A Guide on How to Go Back to College: Part Three (Page 3)

Choosing The Right Online Program

Online programs come in many shapes and sizes. As with traditional college campuses, there are distinct personalities and advantages to different kinds of virtual campuses. Knowing where you are academically, how you learn best, and what kind of degree your career path requires can help you decide which program is best for you.

The main difference between an online program and its traditional counterpart is that the majority of courses have all or most of their content delivered online. Typically, these courses have no face-to-face interaction.6 This should not, however, be confused with no teacher-student interaction. In fact, online institutions can sometimes offer a higher level of one-on-one teacher-student interaction because technology provides a clear channel for students to reach out for assistance and obtain help unique to their own situation. When there is no classroom, you don’t have to be timid about asking for help. Online, there is no side-by-side comparison and judgment. And many students who have taken online courses have found them to be equally rigorous, more satisfying and of comparable or higher quality to traditional college courses.

Prerequisite Online Programs

There is a growing movement towards preparing the groundwork for college prior to going to college. This movement makes sense. Obtaining college credits before enrolling can save time and money. It can save time by removing the “filler” courses from your course load, so that when you do enroll in college, you can focus your time and money on courses at the heart of your major. Prerequisite programs save money by allowing a student to pay significantly lower costs for generalist courses and allowing them to keep the bulk of their tuition money for the more specialized courses they will need to take at an accredited college.

Traditionally, many of these prerequisite college credits were earned by students completing AP classes while still in high school. Truth is, not every high school offers AP courses, nor is every student prepared to take college level classes at a young age. Just because you didn’t have the opportunity to take college level classes while in high school doesn’t mean you’ve missed out all together. You can earn college credits now through a prerequisite program even if you plan on enrolling in college at a later date.

One such leader in prerequisite program offerings is Straighterline.com. This online program also specializes in ensuring students that the courses they take can be transferred to accredited partner colleges as they move closer to enrolling and earning their college degree. At a subscription rate of $99/month plus a $49 per course one time fee, it’s easy to see how such a program can really help to give a leg up to the student looking to get back into student mode and finance a college education in a sustainable manner.

6 The Sloan Consortium, Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011, p. 7

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