Online College 101

Posted By Staff Writer on November 8, 2019

Want some tips for going back to school? An online degree program might be just what you need to succeed. To envision what it could be like, read the following simulated course description for Online College 101.

Class meeting time:

6 a.m. or midnight. Or maybe after you get the kids to bed. (Or really anytime.)

Class meeting day:

Let’s say, umm, Saturday? How about Tuesday? Monday? What works for you?

Course overview: 

Statisticians have found great benefits from going to college, including gaining greater opportunities and valuable skills. The benefits are so great, it’s even worth getting some tips for going back to college after 40.

But I can already see the sweat breaking out on your forehead. College—with its admissions, tuition, class registration, and paperwork out the wazoo! And then finding yourself sitting in one of those tiny desks in a faceless classroom while a professor drones on about something you can’t quite make sense of because your eyelids keep sliding shut.

Which is why you’re in MY class! The one about how to get into an online college. You can learn just as much in an online course as you can in a classroom, so your degree is just as valid, and you’re probably going to save money on things like gasoline. Not to mention that you can do it all on your own schedule!


  1. Get yourself admitted.

And the sooner, the better. The process usually goes something like this:

  • Contact the college online and send in your initial information.

  • Complete a questionnaire.

  • Talk to an admissions consultant to choose a degree program.

  • Talk to a college financial planner to learn about the costs of your chosen degree and any financial assistance available to you, if you qualify.

  • Communicate with the director of admissions about your overall eligibility.

Even if you’re not sure you want to start college right this very second, you don’t risk anything by requesting information and continuing with your application at a later date.

  1. Transfer previous college credits and other accomplishments to your new college.
  • Did you finish a few college courses before now?
  • Did you ever take an AP class in high school?
  • Did you earn some college credit in a professional development seminar at work?
  • Do you have military training or experience?
  • Did you take the College-level Examination Program (CLEP)?

Any of these may get you out of some classes and save you a few months of work (not to mention money). It’s worth it to track them down if you can. And the college will likely be happy to transfer those credits over—possibly even for free!

  1. Get your finances ready.

Yes, college costs money—even online college. But that’s why I told you in assignment #1 to talk with a college financial planner. They’ll show you what you can expect based on the programs you’re interested in.

And then they can show you through the federal FAFSA form (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so you can find out if you qualify for grants, scholarships, loans, discounts, or military benefits. It’s like checking to see if a rich uncle left you some college money in his will. Totally worth it!

  1. Meet with an academic adviser early and often.

These good people are like the GPS of college. If you tell them your destination, they’ll tell you exactly how to get there and how much time it will take.

Like a good GPS device, you want to keep your adviser with you throughout your online college journey because they can advise you on all aspects of college, including giving you tips on how to be successful in your classes. Remember, keep your academic adviser close at hand until you finally hear those lovely words: “You have reached your destination” (which, in this case, may sound more like “Congratulations, here’s your degree.”)

  1. Set a detailed schedule.

It’s true: you have a life. And life involves jobs, families, housecleaning, bill paying, and an occasional bout of television binge-watching. How can you add online college to the mix? With a schedule.

Seriously, time will run away from you if you don’t tack it down on a calendar. You’re going to have readings and assignments to do, tests to prepare for, and papers to write. College is a part-time job that you need to squeeze into an already busy life.

So organize yourself, but make it fun! Do your homework together with your kids—or your cat. Promise yourself the reward of watching another television episode when this paper is turned in. Break the workload down into manageable pieces. Can you do one reading on the subway? Do it! Can you write one page of your paper before bed? Do it! Can you cram half an assignment into your lunch break? Do it!

How do you eat a Mucho Grande Elephantin-O Burrito? One bite at a time.

Thanks for your interest in the best online college prep class ever—brought to you by Independence University! We provide useful advice for adults returning to college. Let us help you on your way to a degree and valuable new career skills. Request more information here.



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