Created By: Affordable Colleges Online
Audience: Students, parents, teachers
Focus: College degree programs search and prep (online colleges only)
Big Picture: ACO’s homepage announces that seven million college students took at least one online class in 2013—their thesis being that, more than ever, students are looking for the cost-effectiveness of virtual college programs. The site is a powerful resource for finding these programs, as users can narrow their search by degree type, major, and state or by pre-populated lists (such as “best” and “cheapest”). The Texas page serves up a solid listing of the state’s best online programs and briefly profiles the college landscape in the big cities of Dallas and Houston. Additionally, there’s a resource section that covers financial aid opportunities, provides advice to veteran and disabled applicants, and explains in depth why virtual colleges are just as good as “accredited” physical institutions.
Big Challenge Solved: The site brilliantly solves a fairly new problem—where to find a comprehensive guide to online colleges and degree programs, and at the same time learn why they’re valid options in the first place.
Must-Use: Under Resources, users can get all the info they can handle on how and where to maximize financial aid opportunities for the online college market, breaking it down with clear language, graphics, and even YouTube videos.
Most Unique Tool: For any students looking specifically for Christian-based schools and programs, the site has compiled a list of the best for quick and easy reference.
Best Middle-School Student Tool: Students’ social media feeds can often be a lot like their rooms—messy. ACO provides a resource entitled How to Clean Up Your Social Profiles, which gives them plenty of time to get their Tweets in order before colleges come a-knockin’.
Best High-School Student Tool: Hit the top page of the Degree Levels section and high-school students can scroll down to Transitioning to an Online Degree, which lets them know what to expect and how to prepare if they decide to go with that option.
Protip: To its credit, the site goes for comprehensiveness in its examination of this burgeoning path to higher education—which means there’s a lot to churn through. Avoid casual searching and use the top nav bar to focus and streamline your experience.