The numbers of colleges and universities in the United States exceeds 2,000. Over the last several years many of these schools have begun offering online courses and degree programs. Understanding what to look for as you conduct your colleges and universities search may save you hours of time.
If you want to combine online courses with classroom courses, as you conduct your college university search review postsecondary schools that offer on-campus and virtual courses. You might see these courses referred to as blended courses. Tools you can start your online college search with include:
- U.S. News and World Report college rankings
- Princeton Review college rankings report
- Peterson’s college database
- College Board database
The United States Department of Education also list accredited colleges and universities in its database. Many of these schools are authorized to accept financial aid from government programs. Enrolling in accredited schools listed with the Department of Education is one way you can increase your chances of securing federal financial aid through programs like the Federal Stafford Student Loan and/or PELL grant.
As you’re conducting your online college search, jot down notes about public and/or private colleges and universities you’re interested in attending. For example, you could collect information on in-state and out-of-state schools including the costs of tuition, scholarships offered by the schools, numbers of undergraduate students enrolled in the schools, whether or not the schools offer graduate programs in subjects you’re interested in majoring in and the types of distance learning courses available for you to take at the schools.
Additional College and University Search Resources
It’s also important that you find out if the schools offer programs or student support services like:
- Career counseling
- Enrollment counselors
- Student tutoring
- Mentoring programs
- Financial counseling or financial advising
- Academic advising
Through career counseling and academic advising programs you can learn about internships, work/study programs and career fairs you can register to participate in. If you take advantage of career counseling services you might land jobs before you graduate, helping you to meet employers’ two pronged job hiring requirement (education and work experience). Bottom line, search for schools that support your educational and post graduation efforts. After all, college is expensive. The more support top schools give you to join the employment ranks, earn top wages and work in fields you’re passionate about, the better.
Other sources you can use to learn more about online and offline colleges and universities are:
- Cultural education organizations (e.g. United Negro College Fund, cultural alliances)
- Professionals associations (many members of professional associations graduated from top schools)
- Alumni associations
In addition to using search engines and college ranking reports to conduct your colleges and universities search, you may be able to reach out to your high school counselors and ask them for their insights on schools offering curriculums that can best help you achieve your academic and career goals. You can also ask your family members, friends and colleagues who are continuing their education for recommendations on top schools you can attend. Thanks to the Internet, as someone searching for a quality institution of higher education, you can also visit college and university discussion forums, ask specific questions about the schools and read through feedback and comments made by students currently attending the schools.