The education system has completely transformed itself over the years, thanks to the development of cheap online colleges. Students can now get their degrees right at home and save a ton of money in the process. If you have been searching for a convenient, fool-proof way to earn your bachelor’s and beyond, distance learning could be perfect for you.
#1 Penn Foster College
- Avg. Cost of Tuition: $6,964 per year
- Books & Supplies: $260
- Per Credit Hour cost: $71
- Application fee: $75
#2 Everest University
- Avg. Cost of Tuition: $16,727 per year
- Books & Supplies: $1,275
- Per Credit Hour cost: $421
- Application fee: N/A
#3 Strayer University
- Avg. Cost of Tuition: $16,155 per year
- Books & Supplies: $1,350
- Per Credit Hour cost: $370
- Application fee: $50 (not applicable in all states)
#4 Ashford University
- Avg. Cost of Tuition: $16,270 per year
- Books & Supplies: $1,350
- Per Credit Hour cost: $390
- Application fee: N/A
Here is an overview of how online colleges work so you can determine if you want to enroll in one.
How Cheap Online Colleges Work
The setup for the cheapest online college is pretty self-explanatory. All of the teachings and procedures for a traditional college are converted to the internet, where students can have access from all over the world. The information and workload are all the same, the only difference is the way they are presented.
In an online college, you listen to course lectures through videos, instead of meeting in a classroom. This is convenient because you have the ability to rewind parts of the lecture you may have missed or need to review so you can fully grasp every part of the lecture. You can also fast forward through information that you already know, freeing up your schedule for homework or personal time. Occasionally you may need to attend a live video conference, which acts somewhat like a live lecture; however, most schools do not yet have the technology to do that.
All of your homework will be submitted through email or a special submission system on the school’s website. You will have a forum to sign into for class discussions and to take tests online. Depending on the school or professor, some exams need to be proctored, which means you have to go to a testing facility and have someone supervise over your test. This is designed to prevent cheating. You do not have to go to the school you attend to take your proctored exam, you just need to go to an approved testing facility in your area.
All in all, you will do the same work in an online college as you will in a standard college. You just have the luxury of being able to complete your class work on your laptop. If you think you would enjoy learning right from home, this could be a great opportunity for you.
How to Find a Good Online College
In order to have the best college experience, you need to select a school that works best for you. If you are interested in attending a university online, you should first look for one that offers your degree of choice. There is no sense of attending a medical school if you want to be a police officer or chemical engineer. Once you find a school that offers the degree you are interested in, you can start reading reviews and researching the school in order to determine if you will like it. You can find a lot of reviews for colleges on the internet, so the key is to focus on the ones that sound legitimate and logical. You should avoid reviews that seem purely promotional.
It is important to verify that a college is accredited before enrolling in one of its degree programs. The U.S. Department of Education provides this information online, you just need to find your school on the college accreditation list. This department is not in charge of issuing the accreditations, but it does have a master directory from all of the accrediting organizations.
There are plenty of other factors that may determine which cheap online college you attend, such as the amount of financial aid you can get or the general cost of attendance. It is your job to explore your options in detail, just like you would with a traditional college. If you take the time to assess each school individually, you should be able to find the perfect one for you.
How to Pay for College Online
You can pay for an online education just like you would pay for a traditional one. The only difference here is that some scholarship committees may not approve of your online degree. In most cases though, you can get the awards you need as long as your school is accredited. The money is sent directly to the school, and then all you have to do is attend class like normal.
Note that the cost of tuition and fees for online schools is typically lower than that of classroom based schools. Thus you may not have to find quite as much financial aid to cover your degree. You will still need several thousand dollars to fully pay for your education, but your expenses can be trimmed significantly online.
Tips for Success
Now that you know how to find and pay for a cheap online school, the only thing you have to do is attend. Here are some quick tips to help you be successful:
- Make a schedule and stick to it. You will be tempted to procrastinate with your online classes, but you can’t do that. By making a schedule for yourself, you will stay on track with your degree.
- Sign up for classes as soon as possible. Online courses tend to fill up quickly, so you have to get in when you can.
- Rent your textbooks instead of buying them. This will cost you less money, and it will help the environment. There are numerous places to find good deals such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or even eBay. Be sure to check other online vendors, such as ecampus.com, as they usually have better deals than the big brand stores.
- Pay for good internet security. You will be online now a lot more than usual, so you need to make sure that your information is protected.
- Back up all of your files. Keep secondary copies of your files at all times, just in case something happens to your computer.
Online colleges may not be for everyone, but they could be perfect for you. The only way to know is to do some research and give them a try. Hopefully you will find a school that has everything you need to start your career. If all goes well, you’ll be a college grad in no time.