Columbia College vs. UMASS – Amherst

Although many people think of the University of Phoenix when someone says online education, the truth is, there are many other universities who have online programs. From Penn State to the University of Illinois, there are dozens of well-known, quality colleges and universities moving their degree programs online. For my first “college review” posting, I wanted to take a closer look at my college, Columbia College, located in Columbia, Missouri. Although I was also accepted into programs at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, University of Maryland University College, and Penn State University, I ultimately selected Columbia College because it is a perfect blend of the qualities I value in an institution of higher learning. Here are a few of the things I took into consideration when selecting my online college:

  • Programs of study available
  • Quality of education / college ranking in U.S. News and World Report
  • Cost of tuition (the lower, the better)
  • Distance education format (online vs. correspondence, video, or other formats)
  • Option to participate in graduation ceremonies
  • Term length (8 week terms vs. 16 week traditional terms)

Although each of the universities I named above had a decent mixture of these preferences, I finally narrowed my choices down to the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. Penn State is an incredible school, but they just did not have any programs I was interested in at the time. University of Maryland University College had a large selection of programs, but their tuition was just too high for their ranking in the U.S. News report. Here is a comparison of UMass and Columbia College based on the factors listed above: Columbia College (Private: Founded in 1851) Degree programs: http://www.ccis.edu/online/academics/departments.asp Ranking: Top Tier, Best Comprehensive Colleges Tuition: $200 per credit hour Distance format: Online Students can participate in graduation ceremonies Term length: 8 weeks University of Massachusetts – Amherst (Public: Founded in 1863) Degree programs: http://www.umassonline.net/DegreeBrowse.cfm Ranking: 96, National Universities Tuition: $400 per credit hour Distance format: Online Students can participate in graduation ceremonies Term length: 16 weeks (traditional semester) In the end, I chose Columbia College for two primary reasons. Although I preferred the UMass program of study, tuition is twice that of Columbia College. Even student loans would not cover classes that cost $1200 per class ($400 p/ch x 3) at UMass. At Columbia College, however, my Stafford loans pay for tuition and books without a problem. The second major consideration was term length. At Columbia College, terms are 8 weeks in length. Although this might not seem like a big deal, it is to me. I can take two classes per 8 weeks, which equates to 4 classes per “traditional” 16 week semester. That’s a full-time course load, but I only have to juggle two classes at a time. Had I chosen UMass, I would have had to juggle 4 classes at one time while working full-time to get the same result. That would not have been easy. Ultimately, Columbia College was somewhat of a compromise for me, but I am very happy with my choice. The professors and administrative staff go above and beyond. I also know that I have grown as a person and as a student. I would recommend this college without any reservation to someone looking for the perfect blend of academics and cost; being able to take a full-time course load while working full-time is just icing on the cake. Still looking? Check out a few more of my online college reviews.

Top Online College Degree Programs

Walden University - Bachelor's, Master's, & Doctorate Degrees. Walden University is dedicated in ensuring students receive the education they need to advance in their careers. Their programs are convenient and effective, providing working students with the flexibility they need.
Capella University - Capella University is an accredited college that offers online Bachelor's, master's, Doctoral, and Certificate programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession. Our competency-based curriculum delivers both foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you're learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
Kaplan University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. Considered a top online college, Kaplan University offers students affordable and convenient online classes. Kaplan University is an accredited university that provides students the education to become successful professionals upon graduation.
American InterContinental University - Associate's , Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. With campuses located around the world, American InterContinental University has been educating students for over 35 years. AIU offers flexible and interactive programs that assist the students in graduating at their own pace.
Colorado Technical University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. By designing their programs to meet the changing needs of today's world, Colorado Technical University prepares students for a career in the most competitive industries. Additionally, they offer accelerated and flexible programs to allow students to enter the professional world sooner than traditional programs.
Liberty University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. Pioneering distance education since 1985, Liberty University now enrolls more than 90,000 students from around the world in its thriving online program. With more than 230 fully accredited programs of study, Liberty University Online offers degrees from the certificate to the postgraduate level.
Post University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. Post University is a premiere destination for students in obtaining their college degree online. Post University offers a dynamic curriculum to every student and are taught by the very best professors in their field of study.