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The Ultimate Guide to Online Community College

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There is a large variety of programs offered by some of the best community colleges online. It is likely that you will find an online community college that offers an associate degree (two-year program) or certificate/diploma program that will help you reach your education goals and career plans.

Do Community Colleges Offer Online Degrees? 

Online degrees offered by community colleges are an excellent option for those students who are not ready to attend school as a student/resident or do not have a solid idea of the direction they intend their career to move.

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As you begin to consider your options ask yourself questions like –

  • How do I find the best online community college that offers a program that meets my goals?
  • What community colleges that offer online degrees meet your career objectives?
  • Is there a completely online community college with programs that you can afford?

Studying for an associate degree from an online community college provides working learners with enough scheduling flexibility to work while earning their degree. If the community college online degree program you choose aligns with the field in which you are employed, a student can use their work environment as a practicum.

Coursework that is delivered in a best online community college is offered by online lectures, asynchronous lectures, and discussion boards online. Community college with online programs requires students to stay personally motivated and organized and demonstrate independence in learning. The distance learning platforms provided by most community colleges online create learning modules so students can complete the program in cohorts.

An associate degree program that is offered by an online community college generally requires students to complete a total of 60 credit units to earn the two-year academic degree – although it is not unusual to find an online community college that requires upwards of 80 credit units to graduate. The credit units needed to graduate are set forth by the program coordinators and professors at the online community college of your choice.

Community colleges with online programs also provide great opportunities to complete continuing education requirements at an affordable price.

Community colleges online typically offer many options to earn a community college online degree in many fields and industries. Coursework generally consists of a core/general education, plus classes dedicated to the student’s major.

The really good news is that much of the core curriculum can be applied to a variety of careers and professions. Examples of associate core curriculum classes include English, Math Fundamentals, and courses in the natural sciences.

A certificate or diploma program offered by an online community college provides a more concentrated instruction format. Most certificates or diplomas offered by community colleges online focus on the subject and eliminate the need for general education requirements mandated by degree programs.

Available Options for Online Degrees

Community colleges with online programs offer students and working learners an opportunity to earn a degree when it wasn’t possible prior to the popularity of distance learning degrees and programs. Associate degrees are available in the following partial list of options

What are the Advantages of Online Community College Courses? 

There are numerous benefits and advantages to earning a degree by taking online community college courses. According to a 2019 study by Wiley Education’s The Learning House, the popularity of community colleges with online classes is growing steadily for the past decade or so. Other insights revealed through this study showed –

  • The majority of students choose to complete their online classes for community college students on a mobile device.
  • About 4 out of 10 students anticipate creating a long-term or lifelong relationship with the school(s) of their choice.  This includes donating as alumni or completing continuing education in the future.
  • Students studying for a degree by taking online classes for community college expect the soft skills (critical thinking & problem-solving) learned by completing community college online courses are exactly what employers are looking for in a job applicant.

The reality is the advantages of earning a degree by completing online classes for community college have fueled its growth beyond the overall growth of the higher education community. And, while employers once questioned the legitimacy of online education, the virtual classroom offered by completing community colleges online courses has found its place in the education arena.

The Convenience Factor of Online Community College Courses & Degrees

Those already enrolled in a community college course online already have realized that one of the best features of completing a degree by taking community college with online classes is that distance learning offers incredible amounts of flexibility and convenience to interested students.

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Taking a community college online course is the perfect way to understand just how important this flexibility and convenience is for busy working professionals and parents. Online community college courses are an excellent alternative for those students who –

  • Do not live near enough to take community college.
  • Are students who fare better taking online community college courses rather than studying in a traditional on-campus setting.
  • Have difficulty traveling to brick/mortar classroom building on a college campus.
  • Prefer to study at home while completing a community college online course.

It should be noted that every student is suited for the demands set forth by an academic virtual classroom. However, for those students who have the motivation to finish schoolwork after working fulltime (or being a parent full-time), completing community college with online classes to earn a degree or certificate is a great alternative to the more traditional on-campus degree programs.

Many students and working learners choose to study online as the delivery of community colleges online courses offer students the option of pacing the course of study in accordance with each student’s specific studying objectives and needs. However, each community college course online expects enrolled students to consistently make progress towards their ultimate goal of a degree or certificate.

Community Colleges with Online Classes are Legitimate

The reality is online education is here to stay – in fact; it is hitting mainstream academia. Many professions depend on distance education to stay up to date and current. These professions include –

  • Nursing.
  • Education.
  • Criminal Justice.
  • Business.
  • Engineers, among others.

