It's been a rough summer for ITT Technical Institute.
ITT had already been under heavy scrutiny as part of President Obama's crackdown on for-profit colleges, and the long-lived for-profit school was also under investigation by the SEC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and more than a dozen states.
Then, just weeks ago, an accreditation board hit the long-lived for-profit school with a grim assessment: the school failed to meet basic requirements and was unlikely to comply in the future.
Soon after, the U.S. Department of Education banned ITT from accepting any students who would use federal financial aid, who make up pretty much their entire student body.
The State of California then took this as their cue to finally drop the axe on the for-profit institution by banning them from accepting any new students in their state.
Seeing their impending doom looming over them, ITT finally announced on August 29 that they would cease all student enrollment across all of their schools. What happens next is anyone's guess. Students can have their student loans with the school discharged, but ITT's next move remains a mystery. Needless to say, former ITT students looking to keep their education moving forward will need to find another option.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great online college options that are known for their reasonable costs, above-average support, and strong educational experiences. If you've had to leave ITT over recent events, here are 7 other strong online colleges that will keep you moving:
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While many online colleges struggle (or neglect) to provide adequate support and guidance to students once they're enrolled, American Public University excels in this area. "I tried a couple of online universities before going with APU," said student Charles Mosino in his review on BestCompany. "They kept me on track, unlike the other schools. Because they were supportive, I worked harder and achieved my goals."
Cindy Stevens echoed this same sentiment in her online review:
"American Public University is the best school I've ever attended. From the helpful admissions people to the great teachers and advisors. I have received valuable support and encouragement the whole time."
Another area of strength for APU is their affordable tuition, which is currently $250/credit hour for undergraduates and $300/credit hour for graduate students. This puts its costs on par with most public colleges and universities and significantly lower than many other comparable online colleges.
Whenever you are pursuing higher education, you want to know how that investment is going to affect your career. This is usually evidenced by a school's job placement rate, or what percentage of their student body find employment within 6-12 months of graduation. Unfortunately, while many schools publish these numbers, APU does not, leaving their ability actually get their students jobs is unknown.
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Liberty University consists of both a traditional brick and mortar school in Virginia and a robust spread of online degree programs, 50 of them, to be exact. Some of this Christian faith-based college's programs have attracted national attention. For example, its online graduate business program has been ranked 75th by U.S. News, while its online criminal justice degree program is ranked 35th.
Liberty University is also known for its well-run online learning platform. While software can be a big source of headaches for students at other online colleges, Liberty University's platform receives rave reviews from students.
The cost per credit hour at Liberty University is right on par with other online colleges, so while you won't be paying extra, you also won't be saving anything. Also, the school's job placement is just lukewarm at 56%.
One of the biggest student complaints, however, concern Liberty University's handling of financial aid issues.
"The administration seems to have no clue what it is doing half the time," says student Caleb Mitchell in his online review. "My scholarships drop off my account every month and I have to call them and notify them of the problem, just for them to realize it was yet another fluke in the system."
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Capella is big on career improvement. At 93%, the school has one of the highest career placement rates of any online college. One survey found that 80% of their students agreed that their education at Capella had a "positive impact" on their career potential. And this success in job placement might have something to do with their strong alumni network.
In her online review, one Capella student reported, " I am a new student, but I am meeting Capella Alum everywhere I go. I am hoping to network with other Capella Instructional Designers upon graduation to find a new job."
Yes, Capella's advertised $371 cost per credit hour is right on par with other online colleges, but it's the additional fees that have some students feeling gypped. While many other online colleges include fees and books in their quoted cost per hour, Capella does not, leading to some unexpected sticker shock for students. But the confusion doesn't end there.
Shocked students tell of all sorts of billing problems and inconsistencies, like charges showing up again after a class has been dropped or certain class fees showing up for certain subjects but not others.
Finally, inordinate numbers of students have complained about technical issues with Capella's learning platform that make it difficult to submit assignments or view feedback on their work. "My classes were good and I actually liked the homework, but some things took way too long to get back to me," said one student in an online Capella review.
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If there is one thing that all student reviews of GCU agree on, it's that their degree programs are rigorous, which is exactly what serious students should be looking for in a degree program.
