When we choose a college or university we don’t just go with the very first one we happen upon, and the same thing applies to an online college or university degree program. We can rely on a search engine to display all of the colleges that make distance learning or online degrees available, but we don’t enroll in the first schools listed.
In order to obtain the best education possible a person performing an online college search must have a good idea of what they are looking for and what they need.
Some of the items to consider before beginning an online college search include:
• Degree or Certificate? What kind of formal results is the student looking for? There are dozens of technical or certificate granting schools that specialize in specific businesses or industries. For example, there are electronics schools that deliver Associate’s degrees in electrical engineering technology as well as certifying technicians for computer servers. It is very important for a student to know exactly what the desired outcome of their educational experience must be.
• Full time versus part time. Students beginning their online college search have to be honest with themselves about the amount of time they are going to be able to commit to their studies. While it may be tempting to look at a calendar and think “I could be done before the end of the year!” it isn’t a good idea if it means weeks of late nights, lost time with a family or at work, and a poor educational experience. It is important for the student to know the kind of program they can enroll in.
• Flexibility. Some online students don’t mind attending a few campus-based classes over the course of their academic career, while some students absolutely cannot make it to a college or university on a regular basis. Some online colleges offer credit banking which allows a student to take a course at another school and “deposit” the credits earned in their own college. It is important that a student examine a school for many options and flexible policies that might better serve a non-traditional education.
• Accreditation. This is becoming a subject discussed all over educational forums and online discussions everywhere. While there are hundreds of accredited colleges and universities that make online learning available to their students, and who issue degrees for course work, there are some schools that deliver credentials of little to no value. The non-traditional online college environment has allowed for schools without formal accreditation to issue diplomas and “degrees”. Unfortunately the vast majority of these educational experiences do not reward the student with valid credentials. It is crucial to investigate any school thoroughly and to be sure that it is accredited.
Furthering an education can be done quite easily through online classes and courses, but it will take a bit of preliminary investigation through an online college search, and some research, to choose the school that best fits a student’s needs.