Ten Things to Consider When Choosing an Online School
What factors should determine where you attend online school?
Online schools are convenient, flexible and can offer you an education that propels you into a new career, or help you to advance in your current one. As the popularity of online degrees continues to rise, it may be difficult to sift through the many online schools and degree programs that have popped up over the past several years.
Not all online schools are created equal. The way in which they deliver education varies because the technology is relatively new, thus there is not one standard format for an online course system.
Beyond searching for an online school that offers your desired major, there are many other important factors that determine which degree program is the best fit for your educational needs and goals. Your first step should be to visit the school's website to see what information you can discover. Afterward, requesting additional information can help you determine what each online school has to offer.
- Credibility: No matter what a school tells you, remember that attending an accredited online school is invaluable to your career. Most employers will not accept applications from prospective employees if they do not have an online degree from an accredited college.
- Resources: Just like a traditional college, finding a school with a significant amount of career resources is an important step of the college search. You don’t want to get to the point where you have your online degree, but no assistance in finding a job. The job market is becoming increasingly competitive and you will need all the support you can get.
- Level of tech support: Imagine you sitting at your computer for hours completing your mid-term assignment. You click “send” to pass it in, but nothing happens or you receive an error message. An ideal online school will have a tech support center that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and students in this situation will simply call their tech support team and troubleshoot the problem. Students who attend an online school with a subpar tech support team that has limited hours will be pulling out their hair until it re-opens the next day.
- Tuition costs: Just as with any other college, tuition costs vary by online school and degree program. If funding for your education is going to be an issue, plan ahead to research and compare tuition prices for a variety of schools. Also, be sure to find out any additional expenses you may be expected to pay.
- Feedback policies: Each online college requires professors to participate in classes and provide feedback, but the time commitments that they are expected to make vary by school. Finding a school that has a high feedback rate on assignments and discussions can be paramount to your success as an online student.
- Class Schedule: Does the course follow an open or blended approach to the curriculum. An open course means that students are enrolled in completely online courses, while blended courses balance traditional classroom instruction with online learning.
- Courses offered: This may seem obvious, but it should not be overlooked. Although an online school might offer a degree program that suits your career needs, it does not mean that the courses that go along with the program are the best fit.
- Current student reviews: There are many sites found on the Internet that allow students to write honest reviews of specific schools, courses and professors. Learning about your prospective schools through this format allows you to get the education you need.
- Faculty: Do a little sleuthing to find out the educational history of your professors. Make sure they are certified and licensed teachers. In addition, having professors that have real-world experience in the field means that they can provide insider information and advice.
- Financial aid packages: The amount of financial aid a student may receive varies depending on the online school.
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