COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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10 things to know before you take an online course
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/10-things-to-know-before-you-take-an-online-course-819

Posted: 2015-08-10

by Beth Dumbauld

Director of Content at StraighterLine, Guest Contributor

Looking to lower the cost of college? Want to give college a try in a low-risk environment? Avoid student debt? Low-cost online college courses can help you - and your family - move forward with a degree without breaking the bank.

Before enrolling, get the facts. Here are the top ten things you should know about online courses:

1. Online courses can help significantly lower your cost of college. One way you can easily lower the cost of your degree and reduce your reliance on student loans is to complete low-cost general education courses online.

Every extra year spent on your college degree is a year of added cost - and added debt. Online or not, according to a recent report by Complete College America, you'll pay an extra $15,933 for every extra year at a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college.

2. Not all online courses cost the same. Before you sign up for online courses offered directly by your school, do a price check. According to Russ Poulin, Deputy Director of Research & Analysis for the Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), over 90% of colleges charge the same or more for their online courses as they do for their face-to-face courses.

3. Even if you are already enrolled in a school, courses you take online can still transfer for credit. Many students believe that they can only earn credit for their degree by taking classes exclusively through their current college or university. This isn't true. Often, you can complete general education courses online or earn credit at your school through alternative course providers, but first you'll want to speak with a registrar and better understand your school's transfer credit policy.

4. Online courses are often cheaper and more flexible than community college courses. Many families assume that community colleges offer the cheapest, most convenient way to earn college credits, but that's not always the case. According to the most recent data from the College Board, a three-credit class at a community college is usually about $350 in tuition. That means a ten course academic year will cost about $3,500.

With the growth of online options that aren't colleges, but act like them StraighterLine, MOOCs and more there are a variety of free and low-priced options that are at least equal to the online offerings from existing colleges.

5. Common college prerequisite courses can be completed online. Many students take online courses in order to complete prerequisites necessary for entry into a degree program - or to gain confidence in their ability to succeed at the college level in a low-risk environment.

From math to science to humanities - online courses help students avoid waitlists and affordably complete their intro classes.

6. Students who complete classes online prior to enrolling in college often perform better while enrolled in school. By taking courses in advance of enrollment, students are better able to experience the time requirements necessary to complete a degree. Recent research by MDRC, a nonprofit education research organization, suggests that undergraduates who are enrolled in courses year-round - taking courses in summer and winter - are more likely to complete college faster, accumulate more credits, and earn their degree.

7. Online courses can be used for on-campus and online degree programs. Speak with your school's transfer office. If your school accepts credit through AP or CLEP, there's a good chance your school will also accept the ACE Credit recommended courses typically offered by online course providers.

Check out the ACE College and University Network; it has more than 2,000 institutions that recognize and consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their schools course and degree programs. Use your college advisor, or your student advisor at your online course provider, to help walk you through the process.

8. Not all online courses were made equal. Make sure your online course provider is up-to-date; courses with stale material can put you out of step in a changing workplace. Sometimes, professors build their own content for a course. Typically, quality course content comes bundled with a textbook adoption from a major publisher or as an Open Educational Resource (OER).

9. You can try online courses for free. If you want to experience a college course before you enroll, taking advantage of a free trial is a great option. Within a traditional university system, there's usually no free "trial" period - and withdrawal often comes at a high cost.

10. Online courses offer tutoring, advising, mentoring, tech support. Though online course providers and colleges are not required to offer any of these great services, most do. Having access to live academic and non-academic help is a great safety net for students. Student advisors can help with course navigation, credit transfer and technical problems. Online tutoring provides students with the academic help they need, when they need it. And increasingly, online schools like competency-based education pioneer Western Governors University provide mentors to make sure students stay on track.

Nothing really separates a college from a non-college when delivering online courses. Best of all, with online courses, you can try college in a low-risk environment, at a low-cost, and enjoy an enormous amount of flexibility.


About the Author: Beth Dumbauld is the Director of Content at StraighterLine. StraighterLine solves the #1 issue facing students today the skyrocketing cost of college with low-cost online courses that are guaranteed to transfer to schools in a network of 90+ accredited colleges.


