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What Are the Benefits of Taking Online College Courses?

October 22, 2018

Whether you are already a college student, or just starting to explore your college options, there is good news. Students can take online courses for college credit. It’s easy to get started and it can save you a lot of money on tuition. Students can get a head start on a college degree while in high school, earn a degree at an accelerated rate, and significantly reduce college costs.


What Are the Benefits of Taking Online College Courses?


There are many reasons why students consider taking online college courses outside of their degree program, though reducing the cost of a college degree often tops the list. Take a look at the benefits below:


Reduce the Cost of a College Degree: Students who complete complete college courses outside of their degree program can graduate with considerably less debt by accumulating credit to transfer into a degree program prior to enrolling. Online college courses can be extremely affordable and flexible. StraighterLine courses, for example, start at $59 with a $99 monthly membership and include eTextbooks for free.

Take Courses Concurrently: Students can take online courses while enrolled in a college degree program. By taking online courses concurrently while in college, you can accelerate the completion of your degree and knock out some of the general education courses you need to graduate while taking classes at your school.

Gain Experience in Online Courses: Most students will take an online course at some point during their degree program. Taking an online course prior to enrolling can help you build the study skills and discipline it will take when it comes time.

Gain Advanced Standing and Complete Prerequisites: By completing prerequisites and earning college credit prior to enrolling in a degree program, students can start college with advanced standing. This means that they can advance directly to courses in their major, avoid the hassle of possible waitlists for popular prerequisites classes, and even complete their degree program a semester (or year!) ahead of schedule.

Explore Areas of Interest: By exploring academic options available through a college course catalog, for example StraighterLine offers 60+ online college courses, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in areas of academic interest beyond subjects typically available to high school students and complete necessary prerequisites before enrolling in college and declaring a major.


How Do I Earn College Credit with Online Courses?


Students can earn college credit for courses taken outside traditional degree programs through the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT). ACE CREDIT helps students gain academic credit for courses and examinations, including those completed in the military and through online college course providers like StraighterLine.


Keep in mind, however, that every college or university will have their own transfer policy that outlines the credits that they accept and the conditions -- including minimum grade standards -- for transfer. The standard guideline (not a rule, every school is a little different!) for getting credit from other institutions, including online courses, is by earning a “C” or better in a course, but some schools will require a number grade and/or have their own definition of what makes up a “C” grade.


Some online course providers have partnerships and course articulation agreements with colleges and universities that create a pathway to a degree program at their school or guarantee credit transfer. At StraighterLine, for instance, students who successfully complete a course can receive an ACE Transcript or directly transfer courses to partner colleges with predetermined articulation agreements. Earning ACE CREDIT can be a real game changer for students, providing students a way to earn credit at over 2,000 colleges and universities that consider ACE Transcripts for credit transfer. Keep in mind, you should always work with your school’s registrar to verify which courses will transfer and for how many credits.

Should I Take CLEP or an Online Course?


The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) are credit-by-exams tests allow you to prove your knowledge by taking a test in a specific subject area to obtain college credit.

While CLEP exams may be a good option for students who have already mastered a subject and want to earn college credit for that knowledge, it may not be as good a fit for those who haven’t yet. Keep in mind, with CLEP, if you don’t do well, you have to wait 6 months before you can try again. For most students planning on going to college, that’s not a great option. With online courses, the same introductory college level courses are offered in same subject areas as CLEP, and in the case of StraighterLine, you can retake your course if you fall short as soon as you want, and you can earn ACE Credit.


How do AP Classes Compare to Online Courses?

Advanced placement (AP) classes are designed to guide students to their future college majors, and ultimately to their adult careers. Students may choose to take an AP classes for the following reasons:


  • To see what college and university general education courses are like.
  • To show the college admissions office they are serious about attending and passing classes, and have what it takes.
  • To demonstrate motivation and initiative for their admissions packages


While AP classes are a worthy investment of time and energy, online courses are a great alternative that provide many of the same benefits, in addition to earning college credit.

Interested in trying an online college course? StraighterLine offers 60 college level courses that you can take no matter if you are still in high school, attending college, or thinking about going back and earning your degree. Get ahead by enrolling today!


Earn college credit with StraighterLine. To get an exclusive $50 off promo code for Edmit students, use promo code EDMIT50 at checkout! Visit our site or give us a call today at (844) 357-5221.