There are many opinions out there about the best online colleges. If you’re considering going back to school and you want to choose one of the top colleges to attend online, you need to know the right choices. Comparing a few top options will help you make the right decision.
The best online college for you might be different from the best online college for someone else. The college you choose needs to offer the degree program you want and a schedule you can work with. Before we look at some of the top online college options, let’s look at what online college is all about.
What is Online College?
Online college is a type of degree program that allows you to learn in an online environment. Instead of living on campus or attending classes on campus, you will attend classes from home. Actually, you can attend classes from anywhere you can connect to the internet.
An online college degree program can help you build the necessary skills and get the degree you need. There are many benefits to this type of college.
Pros & Cons of Attending Online College
- Take classes virtually, as long as you have an internet connection, you can attend class
- Pursue some of the top degree programs from top colleges
- Work around your busy schedule by taking courses when they fit your schedule
- Often, online colleges are less expensive
- No need to commute to a campus and spend money on gas and car maintenance
- You will need to be self-motivated to find success with online college
- It’s necessary to have good time management skills
- You won’t get any face-to-face interaction with the instructor
- It’s harder to network with classmates
While there are some cons to an online college, there are a ton of pros. Often, for busy students, the pros will outweigh the cons. If you want to change careers or get an advanced degree, one of the best online colleges might be the right option for you.
Online Only Colleges vs. Colleges with Online Courses
There are some online-only colleges that don’t offer traditional classes at all. However, most of the best online colleges are actually traditional colleges and universities that offer online degree programs.
Both of these types of online colleges offer great options. However, with a traditional college or university, you might be able to take some courses in the classroom, too. If this is an option you want, consider a college that offers both. If you only want to take online courses, choose either option.
When you take courses on campus, it’s harder to get the flexibility you might need. With online college courses, you can often take the course at any time of the day. Many of these courses only require you to check in during a specific day or days, instead of showing up at a specific time.
The Best 7 Online Colleges Available Today
1. The University of Florida
According to TheBestSchools.org, the best online college is the University of Florida. This is a traditional university that offers online degree programs through UF Online. You can select from more than 200 online programs including both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Majors from the University of Florida are found in areas, such as communication disorders, sports journalism, advertising, business administration, nursing, education, and many more. They also offer many graduate-level degree programs in several different areas.
2. Northeastern University
BestColleges.com lists Northeastern University as the top online college. Another traditional university offering many online degree programs, Northeastern University has been around since 1898. They offer about 140 degree and certificate programs to choose from.
As a private university, Northeastern is known as a top choice for your education. Many degree programs are fully online and provide all the courses you need. They also offer a tutoring center and career services to help students.
3. LeTourneau University
If you’re looking for an online college rated at the best by student reviews, LeTourneau University is a great choice. Niche.com lists this as the best online college in America based on reviews from students. They received an “A” grade from Niche.
LeTourneau is a private university found in Texas. While it’s a smaller option and rather competitive, if you get in, you can choose from majors, such as Business, Elementary Education, and Mechanical Engineering.
4. Keiser University
An online college you will hear advertised quite often; Keiser University is a popular choice. It was founded in 1977 and has 21 total locations found throughout Florida. This university offers 25 online bachelor’s programs. It’s ranked as the third-largest nonprofit university system in the state of Florida with more than 20K students.
They offer degrees at all levels from associate to doctorate. This is a rather rare thing for an online college and it has earned the university a Level VI designation.
If you choose Keiser University, you can choose from online degree programs in nursing, health sciences, health services administration, and health information management.
5. Harding University
If you’re looking for a private, Christian university with many online programs, Harding University is a great choice. This university offers online graduate degrees in business and education. There are ten total online degree programs, along with hybrid programs and online certificate programs.
They also offer an MBA program, a master’s in teaching, and a master’s in information systems. Several endorsements for educators are also offered for special education, reading, and childhood education. The graduate school of business from Harding also offers online certificates to help you gain the right skills to advance your career.
6. University of Central Florida
A massive university found in the Orlando, Florida area, the University of Central Florida offers plenty of online degree programs. They launched UCF Online in 2015 and currently have more than 100 online degree and certificate programs.
As an online student, you gain access to skills training, career support services, success coaches, and library services. Online programs include many different majors with 29 Bachelor’s degree programs, 34 Master’s degree programs, 3 Doctoral programs, and 41 certificates.
7. Palm Beach State College
Another great online college is Palm Beach State College or PBSC. This public community college offers online associate and bachelor’s degree programs to choose from. These programs give you the online tutoring support you need, along with a flexible learning environment. Credits are easily transferable to a four-year university, too.
Choose from programs in business administration, marketing, finance, accounting, and many other options. With PBSC you can take proctored exams. However, classes from this online college are only offered for Florida residents. If you live in Florida, this is one of the top options and one of the most affordable options.
How to Choose the Best Online College for You
There are far more than just seven online colleges to choose from. Before you choose the right online college for you, it’s important to consider specific factors. Let’s look at some of the factors you should consider when choosing an online college program.
Of course, you want to choose an accredited online college. If you don’t choose a college that is accredited, your degree might be worthless. Make sure you check the accreditation status of any school or program you choose.
Another very important factor in your online college decision is the degree program they offer. You need to choose a school that offers the degree program you prefer. If a college doesn’t offer the right degree program, move on to the next one.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the most common bachelor’s degree programs from 2018 to 2019 were business, health professionals, engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, psychology, social sciences, and history. With the right bachelor’s degree, you might be able to earn a high starting salary.
Engineering fields have some of the highest salaries for entry-level jobs. While money shouldn’t be the only reason you choose a degree program, it should be considered. Make sure you choose one of the best online colleges that offer the degree program you want. It’s also important to look at the options to choose a degree program that will give you a job you will enjoy.
Of course, another important factor in your decision is the cost. Some online colleges may not cost as much as others. However, there are some that will give you more clout on your resume.
If you simply choose the cheapest option, it might be an online college employers are not familiar with. This could make it harder to compete in the job market. On the other hand, there are more expensive options that might be very recognizable to employers.
Choosing the right online college for you means finding a college you can afford. This is especially true if you’re trying to avoid having to take out student loans. If you’re paying out-of-pocket, the cost will become a bigger factor in your decision.
The Online Learning Option
Each online college offers different learning options. Some will have a structure where you actually have to attend courses at specific times, even online. Others will be more flexible.
Make sure you research the online colleges you are considering and look at their format. Often, you will have a virtual portal, which will be your classroom. This will be where you get the course material, speak with other students, and progress through the course.
With some programs, you will need to do more communicating with other students than others. In some cases, you might even have to speak with other students over the phone or through video chat options. While most online courses are self-paced, they may have group projects that require coordinating with other students.
You might also find some online colleges offer hybrid programs. These programs allow you to do most of the coursework online, but some will need to be done in person.
When searching for the best online college for you, consider the online learning options. Choose the format that best fits your schedule and how you prefer to learn.
Going back to school is a big deal. Whether you’re just coming out of high school or changing careers, an online college offers a great option. You’ll gain benefits, such as flexibility and the ability to complete courses from home.
Before you enroll in any of the best online colleges, make sure the program you choose fits your needs. Do your research and take the time to look at a few options before you decide.