Have you noticed that the traditional college admissions process is designed to keep you out and suck money from your pocket, not let you in and give you the power to keep the price down?
Stop to think about it. On the day you decide to start college, obstacles keep jumping up in your path. First you have to fill out an application form, a financial aid form and pay a hefty fee. Then you have to provide transcripts of previous coursework. Then you take expensive standardized tests. Next, you pester three people for letters of reference. (What’s the point? Don’t colleges know that you are only going to ask for reference letters from people who like you?) Then you write essays explaining your philosophy of life and why you want to enter that particular college. And you’re still not done. If the college wants to interview you, you have to put on your best Sunday clothes so an interviewer from the college can give you a final once-over.
And if you jump through all those hoops, guess what? You are then allowed to start writing big checks and go into debt to pay for what is, essentially, a service. Also, if you had college credits from another college or from taking a test, colleges will hem and haw about whether they will recognize your past work.
Yet as a growing number of eager learners are discovering, there is a better way. It’s called online study. More smart people are choosing it, for some very compelling reasons…
A streamlined application process. In most cases, you can start taking college courses online immediately, after filling out a brief online application, charging a credit card or even paying with PayPal.
A quick start. School doesn’t begin in September or January. It starts every day.
Self-Pacing.When I took College Algebra, I had to sit in a classroom for four months even though I’d taken 70% of it in high school. I could have been done in a weekend if I could have taken it at my own pace.
Lower costs. Providers of accredited online college courses, charge as little as $99 per month to start college course. The result? You can complete the equivalent of one year of undergraduate education – between eight and 10 courses – for under $1,000. This is cheaper than most community colleges, not to mention the $50,000 or more that some private universities and colleges charge for tuition plus living expenses.
Transferable credits. In many cases, you can transfer the credits you earned online if you decide to finish your college work at a traditional college or university. The result? You can dramatically slash the costs of that education. (The student at the next desk paid $50,000 for a degree from Posh Posh University, but not you.)
A variety of other benefits. As an online college student, you can study at any time, from anywhere. You can study, even if your work requires you to travel. You can lighten your course load when there are other demands on your life, then ramp it up again when your life quiets down.
Those are only a few reasons why online institutions of higher learning are shaking up the education industry.
So, are tweedy traditional colleges with their ivy-covered walls going to disappear? Probably not. But the bigger question is, do you need them at all?