Online learning offers busy adults the opportunity to seek a better future while fulfilling current commitments. You can study in the comfort of your own home, PJs on and coffee in hand, without having to pay for the gas to get you to and from class. You can complete your coursework in the morning, noon or at night – whenever inspiration strikes. And many times, you can complete your degree in less time than an on-site university.
However, like everything in life, you need to be a savvy shopper. There are tons of online schools out there that promise the moon and the stars, but not all are worthy of your time and money.
Below are five things to consider when choosing an online school.
Consideration 1: Curriculum and credits
Before enrolling in an online degree program, you should verify whether the credits you’ve earned to date transfer to the university you wish to attend. Likewise, it’s important to investigate which course credits earned at your desired university will transfer, should you want to pursue other options later down the road. Get more information on SAU’s course credit transfer policies here.
Consideration 2: Support
Online education differs from in-class learning, and your online instructors should be uniquely trained and experienced in presenting online content in an inventive and engaging way. But perhaps more important to your success is the connection and communication you receive from your instructors and fellow students.
Not only should you have access to engaging online resources, but you should also enjoy the opportunity to build friendships with classmates and speak to your instructor via phone when you need to.
Consideration 3: Tuition and financial aid
You already know to look for a competitively priced online university. But it’s important to understand the additional amenities your university of choice offers. The support you receive as an online student could make or break your success. Key amenities to look for include financial aid advising, academic advising and career planning services.
Consideration 4: Accreditation
Accreditation is a great way to ensure you will graduate with the skills you’ll need to work in your field. Employers respect accredited degrees more than non-accredited degrees. That’s why it’s imperative that your university offers accredited programs. (After all, you’re going to school to improve your career.)
To review university accreditation, you can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s >databasespan style="font-weight: 400;"> of accredited postsecondary institutions.
Consideration 5: Technology
nline studies are a great way to improve your online communication skills and meet the needs of an increasingly digital society. Your online program should offer tutorials for how to complete your assignments, technical help, and opportunities for connection like email, chat, discussion boards, live audio conferencing and a quality learning management system that will enable you to connect with your fellow students and instructors 24/7.