If you’re looking for a college degree program that offers affordability, flexibility, and convenience, you’re not alone. There are plenty of college students out there that have to work to support themselves, and some are even raising a family as they try to increase their prospects on the career front by earning a degree. In other words, many students don’t necessarily have the privilege of dropping everything else to attend college courses on campus. The good news is that online degree programs have realized incredible growth and recognition over the last several years, so many are now considered equal to more traditional forms of higher education. That said, there is still a wide gap between the good and the bad where such programs are concerned. And doing some research up front will help you find the online degree program that will best meet your needs, now and in the future. Here are a few important factors you’ll want to consider before selecting and online college.
This is a biggie. The U.S. Department of Education has strict standards for verifying that colleges and universities are offering programs that prepare students to enter the workforce. And schools that earn a spot on their list of accredited schools have a much greater chance of being accepted by other educational institutions, as well as employers. Say you want to transfer to another college or university at some point. Units from an accredited online school are more likely to be accepted as transfer credits. And when it comes to getting a job, a degree that comes from an accredited online school will hold more weight with employers. So check out http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/ to find the accredited online degree program that’s right for you.
Although there are still a lot of online schools that don’t submit statistics for ranking purposes, you’ll find that the ones that are truly trying to establish themselves are doing just that. U.S. News & World Report, renowned for their annual college rankings releases, has started providing reports on online colleges, as well, giving students the opportunity to see how their school of choice stacks up against competitors in terms of completion rates, employment after graduation, and so on. If you want to find an online degree program that delivers the best results, comparing statistics is a good place to start.
3. Programs Offered
There are so many online options for higher education at this point that it can be difficult to sift through them. A good way to narrow your choices is to search for specific degree programs. Although many online colleges offer a wide variety of degrees and credentials, you might want to seek out institutions that are particularly renowned for the program or field you’re looking to enter.
If you’re having trouble getting in touch with administrators during the enrollment process, a red flag should go up. The best online universities understand that just because students are earning a degree from home doesn’t mean they need less support. In fact, they may need more. You should be able to get in touch with teachers, counselors, advisors, administrators, and other staff with ease. If not, it might be time to look at other schools.
There’s no avoiding the question of cost. If you’re eschewing traditional schools in favor of an online education, this is probably one of the primary reasons. And even though 6 out of 9 online colleges in Wyoming have tuition costs under $3,000, and online programs in other states tend to follow suit, you still need to make sure you understand all of the costs up front, as well as opportunities for student aid and scholarships.