You have just made the decision to begin your college journey. Where do you begin? Some of the most popular degree programs in the U.S. today can be found in convenient and flexible format.
Why Study in an Online Program?
Online degree programs can be a great way to expand your knowledge within a particular subject area without having to reduce the amount of time you spend on a career or your family. The entry point to collegiate success can be found at the bachelors level. A lot of applicants to this program are new high school graduates or adults seeking better career opportunities to change their lives.
The Online Bachelor Degree
Online bachelors degrees are an innovative solution to learners dilemmas. In society as it stands today, people may be seeking out convenient options for their education so that they can continue working full-time positions in an ever-demanding society. The cost of living is on the rise, making it necessary for a large portion of society to consider their financial wellness alongside their degree aspirations.
Breaking down the online bachelors degree programs available in the U.S., you might find that the format of courses is similar to that of traditional programs. Students are expected to engage in learning alongside their peers via an online classroom - which may consist of a syllabus, weekly course assignments and readings, and examinations.
Learning Format Options for an Online BS or BA
The layout of online courses can provide you with more tools for pre-planning, which is not always provided in traditional learning environments. Depending on the type of degree program you are enrolled in, you might be expected to log in at certain points during the week to engage with other students and your instructor.
This type of synchronous learning is available in many online programs, while most students choose asynchronous programs to maximize their flexibility with scheduling. Asynchronous programs allow students to log in, complete course work, and study at their own pace without pre-determined meeting times or virtual discussions.
The Online Bachelors Experience
Now that you know a little more about what the online bachelors program actually is, it might be useful to browse the online bachelors program from a students perspective. Some students are curious about what the layout of each course of like, what types of courses may be covered during their program, and methods to utilize to guarantee their success.
Before you ever submit your first application, there are several factors to consider with online bachelors programs:
- Accreditation: You may see this word pop up regularly during your search for the right program. Accreditation may be your key to licensure, higher degree programs, and progressive careers in your future. Accreditation can be found in both program and regional format, making it important to learn more about what accreditation is in relation to your chosen program. Accreditation agencies are responsible for reviewing degree programs or universities for accuracy and reliability. These agencies place their seal of approval on these entities and provide follow-up reviews to ensure ongoing certification.
- Price: If you were to break down the costs at a handful of different colleges, you might find that the cost variances between them would be extreme. Since the cost of online bachelors degrees can be so different, it is important for you to review these prices upfront to ensure you are getting the right price. While tuition is one of the first prices that you can review when choosing a program, there are other hidden costs located as university fees, program fees, and even direct costs such as books and technology access.
- Length of Time to Complete: The online bachelors degree contains a standard 4-year completion tag. While the time it takes you to complete your degree often relies on how much time you are willing to put into your studies, some programs may offer accelerated formats that can help you obtain your degree quicker than usual. Check out the timeframes for the different programs you are searching for in order to get the best bang for your buck.
Once you have recognized and sorted through these different options, you should be ready to commit to an online bachelors program. Once you are enrolled, you may choose to take courses at a full-time or part-time rate. At the standard full-time rate, you may be enrolled in 4 classes per term.
Each of your online courses should have a convenient layout that includes a primary review of the syllabus and course expectations, an introductory discussion with your instructor, and tips on getting started for the first week.
Assignments in online bachelors programs are provided in a very convenient and understandable format. You should have the ability to review your assignments from week to week, so that you can prepare for assignments that are to come along the way. An advantage of enrolling in an online bachelors program is that you can have the ability to see the entire layout of your course from the very beginning and review the expectations of each assignment prior to it coming due.
Online Vs. Traditional Programs
In the beginning, online degree programs need to earn trust among college-goers all over the U.S. This type of college degree was unheard of, which created a need for more information and validation regarding the usefulness of these programs. As society has advanced even farther into the digital age, people may be more and more likely to enjoy the benefits of online education. In today’s time, people use technology and the internet for a wide range of personal services, including education. The advantages of online bachelors degree programs can complement your fast-paced lifestyle.
Most students that choose these programs probably do so because of the flexibility and convenience they provide. You can see 2 different types of courses within the online environment – asynchronous and synchronous. Asynchronous courses can allow you to complete your assignments and progress through the course at your own pace. You may see pre-listed due dates for assignments, which allows you to manage your time freely while enrolled. Synchronous courses can provide you with a more structured online course, with students following along with their instructor, taking part in virtual discussions, and meeting regularly with classmates via the online course room.
These 2 different styles can accommodate for the diverse needs of students choosing online degree programs. The traditional classroom may be the one that most people are familiar with. On the first day of class, students receive a syllabus which lists the expectations of the class and the topics that may be included in the curriculum. Students are expected to attend class on certain days of the week during a specific timeframe. While in a traditional class, students learn in real-time and have the opportunity to ask questions as needed. Assignments and exams are submitted while in the classroom, as well as any group projects or discussions needed.