Lydia S. warns in her Yelp review of GCU:
"Be prepared to have very little social life during much of the online program. They do not allow breaks for traveling and they even do not accept computer issues as an excuse for late homework. If you ask the teacher to extend a due date you will most likely be denied. Have a backup plan in case your internet goes down, and if you are planning a major trip you may want to save it for the 2 week break during the Christmas holiday, or wait until after your degree is over with. I have had to do homework while on vacation; it's no fun, but the degree is worth it to me."
This higher educational standard is manifest in their higher admissions standards. For instance, whereas most online colleges won't even take your GPA or test scores into consideration, GCU applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, at least a 19 ACT score or 920 SAT score. Of course, because GCU is both an online and traditional, campus-based school, it's hard to tell what these numbers would look like for strictly online students, so take these with a grain of salt.
GCU lists their job placement rate as 90% but there is some doubt if this number is accurate. GCU describes their nursing degree program as having the highest job placement rate at the school at 90%. So it's unclear if that 90% is a university average or just them using their highest job placement rate, from their nursing program, in this case. Also, you can't get a nursing degree online, so this number clearly mixes their online program stats with their on-campus stats. Take it with a grain of salt.
The higher cost at GCU is also noteworthy. At $443 per credit hour, their cost is notably higher than those at comparable schools like Liberty University or Capella University.
In addition, students have reported problems involving billing/financial aid issues and chronic miscommunication with faculty and staff. "Not all instructors are created equal," says Shannon V. in her review on Yelp. "Some of them are absolutely fantastic, others are not as helpful and not very proactive. I'll admit that this was disappointing to me from time to time, but this is unfortunately a typical experience for many students regardless of whether it's an online class or a traditional classroom setting."
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This military-focused online college strives to provide a college education that members of the Armed Forces can complete, whether on leave, in training, or on deployment. In this mission, they offer a staggering number of degree programs online, over 100 at last count, and those programs include both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
Students also report that AMU had no problem handling their GI Bill payments and that they (95%) would gladly choose AMU again if they had to start over.
Employer satisfaction is also extremely high with AMU grads, with 93% of employers saying they're satisfied with the AMU grads they've hired and would hire more in the future.
There are few online reviews about AMU, making it difficult to get a more complete picture of the school, but those reviews that do exist are all positive.
If there is one factor that could scare away potential students from AMU it is the high cost per credit hour, currently listed at $750-$975, roughly twice that at other online colleges.
A close second might be the fact that there is no reliable data on AMU's job placement rate. Yes, there are surveys of employers, but because of the transient nature of military life or the way that service men and women can continue a career in the military or transition out to civilian careers, a solid job placement figure is nearly impossible to calculate.
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I've mentioned how the ability of college to help you get better employment after graduation is really the be-all-and-end-all of most people's college choice. According to East Carolina University, the school has a stellar job placement rate of over 90%, which means that your chances of gaining better employment after graduating from East Carolina University are pretty strong.
Because reviews about the school's online programs are almost non-existent, it is hard to find proof surrounding the 90% job placement stat, so take it with a grain of salt.
Also, the cost per credit hour figures offered by East Carolina University are listed as $450 - $2,478, making them, well, less than helpful. After all, $450 would put their cost significantly above average for an online college. $2,478 would put it Ivy League territory. One of the biggest factors creating this problem is the disparity between tuition costs for in-state students versus out-of-state students. Ultimately, these numbers are so all over the place that it's impossible to compare them to those of other online schools.
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This online college certainly has its share of prestige behind it, as one of the oldest running online colleges in the country. It also offers some other nifty benefits, like a 15% tuition reduction and waived enrollment fees for students who complete a degree with Walden and then return to take on a more advanced master's or doctorate degree.
Also, Walden maintains a respectable, but not stellar, job placement rate at 80%, making it a strong bet to recoup your investment in education.
One surprising tick about Walden that surfaced in some student reviews is that some of their programs are not accredited.
"There are many programs that are not accredited," reveals one student in an online review. "They will tell you they have been working on it, empty promises for financial gain."
Other reviews highlight the school's tendency to misplace valuable assignments and paperwork, as with one student, identified as Rex in an online review:
"After completing all of my coursework for my doctoral program, I completed and submitted my thesis. My thesis would be reviewed and sent back to me for corrections, which I did within days, and re-submitted. However, I would not get a response to my corrected work for about two weeks. This process carried me through four semesters before I came to the realization that the slow review of my work was being used to milk me for more money. I stopped my education without graduating."
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