The COVID-19 pandemic makes history as it radically changed traditional education systems on all fronts. Around 1.2 billion students are now pursuing education across all levels out of the classroom.
With this abrupt shift away from traditional classroom-based schooling, we can’t help but wonder if online learning will still go on post-pandemic and how it can impact the worldwide education market.
What is Online Education?
Online education refers to internet-based technological instruction, learning, and assessment. The term describes any approach to education conducted entirely or partially online. This type of education comes in different forms:
- Attending Dully Online Schools and Colleges
- Administering Homeschooling Through Online Education
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
- Using Collaborative Environments for Project-based Learning
- Utilizing Online Access in a Traditional Classroom Setting
Anybody can earn an online degree. Nearly every education level, including online associate degrees, online bachelor’s degrees, online master’s degrees, and even high school diplomas, can be obtained online.
Online education is managed through various channels:
- Social Media Outlets
- Pre-recorded Video Lectures
- Student Chat Boards
- Virtual Blackboards
- Video Conferencing
The distribution channels for online education are endless. However, online learning is divided into two major categories:
- Synchronous online classes. These allow instructors and students to go online simultaneously. All discussions, presentations, and lectures occur at a scheduled time. To join, participants have to get online at a specified time.
- Asynchronous Online Classes. These classes allow the participants to join activities whenever they choose. Lectures, materials, assignments, and tests are provided by teachers beforehand and are accessed online at any time. Nonetheless, students are expected to join the online class at some point to complete the school activities.
Understanding Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Online bachelor’s degrees are gaining popularity and credibility over the years. Factors like convenience, accessibility and affordability have made this e-learning approach an increasingly attractive option both for traditional and non-traditional students.
Today, we can see even the most reputable colleges and universities offering online bachelor’s degree options. There are even exclusive online colleges that offer a range of accredited bachelor’s degrees.
This means that people who were once limited by income, geography, family responsibilities, work demands, physical disabilities, and other factors are now finding means to earn high-quality, four-year degrees online.
Optimizing Digital Textbooks
According to the CEO of Barnes and Noble Education, Mike Huseby, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased a trend in that he’s expecting his business: the rapid increase of digital textbooks.
While most students still prefer physical textbooks, the percentage of digital courseware demand has radically increased to about 20%.
Students Considering Full-time Online Studying
When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in schools closing their campuses and moving their classes online, college students unexpectedly became online learners.
Michael Horn, a co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, said that more students are now expected to consider online schooling as a result of the untimely pandemic.
Because of the coronavirus, international travel restrictions have become more stringent. This resulted in international students finding it hard to obtain their student visas.
As a result, international students enrolled in the US are expected to decrease. The American Council on Education foresees a 25% decrease in international students throughout 2022, a whopping $23 billion revenue loss for institutions.
With all that’s happening, without a doubt, online degree programs are the most amenable option at the moment.
The Basics of Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Also called a baccalaureate degree, a bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree offered by accredited four-year schools, whether public, private, universities, or online colleges.
The best part about online bachelor’s degrees is that they are readily available in practically every academic field. When you attain a bachelor’s degree, it means that you have completed a broad education with a focus on a particular major.
For you to earn a bachelor’s degree, you need to complete 120-128 credits or semester hours. Most of these programs need a minimum of four years of full-time schooling, although it’s common for students to spend up to six years working their way toward a degree. Earning degrees can either be complemented online or through a combination of traditional and online courses.
Reasons Why You Should Consider a Bachelor’s Degree Online
Getting an online bachelor’s program has a handful of advantages over the usual college degree.
Below are some of the reasons why online degree schooling is worth a try.
- Value. College is expensive, and enrolling in universities is very pricey. When you enroll online, you are spared other college expenses like student activity fees, campus housing, and dining hall meal plans, among others. Online degree programs give you the leanest yet most affordable way to achieve a quality bachelor’s degree.
- Personal and Academic Freedom. When you get your bachelor’s degree online, you get to have the freedom to complete your whole program at your pay. Currently, most four-year college courses take about six years to complete. With online degree programs, you have a more extensive range of formats; some give you ample time to earn your credit all year round, others accommodate you through course schedules, and sometimes via asynchronous learning opportunities. This makes it easier to obtain a bachelor’s degree based on your schedule.
