Advantages of Online Universities
What It Takes To Be An Online University Student
7 Considerations for Choosing an Online University
The Positives and Negatives of Online Degrees
Accreditation and Fraudulent Degrees
My Experience with Online Education
Online Course: The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How
Online Classes: A Reality For You or Not?
Distance Education: A Whole New World
A Traditional Classroom or Distance Learning

Resources & Links

College Success Made Easier
College Admission Essay Kit

7 Considerations For Choosing An Online University

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There are several hundred online colleges to choose from. Type “online college” or “online university” into a search engine and you will see hundreds appear. Some of them claim that if you pay so much money they will send you a Master’s degree. However, this is not a degree that will be useful in the real world. So, how do we know which online college or university to choose? Here are a few things to think about when you choose the online college you decide to attend.

1. Make sure that the university is properly accredited. Accreditation is a status that schools can acquire meaning that they meet the criteria of the government’s expectations as a higher education facility. This is the government’s attempt at stopping scam artists. It is easy to go online and buy a degree. However, now that the government has six agencies giving accreditation to colleges and universities, the employer can now go to their websites and find out if the degree is from a real college. The six agencies are the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA), the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU). You can go to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website, listed below, and find out if the schools you are interested in appear on the list of accredited colleges. It will list the accreditation agency and as long as it is one of the six above, then the college is accepted by the US Dept. of Education.

2. Find all of the information you can about the history and reputation of the university. Find out how many people graduate each year and with what degrees. Find out how many people drop out every year. The more you know about the college itself, the more comfortable you will probably feel when you make your final decision.

3. Look at the number of degrees and courses that the colleges offer. Make sure that you choose a college that has the degree plan fitting your future career goals.

4. Make sure that the costs will fit into your pay range. Make sure you ask what the numbers include. Sometimes, online universities tell you a really nice figure, but it goes up because that figure didn’t include books, faculty fees, software fees, etc. There are several ways you can fund your education. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a great source of funds for financing your college degree, if you qualify. Grants are money that you receive that you do not have to pay back, like the PELL grant. Student loans are easy to obtain and are nice because they usually do not require that you pay them back until six months after you graduate. The best ways to figure out what is right for you are to talk with your parents or student financial aid advisor once you have chosen the college you want to attend.

5. Find out what level of education the professors have. Most colleges will employ teachers who have a Master’s or Ph.D. in their field of study. This is a good way to find out if the school if a scam.

6. Find out the student per teacher ratio. The smaller the ratio, the more interaction that is possible between the students and professors. It is simply easier to get questions answer and good feedback from the professor if there are only 15 students in the class versus 30 students in the class.

7. What techniques does the school use for teaching the curriculum? Today, you can take distance education courses via e-mail, postage mail, live chat session, telephone, video conferencing or any combination of these. Make sure you know what you are getting into. You may be able to do everything on the internet. Or you may have to attend classes on the internet and for tests create a video and postage mail it to the school.

After you have checked out the colleges and universities on your list, choose five that you are most interested in. (After reviewing all of them, you should have an intuition about them that should help you narrow it down to five.) Send in an application to all five of them. While you are waiting on responses, see if you can find an alumnus from each of the five. Call the alumni and talk with them about the university they attended. Alumni will tell you the truth. They have nothing to gain by telling you it’s great and they have nothing to lose if they tell you it’s not.

Once the acceptance letters start coming back, make the best decision for you. If you are having trouble deciding, try to weigh out the options based on the discussions you had with the alumni.