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Online colleges in Georgia offer alternatives for students looking for a convenient, flexible schedule to help them juggle school and work -- and maybe a family as well. From single courses to online degree programs, there are lots of options available to students.

Online Schools in Georgia

For more than a decade, the state of Georgia has embraced the concept of online education. In 2001, the Georgia State Board of Education approved the use of online courses for both Advanced Placement and core curriculum courses for students interested in earning college credit early.

The state also established the Georgia Virtual School, making AP and college-level coursework available to students who would otherwise not have access to these offerings; in 2010-11, enrollment reached nearly 13,000. From single courses to fully online degree programs, online schools in Georgia support students interested in pursuing higher education by offering them a variety of flexible, modern options.

Trends in Georgia Online Schools

Online classes are becoming a mainstream option for college freshmen as well as returning students. The Babson Survey Research Group at Babson College reported in 2011 that 60 percent of private-sector colleges and universities nationwide considered online learning an important part of their long-term strategies. Nearly a third of higher education enrollment in the fall of 2010 was for online courses, as shown in a 2011 infographic published by Babson and the Sloan Consortium.

Actively investing in online educations, Georgia colleges and universities offer online degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The University System of Georgia built a Georgia ONmyLINE portal with information about the online and distance education courses offered by the system's 35 member universities and colleges. In addition, the system created an eCore option allowing students to complete the first two years of their degree program online, with the exception of proctored exams. The eCore classes concentrate on core curriculum requirements, and eCore credits can generally be transferred to institutions in the state university system or other private colleges and universities.

College Degrees in Georgia

The Lumina Foundation discusses the state's increasing employer demand for workers with a postsecondary degree, projecting 812,000 job openings in Georgia through 2018 that would require applicants with an advanced degree. To meet these needs, the foundation recommends that the state encourage people who previously went to college but did not receive their degrees to complete their education: online schools make this possible for many students who had trouble completing a traditional education. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that many Georgia residents begin degree programs but struggle to complete them: In 2010, only 24 percent of students at four-year Georgia public colleges graduated within four years. After six years, slightly more than half had earned their degree.

The Georgia Department of Labor notes that some of the state's fastest growing jobs require a degree or postsecondary training. The BLS calculates that in 2011 Georgia had nearly 3.8 million workers, and mean annual wages for the state were about $42,590. The highest numbers of jobs were found in office and administrative support, sales and food preparation. Transportation, education, health care and manufacturing also employed a sizable workforce.

Online College in Georgia

Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Georgia are among the institutions offering online degrees in Georgia. The University System of Georgia, which contains some of the state's largest schools, provides an array of Web-based educational options. Programs may be entirely online or may require either limited or extensive campus visits. Choices for fully or partially online studies in Georgia could include an associate degree in criminal justice or a bachelor's degree in business administration from Georgia Perimeter College; nursing courses at Clayton State University; or a master's degree in business administration from Columbus State University.

Beyond public online colleges in Georgia, students can also choose from online programs offered through private institutions. Altierus Career College offers a number of associate degree programs as well as vocational certificates. Online studies feature flexible scheduling options for returning students who may need to balance work and family obligations with their educational responsibilities.

Sources:
Georgia Department of Education, http://www.gadoe.org/Pages/Home.aspx
Georgia ONmyLINE, http://www.georgiaonmyline.org/
Lumina Foundation, Georgia, 2012, http://www.luminafoundation.org/state/georgia/
Georgia Department of Labor,http://www.dol.state.ga.us/

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