The primary differences between online and traditional bachelors programs goes back to the location of the course and the convenience it provides. Courses in the online setting can be logged in to from any location that contains the internet. Students can also have access to online resources that may not be immediately available in the traditional environment. Most full-time workers choose online degree programs due to their ability to log in at convenient times and the lack of a strict attendance schedule. If you require this type of flexibility in order to maintain a full-time career or manage other obligations, online programs may be the better choice for you.
Applying from Start to Finish
Fill Out the Application Online
One of the best ways to apply to an online bachelors program is filling out the application online. Most university websites provide students with an easy-to-use application process, which can be completed in under an hour. The application may ask you about your residency, high school GPA, and about any previous college courses you may have taken. All of this information may be used during the determination process.
Provide High School/Previous College Transcripts and Test Scores
In order for a college to make a decision about your acceptance, they may need to review your college transcripts, see scores from any examination such as the ACT or SAT, and review any previous college courses you have taken prior to enrolling. Generally, you can contact the institutions that hold your records and request that they send them to your new school for consideration.
Send Your FAFSA Results to Your School
If you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you should contact them to forward your results to your chosen school. This can be helpful when organizing finances and planning for tuition, fees, and books at the onset of your program. Generally speaking, it is often better to complete this step earlier in the process than wait until you are already enrolled.
Letters of Recommendation/Essays
Depending on the school you choose, there may be requirements for admission that include providing letters of recommendation from previous instructors or employers. Specialty programs are most likely to request the documents, since the application rate is often higher than standard programs. Essay requirements can also set you apart from others based on your writing ability and your message to the university. Each of these requirements can help solidify your acceptance into online bachelors programs.
Estimated Timeframes for the Online Bachelors
The online bachelors degree can be your foundation for higher learning within the subject area of your choice. Looking ahead, it can seem like an eternity between now and when you complete your degree program. Through research and scrutiny, you can locate a degree program that can help you complete your program in a timeframe that is reasonable for your needs. The standard online bachelors program consists of 120 credit hours of learning. The first 60 hours of this program may be primarily general education courses that can strengthen your understanding of general subjects such as College Algebra, English, and History.
As you move forward into your second 60 hours, you can start to focus more specifically on the courses required to satisfy your major requirements. This entire process takes around 4 years for students enrolled at a full-time rate. Some online bachelors programs can be completed in around 3 years and require students to engage in a more rigorous schedule then those in the standard format. There are some universities that allow students to take on more than the standard full-time load of courses. This can assist you in completing your degree program at a faster rate, but may require much more involvement from start to finish.
Typical Costs of an Online Bachelors
Costs should be one of the major factors that influence your enrollment decision. Colleges can offer you the same degree for a wide range of costs, which may require you to engage in more research prior to choosing a program that works for you. Our team of researchers has reviewed some common online bachelors programs in order to provide you with some up to date data on the costs of tuition at each one. Check out the list below for some different prices.
- Penn State University: $6,742 per semester for full time students
- Purdue University: $371 per credit hour for full time students
- Ashford University: $475 per credit hour for full time students
Considering the wide variation of costs between universities offer online bachelors degrees, you should have a plan of action to cover the costs of tuition, fees, and books for your courses. All students planning to enroll in online bachelors programs are encouraged to apply for federal financial aid through the FAFSA. This program can help you understand what types of federal grants, loans, and work-study programs you can qualify for to help cover the cost of your program.
Another way to help fund your education is through scholarships. These types of awards can be gained through researching available options in your area and providing proof that you meet the requirements for them. Scholarships can be offered for a wide range of reasons, including academic excellence, excelling in sports, and even community-oriented programs and volunteering.
Important Points to Consider
Before you take the plunge into online bachelors programs, there are some different points to consider. The online environment may require you to have a strong sense of self-discipline, since you will not have an instructor in your presence encouraging you to complete your work. Completing a degree program from home requires you to maintain a regular schedule and keep up with due dates through your own personally preferred methods.
During the research and choice process, you should ensure that you review the costs, accreditation, and requirements of your candidate programs. While most online bachelors programs are marketed at 100% online, you should always check to make sure there are no in-person requirements for your program. Hidden costs in technology fees can also be troublesome if you were not aware of them upfront, so this is another important step to complete prior to filing your application.
Schools and Programs Offering Online Bachelors Degrees
As you sort through your options for an online degree program, you should strongly consider what type of career you would like to have in the future. Your bachelor’s program can help solidify your path into higher tier degree programs or even assist you with obtaining entry-level careers in the field.
There are a large number of available online bachelors programs throughout the U.S. that can helpful in meeting your goals. Our team has listed some of the most popular online schools below, as well as a few of their available programs at the bachelors level. Check out what is available to you below.
- Arizona State University: Online Bachelors in Business, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice, and Engineering Management
- The University of Florida: Online Bachelors in Anthropology, Business, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, and Nursing
- Maryville University: Online Bachelors in Accounting, Communications, Cybersecurity, and Healthcare Management.