Real Accreditation Is Key
1. Regardless of what some websites or online colleges ask you to believe, accreditation is very important because it ensures that an institution meets or exceeds an established set of educational standards.
As a result, courses from an accredited online college are most likely to be transferable to other colleges and universities, and degrees from an accredited college are far more likely to be valued by both your current employer and prospective employers considering you for a position.
Online education can move you ahead in your career, but only if you attend a credible, accredited college or university.
Accreditation Claims – False
2. Beware of accreditation claims. Many questionable “accrediting agencies” exist. Some are outright frauds, offering “accreditation” to any institution willing to pay a fee. In fact, operators of some well known degree mills also run these so-called accrediting agencies.
State licensure, by the way, generally means little more than a minimal investment in assets and/or registration as a business entity. While most colleges offering online education are wholly legitimate, beware of those that are not…many exist.
Your safest bet is to trust only accrediting agencies approved by the United States Department of Education.
Think Long Term
3. Be sure that the colleges and the degree program(s) you are considering “fit” with your long range educational plans.
For example, if you are thinking about enrolling in an online associate degree program and later hope to earn a bachelors degree (online or on campus), find out how likely it is that your associate degree coursework will transfer by asking for a list of colleges which have accepted such credits.
Think About Class Size
4. Class size is as important in online education as it is in a traditional college classroom. Investigate average class sizes at the institutions you are considering.
Investigate Your Program
5. Find out about the faculty in the program(s) of interest to you. What degrees do they hold and from what institutions? What experience have they had “in the field”? How long have they been teaching? Have they had prior experience teaching online classes?
Get answers. And, if more than one or two faculty hold degrees from the college at which they are teaching, be careful. It is often a bad sign.
Be Smart About How Much Support You Need
6. How easy does a college make it for you to contact your instructor or a tutor if you have questions or need help? The level of support offered to students varies considerably from college to college.
Choose one in line with your needs and expectations.
Online Admission Is Always Rolling
7. One of the great things about online degree programs is that you can begin almost anytime.
So, don’t let anyone (including a college admissions officer) rush you into beginning until you are ready to put in the time and effort required for success.
Check Out Online Options
8. Be sure you understand whether a certificate or degree can be completed entirely online or whether on site projects, class meetings, or residency periods will be required.
Check Out All Financial Aid Avenues
9. Investigate your financial aid options. You may be pleasantly surprised by the financial aid, the loans, and the scholarships available to you. In addition, many colleges and universities offer tuition installment plans which help make college more affordable. Ask about such programs.
10. Don’t settle for less than you want. Perhaps this is the most important of the ten rules for selecting an online college degree program. Unlike ten years ago, when online degree options were severely limited, it is now possible for most people willing to invest a little time gathering information to find almost exactly the degree program that meets their needs.
Don’t be lazy. Request information from at least 5 or 6 colleges or universities which appear to meet your requirements.
Then, by comparing the information you receive from those colleges and asking lots of questions, you will be able to begin narrowing your list to a few “favorites”…online colleges that best meet your needs…much faster and more easily than you think.