7 Things Everyone Asks About Online Learning  

7 Things Everyone Asks About Online Learning  
Beth Dumbauld

This year, over 98% of public colleges and universities will be offering online programs to their students and in five years time, it’s expected that the majority of students will take at least one course online. Online learning is here to stay – and so are the questions students have about taking their courses online.

1 - How do online courses work?

Online courses typically are the general requirement courses that students take before completing a degree. Students can also take online courses to complete electives or lower division foundation courses - Example: Bus 101 for Business Majors. Our online courses are all self-paced, meaning you can start the course whenever you would like and complete it within a time frame that fits your schedule.

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2 - How long does an online course take to complete?

On average, it takes a student 75 hours (or 40 days) to complete one of our online college courses. For college level course work, the general rule of thumb is to allocate at least 2-3 hours of study time (reading, homework, review) for each hour spent in the classroom or taking your class online.

However, it all depends on your individual situation, your college course experience, skills, familiarity with the subject matter and the amount of time you have to allocate to the course.

3 - Do I have to complete homework assignments or just take a few exams?

For our courses we only require that students complete all the graded or required assignments such as quizzes, exams, labs and essays and receive a 70% or above in the course. There will be practice assignments that students can complete on their own that are not graded. These practice sessions are solely there for your benefit, an opportunity to test your growing knowledge in a low risk environment.

When you look to transfer credit – the standard guideline (not a rule, every school is a little different!) for getting credit from other institutions will be earning a “C” or better, but some schools will require a number grade and/or have their own definition of what makes up a “C” grade.

4 - What are the different kinds of online courses?

You can enroll in online courses in almost any type of subject area, including businessEnglishhealth sciencehumanitiesmathscience, languagetechnologycollege prep, and social science. You can learn a foreign language, advance your computer coding skills, or even complete the lab portion of your science courses online.

In general, however, when folks ask about the different “kinds” of online courses available to them – what they are really asking about is the experience of taking the course as it relates to their own schedule, if they can earn college credit, and whether or not they can take the course at their own pace.

We have over 100 partner colleges. Check them out here!

Here are terms used most frequently to describe the different kinds of online college courses - and the experience you will have taking them:

Asynchronous  Students have access to course material anywhere, anytime. Students complete course material around their own schedule. Asynchronous courses offer the most flexibility for working adults.

Synchronous – Real-time delivery of course material. Your teacher is online at the same time you are. You have less control of your schedule, but you are able to take your courses at home or anywhere you have internet access.

Blended – Courses delivered through a combination of online and in-person sessions. Some universities also offer students blended degree program options, providing students flexibility over when, where, and how quickly they move through the online portion of their degree.

Competency-Based – Competency-based education (CBE) moves beyond the credit hour. As a result, CBE (also called competency-based learning or CBL) courses and programs:

  • are usually self-paced and online,
  • provide academic tutors and mentors,
  • rely on the direct assessment of student competency or proficiency to
    award college credit,
  • have “all you can eat” or subscription pricing models, and
  • are very attractive to working adults.

5  - Do I need a book and does it come with the course?

In general, when you enroll in an online course, you are not required to order the book – it is ultimately up to the student to purchase the book or not. At StraighterLine, we strongly recommend purchasing and using the recommended textbook or eTextbook – as most practice assignments within a course use the book.

If you are taking one of our courses, you can order one of our eTextbooks or find the ISBN number on the course page for each course. With the ISBN number, you can search online to purchase the book.

6 - How much does an online course cost?

Our courses are very affordable. We have different pricing plans that a student can choose from. The most popular is our $99 StraighterLine Membership, which is a monthly subscription. With the StraighterLine Membership you are billed $99 every 30 days until you complete the course or courses and cancel the subscription. With the subscription each course you add starts at $49. The number of courses you can add to the subscription is unlimited.

For students looking to complete a full year of college courses, you can create a customized Full Year bundle that allows you to take 10 courses for only $1299.

7 - How much does it cost to earn an online degree?

The cost of earning an online degree varies greatly between institutions, the amount of transfer credit you have earned, and the use of any scholarships you have been awarded.

Currently, some of the most affordable online degrees are being earned by those enrolled in competency-based degree programs. Schools that are part of the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) cost between about $2,500 and $6,000 per year, and it’s possible for students can shave a year or more off their overall time to degree. Almost all competency-based learning programs accept ACE Credit recommended courses in transfer – and most are also StraighterLine  Partners.

Need to know how to get started? Download our free guide on How to Go back to College today!

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