Schools align with the principles of online education as it offers students an opportunity to attend college when oftentimes, there once was none. The reality is many students who live in remote areas, or have no transportation to attend a traditional college, find rewarding educational opportunities by earning a diploma or degree from one of the many accredited online community colleges.

Are Online Courses as Good as Courses Delivered On-campus? 

Since the year 2000, the popularity of earning a degree from accredited community colleges online has exploded. Most students pressed for time, and working learners choose the convenience offered by degrees earned by taking  –

  • Accredited online community college courses to earn a degree.
  • Cheap online community college classes that lead to a certificate or associate degree.
  • Accredited online community college courses that offer credits that can be transferred to a four-year institution of higher education.

Over the past 2 decades, many ivy league universities, state and private colleges, regionally accredited online community colleges, and accredited online community colleges began offering a variety of degrees without the need for a student to enter a traditional on-campus classroom.

Accredited Online Community Colleges vs. On-Campus Colleges

Online education opportunities have expanded a great deal over that past decade or so. The reason for the popularity of cheap community college online classes and degrees offered by accredited online community colleges is that these certificates, continuing education credits and degrees are –

  • Affordable.
  • Convenient.
  • Flexible.
  • Self-paced.

In addition, studying for a degree online allows coursework to become more adaptable to each student’s study needs. The classes are typically available 24 hours each day, every day, as most online degrees offered by community colleges or universities provide coursework asynchronously.

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This inherent flexibility gives students the opportunity to complete their coursework –

  • At home.
  • At work.
  • While Commuting.
  • While sipping a Chai Latte at the local coffee hangout.

But, as with most things in life, tremendous flexibility can have a downside as students maintain the responsibility of completing the online coursework to graduate.

The credibility of an online degree is an important consideration.

Therefore, students should research the community college or university thoroughly to ensure the school meets the accreditation standards you, as a student, require. Accreditation is provided to schools and programs in two primary ways –

Regional Accreditation – regional accreditation is generally awarded by one of the United States Department of Education nine regional agencies.

Specialized Accreditation – specialized accreditation is awarded to schools and programs by industry oversight agencies and organizations. Each industry and profession manages its own oversight agency, which is tasked with the responsibility of –

  • Advocating for the Profession.
  • Mentoring young talent in the profession.
  • Educating young talent in the profession.
  • Accrediting schools and programs teaching young talent in the profession.

For instance, nursing programs at the associate’s level should be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The bottom line is that a school or a program that has been accredited has received an extensive review of the school’s facilities, resources, finances, and, most importantly, the academic curriculum.

Will Online Community College Courses Transfer to a University?

With the popularity of online community college degrees, many students and working learners who are serious about earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree should be certain to ask the following questions when considering which community college might meet their education and career objectives –

Many students who are unsure of their major when they graduate high school find enrolling in a two-year degree program at a community college helpful as they can continue to study core curriculum as they decide which profession or career to pursue.

Fortunately, many community colleges partner with –

  • Colleges or Universities nearby.
  • Colleges or Universities with a joint religious affiliation, to name a few.

This pre-established partnerships between a community college and a four-year institution of higher education allow students to earn their associate degree by completing 60-80 credit units online before choosing to apply to a specific baccalaureate program.

These partnership programs are terrific, affordable options – especially for those students who graduate high school uncertain as to which career path would be best to follow. Essentially, a student can keep pace with their studies (by completing core curriculum general studies) online at affordable tuition prices, as they decide the career that would suit them best. It is an option that offers affordability and minimal inconvenience for those students who need time to decide upon their career choice.

Those who hold an associate degree from an online community college will now find there are many online options for bachelor’s degree programs that allow for the transfer of credits – sometimes upwards of 90 credits can be transferred to complete a baccalaureate degree program.

Many associate degree holders choose to complete their undergraduate degree immediately following graduation. As you explore the variety of community college associate degree programs, be sure to have the staff members of the school answer any questions you may have that were not answered by the information provided online.

Understanding Transfer Credit Policies

Most schools apply their established on-campus credit transfer policy to the distance learning extension of the institution of higher education.  The majority of schools tend to manage their transfer credit policy on a case-by-case basis.

Be sure to ask relevant transfer credit questions like –

  • Are there any limitations to the transfer credit policy? i.e., length of time since the credit unit was earned.
  • What are the maximum amount of credits that can be transferred into the program?

Do I Have to Go to My Local Community College? 

As you consider the many diplomas and degree options available from local community colleges, many students wonder –

  • Do I have to go to an online community college near me?
  • Are there community colleges near me with online classes that will meet my educational objectives?
  • Are there community colleges near me online that offer affordable degree options?
  • Do online community colleges near me offer accredited degree programs in my field of interest?

