College is a major investment on multiple fronts. Some of these investments can be handled through loans, others are not so easy to handle. Your time, energy, and willingness to learn will need to be spent in a significant way on your studies and making the choice to do so is something you should carefully consider. The financial part is a little easier to handle. First, there are plenty of grants and loans available for students looking to reduce their upfront or monthly fees for tuition, books and other school supplies. Another option is to look for cheap online colleges that offer robust programs that will prepare you for your particular career goals. Some schools, such as Penn Foster, offer very low rates on many of their programs. With some certifications or associate degrees costing less than $2,000 you can likely pay monthly as you study.
So how does an online college work, and why are they so cheap? Not all online colleges will come in at such a low price point, many will still cost $20,000 – $30,000 in total, but they all offer significant ways to overcome some of the significant hurdles that you face as you decide to go back to college.
As you learned throughout your K-12 years of school, attending an actual campus is a significant time investment. Travel, moving from class to class, and sitting in classrooms all day leaves little freedom for you to schedule other important tasks throughout the day. With an online college you choose when and how to learn. The “when” part of the equation is easy. Most online study programs are self-paced with just a few deadlines set for graded work and tests or quizzes. While this is a fine option for students fresh out of high school, this is often the path that working adults with families pursue to earn their degree.
The freedom that comes from learning on your schedule, with only minor time constraints is an important aspect of online degree programs, but you don’t miss out on what makes a college education so important. As much as we all hate to sit and listen to lectures at times, the information is invaluable and often times extremely interesting. With an online program you can read, or view through video files, the lecture at your own leisure and pace. You likely remember trying to quickly scribble notes during quick moving lectures in high school. With an online program, you simply rewind the video a little and watch that part of the lecture again.
One big misunderstanding in relation to online programs is the lack of community. Students think that they are on their own and don’t get to participate in the important philosophical discussions that can happen in classrooms when students are fully engaged. Online programs give you the same power, but with a deeper and more impactful experience as a result. Through online message boards, such as collegeconfidential.com’s forum, students are able to discuss, link facts and examples on posts all to support their particular point in the discussion. Because this is a message board system, students are not limited to a normal classrooms time constraints and discussions can carry on for days and weeks. Instructors are still available through email, phone and through the message boards, so you are never left out in the wild to learn as you see fit.
No More Ramen
College is famous for teaching students to love Ramen Noodles, as one extreme example portrays. The cheap, quick meal is often the staple of a struggling student. With an online college, there are often fewer bills to be paid for the school (especially for schools that have no brick and mortar campus) so you save on your tuition. Loans, financial aid and grants can all help out when you move to more expensive programs, but there are many cheap online colleges that have plans that are payable on a monthly basis without need for a loan. This ultimately comes down to a new, different way of learning at a fraction of the cost in many cases. Some of the colleges even offer free laptops for students that don’t want to clutter up their personal PC with all of their school work.
The right program and the right school will require research and discussions with different advisors. There is no one way to tell you what school is perfect for you. The key is to look for an online program that offers the benefits listed above at a price point you are comfortable with. There are countless options for online colleges. For example, Cheap Online Schools lists a plethora of online colleges that will not only give you a GOOD education, but they won’t put you into severe debt like other online colleges may. Things aren’t like they were decades ago, when you had to relocate to live on campus, or find a college close to home, the whole world is right in front of you, on the internet, and your future can be readied with a college that is living alongside YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and all the other popular sites. Go out there and find the right one for you, ask for a tour of their online campus software, and take the first step towards the future you desire. Just make sure you find the one that will leave you as close to debt free upon graduation as possible.