You have made the decision to finish up or start your degree and you want to go the online route. Before you pick the first school out there, there are some things that you want to know about online degree programs.
What are the differences in them and how can I make sure that I choose the best one for me and my future career plans?
This simple thing can mean the difference between getting a job and not getting a job when you graduate. This accreditation says that a school or degree program meets certain academic standards and lets employers know that you are prepared for the particular career that you received your degree in. As with anything, some accreditations do not mean much, so be sure that you only consider programs that are accredited by the United States Department of Education.
While you may think that anything that you take can be transferred to another program, this is not the case. Make sure that any classes that you take can be transferred to another university or program. If they can’t, you may want to consider another program, as there is some reason why other colleges and programs will not accept their credits.
Do you have your own counselor or do you just call a 1-800 number or email to a general email? This can make a big difference in how well you do in your courses. Having someone, whether it is your instructor or a counselor of some sort, whom you can contact about issues with assignments, questions about material, etc. is essential. In addition, ask them about career services. Are they going to help you create a resume, give you job leads, and give you direction in how to apply for a job? All of this support can make a lot of difference.
While statistics don’t tell the whole story, they can be a big indicator of an issue. How many people graduate? How many get jobs upon graduation? What is the student loan default rate? These are all big issues. For example, if the percentage of students who start the school and graduate is low, then the support may not be there to motivate and encourage them to keep on. If the job rate is low, they may not have the career support needed or their curriculum may not be meeting the needs of the workforce. A high default student loan rate can be a sign of poor financial aid advising. All of these issues are important.
While you may think it is not a big deal in the online setting, it is just as important as to create online classroom. If there is no limit on class size, how is one professor or instructor supposed to be able to communicate in a timely manner? This is something you definitely want to ask about, as you want to have the opportunity to ask questions and get timely answers.
While you may think that one program will “work” just because it is little less expensive, don’t settle until you find one that is perfect for you. All of the above considerations have to be met, as well as your future goals and budget. Take the time to do your research and ask questions. This decision could dictate your future career and life.
Online degree programs are not all created equal. That is why it is important that you carefully research the ones that you are considering to make sure that they offer all that you want and need.