How to choose an online degree program?
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How to choose an online degree program?

Monday January 5, 2009

How to choose an online degree program?
Okay, now we know what online degree programs are, but you must be thinking: with so many programs offered how to choose the best one? First of all you must think about your goals, tendencies and what you expect to achieve by earning an online degree.
The choice is much easier to the ones who wish to advance in their existing career but either way, prospective student must take into consideration some significant factors that make a good online degree program.
Accreditation. If you remember the golden rule we mentioned in the first lesson then you are aware that the most important thing when choosing an online degree program would be accreditation. An accredited program is certified by one of regional or national accrediting agencies that controls its quality. If you plan to enroll at an out-of-state online university, you must check if their online degree program is valid in the country where you plan to use it. Finally, unaccredited degree or a diploma mill will only be a waste of precious time and money, so make sure that the first thing you do is check the accreditation.
Remember the golden rule!

Research. When an online university appears suitable for you, don't rush into it, but take a step back and do some research on the matter. There are some facts that can tell pretty much about the school. For instance, graduation and drop out rates will tell you a lot. Another important fact is student-to-teacher ratio. The lower, the better. And it wouldn't harm you if you asked someone who has had experience with the university in question, but only if it is someone you trust.
Get as much information as you can.

thinkingTeaching. Another very important feature is the quality and organization of teaching. There are two basic types of courses: synchronous which requires you to be online at a specific time and asynchronous which allows you to log in and get the material whenever you want. There are no differences in quality; it is only a matter of which suits you better. But that is not all there is to it. The design of the class is a very important thing, as well as the teacher's ability to convey the information. Therefore you should ask about their methods, experience with online teaching and how responsive they are to your eventual problems. The best thing would be if you could see the demo of the class (some universities have that option) and see if it agrees with you.

Student Service. Student service is one of the important things you must look into. Since you don't know what kind of problems you will come across during your study period, you will need a very reliable student service that is constantly available for you. Some universities have toll-free number you can dial 24/7. The university you choose should have academic advisors that will inform you about your course of study, point you to the resource centers, libraries, financial aid office and technical support. Constantly available technical support is very important in case your computer crashes or your data gets lost you won't be able to work it out on your own but you will need professional help.

Cost. The cost varies from one university to the other. While some are less expensive than campus ones, others charge more for their online services. You should also inquire about the fees, and the materials since you may have to buy some books or software, but more importantly about the financial aid (scholarships, loans…) they offer.We do not recommend enrolling at a program just because it is cheaper.


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