FAQs About Colleges in the USA

FAQs About Colleges in the USA

I've heard a lot about online degrees. Why would I want to go to school online?

Online degree programs can fit into anyone's lives, regardless of work and family commitments, or other personal activities. Students going to school online attend class at their convenience, from the comforts of home. Studying online also allows students a broader choice in colleges since they are not limited by geographic barriers. Visit OnlineSchools.net for more information about online degree programs.

How can I be sure I am choosing a good online program?

The best way to check on the quality of a program is to find out if it is accredited. Most schools seek out regional accreditation and, if they offer degrees in certain subject areas, accreditation from national standards boards in those fields. Accreditation is important for many reasons. First, it holds the school accountable to an established level of standards that all schools with similar accreditation will meet. Second, it lets employers and licensing agencies know that the school's graduates have a certain level of knowledge and skills. Often, graduation from an accredited school is required to become licensed in a field.

In addition to accreditation, a good indicator of a quality program is how successful its graduates are. Many colleges' career services departments will keep a record of statistics that indicate how many graduates are working in their chosen field within three or six months of graduation. They may also be able to report on graduates' levels of satisfaction with the school as well. Learn more about quality online programs by reading "How to Check for a High Quality Online Degree Program" from our partner site, OnlineSchools.net.

There are so many online degree programs to choose from. How do I know which one is right for me?

Certainly, the wealth of online degree programs can present an overwhelming decision. The easiest way to narrow down the selection is by making a list of what factors are most important to you. If cost is the most important factor, start your list there. Other important considerations include degree programs, curriculum, program formats, accreditation, and the quality of the instructors. Many students consult published rankings of schools, but, because rankings can often be biased and do receive a lot of criticism, students shouldn't rely on them exclusively. Often, the best approach is for a student to consider rankings and their own personal factors. For more information about how to select an online school, please read "Ranking Online Schools and Choosing the Right One for You" from our partner site, OnlineSchools.net.

What traits does a student need to be successful in an online program?

The nature of an online program pretty much requires its students to be very motivated and self-directed. Online students have to create their own schedules and make sure they participate in class lessons and discussions. Because students have to manage their time, they have to make sure they don't procrastinate too much and fall behind. In addition to time management skills, students should also be aggressive and outgoing and be able to pursue support services when needed, communicate with professors on a regular basis, and engage in online discussions with peers.

Now that I'm going back to school, do I need to know a lot about computers?

All students today need to have some familiarity with computers and the Internet, online students especially. Online degree programs use email, discussion boards, chat programs (instant messenger), and word processing software, such as Microsoft Word. Many community colleges offer introductory and refresher computer courses for students who would like to brush up on their skills before starting a degree program. For more information about schools that offer such courses, please visit our partner site, ComputerSchools.com.

Where can I take an English as a Second Language (ESL) class so that I can improve my speaking and writing skills before beginning a degree program?

Many area learning centers and community colleges, as well as online programs, offer ESL to students whose first language is not English. Visit our partner site, LanguageSchools.com, for more information about ESL courses online or in your local area.

I never finished high school. Where can I take the GED exam?

Your state's department of education will be able to tell you about reputable testing organizations in your area. To find your state's education department, check out the US Department of Education's database.

I have a few college courses completed. Can I put those toward a degree?

Most of the time, yes! Many schools will accept your previously earned credits as "transfer credit" and substitute that work for similar program requirements. Most schools require the credits come from an accredited school with a grade of C or higher. Many programs are accelerated programs designed expressly for students who have prior college experience.

How does an online degree program compare to a traditional campus one?

Many online students report that they learn more in an online program because of the way online programs are structured. In an on-campus program, dozens of students compete at once to offer answers to questions and insight into discussions. Many students are too shy to participate or just never get a change. In an online program, students participate through message boards and chat programs - no one misses an opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas. Communication with instructors is done through email, making sure each student gets personal attention from the faculty.

Online classes are generally extremely comparable with traditional on-campus programs. Many online students say they actually learn more and work harder in an online course because of the way a course is structured. Online discussion boards and other online learning formats engage all students in class participation, eliminating the physical barriers an on-campus class often presents. Online students also tend to have increased levels of personal communication with professors through email.

Everything I hear about online degrees says I can learn at home. I don't have a computer. Can I still enroll in an online program?

While the majority of online students find that having their own personal computer makes it easy to participate in an online degree program, owning a computer is not a requirement. As long as you have access to the Internet on a regular basis, you can do an online program. Online students can use the local library or Internet cafés for computer access, and in many cases, Internet access is free. For more information about how to complete an online program without having a personal computer, check out "Alternatives to Studying for an Online Degree at Home" from our partner site, OnlineSchools.net.

How long will it take me to earn my degree?

It depends on the degree program. The average associate's degree program takes about two years to finish, while a bachelor's degree program takes about four. Students who have previously earned credit may finish faster, as may students enrolled in accelerated classes. Many certificates and diplomas can be completed in less than a year.

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