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Online classes have become so mainstream that even traditional classes have online components these days. What online classes can offer that traditional classrooms cannot is an alternative schedule since classes don’t have to be taught in real time. This means that some schools provide accelerated programs, alternative credit options and ways to use all 365 days in the year.

How Do I Choose a Program?

You want to determine the best value online colleges for the degree you are seeking first. This should include checking for accreditation, determining the price per credit hour and determining how long it will take you to finish. Often the best value is found in smaller state schools who have invested heavily in their online platform in order to reach rural populations, nontraditional students, working adults and other people who otherwise couldn’t attend school.

How Long Will it Take Me to Graduate?

Next, you want to contact an academic advisor and see if anything you have already done could apply towards credit hours. Did you take AP classes in high-school? Have you taken classes at another accredited college or university? Do they accept life or work experience towards credit hours? Can you just take the exam and get credit for the class? Hopefully the answer is yes to one or more of these questions. But even if the answer is no, you still might be able to get on the fast track.

Many online schools offer accelerated classes. These classes can be completed in five to ten weeks instead of the traditional 18 week semester. This allows you to complete more classes per year. If they also offer year round continuous classes you can gain even more time. Many students starting school with no credit hours can complete these programs in as little as two and a half years! That is definitely a best value because it allows you to enter the workforce sooner and start to earn money!

What are Common Mistakes That Online Students Make?

Many students register for classes without knowing exactly what they should be taking. This leads to taking classes that you don’t need and not taking classes that are required to graduate. This mistake is easy to avoid by carefully studying the course requirements for your major, diligently checking them off the list each semester as you complete them and meeting with your academic advisor frequently. This means that you have to pick a major and stick with it early in the process or you will be in college for several extra years!

Choosing your major is a huge component of getting the best value online degree possible. You need to choose a field that both interest you and is hiring. You do not want to spend time and money on an education that will not pay for itself in the long run. Some fields are growing rapidly such as project management , public healthhospitality management, and nursing. Choosing one of these majors, sticking to a streamlined schedule and staying the course is the best way to find meaningful, lucrative employment as quickly as possible! Get in, get out and get paid, that is the goal. The faster you can do it the better off you will be.


Jana S. is an online professor of Teacher Education with an emphasis on Critical Thinking and Positive Classroom Management. As an educator for 18 years in several different paradigms, she is committed to creating computer-savvy, knowledgeable graduates who can confidently adapt and apply their knowledge to new situations in the increasingly complex world.