Going back to college is a big decision regardless of your age and lifestyle. However, going back to college online makes the transition of getting back into the groove of “college student” much easier. The best thing of all about choosing the online route is that the basic requirements are quite simple.
Today you will find that many colleges offer 100% online degree programs that result in your earning a certificate, associate, bachelor, master’s or PhD.
Many online colleges also offer a combination of online and campus classes for those who wish to attend classes part-time and study at home online part-time. The biggest advantage is that you can choose the type of schedule and program that works best for you.
How do online classes actually work?
There are a number of platforms used by colleges and universities to offer their online degree programs. Some schools have developed their own platforms while others use a popular program called Blackboard and there are others.
Each college and university differs in the actual way their online programs work. Some programs may send lectures and course information through email; others have their own secure websites that allow students to log in to view lectures or to access lessons previously posted by instructors.
Colleges have their own specific requirements as far as how students post assignments, take exams, and interact with instructors and classmates. Talk with your enrollment advisor about what the requirements are at the university you are considering.
How does scheduling work in the online classroom?
This is another area that varies from one college to another. If your degree program is offered through a campus-based university, your courses may run exactly as the on-campus courses do in a regular semester.
However, many online colleges offer more flexible scheduling with courses running five or nine weeks. This allows students to start their chosen degree program at many different times within a year which is very advantageous for working adults.
While students who attend college online do have the opportunity for flexible schedules, it is important to realize that degree programs at any accredited college or university will have deadlines and due dates from week to week for coursework and tests to be completed.
Some online programs also offer cohort study which means that you have an actual class that moves through the program of study together as a group rather that each individual studying on his own schedule. It is important to determine the method used by the college or university in which you choose to enroll.
What type of technology will you need?
Obviously you will need access to a computer to take an online class and it is a very smart idea to have a back-up plan in case you have technical issues.
If an assignment is due by midnight on a certain date and your computer crashes at 11:30? What will you do? Instructors are often required by the university not to make exceptions, so make sure you have a library or a friend with a computer who can help you out in an emergency.
Make sure you find out from the start what type of software is required by the university you attend. You may be required to purchase a certain type, but you will often be able to get student discounts in such cases. So ask the questions before you enroll.
Most online colleges offer 24-hour technical support as well. This is a reassuring benefit, so find out about what is offered by the school you are considering.
Are there any residency requirements?
For most online colleges, this is not a factor. However, if you attend classes online at a state university, for instance, there may be out-of-state tuition costs. This is a very important question to discuss with enrollment representatives in the initial phase of your search for the right college degree.
Explore your options to go back to college at an accredited online college by visiting our directory of accredited online colleges to help you get started in your search for the right college or university.