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Choosing the Best Online Degree Program

So many things have moved online it’s no surprise that college has as well. Online college courses provide a flexible schedule that many people cannot find in a traditional college setting. However, it can be difficult to find the right college program, especially since you’re not meeting your professors or advisors in person.

To protect yourself from any online school woes, here are some tips to make sure you choose the best online degree.

Understanding Accreditation

Accreditation is a stamp of approval that lets you know that the school and degree program meet the appropriate academic standards. This ensures that your diploma will have value for potential employers. Most colleges list their accreditation on their websites. Double to check to make sure that the accreditation is accurate. Some courses have posted false credentials. Luckily, there are dozens of accrediting agencies that make sure institutions comply with federal education laws, and you can always find more information on accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Tuition and Fees

Tuition is a hot topic when it comes to choosing the right school for you, so you need to make sure that you have a helpful financial advisor. You do not want your financial advisor to pressure you into taking loans that are too big, especially private loans. Also, check the fees that are added to the tuition. Some schools may hide extra fees from your bill so you are not aware of them when you first enroll.

Curriculum and Course Options

Just like with different brands, not all courses are created equal. Each course curriculum is different, depending on the school you attend. Some online courses may have an in-person component, so you need to make sure you know all aspects of a curriculum before enrolling. In addition, some classes may use outdated or non-reputable information, so it is a good idea to research the textbooks and other materials the course uses. Also, make sure that the courses do not expect too much from you with your current situation. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin because that can limit your success.

Professors, Professors, Professors

Like any other class setting, you want to check the teachers as well. You want to have a professor that will engage you in the topic and offer assistance to you when needed. There are websites that have ratings for college professors around the country. This valuable information will let you know how the professor responds to different situations. Since the teacher is your immediate guide through this course, you want to make sure that they are the best fit for you and have your best interest in mind.

Where is Student Services?

Many people enroll in online courses because of the flexibility, but you have to make sure that you have enough student resources to help you succeed. Course advising is incredibly important because it can help you avoid classes you don’t need and staying in school longer than necessary. When looking on a college’s website, make sure that the student services are easy to find; this lets you know how important this is to the institution. Furthermore, advisors will let you know if the program accepts transfer credits or if you can transfer credits earned from their institution to another. Transferring credits helps lower the cost of tuition, and if credits earned in the program are nontransferable, that is a red flag.

Technical Support

Since you are taking these classes online, it is important that the institution has technical support that will help you with any problems you may encounter. Each professor uses a different system, and it’s possible that you have never used or even heard of the software. Large institutions usually have technical support services available 24/7, but that doesn’t take away the stress when you have an assignment due soon and the website is not working. Therefore, you need to know who to reach out to in the institution to get the problem fixed quickly.

The Big Day – Graduation

Graduation is the most important part of your college education, make sure that most of the people who have enrolled in your prospective course have graduated. If the course has a low graduation rate, it can mean a variety of things including a lack of academic support or a high student loan default rate. It is also troubling if many students finish the program in 5 or 6 years instead of the usual 4. This can signal that there is a problem with course advising, or it could just be the nature of the course. Keep in mind that online courses allow you to set the pace for your graduation, so you can finish early if your schedule allows for it.

Getting Employed

Getting the degree is one thing but getting a job with that degree is another. If a school has a low employment rate, that could indicate that the institution is a diploma mill. This means that the institution creates a high volume of graduates with degrees that don’t mean much to employers. The existence of degree mills emphasizes how important it is the check the accreditation of the institution among other things.

Deciding what college to go to can be stressful enough. Finding an online course presents its own set of unique challenges. However, you can find the best course for you as long as you pay attention to what the school is telling you and even closer attention to what it is not telling you. As long as you pay attention and check off each item on this checklist, you will be able to find the best online course for you and your career goals.