5 Things To Consider Before Attending College Online

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5 Things To Consider Before Attending College Online | With many students steadily transitioning to either a completely online schooling or some kind of hybrid education, it makes sense to start seriously considering online college as an alternative to the “traditional” college experience. The simple truth of the matter is that not everyone wants to have a traditional college experience. Some people just want to get their degree, learn as much as possible, and get started with their career right away. Going to which can also be quite expensive depending on where the student decides to go. Living expenses, room and board, and other considerations that factor into the traditional college experience are not present in an online college. There are many more reasons why one might consider attending online school, but it can ultimately present a worthwhile education that is just as valid as a degree from a brick and mortar school. Here are a few things to take into consideration prior to attending a college online. 

Ace Your College Application

Acing a college admissions application comes down to good attention to detail, hitting deadlines, and applying for colleges that fit your interests. Whether these are online schools or traditional colleges, ensuring your application looks good is the simplest and first step of the process. Some applications might require an essay. If that’s the case, find a topic you’re passionate about and write in a way consistent with how you want to be perceived by the college’s administrators. Use the essay as an opportunity for reflection and showing off your problem-solving skills. Be honest, transparent, and straightforward. Oh, and use a spellchecker. Proofreading and editing are essential to any successful communication, especially college applications. Consider your online activities and how past behavior might influence current assessments. If you’re transferring from another school, furnish a copy of your transcript and any other appropriate records to the school. Set up an advising appointment to get yourself situated on the right educational path. Not all schools require an application essay or even have an extensive admissions process. If the school takes a different approach, be sure to treat their application with the same meticulous care you would any other school and be as accurate as possible. They’ll also help you monitor your progress and do their best to help you succeed.

Explore Financial Aid Options

Financial aid is one of the most crucial aspects of attending college—even online college. You may even wonder if online colleges even offer financial aid to their students. Good news: they definitely do. It all starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). That will determine your eligibility for obtaining student aid. Aid is structured across various categories such as grants, scholarships, loans, and transfer credits. Grants and scholarships are ways to get money to pay for college. They have certain requirements and eligibility standards. Pell grants, military grants, and research grants are examples of the former while scholarships are awarded for various achievements. Neither grants and scholarships need to be repaired assuming a certain level of academic achievement is maintained depending on the terms of earning the reward. Loans are where you borrow money to go to school. These can come in personal loans or through the federal government. Direct subsidized, unsubsidized, PLUS, and Perkins Loans are all available to online students just as they are to traditional ones. In some cases, students can reduce tuition simply by transferring schools. Some online colleges will accept a transfer credit from a previously attended college that can help fill out the requirements for a degree. To see if you qualify for something like that or if your school offers it, you’ll need to contact their administration department for details. Not all schools have these programs, so be sure to find out if your target school offers a transfer program before applying.

Prepare Yourself For Online College

Preparing to attend school online is a bit different. To begin with, it’s essential to have internet access and access to a device (preferably a laptop or desktop computer) so you can actually take part in the online class, interact with faculty via email/messages, and perform necessary coursework. Find out what specific tech requirements your study will involve and get to know your teachers via email. It’s also important to know what kind of student support resources your school has. These include the library, advising, academic resources, conflict resolution, and more. Students should also make sure they go through the orientation and understand how to use their school’s learning management system. Finally, much of the learning is self-paced, so it’s essential to make a schedule/routine and dedicate some time each day to your studies. It may also help to create a cozy study space or use a local café as a dedicated place to work. There’s a lot of agency and freedom involved with self-paced work, but it requires motivation and discipline to succeed.

Find Your Major

Now that you’re ready to attend an online college, it’s time to knock out one of the most important parts of college: finding your major. Maybe you already know exactly what you want to study. In that case, choosing one of the many online bachelor’s degree programs out there will be a breeze. Online bachelor’s degrees are convenient and often less expensive – with some schools average cost per credit at around $450– than traditional schools. You’ll also find quite a variety of degree programs available, from business to technology to finance and more. Both bachelors of arts and bachelors of science degrees are typically available in an online college environment. If you’re uncertain about what you want to study, talk to an advisor. You can set an appointment with one of the school’s advisors to get things rolling on your college career. Advisors help you plan your schedule, ensure you are taking the right classes, get enrolled/register for the upcoming semester, and can tackle any questions you have about the particular major. 

Look For An Accredited School

You’ve undoubtedly seen the word “accreditation” appear quite often as you prepared to attend college. There’s a reason for this: accreditation is the quality standard for a college. By attaining accredited status, the school is essentially qualified to teach its courses and students will be able to work within their intended fields after completing a program. An employer is more likely to see the validity of the degree and online if the school is accredited. Accreditation also drives future development for students – such as certifications – and ensures the college is always operating profit. 

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