Online College Programs
When on-campus isn't an option
Although a benefit of attending community college is that you tend to be closer to home, for many it's still difficult to make the course schedule work. For a number of reasons, including a busy family life, work obligations or illness and disability, it may simply be easier to register with a community college online. Online learning (often called e-learning) offers most of the benefits of on-campus programs, but allows you the flexibility to choose your study pace and adapt your schedule to your lifestyle.
Not Just Distance Learning
Some students are still concerned about online education. They worry that the program will simply be a glorified correspondence course that asks you to read a textbook and write a paper for a credit, and that they won't get the same type of intensive learning experience as on-campus students do.
Others are concerned about diploma mills, which permeate the Internet and offer quick diplomas to those looking for shortcuts - usually for a lot of money.
However, it's quite easy to avoid these pitfalls of online education. The latest incarnations of online courses are often more interactive than traditional campus classes, where students can easily get lost in the crowd. With advances in technology that allow for live chat, instant messaging and even virtual reality, the Internet can now stand in place of the classroom. Look into whether a school incorporates these advances in their online program before you sign up.
It's also easy to avoid the diploma mill scam with just a little bit of research - a college's website is usually a good indication of its legitimacy. If their site offers little information on admission or program requirements, and instead focuses on your credit card information, chances are you've found yourself a diploma mill. Furthermore, make sure any school that you're signing up with is accredited by a recognized outside body. If you have any doubts, you might want to hold off on sending them money.
You can find almost any area of study online - even the most interactive learning situations, such as educational training or team building, can be moved to an online environment. As long as students are willing to take advantage of available technologies, there's no reason for an online course to be any less gratifying and intensive than a campus program.
Many hands-on programs, such as those in the trades, may require you to complete a co-op or apprenticeship before you can receive documentation. Generally, this is necessary in on-campus programs as well. Be sure to check into your school's curriculum closely, so you can stay on top of your requirements.