- Limitless Learning. When you are in an online bachelor’s program, you learn about anything and everything that doesn’t necessarily revolve around your area of study.
How Respected are Online Degree Programs?
There’s no difference between a regionally accredited online bachelor’s degree and on-campus schooling. Both are respected are have their strong points.
But with an online degree, you are introduced to a broader spectrum of possible careers: professional and technical, business, artistic, entrepreneurial, and business.
And since there is a notable increase of institutions that offer online bachelor’s degree programs, most employers today are starting to look at these degrees with the same level of respect seen in traditional degrees.
There are even cases where employers look at online degree holders interestingly, seeing this as an indicator that you are can work independently and coordinate with others remotely. This will tell employers that you can manage your responsibilities and time without the need for direct supervision.
Tips for Success in Online Classes
There is no doubt that many students may feel overwhelmed by the switch to online instruction. Even though online classes offer multiple benefits, they are also more challenging than traditional classes. Your performance could be affected without a plan for addressing these issues.
To help you, here are some helpful tips to follow to be successful in your online classes:
- Treat it like an on-campus class.
Getting behind on your work is easy without the regular meetings of person-to-person classes. You should therefore treat online classes as if they were in person. Getting real value from a class depends on your participation. Hence, it’s important that you cooperate and participate in your distance learning the same way as you would when attending a physical class.
- Implement time management.
Many students enjoy taking online classes because they can set their own schedules. Yet being free can also be a disadvantage if you do not possess good time management skills. Without them, not only will you need to cram for exams or submit subpar assignments, but you may also have trouble focusing during lectures.
- Take part in virtual study groups.
Online classes can be stressful if you are accustomed to classroom classes. You may still see and talk to your classmates, but the connection isn’t as deep as sitting next to a classmate. Ask your classmates if they would like to study together via video conference if your class has an online discussion forum. When you find some study partners, make sure you meet up with them through a common schedule.
- Try to solve problems on your own.
The first step to learning online is to make sure you read instructions carefully and review each module properly. The professors are willing to answer your questions, but before you contact them multiple times per day for each problem you face, it might be more efficient to solve it yourself by searching on Google.
The Different Types of Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Once you decide to earn your degree online, think about the type you know will likely suit your goals and interest. More often than not, online bachelor’s degrees are similar to those offered by conventional four-year colleges and universities.
- Bachelor of Arts. This degree requires you to have several courses in the arts, like social sciences, humanities, music, or fine arts, hand in hand with the courses in your field of concentration.
- Bachelor of Science. This requires an enrollee to take several courses in science, like life sciences, physical science, or mathematical science, along with the courses relative to the area of concentration.
- Bachelor of Fine Arts. This program is paired with liberal arts courses with different options of either studio-based or practical courses, both general and specific, to your artistic focus or creative field.
- Bachelor of Applied Science. This program has an emphasis on technical and practical science both in a real-world and laboratory setting. It comes with an array of topics in the field of applied science.
The Top 15 Best On-Campus Colleges and Universities
There is a notable increase in colleges and universities that focus on online programs. So, here is a guide to the best online bachelor’s degrees in the US.
University of Massachusetts Online
This university is a five-campus public research university system known for its top-of-the-line academic programs, excellence and scope of its research, and enduring adherence to its public service mission. The school offers 113 online programs and 12 others that you can complete by combining both online and on-campus study.
UMass is notable for its Doctor of Nursing, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Public Health Programs. When enrolling online, enrollees can take advantage of the school’s prestigious professors who also teach on campus. Online students can also walk on campus during graduation and are provided with academic counseling and library resources.
University of Florida Distance Learning
The University of Florida has more than 200 graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificates online. These programs require formal admission. According to the US News and World Report, the school’s online bachelor program is ranked # 13 among all the US schools offering online degree programs.
The University of Florida offers more than 16 colleges that lead to bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, or specialist degrees. Enrollees in their distance learning program can access the school’s online management system, career opportunity services, library resources, and an online registration program.
Florida State University
This school is known for its academic programs and faculty members. Students at FSU, whether on campus or online, are provided ample attention for success via the school’s quality assurance, high standards, and continuous improvement, so courses are improved over time. FSU has several classes and degrees that you can complete online, 100%.
New Mexico State University
The distance education program of this school has more than 15,000 students. It has received several citations, such as The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Some of their online degree programs include bachelor’s, master’s, or certification programs.
