Long term success does not depend on which college you go to, or even if you do. (I speak as a college dropout.) However, for many people a college degree is highly desired. One way to get a degree is online. It can be cheaper (sometimes), and can be done remotely (sometimes), and can credit previous work and experience (sometimes). It can also be none of those. An online degree lies in the territory of scams and unscrupulous operators (as do some campus colleges) so you need some serious street-smarts to guide you. Of all the books, websites, and too-good-to-be-true tutorials I’ve seen, GetEducated is the only reliable source of information for online degrees today I’ve seen. Most online degree information printed in books is ancient and out of date, or tainted with profit by selling something, or frustratingly vague and unspecific.
GetEducated is constantly updated with the latest research, comparing actual costs, examining real credentials, and reading the fine print of what is offered for degrees online. And their advice and research is free on their website.
The one downside to the GetEducated is that the information is not well organized, scattered across the site in many webby articles with titles like “7 Ways You Can Save Thousands by Getting an Online College Degree.” The information is solid, but hard to locate and step through.
The editors of GetEducated run a forum and they promise to answer any legitimate question about online degrees brought up. It would be great it they’d assemble their knowledge into a cheap e-book.
In the meantime I’ve collected some of the more useful links below.
Surprise, surprise, the majority of the cheapest online colleges are non-profit, public institutions. The University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, Macon State College – these guys have been helping traditional residential students get educated since the 1870s.
These colleges offer online degrees on the cheap to all residents of the USA. You do NOT have to be a state “resident” to enjoy the low tuition and fees charged by online learning bachelor degree programs offered by state colleges in places like Wyoming, Georgia, Colorado, and Nebraska. In these states, where the cost of living remains low, the cost of a college degree likewise rings in well below the national average.
Two regionally accredited distance-learning colleges in the United States—Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey and Excelsior College of New York—operate primarily as assessment colleges. These two special colleges allow students to earn entire undergraduate degrees through credit for life and work experience options.
However, most learners who attend these two colleges also complete some formal college courses to earn their degrees.
Instead, surveys show just the opposite – online college costs might actually be higher than residential college costs. The cost of masters degrees, online MBAs especially, are often higher than the equivalent on-campus versions.
While consumers often consider the University of Phoenix to be the standard for delivering a low-cost, mass market, campus-free college experience —in short, the flagship example of a cheap online college — the exact opposite is factually true.
The University of Phoenix’s Online College of Business and Management offers one of the most expensive online bachelor degrees. Their $66,000 degree, well above the $44,000 average degree cost, actually puts them in the bottom 15% affordability-wise of all 150 regionally accredited online bachelors in business surveyed. As of 2011, consumers could get the same degree from the University of Wyoming Online for only $16,000.
If you have to have the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’ (AACSB) stamp of approval on your MBA, The University of Louisiana Monroe offers the cheapest such MBA at a price tag of $8,990 for online students nationwide.
(More college accreditation trivia: the AACSB is considered the gold standard for business school accreditation. Academics equate this type of accreditation with a rigorous, traditional business school education. I won’t tell you that your MBA must have AACSB accreditation; I will tell you that many recruiters and Wall Street wing-tip types see AACSB accreditation as a platinum stamp of old school approval.)