Higher education goes online -- Avoid the pitfalls!
A new study from Sloan Consortium found that 3.94 million people were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2007, up 12.9% from 2006.
Best of all? Research from the US Department of Education found that online instruction is just as effective as in-class instruction.
If you're thinking about taking online classes -- either on the side while working or in lieu of going to a traditional college -- here's what you need to remember: The vast majority of advertising for online learning is done by for-profit colleges. These are almost always a complete rip-off!
Before you enroll in expensive programs like The University of Phoenix -- and borrow money to finance it -- please, please, please call your local community college or public, four-year college to find out about their online classes. The cost of a 3-credit class might very well be less than a single credit at one of the for-profit institutions.
These online programs at non-profit public colleges are generally not included in the seemingly consumer-friendly sites that "help" people search for colleges -- but are really just advertising vehicles for the for-profits. For instance FindtheRightSchool.com reports that schools in its network include "Devry University, University of Phoenix, American Intercontinental University, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Walden University, and Kaplan University" -- all of which are for-profit companies with advertising budgets much, much larger than the non-profits.
Finding online programs at public colleges will take a bit more effort -- but you'll save a ton of money and avoid a lot of pain.