Choosing where and how to go to college is an important decision. Many students can choose between traditional campus programs and flexible online degrees. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the number of students taking online courses continues to increase. However, as a potential student, you may not know if an online format is right for you.
Information from those who have left before can help you evaluate online programs and plan your graduation payment. So what do you need to know to be an online student before registering? The annual survey of 1,500 online students, including nearly 300 online graduates, provides an overview of online learning.
Compare several programs: resources and regret
What would online graduates do differently if they re-enroll? Each year in our study, the main answer to this question was “Compare more programs”. This means that you do your own research in advance and that you don’t have to limit yourself to one or two options at the start.
According to a study from Learning House, potential online students see an average of 2.47 schools, and almost a quarter of students see only one school. This may not be enough to find the best option for you. Please note that this “adjustment” includes a wide range of components, from academic and support services to financial support and practical programming.
Our interviewed students used many and often multiple resources to compare programs online. This year’s top three resources were:
But don’t stop there.
The majority (69%) of online students participate in their programs for career and employment goals. To achieve these goals, it is important to find programs that prepare you for work in your future field. Students in our study contacted professional associations, employers, and employment and wages websites for more information. When you do your research, think about the following questions: Do your future school programs provide data on alumni employment or wages? Do you have program associations with employers or other links with professional groups?
It takes time to find a good program that offers the experience and results you are looking for. It also means turning to a variety of people and resources to gather the information you need to make the right decision.
Understanding college finances: preparation and planning
We all know that college education, online or on campus, is expensive and that student debt has increased significantly in the past 10 years. The message from all the groups of students participating in our study (for example, potential, current, and former) is clear: the financial impact is the most difficult part of the process.
In our study, graduates of the online program stated that the biggest barrier to graduation was “paying for higher education and reducing debt”. This is due to the greater challenges that students face when deciding on online education. In the three years we interviewed students online, respondents identified “estimating real costs” and “asking for financial support and identifying sufficient funds” as their main challenges.
How can you learn from these lessons? Start budgeting. See how adding tuition and paying off loans affect your financial situation. Paying for college should be a temporary thing, not a lifetime commitment. Plan ahead and prioritize your expenses during your studies.
Take the time to contact the admission and financial support counselors of each school you plan to assess the detailed costs. You should also search for online resources such as the US Department of Education’s StudentLoans.gov website. This website contains a tutorial on financial literacy advice at your own pace that will help you understand your financial aid and manage your finances. “
Paying college is an ongoing expense. Many of the online students in our study said they rely on a variety of sources to source college supplies.