My Story: Online University

contributed by Trisha

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I read the article about exploring financial options for adults who have returned to school. One thing that might be of interest to many adults who need to work full time and want/need to return to school is to explore online universities. It is true one needs to be disciplined in order to succeed in this type of classroom setting as most legitimate online degree programs offer a lot of flexibility in regards to the days and times students attend class. If an individual is disciplined, or can teach him or her self to be disciplined, the online degree program is ideal for working parents or any adult in a situation where the flexibility is greatly needed. Online universities also accept transfer credits with an official transcript as long as the courses replace a similar course the online university offers. It is really not much different than a physical campus. Let me give an example.

The University of Phoenix is one of the many legitimate universities offering an accredited degree (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and even a PhD). There is no physical class attendance ever required; however, the PhD program does require some minimal time out in Phoenix with other PhD candidates. Anyhow, courses are typically five weeks long with a week off in between courses, and eight classes (or 24 credits) a year can be easily completed. This is almost a full load, and a student who has demonstrated ability is allowed to take two courses per five-week period. Honestly, because the courses are only five weeks, it is an aggressive program and an individual would have to think hard before taking on two courses at a time. However, it is possible and it has been done.

Once a student is registered and has his or her courses picked out with the help of an advisor, the student is generally required to check into class at least five days a week while each day posting at least two substantial messages in regards to the topic at hand. In addition, the student has deadlines to hand in personal papers as well as work with a team to produce assignments by given due dates. There are required textbooks to purchase with assigned reading as well as an online library to use for research that is free as part of the program. It is not a degree earned with no effort or handed out as a freebie, and the wonderful thing about the program is that the student picks the five days and the times within those five days to participate. The flexibility is what allowed me to earn my degree while still working full time and committing to my husband and three children.

It is important to mention that although there are numerous legitimate and accredited online universities out there, scams are aplenty. A little research on the part of the adult student is absolutely warranted. The university's accreditation needs to be checked out, and most importantly, if it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is a scam. If all you have to do is pay a high fee while completing little to no course work, or if you are told a degree can be handed to you based upon your "life experiences," then run fast while holding onto your wallet.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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