When I decided to pursue an online college degree, I knew nothing about online education. The only thing I knew was that I was excited and had to find a school. It was important that I went to an accredited college. That was the only question I asked when I chose the University of Phoenix’s online program (UOP). In hindsight, that was probably not the best way to choose a university. However, UOP is the most popular online college in the world and has been a groundbreaker in the field of online education. It was a logical decision for someone new to online learning. I have since earned a degree from UOP Online and have moved on to another university. Therefore, my experience often leads me to compare UOP Online to other internet degree programs.
My decision to switch to another online college was not because I was unhappy at UOP. It was more that I had limited myself to a university when I did not explore other options. I was unhappy because I did not think that UOP’s online program embraced technology like it should. An online college should use every available technological advance that is available. At the time, UOP did not have a student community; however, they have since established an online community for students and alumni. When I started looking for another university, I wanted to find one that embraced technology in the pursuit to give their students the best online environment possible.
I researched many online colleges and I chose Colorado Technical University Online (CTU) to finish my next degree. While I am happy at CTU, I often compare the two universities and have found they both have negative and positive aspects. One of the foundations of successful online learning is finding a class schedule that works for students. In this particular aspect, UOP wins hands down over CTU. Students take two classes per session. UOP’s classes have a work week and a discussion week and the schedule alternate. This means that students will not have two difficult assignments due on the same day. This is a huge bonus, and very logical, for adult students who often have full-time jobs and family demands.
Secondly, the way UOP uses their student discussion boards (DB) is superior to CTU. CTU has a DB due on one day and the entire discussion is done in an extremely short amount of time. Generally, the majority of CTU students do not post until the evening the DB is due. This does not lead to any kind of meaningful academic discussion. On the other hand, UOP has an entire week for students to discuss their assignment, which does lead to meaningful academic discussions. Since the entire program is done online, the way UOP uses DB’s is richer and has more academic value.
There are a few other differences that are noteworthy including the fact that UOP’s library is far superior to CTU’s. Online students spend an enormous amount of time researching online; therefore, having a high-quality library is critical. CTU stands out from UOP because CTU has live instructor chats. Twice a week, CTU instructors hold a virtual class and interact with students. These classes are achieved for students who cannot attend class. CTU has podcasts available, however, these do not contain enough information to call them a benefit. CTU has more student support with labs available on most subjects and they have a popular Virtual Common where students interact.
As a dedicated online college student, it is hard to choose which is the better school overall. They each have their good points and things that I would change. If I had to do everything over, I would still choose UOP as my first online school. In fact, I am considering them for my Master’s degree program. However, I have learned that it is important to have all the information about online colleges and universities before committing to them. Each student will have their own criteria and can choose which qualities are the most important to them. They should use their critical thinking skills to choose an online university and not choose by popularity like I did.