Getting the Best Online College Education

Comments (19)

While there is always a lot of debate as to whether an online college education is as good as a traditional college education, the answer is really very simple; there are good institutions that offer an online college education and there are bad establishments that offer an online college education. The same holds true for traditional college degree programs.

So, just as when you are looking for an offline course, you need to do the same kind of your research when you are looking for the best place to pursue an online college education.

Of course, you normally won't care where the college is located unless part of the online program involves off-line meetings. Usually the physical location just doesn't matter. However, a lot of the other points that you would consider before attending a traditional offline college or university should also be considered before you enroll with any organization offering an online college education.

The growth in the numbers of people pursuing an online college education has led to increased competition among institutions to attract students. The best way to assess the credibility of a site advertising that they have the best online college education is to ask about the accreditation of its courses. Accreditation means that some governing body for a particular field has endorsed the course. This can be extremely important in helping you to decide who to trust with your online college education. If a course is not accredited then you need to find out why.

There may be a number of courses that have not yet received accreditation from an appropriate association or governing body but still offer a good online college education. For example, the establishment may have applied for accreditation but not yet been assessed. In that case you can actually check with the particular accrediting agency to be certain that they actually are in the process of assessing the application for accreditation. Another reason may be that there is no appropriate accrediting body for a course. This is less likely but, nevertheless, could be a valid reason and doesn't necessarily indicate that the course offered is not going to be worth taking to advance your online college education.

If, however, you find that the online college education institution has been refused accreditation, then they are likely to try to tell you that accreditation is not important. And that simply isn't true. An online college education from a non-accredited institution is not going to be viewed as positively as one from an accredited establishment. Choose where you go to get your online college education with care to ensure that you are not wasting your time and money by having a nearly worthless qualification.

Another factor related to accreditation has to do with professions requiring some form of governmental license or certification. You need to be certain that any college degree or other course certification will be acceptable to whatever licensing body has authority over the profession in the location you live and work in. For example, a course which is accepted in one state, may not be accepted by the authorities in another state.

You need to think of the online college education arena as a marketplace. You are the consumer and as in any marketplace, you need to check the quality of the product and the 'merchant' according to the circumstances that apply to you and your area of study. While this may seem like a lot of work at times, it is your future, your time and your money that are involved. So take a little extra time and verify the value of any online college program (or any type of online learning) that you are considering.

Copyright 2005 Richard Keir

Richard Keir - EzineArticles Expert Author

As a writer and educator, both online and offline, Richard strongly supports the value of quality online educational programs in increasing access to education in today's hectic world. Learn more about online college programs: and online learning at these sites.


m_lollis 10.02.2011. 06:53

What is a good website to get online certifications? I am looking to get a job in the web development field. I do not have a degree and I barely have any college education. I was thinking about getting online certifications to help out my resume. What are some trusted websites that I can test on that look good on a resume.


Admin 10.02.2011. 06:53

Well there are many online universities who are providing accredited degree and those student having great job placement. I found a link that help you finding courses of your related course desired:


Danica D 07.02.2011. 15:07

When getting a divorce online, what if you want extra things? We are getting a divorce online. It covers the basics such as child support, spousal support, visitation, dividing property and debt, etc. We agree on everything so we don't need to fight over anything in court. We just want to have a few other things included in our divorce like college education and the kids doctor bills. Has anyone ever done this and do we need to write up something and get it signed by an attorney or just write it up ourselves and send it in with our other stuff?

Danica D

Michelle 10.12.2008. 08:31

What Online College is good for a teaching degree? My husband is active duty Army and we are stationed in Ansbach, Germany. I am looking for a online college that I can complete my teaching degree with. I currently have my associates degree in liberal arts and would now like to get my degree in elementary education. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Admin 10.12.2008. 08:31

There are a number of universities offering online teaching degrees, but I restricted this list to just those offering Elementary Education programs since that is your preference. It's important to note, however, that state licensing requirements for teachers vary, so you may want to check the state you plan to teach in upon your return for any special requirements.

