Some online institutions in the United States even allow students to test out of credits through examinations. If you're considering this option, check with school advisers to verify that any exams you complete for credit will be accepted at other institutions before spending time and money on the tests.
[Read more about earning online credits for what you already know.]
4. Evaluate your own academic needs: While the coursework and materials for online courses are similar—if not identical—to traditional, on-campus classes, that's not to say distance education is a learning method that's right for everyone.
"Not all learners are equipped to learn in this way," Penn State's Stopper notes. "Does the university provide an assessment of your learning style to make sure online education is right for you? If not, seriously consider the following: Are you self-directed enough to be successful; do you have the discipline to work through classes without a set schedule; do you have access to the technology needed to be successful; do you have a good support network at home to help you stay focused and dedicated?"
Though online learning—and the U.S. style of education in general—is new for Slavic student Klaric, she says any sacrifices made so far have been worth it.
"The [U.S. higher education] system is designed to inspire and even demand critical thinking as well as [a] creative approach to learning," she notes. "I am deeply grateful every single day of my life for this opportunity—for technology that allows me to study online and for the higher education system that was developed in the U.S. and is just amazing."
Trying to fund your online education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for Online Education center.