Director of Content at StraighterLine, Guest Contributor

Looking to lower the cost of college? Want to give college a try in a low-risk environment? Avoid student debt? Low-cost online college courses can help you - and your family - move forward with a degree without breaking the bank.

Before enrolling, get the facts. Here are the top ten things you should know about online courses:

1. Online courses can help significantly lower your cost of college. One way you can easily lower the cost of your degree and reduce your reliance on student loans is to complete low-cost general education courses online.

Every extra year spent on your college degree is a year of added cost - and added debt. Online or not, according to a recent report by Complete College America, you'll pay an extra $15,933 for every extra year at a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college.

2. Not all online courses cost the same. Before you sign up for online courses offered directly by your school, do a price check. According to Russ Poulin, Deputy Director of Research & Analysis for the Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), over 90% of colleges charge the same or more for their online courses as they do for their face-to-face courses.

3. Even if you are already enrolled in a school, courses you take online can still transfer for credit. Many students believe that they can only earn credit for their degree by taking classes exclusively through their current college or university. This isn't true. Often, you can complete general education courses online or earn credit at your school through alternative course providers, but first you'll want to speak with a registrar and better understand your school's transfer credit policy.

4. Online courses are often cheaper and more flexible than community college courses. Many families assume that community colleges offer the cheapest, most convenient way to earn college credits, but that's not always the case. According to the most recent data from the College Board, a three-credit class at a community college is usually about $350 in tuition. That means a ten course academic year will cost about $3,500.

With the growth of online options that aren't colleges, but act like them StraighterLine, MOOCs and more there are a variety of free and low-priced options that are at least equal to the online offerings from existing colleges.

5. Common college prerequisite courses can be completed online. Many students take online courses in order to complete prerequisites necessary for entry into a degree program - or to gain confidence in their ability to succeed at the college level in a low-risk environment.

From math to science to humanities - online courses help students avoid waitlists and affordably complete their intro classes.

6. Students who complete classes online prior to enrolling in college often perform better while enrolled in school. By taking courses in advance of enrollment, students are better able to experience the time requirements necessary to complete a degree. Recent research by MDRC, a nonprofit education research organization, suggests that undergraduates who are enrolled in courses year-round - taking courses in summer and winter - are more likely to complete college faster, accumulate more credits, and earn their degree.

7. Online courses can be used for on-campus and online degree programs. Speak with your school's transfer office. If your school accepts credit through AP or CLEP, there's a good chance your school will also accept the ACE Credit recommended courses typically offered by online course providers.

Check out the ACE College and University Network; it has more than 2,000 institutions that recognize and consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their schools course and degree programs. Use your college advisor, or your student advisor at your online course provider, to help walk you through the process.

8. Not all online courses were made equal. Make sure your online course provider is up-to-date; courses with stale material can put you out of step in a changing workplace. Sometimes, professors build their own content for a course. Typically, quality course content comes bundled with a textbook adoption from a major publisher or as an Open Educational Resource (OER).

9. You can try online courses for free. If you want to experience a college course before you enroll, taking advantage of a free trial is a great option. Within a traditional university system, there's usually no free "trial" period - and withdrawal often comes at a high cost.

10. Online courses offer tutoring, advising, mentoring, tech support. Though online course providers and colleges are not required to offer any of these great services, most do. Having access to live academic and non-academic help is a great safety net for students. Student advisors can help with course navigation, credit transfer and technical problems. Online tutoring provides students with the academic help they need, when they need it. And increasingly, online schools like competency-based education pioneer Western Governors University provide mentors to make sure students stay on track.

Nothing really separates a college from a non-college when delivering online courses. Best of all, with online courses, you can try college in a low-risk environment, at a low-cost, and enjoy an enormous amount of flexibility.


About the Author: Beth Dumbauld is the Director of Content at StraighterLine. StraighterLine solves the #1 issue facing students today the skyrocketing cost of college with low-cost online courses that are guaranteed to transfer to schools in a network of 90+ accredited colleges.


 

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