Additionally, many students ask themselves the following questions when deciding which community college to attend –

  • Are there community colleges online near me that will help absorb the cost of tuition through scholarships or financial aid?
  • Is there a community college online near me with a program in my field of study?

While these questions are legitimate, remember that one of the best things about attending college online is that you are not limited to the school’s proximity to your home. The reality is online education has opened up educational opportunities for students across the nation and the globe.

If you decide to enroll in a local community college, you may still wonder –

  • Are there any community colleges online near me that offer intercollegiate sports or activities?
  • Do the online community college near me partner with any four-year universities where I can transfer my credit with little inconvenience.
  • If I enroll in an online community college near me, will I be able to complete my baccalaureate degree by transferring my credits?

It is the Student’s Choice

In the world of online education, it is essential to remember that there are no hard-fast rules that require a student or adult learner to attend a community college that is situated near their home. This is especially true if the degree program or certificate program of interest is not offered by the local community college.

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Although it depends on the school, most community colleges accept students who live in another state or perhaps across the country. Part of the appeal of online learning (other than flexibility and convenience) is that online education opens education and academic opportunities for students, where there once was none.

With online learning options, students can study at the school of their choice rather than the school that is located within a reasonable commuting distance. As you search for the right online degree or certificate program offered by a community college, remember that distance learning provides a student the option to attend a community college that offers a program that best fits their needs.

Can I Get an Online Technical Degree?

Students who enjoy tinkering with their smartphones or laptop are always on the hunt for the latest technology and technological innovations. Students who have a keen interest or inherent knack for technology often choose to pursue one of the many online technical degrees available through community colleges, professional schools, or four-year institutions of higher learning. The reality is that technology is a vital part of most industries, and those who earn technical degrees online and become experts in this field have the opportunity to establish well-paying, rewarding careers in the technology sector.

Online technical degrees are available in a variety of subjects and industries. Many online technical degree programs begin with an associate degree from a community college. Students graduating with two-year associate degrees often complete their bachelor’s degree by transferring earned credits and applying them to four-year online technical degrees.

Potential Jobs for those who Earn Online Technical Degrees

As you search for a technical degree online, pay attention to the minimum hardware requirements for student computers. Schools generally list these minimum hardware requirements as a part of its online catalog of information. These minimum requirements are essential as the school needs to ensure that each student enrolled in an online technical degree program will have the computing power to educate themselves through the online distance learning platform.

Here are several options for those who wish to earn a degree through online technical degree programs –

Web Development

Web designers develop websites for clients that attract and enable effective website traffic control and attention. A web designer generally works with programming code and graphics to create well-designed websites. Web designers are also involved in extracting and analyzing the website’s organic and non-organic traffic. Coursework for those studying for a career in web development include –

  • Website optimization.
  • Communications.
  • The design of interfaces.
  • Website administration.
  • Website construction.

Computer Science

The field of computer science encompasses a broad range of topics as it relates to a computer’s –

  • Operations.
  • Programming.
  • Design.
  • Network Security.
  • Function.
  • Forensic.
  • Research, among others.

Database Management

Database administrators manage, sort, organize, and manipulate large amounts of data. Data administration includes the areas of –

  • Loss Prevention.
  • Database Efficiency.
  • Database Upgrades.
  • Database Debugging.
  • Data Security.
  • Web mapping.
  • Data backup,
  • Data Storage.
  • Data Usage.
  • Project Management.
  • Spatial Analysis, to name a few.

Information Technology

Information Technology (IT) degrees focus more on computer design and services that generally serve large corporations. Those employed as IT specialists –

  • Custom design systems and software for clients.
  • Train and support their client’s software and systems users.

Coursework for IT online technical degree programs include –

  • Networking and wireless networks.
  • Switching and routers.
  • Systems maintenance.
  • Network Technology.
  • Platforms, among others.

Information Sciences

Information scientists focus on the study of computers and the design and implementation of new computers and networks. Information Scientists explore the concepts of –

  • Robotics.
  • Programming.
  • Futurism.
  • System Analysis.
  • Network Theory.
  • Data Mining.
  • Innovation.

Software Development

Software developers are responsible for developing code and applications to meet the needs of a specific set of end-users. Software development includes the many processes required to create computer software and programs. Software development degrees include coursework in the following areas –

  • Team and Project Management.
  • Systems operations.
  • Software Modeling.
  • The development of mobile apps.

Video Game Design

A video game designer works professionally with the concepts of –

  • Game development and creation.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Artificial intelligence.
  • Programming, to name a few.

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