Higher Education On Your Own Terms

woman on computer

This post may contain affiliate links which means we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Online college programs are becoming an essential part of higher education. Students, families, and employers alike are finding that long-distance learning programs can help in a myriad of ways.

There are several benefits to taking online degree programs. Essentially, online courses are less expensive than in class. There is also more flexibility to take classes at times that works best for each individual student.

Although taking courses online is still quite a new landscape, it is rich with schools across the nation offering a propagation of online degree options. There are online degree offerings in almost any field available.

A recent U.S. News article ranked the best online college programs using data on graduation rates that they’ve collected for two years. Their findings indicate that online education actually produces more rigorous programs in some areas than in class. They’ve surveyed nearly 860 programs so that they could publish information to help guide potential students to what might work best for their needs.

Here are five tips to succeed in researching and taking an online program so that you can find one that best suits you.

  1. Don’t assume all tuition is accumulated on a per-credit basis.  Many programs use different methods of charging students – some charge one flat fee, another may charge by the credit, and another may charge per year.
  2. Make sure you check out the educators and their backgrounds of each online program you are interested in. Your investment and savings through taking an online program may not pay off in the long run if you receive poor instruction.
  3. Make sure you have the computer and Internet connections you need to support all types of online courses. It doesn’t matter how good an online program is if you don’t have the technology to easily take a course. And be sure you have a reliable printer, webcam, and even note-taking software. There are also tools you can use to make bibliographies and tables of contents in a flash as well.
  4. Check into what scholarships might be available for online education programs. The same financial resources may be available for online programs as they are for traditional in-class programs. Contact your online provider to help point you in the right direction for scholarship information.
  5. Check to see if you can test out of certain courses that you have already taken at a traditional college or high school. Many online programs offer assessments and exams that allow you the option to earn credit in an area that is required for the degree, but that you have already mastered somewhere else.

Research, planning, and staying organized are key to finding and succeeding in the online program that works best for you.