FAQs About Online Colleges


How are college rankings determined?

The best college and university rankings are usually determined by combining a wide variety of important factors. When evaluating the strength of an online college degree, the size of the university, the cost, amount of programs offered, and accreditation are solid indicators, but by no means the only elements that should be considered. Useful undergraduate and graduate rankings also take into account things like graduation rate, job placement rates, both student and educator feedback, as well as the general popularity of the university.

Other ranking criteria includes:

  • retention and acceptance rates
  • tuition per undergraduate credit hour
  • student-teacher ratios
  • technical support reputation

These factors combined help determine a school’s “score.” Many different publications and organizations compile these scores into ranks that assist students in selecting the right school. U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review are just a few bestsellers of college ranking statistics.

Are there rankings for online colleges?

While there is no official ranking for online schools, it is important for the school to be accredited. Below are different types of online schools broken down and discussed as well as some options if you are considering an online accredited school for your education.

How is an online education different from a campus-based education?

Many prospective students often hesitate to take the plunge into an online college education because they don’t fully understand the differences between it and a traditional campus education.

  • Extremely Flexible Schedule: Many online college courses offer a schedule that is much more flexible than traditional campus classes. Many classes offer lectures that simply need to be watched at some point before an examination.
  • No Commute: Traditional schools require students to live on campus or commute to call. This commute can be expensive because of gas prices, and can also result in extra costs for parking, loss of time, and so on. An online college education eliminates the need for a daily commute, which can do wonders to help cut costs.
  • Lower Costs: Not always, but often times, getting college degrees online can be somewhat cheaper than a traditional campus degree. Costs are lower because of the lack of costs for commuting and room and board. Additionally, online universities typically only charge students for the actual class, without other fees. Traditional college campuses often charge students lab, administrative, or activity fees that can increase costs significantly.
  • Many Degree Options: Traditional campuses do offer a variety of degrees, but students are often limited to only those campuses that are in their immediate area. Online colleges allow students much greater flexibility in selecting a school that offers the specific degree they are looking for, without having to worry about physical distance limiting their options. Some online colleges offer degrees that are simply less common in traditional universities.

What is the average salary of someone with an online degree?

No matter who you talk to, everyone agrees that when you obtain more education and certification, your earning potential will increase. Someone who has an online degree from a well ranked online university, who otherwise would have only had a high school diploma, should also see their salary increase. The average salary for someone with an online degree is highly variable, depending on the specific degree an individual is pursuing. In general, however, someone who has a basic degree has an earning potential in the $30,000-$40,000 range. Persons with advanced degrees such as masters and PhD’s can see their earnings go up to over $100,000. This is far above the average salary of someone without a post secondary degree, which is closer to $20,000.

What kinds of financial aid are available for online schools?

Financial aid is generally available in the form of loans and grants for those who demonstrate need. Just because you decide to attend a school online does not exclude you from being eligible for financial aid. In fact, filling out a FAFSA form is often the best first step to take in order find additional funding for school. There are also many unique and interesting scholarships available for perspective students. For example, the Culinary Institute of America’s All-American Apple Pie Recipe Contest, offers a scholarship to the best Apple Pie maker. If you can cook, it’s easy money! Individual schools also offer a variety of scholarship programs, so research is key.

It’s important to verify accreditation when selecting on on-line school. If the school is not recognized as a legitimate institution, you will not receive financial aid. Therefore, research each school carefully and speak to an admissions representation before enrolling in classes. Once you’ve determined a school’s accreditation status, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid¬†(FAFSA). A FAFSA will ¬†provide you with an evaluation of your eligibility for financial aid.

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