online college choice

Online Education
How To Pick A Good Online College

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Conceptually, the distance-learning model has been around for more than a century. Some education historians trace the concept back to the late 1800s when the University of Chicago offered the first type of distance learning course. Through the years, the concept of distance learning evolved through various iterations that included radio and television broadcasts.

However, distance learning exploded onto the education panorama when the concept melded perfectly with the super information highway  the Internet. In due time, the concept of distance learning offered on the Internet became a driving force that some now predict will forever alter the traditional landscape of higher education.

So how credible are online degrees? Are there online private colleges that offer accredited degrees? College Consensus is on the job.

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Online education has arrived. The best online colleges offer a convenient, flexible program that now reaches more lifelong learners and students than anyone ever thought possible. However, it is just as challenging deciding which potential program is offered by the best accredited online college than when deciding on traditional on-campus education. The difference is that students considering accredited online colleges have a larger selection from which to choose. This is because a school’s location is no longer a part of the decision when deciding upon the right accredited online college.

There are many considerations when determining which school or program to select from the best online colleges. Most students begin by reviewing the school’s accreditation.

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Accredited Online Degree Programs

Accreditation is the process by which a neutral, authorized organization or agency evaluates the school or program against a set of predetermined standards set forth by a government education agency or education-industry oversight organization.

Accreditation from a legitimate accreditation agency reveals to students and the education community as a whole that degree conferred by the accredited school has met or exceeded strict education standards. Institutions of higher learning can be accredited as follows:

Nationally Accredited Online Colleges

National Accreditation is offered by the United States Department of Education. Future employers will likely consider a degree or school that operates without national accreditation unacceptable. Nationally accredited online colleges publish this designation on their school’s websites.

Regional Accreditation

The best regionally accredited online degrees have voluntarily applied for the more rigid regional accreditation designation. The best regionally accredited online degrees accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited colleges and universities. An online school that is regionally accredited alleviates the need to consider how credible are online degrees.

Ranking Accredited Online Degree Programs

There are countless companies; organizations and agencies dedicated to ranking available accredited online colleges. Each of these ranking websites recognizes their ‘best accredited online colleges’ in terms of academics, program quality, graduation rates, and the intangible factor of prestige.

Many of these accredited online college ranking lists are calculated by the government or long-standing publications like US News, the Princeton Review, or Forbes. However, students searching for degree program information should confirm the legitimacy of the source before resting a final decision on the information listed on the website.

In general, students should try to select a regionally accredited school that fits within their budget. If possible, the degree program selected should be an approved program that has received national or specialized accreditation.

How To Make the Most of Your Online Learning Experience

Many students, either new grads or working learners, are now seriously considering completing (or at least partially completing) their college degree online. These potential degree candidates often ask themselves –Do employers take online college degrees seriously? Or, is online college a good choice?

These are smart, fair questions. And, the answer to each question is yes.

Online education has evolved over the past decade to the point where it is possible to now locate the highest paying online bachelors degree from some of the best colleges for adults returning to school simply by searching the Internet.

Perhaps after searching for the best colleges for adults returning to school, the potential student will have already answered the questions as to whether an online college good or bad. It is more challenging answering what is the easiest degree to get online because the answer depends on the student’s aptitude and study skills.

Students with visual impairments or hearing impairments should be aware of some limitations of online learning, however. Some colleges (especially those with lower levels of funding) have not optimized their online courses for students with disabilities, which can be extremely frustrating for them. On the other hand, the more technologically advanced schools have developed online programs that can be more effective for disabled students than a traditional classroom environment.

Getting the Most of an Online Degree Program

Students studying online will learn quickly that in order to succeed, it is critical that they identify and create a way to manage the independence provided by distance learning degrees. For those who are new to independent coursework, will find they need to develop the strategies required to remain motivated, disciplined, and committed to completing the course until graduation. Consider the following:

Develop Time Management Skills

While online coursework is heralded for its convenience and flexibility, the flip side is that the online student is now responsible for completing the required coursework according to the program’s schedule. Students who devise, and follow, a reasonable time management strategy, will find it easy to solve this newly discovered independence. A time management strategy will typically include dedicated windows of time to ensure the student completes reading assignments, online studying, and quizzes/exams. An online degree is no less stressful than a traditional program, so time management is crucial for avoiding stress.

