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  • Writer's pictureAllison Styffe

Finding the Best Online College for You

Welcome to 2021, where robots can deliver food to your door, enough money can buy you a ticket to outer space, and you can earn a college degree from most schools online! Like many institutions, Covid has pushed higher education to be remote in ways it never was before. Colleges now offer more and better programs online, which means now more than ever before you can receive a quality education and earn a degree from the comfort of your home (or anywhere with good enough wifi, for that matter).

If pursuing an online program feels like the best fit for you, we're here to offer some guidance and options in today's post.

Consider taking as many community college credits as possible first

Many students are financially motivated when making the choice to pursue an online program. If saving money is a priority for you, taking classes through your local community college before transferring to a bachelor's program can be an excellent strategy. In fact, if you're looking at a public school in Oregon, consider earning your associate's degree at your community college first using funds through the Oregon Promise grant. This will give you automatic junior-standing once you jump into your bachelor's program, leaving you only two years' worth of university classes and tuition costs.

Understand the various online formats & which will work best for you

Not all online programs are built the same. There are a few key terms to know when it comes to understanding the various online settings and formats. Some programs will be asynchronous, which means students can complete course work at their own pace as long as they finish by the required deadlines. Open-schedule courses even allow students to start a class whenever they're ready. So a program with an asynchronous, open-schedule will provide the greatest opportunity to start and finish classes early — if earning your degree as soon as possible is a priority for you, look for these options. Be sure to note, though, that these formats offer very little when it comes to communicating with other students and engaging with material together. On the other side of the online program coin lies fixed-time courses. These are similar to traditional college courses, with a set time to attend class online rather than in person. And if you'd like some in-person interaction with a majority of online work, you'll want to look for hybrid programs.

Make sure the program is accredited

If a school or program is accredited, it's been vetted by professionals in the industry to ensure that it meets certain standards of quality. If you get a degree from an unaccredited institution, future employers or graduate schools may not view it as legitimate — yikes, right? So don't skip this step when researching your options. Click here to learn about five steps you can take to check if an online program is accredited.


While there are many emerging online degree programs being offered by most colleges and universities these days, a few stand out. We will highlight two programs in Oregon: Oregon State University and Portland State University. Keeping it local sometimes makes sense, because why pay out-of-state tuition for an online experience?

Many schools have a totally different category of tuition for online students than they do for on-campus students. This means you are paying neither in-state nor out-of-state tuition, but instead a different charge. However, the cost of online tuition compared to other tuition rates may vary.

Oregon State University Ecampus

Oregon State University offers close to 40 online undergraduate degree programs through its OSU Ecampus. Being one of the flagship universities for the state of Oregon, you can expect a degree from Oregon State University to take you places. Name recognition can be important, and having a degree from OSU may be of more value than an unknown online institution with a questionable reputation.

Currently ranked #4 in the nation for best online bachelor degree programs, you can feel confident in any program OSU Ecampus has to offer.

OSU Ecampus also received top-three rankings in three specific programs as part of the annual US News publication:

  • No. 2 — Best Online Psychology Bachelor’s Programs.

  • No. 3 — Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans.

  • No. 3 — Best Online Business Bachelor’s Programs.

If you've been searching for a strong, reputable program with the flexibility you desire, look no further than OSU! The faculty expertise and ability to teach in an online environment is part of what has earned them such high rankings over the years. Here, you will find 38 bachelor’s programs in fields such as computer science, natural resources, public health, and zoology.

Portland State University

Taking advantage of Portland State University's low-cost tuition and excellent programs is always attractive to students, but doing this and not having to live in downtown Portland (for those who aren't excited about that adventure) is even better!

Portland State University's online school's full range of undergraduate degree programs, from Arts & Letters to Criminology & Criminal Justice, are also nationally recognized, giving students full confidence in their experience. In addition, US News and World Report has placed PSU's programs among the top in the nation, with their online Bachelor's in Business ranking 11th in the nation:

Courses available online cover our innovative core curriculum, concentrations in Accounting, Business Technology & Analytics, Management & Leadership, Supply & Logistics Management, and Human Resource Management, as well as supplemental electives — everything you need to graduate with an outstanding business degree and get ready for your next chapter. Visit the PSU School of Business degree requirements page to learn more.

The U.S. News rankings grade programs based on a variety of factors including distance learning design, student engagement opportunities, faculty credentials, support services, and surveys of academic officials. Flexible, intuitive, and with good outcomes, online college is a fantastic option to consider.

Navigate the global pandemic from your living room or kitchen table — utilize the growing online education trend to your advantage, as this delivery mode is getting better every day, providing all the quality and rigor a student could want!

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