Universities offering Bachelor degrees in Elementary Education online:

- Oregon State University (Liberal Studies --> Elem. Education)
- Prescott College
- University of Wisconsin?Superior
- Ashford University
- Dickinson State University
- Fort Hays State University
- Judson College
- Mayville State University
- Missouri State University
- Missouri State University?West Plains
- New Mexico State University
- Nova Southeastern University
- Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
- University of Phoenix
- Kaplan University
- Southwestern Adventist University

Hope that helps!



Sean Cox 11.12.2010. 06:42

What is the best online college for aspiring writers? I took a couple classes from University of Phoenix before I realized that no one would ever take me seriously with a degree from UoP and I probably would not get the education I needed. I'm having trouble finding a respectable online college to get a degree from (I know they are far and few between and most of them are for-profit schools) and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sean Cox

Admin 11.12.2010. 06:42

That is absolutely NOT TRUE that no one would 'ever take you seriously' with an online college degree from University of Phoenix or any of the other privately run colleges, for that matter. As a writer, your body of work is what really matters, and also showing that you complete (projects/degrees/etc.) that you start (no excuses like "no one would ever take me seriously") are critical. The beauty of online college degrees is that you can work and study at the same time. Read more from a top recruiter on how to start out at an entry level job while also taking online courses.

Keep in mind that the economy is making jobs even more difficult to get than ever, so you really need to show that you're the best possible candidate for the job. While having an Ivy League degree was fashionable in the 'olden days,' real talent, real life experience, a unique portfolio, and some real skills are what really matters now.

I have an engineering degree from a Big Ten university and have also taken master's classes online. I found the latter to be far more rigorous than sitting in a classroom with 200 other people, and have since used what I've learned in 2 businesses that I started. I wish that there were online degrees back when I was tromping through the snow and cold to get to my next class.

I took what I learned online very seriously, I take my work seriously, and therefore, the people who pay for my products/information/intellectual capital take me seriously, too.


Aaron 08.09.2010. 18:22

What are some great online colleges that are fasfa accredited? i want to attend and online college to get my bachelors degree in psychology and possibly business. What would the best option be?


Admin 08.09.2010. 18:22

FAFSA isn't an accreditor. FAFSA is a form you fill out to qualify for some forms of financial aid. It's not a type of financial aid and it's not a government agency. FAFSA is Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Be very careful here. Just because a school is eligible to disburse federal financial aid doesn't mean it's a credible school. Some are actually very shady. Your government will give fed money to any school that is accredited by any recognized agency - your local state university isn't as generous when it comes to transferring credit, they expect a specific sort of accreditation.

If you want a bachelor's degree then you want it to be regionally accredited. There are six regional accreditors in the US and your state U and local community college are accredited by one. (some pretty poor "as seen on TV" colleges are also accredited by the same people so this isn't the main criteria, it's the first essential criteria.)

In business, you also would like the school to be accredited by the AACSB (a program accreditor for business) and especially if you plan a master's degree later.

If you're not planning on spending 8-10 years in college studying psychology to get a PsyD or PhD, you might want to evaluate what job you plan to get with that bachelor's in psychology. It's not a vocational qualifier for any jobs. You need at least a master's to find work as a psychologist and the master's gets you "psychologist assistant" work.

Your choice of programs online includes 1000's of colleges you don't see TV commercials for. Everyone and his brother teaches online these days. Look at this list from just the state of Florida - or a similar one from California or from North Carolina

It's likely that your state has similar programs at all levels as well. These are almost always a better option than any "as seen on TV" proprietary college such as UPhoenix, AIU, Walden, etc... The proprietaries simply cost too much for what they offer and your state system is almost always 10's of thousands cheaper. Especially at the community college level.

Business and education are the two most common online majors. You should be able to find a very reputable online program that suits your needs fine and doesn't carry any baggage of being a poorly reputed college. is a good list to get you started.


Aaron 07.05.2010. 18:09

Can you complete college faster through online learning? Hi,
I currently work two jobs, and I don't have as much free time as I'd like. Is it possible to get a college education online faster than going to traditional school? I don't have so much free time, so the online option seems really good to me. However, I don't want to get an online education if it means sacrificing a decent education.