University of Missouri
Mizzou has more than 90 online degree programs and certificates, including bachelor’s degree programs in Educational Studies, Hospitality Management, Radiography, and Health Science. The same on-campus faculty facilitate the online classes. Depending on the course, semesters usually range between eight and sixteen weeks, although all their online classes are self-paced.
Oregon State University
This regionally accredited school is 90 study areas online. The school boasts of its being a place of purpose, making a difference in natural resources, quality of life, and prosperity.
University of Oklahoma
This school has a lot of bachelor’s degree offerings that include Criminal Justice, Administrative Leadership, Lifespan Care, Liberal Studies, and World Cultural Studies. The majority of their programs provide an accelerated-paced schedule.
Upon enrollment, students are then set to meet with their assigned instructor so they can come up with a graduation plan. The Higher Learning Commission accredits all the online programs at the University of Oklahoma.
Utah State University
For more than 90 years, Utah State University has provided complete online degree programs as well as individual classes for people not wanting to earn a full degree.
The school is ranked second among the highest-ranked public universities in the West. It is also number 4 among America’s Top Colleges with the lowest tuition and the 8th in best public national universities for graduates with the least debt.
Mississippi State University
This is the best option for graduate students. The school offers 25 different doctoral and master’s degrees. Its online university also has four undergraduate degrees that include an online Elementary Education program.
For a transferee student, the university acknowledges up to 61 credits, provided that they come from an accredited university. Their online courses utilize an online systemization program called Blackboard.
University of Alabama
This university’s online program is tagged as one of the best in the nation because students are allowed access to scholarships, writing labs, and the career resource center. They offer 12 bachelor’s degree programs in Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Nursing, and Human Environmental Science. There are also courses offered via video conferencing.
Florida International University
Considered one of the US’s best online schools, Florida International University ranks highly. Over 1,500 courses and 100 online programs are available at the school. Aside from offering career readiness services for engineering and hospitality students, FIU’s online college offers services for public health and hospitality students as well.
There are some programs that run entirely online. Some online programs, such as the RN-to-BSN, require in-person clinical hours. Online bachelor’s degrees in computer science require students to take courses outside the department to earn certifications or minors.
A success coach works with each student one-on-one. The program allows students to complete mock interviews, create their LinkedIn profiles, and earn certifications.
San Diego State University
The SDSU Global Campus offers various courses, seminars, and certificate programs that promote lifelong learning. Self-enrichment courses include accounting and web design. Career advancement courses cover a wide range of topics, such as leadership, management, and quality improvement.
There are more than 50 certificate programs, courses offered online, English language programs, and many other opportunities available locally, regionally, and internationally at the SDSU Global Campus.
Aside from career training, this online college also offers personal enrichment courses. Students can design their own schedules with many self-paced programs.
Three fully online bachelor’s degrees are available at SDSU Global Campus: an economics bachelor’s degree, a screenwriting master’s degree, and a public health master’s degree. Marketing and construction certificates are also available to students.
University of North Texas
The University of North Texas offers 86 online programs that rank high academically throughout the country. Accelerated programs can be completed in 12-18 months by learners.
They offer certificates, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. A master’s degree program with accelerated learning is also available at UNT.
The accelerated courses at the University of North Texas are available thru five different start dates. In the DFW area, students have the option of enrolling in an online program or a face-to-face course at a campus in Denton or Frisco. A single or two courses can be taken at a time in an eight-week format.
Purdue University Online
The Purdue University online programs build on Purdue’s land-grant mission to make high-quality Purdue education affordable and accessible. Purdue University offers a variety of online and hybrid programs across its network of campuses, from Purdue West Lafayette and Fort Wayne to Purdue Global.
You can easily find a program that meets your needs and career goals with Purdue Online and explore possibilities you might not have considered before. Choose the right online program for you by searching for options by degree level, personal goals, and area of study.
Liberty University Online
Over 100,000 students are enrolled in Liberty’s 15 colleges and schools, which offer over 700 degrees from the certificate level to the doctoral level. With their online programs, students from around the world can access over 450 of these programs.
In addition to producing professional workers in diverse fields and industries, Liberty University trains professionals with a passion for God, the community, and excellence. Liberty University trains Champions for Christ.
