-to-back. Classes might start every single month of the year.
Not all private on-line schools have the same credentials. There are three types of accreditation associated with on-line learning: Regional, National, and Distance Education and Training Council accreditation (DETC). Most on-line schools will be accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council and many may have dual accreditation with a national or regional accrediting agency. A school solely accredited by the DETC may have many credits that are non-transferable to other colleges, despite being legitimately accredited. National accreditation is legitimate too, but the regionally accredited schools may not accept credit transfers from those schools.
Some private on-line colleges offer intensive, fast-paced courses which are sufficient for many managerial, administrative, and non-specialized career fields. Some private on-line colleges are ideal for students interested in pursuing careers that do not demand cerebral exertion nor hands-one training. One aspect worth noting about attending these private on-line schools for these types of careers is that the final career may not pay enough to support the monthly balance on the school loan for these types of schools. Students may be surprised to learn that repaying $500 a month for a degree in social work may be difficult when the average starting pay in their chosen career field is $20,000 a year.