Utilize Online Tools Provided

Distance education delivered online includes easy-to-access 24/7 resources for online degree candidates. In addition to the school’s online library resources, online students can find assistance through message boards (that are updated regularly) or live chat rooms where students can discuss academic issues or simply socialize with other online students and moderators. Chat rooms also offer online students an opportunity to network with other students in the same industry; which often is helpful for future endeavors. (Some colleges provide hardware tools too – like free laptops and iPads for all students.)

Remain Motivated

Staying motivated can be tricky for independent learners. What motivates one person might be completely ineffective for another. As a result, each online student will need to personally discover the motivation method that works for him or her. An online degree from the best colleges for adults returning to school is only truly beneficial if the online student graduates.

Some online students find that simply being able to earn their degree is motivation enough; however, it is not effectual for those students who need to feel a sense of a daily accomplishment to stay motivated. The trick is for the student to take ownership of their study habits by finding out what works. The only thing else required is the online student’s ability to remain committed to the strategies they have developed to make the most of their online education.

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How To Accelerate Your Online College Degree

Earning an on online college degree is convenient and flexible, and now accessible to more learners than one could ever have imagined. The distance learning experience offers students the opportunity to learn independently and at their own pace.

Many online degree programs offer asynchronous classes; that is, a student-centric education methodology that permits students to access educational materials at a time that is convenient for the student.

Asynchronous coursework may also provide students (with ample time and extra motivation) to complete classes ahead of schedule; although examinations and assignments may follow a more routinized schedule.

Accelerated Online College Options

Many online schools and colleges offer opportunities for students to complete the fastest online degree completion programs. These fast online degrees simply cover the same degree coursework material in a reduced timeframe  typically by reducing class durations equal to ½ length semesters. Logistically, these shortened classes allow students to nearly double the amount of work that can be completed in the same amount of time.

A fast track associates degree online program is likely to be considered one of the fastest online degree completion programs available. These quick and easy online degrees require the least amount of credit units to graduate.

Students interested in completing the fastest online degree programs can determine if their choice of degree offers an accelerated option.

Applying Life & Work Experience Towards College Credits

Students have the option of completing fast online degrees by determining if the school offering the quick and easy online degrees offers a policy that allows for the application of college credits (to be applied to chosen online degree program) based on the degree candidate’s work proficiencies and life experiences that are specifically related to the fast track associates degree online program.

The application of life and work experience not only reduces the amount of time required to earn a degree, it reduces the degree’s tuition costs. Transferring credits from earlier education makes a difference too; some online accelerated programs will take as many as 90 credits.

Test Out of Classes by Taking Available Equivalency Tests

Students studying online have the option of testing-out of certain classes by successfully passing equivalency exams like CLEP and DSST. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) provides exams to test collegiate aptitude in 36 different subjects. The CLEP exams are free to personnel of the United States Armed Forces’ personnel that qualify, and to veterans. Testing out of required coursework is one sure way to create one of the fastest online degree programs.

Accelerated Online Degree Rankings:

Fastest Online Doctoral Degrees
Fastest Online Associate’s Degrees
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How To Save Money as An Online College Student

By its very nature, online education is less costly for the online student than the student studying as a resident on-campus.

The cost of living on-campus (including food, health services, and school events) is clearly less than the cost of a student studying from home or their office. In addition, as there is no required commute, students avoid the cost and stress created by commuting to classes that begin at a specific, exact time. However, it is challenging to calculate the value one receives by the convenience offered by an all day, and all night accessibility. But make no mistake about it, this convenience value is real.

Students searching for the best value online colleges that are available will find that online schools and universities disclose the cost of the school’s program as a whole or on a per credit unit of measurement. Those searching for affordable online colleges will also discover that there are many dedicated legitimate sources that have professionally organized the most affordable online colleges based upon the subject matter and the education level — i.e. an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a doctoral degree.