The Cost of an Online Bachelor’s Degree
There are cases where online bachelor’s degrees are less expensive than the usual on-campus degrees. But in most cases, both costs are relatively similar. However, these online programs accommodate more students that need to complete their programs at an extended or accelerated pace.
This can, in turn, allow money-saving opportunities for the enrollees. Nevertheless, if you are seriously thinking about getting an online bachelor’s degree, try to make use of your smart money-saving moves as you would if you are enrolled on campus.
A good start is to consider staying in-state if possible. In general, you can find a lot of affordable online colleges in any part of the globe. However, in-state and out-of-state tuition fees will still apply. It would be wise, therefore, to stay in-state because, who knows, you might find in-state tuition fee discounts.
Reasons to Consider Getting a Degree Online
Universities and colleges all across the globe are moving online because of COVID-19. The true potential of online schooling has become apparent. Anybody with a laptop, internet access, and sheer determination can earn a degree without the need to step foot in school.
If the situation thwarted your plans of earning a degree, don’t lose hope! Below are some of the reasons why you should consider getting a degree online.
- You can complete a degree program anywhere. The thought of viewing your lecture anytime and finishing your assignments at your own pace is nothing but exciting. Plus, tapping into your school’s virtual resources and networks is relatively simple. If you are concerned with the cost, online schooling allows you to obtain an accredited degree without the need to shell out money on accommodation and the like.
- Online degree programs are affordable. Meaning you don’t have to worry about moving in on campus. This can help you save a hefty amount of money just from the accommodation fees. And since you will no longer be traveling to school, you get to save on time and transportation.
- Career advancement. Enrolling in online degree programs gives you more flexibility. You can easily fit and work and study according to your schedule without having to worry about getting to school on time for class. This is particularly helpful, especially if you are taking asynchronous classes.
- Flexible environment and schedule. When you study online, you have the freedom to choose the most suitable learning environment that you think will work best for your needs. Whether it is in your bedroom or your favorite coffee shop across the street, your study, or even in your local gym, the convenience of online learning is stupendous. Furthermore, when you take an online class, gone are those early morning commutes to school. This means more time studying and less time spent commuting.
- Self-discipline. When you study online, it involves a lot of self-motivation and impeccable time-management skills. After all, the majority of the time you spend in class will be on your own, and nobody can help you focus on your deadlines. Think of it this way: enrolling in an online degree program not only teaches you geology or math, but it will also push you to be more self-motivated.
Adjusting to Online Schooling
- Learn how to use your equipment correctly. The more modern gadgets today have built-in cameras. If it turns green, it means everybody can see you. Of course, you don’t want to carelessly bring your laptop to the bathroom, not unless you are sure that the light is off, right? Apart from that, learn how you can efficiently use your computer since this will be your primary medium throughout the whole duration of your learning. Familiarize yourself with library portals, chat boards, video-conferencing software, file-sharing programs, and the like. Ensure also that your peripherals are working correctly and your internet doesn’t have an intermittent connection. The whole point here is simple: make sure that everything works perfectly, that they are up to date, and that you are knowledgeable enough about how to use all of these.
- Learn how to communicate properly. The majority of your interactions with your classmates and instructors will revolve around emails, feedback, or chat board messages. You must be able to communicate well; otherwise, you will fall behind academically.
- Follow a routine. In an online class, there will no longer be bells ringing to remind you that you are running late. No more guidance counselors or stern disciplinarians will nag you with your attendance. It is, therefore, helpful to treat your online class the same way you treat your conventional on-campus education. Every day, wake up at the same time and try to engage in your normal routine. Try to plan your regular schedule around your class time or study time. When necessary, prepare your readings or materials ahead of time.
Are Online Classes the Future of Learning?
Offering online and hybrid courses is crucial for universities’ long-term survival. Full-time, campus-based courses have high course fees that discourage some students from enrolling. Others may have competing priorities, such as a family or a current job, that make full-time study impossible.
In response, universities that provide online learning assets are encouraging more learners to enroll, including students from provinces or even in another country. Any large organization needs to keep up with the latest consumer trends and technology, and universities are no different.
As a result, online learning isn’t just here to stay; it’s set to become a major component of the future education system. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that more than 360,000 online classes are taught annually. These have been made possible with tech supports that include augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.
The coronavirus pandemic has indeed burst the bubble of US College education. But thankfully, we can still find the best on-campus colleges that offer online degree programs.