How Do You Choose the Right Online College?
Online colleges have made it possible for anyone who is willing to work at it to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. There are colleges that operate exclusively online without brick and mortar campuses. Other online colleges operate as extensions of traditional campuses. Online colleges have several advantages. If you work full-time, you can keep your job and complete your coursework at your home or office. Convenience makes online colleges attractive to learners. Parents of young children don't have to worry about getting a babysitter or missing out on important activities with their children because most online programs offer flexibility. All coursework can be completed online, including research, exams and group discussions. Online courses can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection, so if you are traveling for work or even for pleasure you can keep up with your courses by logging in and working on assignments. There is some homework you should do before you decide on an online college. Consider the following five factors that will help you choose the right online college.
Steps to Finding the Right College
- Make sure the college is accredited.
- Make sure your degree program is accredited.
- Compare the cost of online colleges.
- Ask about financial aid.
- Determine if graduates have been successful at finding employment.
The 5 Steps Explained:
An accredited institution has been reviewed by a regional or national accreditation organization to make sure that it meets standards of quality for higher education institutions. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a list of approved accreditation agencies.
Institutional accreditation does not mean your degree program will be accredited. You will want to inquire about specific program accreditation. In professions where you must take a licensing exam to practice at the professional level, such as accounting or counseling, graduating from a program that is approved by the licensing entity is a requirement. You certainly would not want to spend time earning a degree and learn that you cannot take a licensing exam because your degree program was not accredited.
Compare the cost of different online colleges. The tuition at online colleges will vary, with non-profit and public institutions usually costing less than private or for-profit institutions.
If you know you will need help with tuition, before you make your decision, contact the college's financial aid representative to determine if you will qualify for funds. When an institution is accredited, there will be options available such as federal grants and loans. Some online colleges may offer scholarships. If you are going back to school to improve skills for your current job, talk with your human resources department about tuition reimbursement.
Finally, determine whether graduates of the program have been successful at finding work. Although many online colleges offer high quality instruction, there are still some employers who may be reluctant to hire an individual who completed a degree online. If the online college offers career planning and placement, you should be able to find out whether graduates land decent jobs. Generally, if the degree program you choose requires you to become licensed or certified, achieving that credential will be proof enough for an employer that your online degree program was rigorous and prepared you to do the job.
The good news is that educational technology has made online education accessible to anyone who wants to earn degree at any level. There are plenty of excellent online colleges that will prepare you for a lucrative career or advancement in your present job.