When all of your classmates are high-fiving each other about the great colleges they’ve been accepted to and they’re already planning the all-night frat parties, it might feel kind of lonely to know that deep down, you don’t really want that experience. Some people either just don’t have the time, because they have to work to pay bills, or they don’t have the desire to sit in a classroom for eight hours each day.
It used to be that these students had just a few choices. They could suck it up and go to a local college, maybe part-time, or they could put it aside altogether and start work right after high school graduation. Fortunately, the students graduating today have another option. They can take classes online at their own pace. But is it really that simple? Before you decide what’s best for you, take a look at the five things you really should know before taking online courses.
All online colleges are not created equal. You might be surprised to find out that not all online programs are accredited, which means you can take the classes, but your credits won’t transfer to a standard school. If you plan to transfer, or if you’re just worried about the school’s reputation, do a search for the best online colleges, and then find out whether they are accredited.
Even traditional colleges are offering online degrees these days. So, you might be able to attend the same school and even get the same degree as your frat-party-attending friends; you just won’t have to show up for classes. You can still go to the parties if you want, though.
You should really have your own personal computer before enrolling in an online class. For some of you, this may seem obvious, but others may struggle with this point. If you’re planning to use your mom’s computer, you have to realize that it may not always be available when you need it for a class. This is a silly reason to get a bad grade in any class. You can get a budget computer for cheap enough that this shouldn’t even be an issue.
You will probably still have to buy books and supplies. Some students think that if they enroll in online courses, all materials will be available online. Sometimes this is the case, but not always. Before you enroll, find out if there are other expenses you should know about.
You may be assigned a group project. Just because you’re sitting there by yourself doesn’t necessarily mean that every assignment will be done solo. With all the social networking tools out there, it’s easier than ever to collaborate with someone you’ve never even met. Some professors will even make this a requirement.