If you live in or near Michigan, you probably know that Baker College has a large selection of online degree programs.
As one of the ten largest non-profit schools in the country, Baker has a massive presence in the Michigan area. But how do their online offerings stack up? Here, we'll take a deep dive into what online students had to say about their experience.
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But first, let's cover some basic info that you need to know before you consider enrolling at Baker.
Baker College: the basics
Baker is based in Flint, MI. In addition to offering classes online, it also has quite a few campuses and satellite campuses throughout the state.
As far as online programs go, Baker has an impressive list of both degree and certificate programs, including:
- Accounting (MBA)
- Automotive Services Technology
- Automotive Services Technology
- Baking and Pastry
- Business Administration
- Business Administration Accelerated Program
- Business Intelligence (MBA)
- Cardiac Sonography
- Civil Engineering
- Cloud Security Risk Management
- Cloud Security Risk Management
- Computer Science - Concentrations in Computer Programming or Database Technology
- Criminal Justice
- Culinary Arts
- Dental Assisting
- Dental Hygiene
- Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- Diesel Service Technology
- Early Childhood Education
- Educational Leadership
- Electrical Engineering
- Elementary Language Arts
- Elementary Mathematics
- Elementary Social Studies
- Elementary Teacher Preparation Early Childhood ZS (General & Special Education)
- Elementary Teacher Preparation Language Arts
- Elementary Teacher Preparation Mathematics
- Elementary Teacher Preparation Social Studies
- Food and Beverage Management
- Game Software Development
- General Business (MBA)
- General Studies
- Health Information Technology
- Healthcare Administration
- Healthcare Management (MBA)
- Human Resource Management
- Human Services
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology (MS)
- Information Systems (MBA), Concentrations in Assurance Specialist, Project Management, and Web Development
- Information Technology and Security - Concentrations in Information Assurance, Information Assurance and Cyber Security, Network Professional, Server Administration
- Leadership Studies (MBA)
- Legal Studies
- Mechanical Engineering
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Laboratory Technician
- Nursing Administration
- Nursing Education
- Nursing Post-RN Licensure (BS)
- Nursing Pre-RN Licensure (BS)
- Occupational Therapy
- Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Physical Therapist Assistant
- Pre-Occupational Therapy
- Radiation Therapy
- Radiologic Technology
- Respiratory Care
- Secondary English
- Secondary Mathematics
- Secondary Social Studies
- Secondary Teacher Preparation for English, Mathematics, Social Studies
- Surgical Technology
- Veterinary Technology
Compared to most online colleges, Baker has a serious advantage. That is, it's accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and that accreditation is good through the end of 2020.
Why this matters: This is the same accreditation carried by most reputable colleges within the region, including traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Not all online colleges carry this kind of accreditation. In fact, many hold only a national accreditation, which may not denote the same level of merit in the eyes of employers or other educational institutions.
That means that you can be assured a degree from Baker will generally be recognized as legitimate within most industries. This can also ease the process of transferring credits to other schools should you decide to complete your studies elsewhere or pursue a higher-level degree at a later time. However ...
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is something that prospective students should be aware of in terms of transferring. Just because Baker is regionally accredited doesn't mean that all of your Baker credits will automatically be accepted by other institutions. See the section below on transfer credits to find out about an issue that some students reported.
Tip: If you think that you may transfer to a different school at some point, it's best to check into transfer credits as soon as possible. Speak with administrators at Baker as well as well as the school you're considering to ensure you're taking classes that will transfer with full credit.
See also: Are Online Colleges Legit? How to Avoid Scams and Find Reputable Online Schools
Does Baker College accept Pell Grants and FAFSA?
Yes, Baker College accepts the same federal and state financial aid that would be available at traditional schools. This is another excellent advantage, as many online-only schools do not accept the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
Consider that many college students get "free money" for college in the form of federal grants. For example, the Pell Grant could be worth up to $6,095 per school year. If you have exceptional need, you could qualify for an additional $4,000 per year in the form of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
Beyond federal aid, Baker accepts state grants and scholarships as well.
