For many people today, a college education is the key: to better jobs, better achievements, and a better life. But what’s the best way to earn your degree? Online college courses were at one time a niche product, but they have exploded in popularity. Colleges and universities everywhere are now offering online college courses as well as entire degree programs. With so many options, it’s difficult to know where to begin. To help you in that, here are 4 things to know about online college courses.
- Not All Online College Courses Are Created Equal
Not all brick-and-mortar colleges and universities are equally valuable, and the same is true for online programs. For one, make sure the online program you choose is accredited. Unaccredited online college courses are likely to be viewed with suspicion by employers, registrars, and anyone else that matters.
Second, if you’re using online college courses to fill in the gaps of a traditional college program, you must ensure the credits will transfer. Online college isn’t easy or cheap, so make sure whatever time and money you put into it will realize your goals. Contact the registrar’s office at your degree-granting institution to find out if the online program you’ve selected will be approved.
Third, beware for-profit colleges. Many of these institutions are well-known for their poor track records, and their graduates can run into issues both with employment and further educational endeavors. But that hasn’t stopped them from getting into the online game.
- MOOCs Are Not a Substitute for Typical Online College Courses
One of the newest trends in online college courses is massive open online courses, or MOOCs. These courses are flashy and exciting: learn from some of the best professors at prestigious universities, for free! But their outcomes are poor: there is little accountability, most students do not complete the course, and they usually do not meet requirements for completing degrees.
- Online Courses Offer Convenience, Not Shortcuts
For some people, taking college courses from home and on their own schedule is a lifesaver. They cannot fit their lives into a residential college campus or schedule, and online study can flex to meet their needs. But here’s the reality: Good college courses are hard. So are their online counterparts. Be prepared for your online course to be just as challenging as their real-world counterparts.
- Costs and Features Can Vary Substantially
Don’t assume that “online = cheap,” or that all online programs are basically the same. Costs vary widely, and so do the features offered. Make sure your program strikes the right balance of cost and features.
Follow these 4 tips to narrow down your options, and happy studying!