Any opinions?


Admin 07.05.2010. 18:09

Generally speaking, if we're talking about the good schools teaching online and not a diploma mill or a McUniversity, online courses will take more time than will a classroom course. The advantage to online isn't in less work or less learning time but in geography and physical time. That flexibility is what makes it ideal for working adults.

That is, you can do your online classwork from anywhere in the world (as long as you can connect to the internet) and at any hour of the day or night. It gives you an incredible geographic advantage in that you don't have to physically appear at a specific location several times a week.

But, reading Pride and Prejudice or writing a 10 page history paper takes the same amount of time whether you're an online student or a campus student. Studying for an exam isn't any faster online or campus. The work is essentially the same. One big difference is the commute to campus. But, that commute comes with a lecture that often makes the campus class a little (or a lot) easier - some classroom students don't even buy Pride and Prejudice, they rely on the lecture and notes. Online students can rarely avoid actually reading the texts.

Time to degree completion (as opposed to time spent in the classroom) depends only on completing the specified required courses. All bachelor's degree require essentially the same number of courses whether online or campus or hybrid (mixed). How long it takes you to complete the degree is directly correlated to how many classes you can complete at a time. An advantage online is that many of the for-profit colleges don't do only two semesters per year - some offer as many as five. They truly function year-round. That does speed the process. But, those for-profit colleges are generally not as well respected as the publics and private non-profits.

Moreover, wholly online programs have a low graduation rate partly because it's very difficult to learn ALL of the material required online. Some subjects are simply better suited to the classroom/lab and some (such as higher math) are incredibly hard online. Others though are ideally suited to online methods. Your very best option affording the highest chance of success is a local college that also teaches online in the program you want that also has adult/evening/weekend courses for people that work. That way, you get the best of three worlds.

Simple answer: No, legitimate online isn't necessarily faster than a classroom program.


Anonymous 24.04.2009. 22:40

Where can I get an affordable online education in web design? Hey everyone. I'm in high school right now, and am going to graduate soon. I want to major in web design. I am leaning towards online college. Thing is, is that all of them are expensive. A degree will average at least 30K.

Are there any affordable online web design schools? I don't want to have to go into debt, especially the way the economy is at this time.


Admin 24.04.2009. 22:40

Here are a number of other options for online degree programs in web design:

I'd recommend contacting a number of the schools on there to find out tuition requirements, financial aid opportunities and to make sure that the school is a good fit for you and your other requirements and goals.

Good luck!


Cac 14.05.2012. 00:05

Online college that offers a degree in X-ray tech or ultrasound? Im looking for a college in a that offers online classes for X-ray tech degree or ultrasound! Please help. Im 19 and just had a baby by need to get college education online.


Admin 14.05.2012. 00:05

How do you expect to realistically take classes in that field online? It's a hands-on field


ques que 12.12.2010. 21:00

Can I get into an Ivy league if I get a bachelors from an online college,while in the army? I'm planning on enlisting in the army, completing a management degree while on active duty, then applying to grad school when i'm discharged.Question is, since most of the coursework I'll do in the army will be from online colleges, would it still be hard to get into Ivy league schools even if i have stellar grades, good recommendations and a honorable discharge?

ques que

Admin 12.12.2010. 21:00

It all depends on the college you're applying for. If you have a high GPA you should be able to get accepted but to be honest the education section may be a better place to ask. To be honest, if you get accepted in a college like Harvard your GI bill might not be enough to cover your classes.


Change 05.08.2011. 01:22

Can you attend an online college living in a different state? For example, if I were from New York could I get an online degree from the university of phoenix without having to travel?

My second question is what are the best online colleges to get a degree from?
Preferably (but not limited too) video games or computers?


Admin 05.08.2011. 01:22

Yes, but University of Phoenix is a for profit college that employers don't take seriously. Don't waste your money. Look into state schools that have online programs. I know my school, ASU, has a complete online education system separate from the 4 main campuses. Look into schools around you or schools that will provide a nice financial aid package.


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