In recent years, online education has grown in popularity. Technological developments and more schools competing for students to enroll have helped costs come down. Employers are jumping on board by partnering with colleges and technical education centers so that employees can still maintain a full-time work schedule while continuing with their education. Military personnel are also utilizing the benefits of online education as they travel around the world.
If you are considering an online education, you need to know how to find a good school. Marketing efforts are very strong and it can be easy to think that a school must be good if you keep seeing it pop up on sites. There are several things you must consider before investing in an education online. Follow these steps to pick the best online school.
Determine How Much Time You Can Commit
An online setting for your school will still require that you create a set schedule for your studying. You will need time for writing papers and contributing to group projects. Although some schools might not require classroom attendance at specific times, there may be required chat sessions. Most will have deadlines on Sunday evenings for big assignments and deadlines throughout the week for bulletin board posts. Determine if exams are online or if you will have to travel to an approved location for a proctored exam. Some schools offer accelerated or semester courses but each will require a lot of reading and papers.
Determine Type of Accreditation
Familiarize yourself with regional accreditation. Any school you attend in the US should be regionally accredited so that your courses are recognized and are more likely to transfer. Some schools have multiple locations (satellite schools) so you will have to make sure the one you are attending is also accredited. Browse forums, websites, and news articles to learn what the public perception of your school is. If you go to the FAFSA website, you can learn more information about the retention and graduation rates of the school you are considering.
Determine What Curriculum Fits Your Needs
Be careful of a degree program that has a lot of individual courses that really could be combined into one course. Avoid courses that are unlikely to transfer because they are geared toward your school only. See if there are options to exam out of courses so you can save time and money. Decide if you prefer an environment where class participation and group projects are mandatory or if you’d prefer to just submit assignments without much interaction.
It can be easy to fall behind if you are dependent on emails and the telephone to get assistance. Browse the faculty profiles and research the retention rates of professors. Most will publish their resumes online so you might find that they are working for the school on the side. Look at websites that publish student reviews of professors. Make sure that free online tutoring is offered in case you
Software & Supplies
Typically you will only need Microsoft Office (Excel, Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint.) Be prepared to purchase these so that you can complete assignments. Some online courses may require the purchase of a good microphone for your computer.