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Q&A - English Schools

What are the most affordable brick-and-mortar and online English schools?

Traditional or online English programs are most affordable in community colleges and public universities and most expensive in private schools. The cost of strictly online English schools does not differ when tied to a campus-based program.

Accredited community colleges offer 2-year associates degrees and nearly all have a school for English. Tuition for an English program at a community college is the least expensive option. These programs generally cost between $17,000 and $20,000 for in-state students, and many offer an accredited online English school. Prices vary by region of the U.S., but not considerably so.

San Diego City College, Austin Community College and Borough of Manhattan Community College are good examples of affordable accredited community colleges, all of which offer options to attend English school online.

Public and state program offerings cost more, most likely due to increased access to resources and a wider variety of English degrees from which to choose. In 2011, Auburn University charged about $22,000 per year for its 4-year English program, while Indiana State University English majors paid a few thousand dollars less in tuition. California State University, Los Angeles students spent a bit more, at about $24,000 per year for a bachelors in English.

Private schools may boast specialized English departmental accreditation. While this kind of credential practically guarantees a higher-quality English program, these schools are priced accordingly. A look at private schools with departmental accreditation across the country reveals tuition rates generally around $43,000 per year. California’s Stanford University, U.S. News & World Report’s fifth best national school, and Georgetown University on the east coast, also highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, illustrate this pricing. In the Northeast, Boston University is equally expensive.

How can I connect with other on-campus or online students who are also studying at my school for English?

Generally speaking, the larger the school the likelier you will find clubs and organizations devoted to your particular interests. All top schools for English offer an avenue for aspiring writers to publish and network by working for the school newspaper. While smaller campuses may not have a social organization devoted to writing, many community colleges have Sigma Kappa Delta chapters. Sigma Kappa Delta is the national English honor society for 2-year colleges. Members are eligible for scholarships.

Four-year universities often provide more opportunities to publish and make friends by working on a published literary magazine or poetry journal. Writing seminars, often delivered by noted visiting faculty, can augment an English curriculum while creating more opportunities to meet classmates. Active chapters of Sigma Tau Delta, Sigma Kappa Delta’s parent organization, offer scholarships and social opportunities to English majors at 4-year schools.

Students in solely online English schools are generally offered a social media system within the framework of the program. Additionally, online students who are looking for friends often have the option to attend class on campus to meet fellow students and faculty.

What resources should my brick-and-mortar or online school offer me when I am studying English?

Top English schools understand your needs and strive to meet them. Access to large amounts of literature is essential for English students, so you should have an extensive library on campus or in the nearby community. Larger libraries may have special collections, and occasionally students are lucky enough to have a specialty librarian for English students.

Resources outside of class that strengthen your English skills are invaluable. Writing centers, drop-in centers that offer immediate assistance, may be combined with library resources in peer-aided research programs that match students with library research assistants. Work-study programs in the English department, internships and job exchanges with local businesses like publishers provide income while you hone your craft.

The best schools for English have administrative departments designed to guide English majors through undergraduate years and beyond. A resourceful academic advisor helps students develop class schedules and collaborates on short and long-term goals, providing consistency and spotting potential trouble. A financial aid advisor helps students navigate deadlines and points out sources of funding. When graduation looms, good career centers help students target future job possibilities.

Students who are pursuing an online English degree should have access to all of the same benefits or their online equivalent. Hybrid programs often invite online students to participate in the same activities as campus-based peers, and most distance learning programs offer dedicated online support forums.

Are there any nonprofit online English schools or programs that I could look into?

Purely online English degree programs do exist. While the benefits of earning an entire degree at your convenience may be tempting, particularly if you are a working student, this benefit may come at the cost of an unaccredited degree, which doesn’t help your job prospects. Additionally, if you wish to transfer credits to another English program, whether online or in a traditional setting, you should investigate how many credits will be accepted.

For-profit schools abound, as any Google search for online English degrees shows. However, students should keep in mind that nonprofit status is the gold standard of most colleges in the U.S. It would be wise to question the agenda of any school seeking to make money at the expense of its students. A CBS report in 2010 investigated 12 for-profit online schools and found that all 12 made deceptive claims in their recruiting methods.

Accreditation status and fishy business practices aside, these programs can be expensive, sometimes well over the cost of a private school’s tuition. Additionally, for-profit online English programs are often stacked with hidden fees. Per-class graduation fees, enrollment fees, student services fees and administrative class fees significantly boost the cost of a degree that may not be recognized as reputable.