Employer Reimbursement Programs

Many employers encourage their employees to further their education by earning a college degree. As a result, many businesses and organizations offer either tuition reimbursement programs or financial assistance for employees who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Taking advantage of an employer’s financial assistance creates a win-win situation for the business (they receive a better-educated employee), and the student/employee — who reach their educational objectives at a reduced cost.

Massive Open Online Courses

A Massive Open Online Course, better known as a MOOC, is a recent addition to the world of online education. The coursework was initially offered at no cost (and much of it is still offered for free), which essentially created course work from an online school free of charge. However, the coursework offered by these free online colleges has evolved as the schools now offer an option to pay a nominal fee upon completion of the course to receive written verification that the student has successfully completed the coursework required by the institution of higher learning.

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Don’t Forget About Financial Aid

It is important to note that students studying online are eligible for the same federal financial aid as those students studying on-campus. That is if the online school meets the following requirements:

  • Free online colleges have been appropriately accredited, and
  • The School has executed the United States Department of Education agreement, which officially designates the online school as a Title IV school.

There are amazing amounts of online education opportunities for students and lifelong learners to reach for their education and career objectives. Affordable online colleges offer online degrees for students interested in earning an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a postgraduate degree. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement essentially acts as an online school free of charge to anyone interested in studying online. Online students are encouraged to explore all online education sources to ensure they select the degree that best suits their needs.

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What Are The Best Majors for an Online Education?

Students from across the globe now have the ability to pursue an online education in many fields of study. However, from an overall perspective, the list of online degrees to select from begins with a list of online degrees offered by accredited colleges and universities.

Of the countless degrees offered through distance education delivery methods, it is important to recognize that it is best to select from the best online colleges for associates degree, or a bachelors degree with coursework that fits well when offered as an online education degree. For instance, a nursing degree would be an example where some coursework would be best taught as real-world, hands-on work — a type of education that an online degree would have difficulty providing.

Highest Paying Online Degree Rankings:

25 Highest Paying Online Degrees in Healthcare
25 Highest Paying Online Doctoral Degrees
25 Highest Paying Online Associates Degrees
25 Highest Paying Online Bachelors Degrees
25 Highest Paying Online Masters Degrees

Best Majors for Online Degrees — Business

Typically, the many facets of a business/management field are great options when searching for the best online colleges for associates degree, or a bachelors or more advanced degree.

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Management Information Systems

A Management Information Systems (MIS) degree integrates the world of business with its dependence on computer technology. The coursework for this degree is a great fit for an online course delivery format.

Business Management

Business Management degrees prepare graduates to assess, identify and implement viable ways to reduce costs, and thus, increase profits for businesses across many sectors. The online degree format covers a wide spectrum of business subjects that fit — hand in glove — with the online delivery method.


A marketing degree earned online is typically offered as a business major, although the skills learned are applicable to industries that depend on advertising to introduce or maintain a brand. Marketing professionals focus on sales, pricing and sales distributions.


A Finance major is a great option for an online degree program. Students graduate with the skills necessary to succeed in the areas of statistics, accounting, economics, and lending. Many finance professionals are required to pass industry exams to earn a license to practice.

Best Majors for Online Degrees — STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Math) Majors

A STEM degree is an integrative approach to education where the four core subjects are included throughout the student’s curriculum to earn the degree of the student’s choice.


An Engineering education fits an online course delivery method as it includes several subspecialties of mechanical, civil and electrical engineering — all of which require technical studies easily understood through a distance-learning course.


A Physics degree prepares students for rewarding careers in a variety of industries. These included engineering, health care, research, and astronomy. It is important to mention that not every student who earns a physics degree will become a physicist. Finally, many physics majors work for the government (i.e. NASA), while many others find gainful employment in the private sector.

Computer Science

A computer science degree earned online prepares students by exploring the practical, scientific and theoretical applications related to the field of computer science. A computer science degree, whether earned online or on-campus, is a broad foundational science which then allows students to select from numerous subspecialties. And, based on the many ways computers now impact society as a whole, the many facets of the ever-growing field of computers is expected to outpace growth in most other careers.