There are many benefits of online learning such as low tuition rates, not having to commute to class, flexible timetables and the student can often maintain their 9-5 job as they study. However, selecting the right online school can be somewhat of a challenge. There are literally thousands of schools offering online degree programs, but some are better than others. Prospective students can easily feel overwhelmed by all of the online schools available and become confused as to which one to settle on.
Finding top online schools can be made easier if students are prepared to do a little research and take a few basic factors into consideration. The following five tips are designed for students who are wondering how to choose an online school:
1. Check It’s Accreditation
All of the top rated online schools are fully accredited by respected national or regional (sometimes both) academic bodies. It is vitally important that students choose online school programs that are accredited, as this validates and authenticates their value to potential employees. Accreditation also makes an online degree as worthwhile and on equal footing as a degree obtained at a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Thus a student that attended an accredited online school is just as marketable as a student that attended an in-person school. Students can check an online school’s accreditation by looking for it on the school’s official website, it should be in their “about us” or “accreditation” section.
2. Compare Tuition Rates
One of the main online education benefits is that online schools are typically cheaper than traditional in-person schools – so students should make sure that they get the best deal in online education as possible. The cheapest online schools tend to be schools that are non-profit and that offer generous financial aid options or other benefits such as veterans gi benefits. When it comes to e-learning benefits, students should be prepared to do a fair amount of research in order to enjoy the most cost effective online education available.
3. See What Alumni are Doing Now
Top ranked online schools may look great on paper, but their real validity should be judged on how their alumni are doing now. Students should check their online school’s alumni or careers section in order to find out if the school has a track record of helping its students gain quick employment after graduation as well as rapidly furthering their career. If this section is missing, this could be a red flag. Students can even reach out personally to alumni of the school through social networking sites such as LinkedIn and ask alumni directly how they found the school and if it was beneficial to their career and lifestyle.
4. How Flexible is the Program?
Another of the many benefits of online learning is that most online programs are very flexible. Many courses allow students to work at their own pace and complete their education in conjunction with their own schedule and lifestyle. However, some online courses are more traditionally structured which can be a problem for students that need to maintain a full-time job or have family responsibilities. Therefore, students should thoroughly investigate just how flexible prospective online schools are before settling on one. If the online school’s website doesn’t state exactly, students should contact the school directly.
5. The Level of Support Available
Students at online schools should still be able to receive the same level of support as if they were attending a traditional in-person school. They can check how supportive their school is by seeing what kind of technical, as well as academic, support is available on the school’s website. A lot of top rated online universities and colleges offer 24/7 technical support which is great for students that study late at night or before work starts. Some schools even provide online tutoring and other kinds of academic assistance.
The advantages of e-learning are seemingly endless but choosing the right school when there is so much choice can be tricky. However, if students follow the above suggestions they should be able to make a wise and well thought out decision regarding their online education.