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As any student would know, completing a 4-year undergraduate degree can be quite a challenge. There are work responsibilities for many, but more importantly, one’s budget can get quite tight through it all.
However, before you start knitting your brows and planning how you’ll engineer your next move towards a college degree, we’ve got a happy piece of news for you. Prominent community colleges in the US are now offering online courses which students can pursue; earning credits that can be transferred towards a 4-year degree! Yes, it’s true, and Ivy Tech, the nation’s largest statewide community college system, has been making it possible for many college students across the country to achieve their college education dream.
The biggest factor in choosing community colleges and their online courses is affordability. Whether it’s students who had already been enrolled in undergrad programs, or students planning to build credits first and then transfer to a 4-year degree, the cost savings can be huge.
Stanley Hicks, an electrical engineering student who was previously enrolled in Indiana University-Purdue University—Indianapolis, is now completing his degree through Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College and found the transition quite light on his wallet. “At IUPUI some classes, with fees, are 1,200 bucks. At Ivy Tech, the same class is $400,” says Hicks, who was quoted by US News in an article published last week.
Besides finances, flexibility is another major factor, especially since it allows students the option to work as they study, without incurring the opportunity cost of income foregone. Of course it’s difficult managing a job with online courses, but at least one can work around their own schedules.
Many renowned community colleges in the US are seeing students opt for online courses which they can transfer to a 4-year degree. Arizona’s Glendale Community College is another strong case in point. Tressa Jumps, the school’s director of marketing, told US News, “In 2008, 18 percent of Glendale students were taking online classes with 40 percent of those intending to transfer. Today, 26 percent of students are taking classes online with 46 percent intending to transfer.”
However, experts advise caution when selecting a community college and the courses with the intent to transfer. One important aspect to consider is whether courses can actually be transferred from one community college to a private university or 4-year institution. Checking with the university where a student wishes to transfer is a smart move.
Similarly, one has to be savvy about the courses they choose. For instance, you may end up taking a course which does not meet the degree requirements of a certain degree. Besides, the availability of financial aid and hidden costs such as admission fees, entrance tests fees, etc. should also be taken into account.
Overall though, the general perception amongst students is that the trend is a rather convenient and encouraging one. At the end of the day, the cash-strapped and the busy ones will vouch for how great online education can be.