Online colleges are becoming much more common, not to mention much more accepted by the education industry and employers alike. But since there are now so many online colleges to choose from, how do you know which school would be the best choice for you?
Choosing an online school or an online degree program is not the same as choosing between traditional universities. Since you don't commute to campus, and since you don't use the same student services that you would if you were attending classes in person, your needs as a student are entirely different. Here are a few criteria you should use when determining whether an online college is right for you.
Is the degree program what I need?
Because of the nature of an online school, there is less focus on the college experience and more focus on the quality of education. There are now many online colleges offering a range of programs, so you should not have to sacrifice the exact degree you want in order to enjoy the convenience of online education. Be sure the degree program meets your needs both as a student, and as a future employee. You want to be sure your degree will support your efforts to pursue the career you have in mind!
Does the school offer quality instruction from quality instructors?
Once again, the main criteria you ought to be looking at should be the quality of education the school offers. Ask to see the syllabus and get the names of the textbooks for the classes in your degree program; this will help you ensure that the courses are going to actually teach you what you need to know in order to pursue your career.
You should also ask about the instructors in your degree program. How does the school determine whether an instructor is qualified? Do the instructors have advanced degrees and/or plenty of experience in the industry they are teaching? Make sure your teachers are qualified enough to give you the education you need to support your entrance into your career.
What kinds of student services does the school offer?
Just like traditional universities, good online colleges should offer student support services in case you need help getting the degree, and the career, of your dreams. How will you get extra help if you need it? Instructors should be easy to reach via the course website or email. Some schools also offer tutoring services, where students proficient in a subject assist others who need extra help.
Another of the student services you should look for is job placement or job search assistance. This isn't a new idea, although Traditional universities have taken it a step further in order to offer their students a little more reassurance: Traditional universities have long offered students and graduates assistance in their job searches. For example, a traditional university's career services center might have collections of job and internship listings for students and graduates to browse through, as well as someone on staff to help students and graduates write resumes and practice their interviewing skills.
Online colleges offer similar career services, just tweaked to better fit the online format. For instance, some virtual schools have searchable websites, or sections of their websites, that list local job openings in the industries related to the school's focus. Many online schools offer resume building help. Some even guarantee job placement after graduation. Reviewing how online colleges can prepare you for your future employment can be a deciding factor on which online college to choose from.
Making an Informed Decision
As you can probably imagine, deciding which online school is right for you typically takes some time and research. This is appropriate, since you want to be sure the money you are forking over for your education is not wasted! Take the time to investigate the online colleges you are considering, and make sure that the one you ultimately attend is the best possible option for you and your career.
Andy West is a writer for Earn My Degree, a website that has several online colleges to choose from. They specialize in finding the right fit for your educational needs. For more information please visit EarnMyDegree.com.