Tip: Before applying for any school, be sure to fill out the FAFSA to find out how much aid you could be eligible for. After accepting all of your grants and scholarships, it's best to max out lower-interest federal student loans (if needed) before turning to private loans.
Online college student reviews
Now let’s find out what Baker's online college student have to say.
But first, remember that with any Internet reviews, it’s important to keep in mind that people are more likely to leave a review after a negative experience. It's not unusual for schools and programs of study to have more negative reviews than positive.
In addition, remember that with any school, you get out of it what you put into it. While we want to give the online reviewers the benefit of the doubt that they did what was required of them, it’s still wise to take the reviews with a grain of salt.
In any case, it's always smart to pay attention to complaints that crop up in multiple reviews.
Note: Baker has both in-person and online degree programs. The follow sentiments pertain only to the online study programs.
Pro: Work at your own pace
Baker's online coursework is very self-directed. For most courses of study, there doesn't seem to be a requirement that students are online at certain times. Several people who were working full-time mentioned that they appreciated the flexibility of being able to fit their studies into their schedules easily.
One person said that they appreciated the ability to participate in a class discussion during a lunch break or while waiting in line, right from their phone.
Con: Learning is largely self-directed
On the flipside, some students complained that there wasn't enough direction from professors. Many reviewers noted that the class format means that they felt they were often teaching themselves the material.
While students do have the ability to interact with professors and ask questions, several people noted that it often took several days to get an answer.
Pro/Con: Compact terms
Instead of semesters, Baker online classes are run on six-week terms. While many people reported liking the ability to move fast, they also noted that there was a lot of work and it could be challenging to keep up, especially while working full-time.
Con: Must be online a lot
While there does seem to be a fair amount of schedule flexibility, multiple reviewers noted they were required to be online a certain number of days to do exercises or participate in a group forum. One reviewer noted that was extremely challenging, especially while juggling project deadlines that fell in the middle of the workweek.
More than one reviewer noted that much of the daily work felt more like "busy work," instead of valuable material that could be used in the workplace. One accounting major stated that even though they graduated with a high GPA, they did not feel qualified to do work beyond basic bookkeeping.
Con: Lessons are not generally in multimedia format
It seems that many of Baker's online offerings are heavily dependent on reading as a form of instruction.
Some students were frustrated that they were required to spend so much time absorbing the material in this way, noting that they could've just bought a book or looked up information online instead of paying tuition.
One reviewer admitted to looking up lectures on YouTube rather than completing the reading assignments.
Con: You may not get full credit when transferring classes
Even though Baker has a respected regional accreditation, the length of classes may mean that you won't get full credit for a course if you decide to transfer.
One reviewer complained that the college they were transferring to would only grant half-credit because the class terms at Baker are so much shorter than a regular semester.
Pro: Computer science and information technology get high marks
Online college students in the technology field generally gave positive reviews of the program. Because many of the professors work in the field, students often felt that they were getting instruction that was aligned with current industry practices.
However, a few students noted that professors with PhDs could benefit from updating their skill sets.
Pro: Helpful advisers
Several students noted that they had extremely positive experiences with their academic advisers.
One student advised that it's a good idea to set expectations with the adviser early in the process to help determine the best way to communicate. The same person added that if you don't have a good adviser, you shouldn't be afraid to ask to be assigned to someone else.
As far as online schools go, there's a lot to like about Baker. Its regional accreditation means that graduates can be more assured that their education will be viewed as legitimate. However, it's important to be mindful of the abbreviated terms (in place of semesters), that may make transferring credits difficult. (If you're skimming this article, scroll up to read the section on transferring.)
The fact that Baker accepts federal financial aid is also a major plus, allowing students to take full advantage of grants, scholarships, and loans that can reduce the overall cost of college.
Baker's online college options seem like a solid choice for working professionals or people who can't attend traditional college for other reasons. Of course, it's important to recognize that classes move quickly, so if you're considering enrolling at Baker, you should carefully consider how much time you're able to devote to classwork on a weekly basis.
Since college is such a big investment, it's always wise to do a bit of comparison shopping before enrolling anywhere. With so many online education programs popping up these days, you'll certainly have plenty of options to choose from.
See also: 20 Most-Affordable Online Bachelor Degree Programs