Students outside of the United States ask us often about specific online programs and whether they should attend an online university instead of moving to the US and enrolling at a traditional campus. Online programs can work well for many students, allowing you to receive an American style education and degree without having the expense of living in the US and leaving home. For many years in the Middle East many undergraduate students chose “correspondence schools” which allowed students, especially women, to receive a bachelor’s degree without leaving home, their jobs, and their children. Online colleges have now replaced that and allow for much more interaction and a stronger traditional college experience.
As with applications to any college, you must research the university you are applying to, making sure they are properly accredited and offer the degree you are seeking. This can be a little more difficult to do with online only universities as the website may appear very professional and legitimate – while the school may offer a degree that may not be fully recognized.
However, many large and prestigious schools such as Columbia and Harvard now offer undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs that are fully online, giving students unable to travel to the US a great opportunity. While these programs are not inexpensive, sometimes costing the same as an on-campus experience, they may allow you to attend college without leaving home. We encourage you to read through the university’s offerings, to calculate the costs, and to see whether you would benefit from a traditional campus experience before choosing a program to commit to.
One thing to remember, online degrees are not an “easy” way to receive a bachelors or masters, they are just as much work and effort as attending class in person. You will be expected to “attend” class, take exams, complete group projects, and interact with your classmates, if you are unprepared, your grades will reflect that. Online degrees can be the answer for many students, but as with everything you must study the positives and negatives before deciding on your course of action.