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Online Schools

CompareTopSchools.com works with the nation's top online schools to provide you with a comprehensive resource on the online educational opportunities available to you. Learn more about the campus and online degree programs, certificate programs, diplomas and career training courses our partner institutions have to offer.

How Does Online Learning Work?

While every online school operates differently most programs have both asynchronous and synchronous elements. Asynchronous simply means you are taking the class on your own schedule. You can go online anytime and listen to lectures, read texts, watch videos, take exams, write essays or post messages to message boards. Synchronous classes are scheduled at a specific time where you’ll join other students and instructors watching a live streaming video or participating in a live online chat or lecture.

Pros and Cons of Online Schools

While online schools are a welcome alternative particularly for many adult students they’re not for everyone. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of pursing a degree online before you decide to enroll.

Pros:

  • Costs are less than traditional programs
  • You can create you own class schedule making it easier for you to continue working as you pursue your degree
  • There's no need to move or commute - you can take classes from anywhere you have internet access
  • Programs are self-directed which allows you to complete your degree on your own time table

Cons:

  • There is less interaction with instructors and other students than in traditional programs
  • You'll need to be more independent and self-reliant to complete the program
  • Online schools are rapidly gaining acceptance by employers but haven't caught up with traditional schools in reputation yet
  • You won’t have the social component and atmosphere you would on campus

Choosing an Online School

When choosing an online school be certain that you’re choosing an accredited program. Accreditation means that the school has met the accepted standards of an institution of higher learning and that employers and other schools recognize the credits and degrees they issue. Unaccredited schools that issue diplomas and credits not recognized by other institutions are often referred to as diploma mills. You can confirm a school’s accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation or at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation at http://www.chea.org/search.

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Disclosure: Not all programs are accelerated, available in all locations, or in both online and on-campus formats. Financial aid including grants, scholarships and loans may be available to those who qualify. Program lengths and outcomes vary according to each institution's specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guaranteed. CompareTopSchools is a consumer information site that offers free, independent ratings and recommendations of colleges and universities. While we receive advertising revenue from most of the schools we rate and recommend, our editors thoroughly research each school and offer their honest opinions when rating each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own, including, without limitation, our designation of a particular institution as being a "top" or "best" school, college or university.