Best Online Colleges in 2020

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The Advantages of Online Colleges

Thanks to advancing technology, online education is more interactive and social than ever. Not only that but today online learning has opened the doors to a variety of degree programs and alternatives to traditional higher education. And it’s only getting better.

Here’s the thing—if you’re looking into online programs, there’s more to it than merely considering online college vs traditional college. Online learning can mean associate, bachelor, or master’s degree programs. Or it can mean getting a certificate to upgrade your skills.

Regardless, it’s essential to check school rankings among other things when you’re deciding where to get your online degree.

Whether you’re just starting your college journey or looking to further your education, it’s time to explore everything you need to know about attending an online college.

 

Are Online Colleges Accredited?

Of course, the first thing everyone wonders is—are online colleges legit? Like everything, some are and some aren’t. That’s why you need a list of criteria to help you determine which online education opportunities will work best for you.

The degree programs you choose from must be accredited to ensure educational standards that meet federal and state requirements for the academic program. Enrolling in online education with an accredited program means that you can rest assured you’re going to get a good education.

However, accreditation isn’t all there is to it.

You need to find online courses that work for you. To that end, think about what you’re looking for in your online degree. Do you want a certificate, two-year, or four-year degree? These are all options in online education.

 

Are Online Colleges Easier?

The simple answer is no. Online students must be self-motivated. Some students need that face-to-face interaction they get from a classroom as much as they need supervision from their instructors.

What kind of student are you?

It’s important to understand your style of learning to be a successful online student. You must find ways to stay motivated in your courses. Of course, if you’re studying something that you’re passionate about, it’s much easier to complete your work.

And if you need interaction, you’ll be happy to know that the best online college programs include discussion boards in which you can interact with both the professor and classmates. As far as keeping yourself accountable, if you need others to help with that aspect, you can join a variety of online study groups, motivational groups, and message boards.

Don’t discount getting an online education because it’s out of your comfort zone. Instead, find ways to rise up to the challenge and learn something valuable.

Coursework Versus Traditional Classes 

Online classes work on a weekly schedule because distance learning works best with deadlines to keep students accountable. You’ll receive a list of course materials that you’ll need for the class. Depending on the learning programs, the things that are required for your course, in addition to books, will likely be software and technology.

When it comes to online college vs. traditional college, the biggest difference is in the technology you’ll use online. And if you think about it, that in itself gives you a competitive advantage in the workforce today. You’ll learn how to develop presentations using software such as PowerPoint and Canva—and so much more.

You might use a pen and notebook, but that’s a matter of choice.

How Can You Be a Successful Online College Student?

The best way to be one of the successful online students is to utilize support services. In addition to offering an online library with access to millions of journals, research papers, and industry publications an online college also offers a host of other support services. There are writing groups to help with papers and math groups to get you through college math.

What’s more—you’ll likely contact technical support at least once when you’re getting started.

Don’t be hesitant to use these services. Sometimes doing well on a test or simulation can be something as simple as clearing your cookies or making a quick update.

Of course, it’s vital to have a dependable internet connection. Not only that, but it also doesn’t hurt to have a backup way to get online in an emergency.

What Are the Best Online Colleges?

There are hundreds of excellent online colleges to choose from today. A school search results for “best colleges online for a business degree” will yield results for a variety of university programs. In fact, your state university is likely to have an online program.

Take a look at all that Purdue University Global has to offer, for example. The online degree programs that this online university offers range from online bachelor’s programs in science, business, and information technology to nursing, as well as bachelor’s degrees in social sciences.

How Do You Apply for Online College?

Most online colleges offer resource guides to help you get started. The best way to find out how to apply for the online college that you want to attend is to request information. You’ll fill out a form online and answer questions such as your academic interest, the program that you’d like to attend, and degree level.

The college will send information, and at that point, you’ll have a contact who can answer more questions for you. You may need to write a college entrance essay, take an exam, or perform some other activity to demonstrate your ability to be successful in the program.

The next step is to find out how much it will cost to attend and what kind of financial aid is available. One of the advantages of online education is the ability to take care of all these details at home.

Like traditional college, attending an online college requires good budgeting to afford you the opportunity to spend time on your classwork. You may need to adjust your work schedule to keep up on courses. Similarly, there are often tools and equipment needed for the degree, and there are always books to purchase.

Pro tip: Ebooks are real cost savings to buying a physical book.

If you’re questioning—is online college cheaper than traditional college, the answer is that it’s a combination of tuition rates and supplies. You also must consider other expenses such as paying for the internet and electricity. As with traditional colleges, state colleges online tend to be less expensive than private colleges.

Financial Aid and Student Debt

You have the same opportunities to get financial aid to attend an accredited online university as you would, to go to school on a physical campus. It’s even possible to get a free education if you meet income guidelines for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or qualify for any number of other financial aid programs for low-income students.

If you’ve attended college previously and are considering returning to update your skills, you may also think about refinancing your student loans. Make sure you know what kind of loan that you’re refinancing. If it came from the government, you may want to leave it as is rather than risk losing the benefits of government funding.

For one, government student loans go into a grace period while you’re attending classes. Not only that, but you may also qualify for other scholarships. Make sure to take with your school’s financial aid advisor to get ideas on ways to fund your education.

Additionally, there are scholarship resources online for women, such as the Adobe Research Women in Technology Scholarship. Also, check out Unigo’s $10,000 scholarship award for a short 250 word or less essay that’s available to people who are thirteen or older, residents of the U.S. or the District of Columbia, and are currently enrolled in an accredited college.

With a little research, you’ll find there are many scholarships available for online students in a variety of fields and from a variety of backgrounds.

The Advantages of an Online Education

Is online college worth it? Ultimately that’s your decision. The thing is, if you want to increase your wage and expand your potential income, online education will provide opportunities in both areas. And there’s no better time than now to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn the online college basics

How do online colleges work?

Distance education and online classes are the same as traditional college classes insofar as the information that you’ll learn. The difference is in the teaching models because distance learning isn’t a face-to-face activity.

To answer the question, how do online classes work—An online classroom is generally set up in modules which represent weeks in the term. Depending on the program you choose, you’ll watch video lectures, participate in exercises utilizing a variety of technology, and turn in weekly assignments.

The course work is a combination of online journal entries, discussion boards, assigned reading, papers, and quizzes. You’ll also have opportunities to apply what you’ve learned, depending on your major. For example, if you’re getting an online degree in digital film production, you’ll likely produce a short film for your capstone project.

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