Colorado takes pride in its outstanding online colleges with exceptional undergraduate and graduate programs in healthcare, business, education, and religious studies.
Colorado has several colleges and universities offering online programs with special areas of study that aren’t found in most schools in the U.S.
The state offers above-average wages and a lower unemployment rate than other states.
Cost of Online Academic Programs in Colorado
Aspiring students pursuing online programs in Colorado can expect to pay higher than the national average tuition rates. According to College Board’s Trends in Higher Education Series, the average in-state tuition for two-year public institutions in the U.S. is $3,860.
At the same time, colleges in Colorado have $5,000 tuition rates at the minimum level. Similarly, public 4-year colleges cost online students in the U.S. an average of $10,940, while Colorado’s in-state tuition rates have $12,000+ on average.
Colorado’s healthy economic growth means more funding for higher education, resulting in high-quality standards for its distance learning programs. Many articulation agreements between Colorado community colleges and higher learning institutions help online students reduce the time and expenses of getting undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Financial Aid in Colorado
Distance learners in Colorado have several options to finance their college degree by qualifying for financial aid. They must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as a standard requirement.
Depending on the information students provide in their FAFSA, online schools in Colorado calculate and deduct the expected family income from the cost of tuition to determine students’ financial aid needs. Online students who require the most financial help may be qualified to receive subsidized loans or Federal Pell Grant funding.
Alternatively, Colorado students can apply for private loans and scholarships to finance their online studies. The best online colleges in Colorado, including Colorado State University, Colorado Mesa University, Metropolitan State University, University of Northern Colorado, and CSU Global, have a variety of scholarship and work-study programs for their distance learners.
Other Colorado schools also have program-specific financial aid options in which online learners apply for tuition reimbursement or assistance programs.
Employment Dynamics in Colorado
Colorado has 15 thriving industries, providing numerous career opportunities across different academic fields. Almost all industries in Colorado include STEM studies, while its tourism and recreational sectors are also booming, given the state’s outdoor reputation.
Fit Small Business has recognized Colorado as the Top 2 states for starting a business, while the Census Bureau has granted the state #4 for the Concentration of STEM Workers.
Although Colorado’s cost of living index is higher than the average in the U.S., utilities, groceries, and health are desirable compared to other states with higher ranges.
Accreditation status is crucial for enrolling in an online academic program at any college and university around Colorado. This ensures students’ eligibility to receive federal financial aid and guarantees that their academic degrees have met quality education standards.
Like most states in the U.S., the highest accreditation standards of online programs in Colorado are given by regional accrediting agencies. Colorado’s regional accreditation is The Higher Learning Commission.
The same accrediting agency grants regional accreditation status to colleges and universities in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Colleges and Universities in Colorado
Fans of the outdoors will feel right at home in Colorado. With the Rocky Mountains, Colorado River, and even part of the Great Plains, you’re sure to find adventure in The Centennial State. Students looking to balance outdoor adventure with higher education can choose from over 40 colleges and universities offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees for an average in-state tuition of $10,800.
Colorado’s 28 public institutes include junior colleges, universities, the United States Air Force Academy, and the Colorado School of Mines, a research university that specializes in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Tuition for Colorado’s public schools ranges from $3,000 to $19,000, with many of the colleges and junior colleges starting at $4,000 and the universities at $8,000. Several of public colleges in Colorado enroll a large number of online students, including Colorado State University
Colorado’s private institutions boast smaller class sizes and student populations. This category includes five religiously affiliated campuses. Private colleges in Colorado tend to be more expensive, ranging from $4,000 to $55,000 in tuition. There are several online colleges in Colorado that are categorized as private schools.
The University of Colorado, Boulder, a notable research institute, is ranked as the number one school in the state and has a student population of just over 32,000. Students can earn degrees in computer science and physics both through in-person courses and online learning. Influential Boulder alumni include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Academy Award-winning actor and director Robert Redford.
Prospective art students can check out Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, and those desiring a career in the medical field can look into the Institute of Business and Medical Careers.
To learn more, check out the best brick-and-mortar and online colleges in Colorado.
If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require a time of adjustment. Although you’ll typically learn the same material and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, going online will require greater independence and responsibility than going in person. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, for harnessing the online educational technology that you’ll need to use, and for completing the course requirements, such as listening to lectures, learning lessons, reading texts, and handing in assignments. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take the initiative in building relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.
No. The only part of online education that’s easier than campus-based education is ease of access: all you need is a computer and an internet connection for online education. But even this seeming advantage of online education can be misleading: what’s easier, studying online with your computer and internet connection from your home where you need to cook, clean, pay rent, and maintain a job? Or studying on campus in a dorm where all your living needs are handled by the school, and college staff are there to help you every step of the way?
If you take the commute to campus out of the equation, campus-based education is easier. All the support structures available on campus for students, especially with real people to help you in person, are not there online. The demands on you as an online student will largely be the same as for your campus-based counterpart, but without the same helps.
In general, your online courses will present the same material and test you in the same way as traditional in-person courses. In many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning with remote educational technology for the first time, online college may be considerably more challenging than campus-based college. For a few insights on how to manage this new online experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.
Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable non-profit institutions on the one end and less-than-reputable for-profit institutions on the other end. Accreditation gives you the power to identify the more reputable actors in online education. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency indicating that a college or university is meeting standards of quality and credibility. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.
Attending a college or university that is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. For students seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that they opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree. For more on this important topic, check out our What is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter? College & University Accreditation Guide.
As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited (see the previous point), you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer of credits. In many cases, you will encounter some bureaucratic haggling in which some of your credits will be transferred and others may be refused. However, provided that you have attended an online school with recognized regional accreditation, you should be in good shape in transferring your credits earned online.
In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript, or resumé differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.
Some employers may express the concern that because you did your degree online, you may need to transition from an online education experience to in-person workplace experience. But in an age of Covid, that concern seems much diminished. The fact is that much employment these days is remote. And collaboration increasingly happens online over Zoom. Many employers will therefore view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.
If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will be less than ideal for you (though depending on your circumstances, it may also be the only viable option).
While there is much in traditional campus-based education that can be substituted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing that can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual in-person classroom setting. As you transition to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face in getting the most out of your online classes is overcoming this difference between “real reality” and “virtual reality.” Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.
The advantages of online classes are many. Above all, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities-educational experiences that you can complete at your own pace and on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.
Resources for Online College-Bound Students
Whether you’re just getting started on your college search, you’re looking for survival tips on your way to a bachelor’s degree, or you’re preparing for the transition into grad school, we’ve got guides, how to’s and tons of other valuable resources to keep you moving forward in your educational journey.