Online college is a great alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools for students with busy, demanding lives. More popular now than ever before, distance learning programs make higher education possible for everyone from stay-at-home-moms to students working two jobs to pay the bills to learners who do their best with minimal supervision and stringency in scheduling. Before you enroll in any online college program, don’t forget to do a thorough background check of the school to be sure you’re getting the most for your money – and time – and your chosen college will get you to where you plan to go.
Is Your College Accredited?
One of the most important things to be sure of before you do any class selections or pay any tuition bills is that the school you have selected is accredited. This means that your college has been recognized by an accreditation board as a quality school with reputable programs, resources, faculty, and staff. Accredited schools are recognized by the United States Department of Education; those that have not earned accreditation have not been evaluated (or approved) by an accrediting commission and as such, are not guaranteed to have resources and programs available to you that you need to be successful as a student and earn a quality education. Be certain of your school’s status before you enroll so as to waste no time or money on schooling that will not aptly prepare you for you future career. Additionally, employers will be curious of your training and preparation for any position you apply for, and whether or not your online college is accredited will matter.
Does Your College Offer Your Major?
Not all schools, offline or online, offer all programs. Certain schools are restricted to liberal arts, some are best to attend for math and sciences, and many simply do not have the resources or faculty to reach all types of students. In online schools it is especially important to ensure this before enrollment. Though distance learning programs are offered in most fields, many online colleges offer a less varied selection of majors than a traditional school. Save yourself time and tuition by making sure you can study your preferred subject at your school before making any commitments. If it turns out the online college you’re in does not offer your major, you’ll have a tough decision to make down the line: switching schools or switching your major.
Are Students Successful at This School?
When everything else checks out, it’s important to familiarize yourself with certain rates of student success at your online college. Some research on the website may help you find your answers, or you can speak to someone in the college’s administrative offices for the information you need. Your school should be able to identify such things as student retention rates, graduation rates, and the rate of student employment upon graduation. All of these figures can tell you a great deal about the experiences of students similar to you in the school, and may give you an inside look into your prospective future. These figures can also help demonstrate the effectiveness of the school’s academic programs and help you to see if an education from this school will help to set you up for a successful future and career.