Online Colleges And Universities: 6 Criteria For Selection

  • November 2012
  • Posted By JohnnyG

The convenience that is provided by online colleges and universities is one of the most important factors that they are closely being considered as the future vehicle for higher education.  This is being substantiated by the continued growth of enrollment including the increase in popularity of the concept as every year passes.  In a survey conducted in 2010, statistics revealed that the increase in enrollment for a one year period had grown to more than a million students.

This figure shows how enrollment in online education has exceeded the overall 2% growth experienced by higher education overall.  There are numerous reasons that can justify this critically huge increase in enrollment to online programs.   The fact that there are more adults going back to study for skills improvement and take advantage of developments in the job market are some of the most common reasons.  To make sure that you get the benefits you want, observe the following criteria in the selection of online colleges and universities.

  1. Accreditation

Although some websites may belittle its value, there is no doubt that enrolling in an accredited online educational institution poses more advantages than one that has none.  Undoubtedly, accredited online colleges and universities can ensure students of an established level of quality for educational standards that has been validated and substantiated by a third party accrediting body or agency.

This means that any course that has been completed from these online educational institutions will be recognized and accepted by traditional colleges and universities.  Employers also look more favorably on students from accredited educational institutions, which mean increased chances for employment.  This can give them the much needed boost to keep them ahead of the competition for their chosen career.

Credibility is another factor to consider with accreditation.  There are some online educational institutions that claim to be accredited by questionable accrediting agencies.  This puts a huge cloud of doubt not only on the educational institution, but also on the graduates it has produced.  As a general rule, consider only online educational institutions that have received accreditation from agencies that have received approval from the United States Department of Education.

  1. Ensure that the online programs complement your goals

Every student has unique goals that they set aside of course from being able to finish their studies.  There are those who enroll because they only finished high school and are now finding it difficult to land a job.  Others may be employed now, but cannot climb the corporate ladder because they lack the qualifications to be promoted.  These are just two of the most common reasons students take advantage of online education.

This emphasizes the need to ensure that the degree programs that are being offered by the chosen online educational institution will allow you to move forward towards your goals.  Otherwise, you may be wasting precious time and money, and worse, still remain stagnant in your chosen career.  You may even up with a degree that you don’t really need for career advancement.

  1. Look at the class size

Even if classes will be held online, the size remains as one of the most important criteria to consider when enrolling in online colleges and universities.  Just like with traditional classes, having an ideal class size will allow you to enhance the benefits provided by an online education.  One good reason is that instructors will be able to dedicate reasonable time to ensuring that you cope and understand the lessons being presented.  It also makes it easier to form support groups with your classmates, which can be essential in combatting procrastination and cramming.

  1. Check the faculty

Do not assume that just because you enrolled in an accredited online educational institution that you will already have the best faculty members available.  You still need to do a bit of research on the faculty in the chosen program you intend to enroll in.  Verify the degrees they have earned and from where to give you an idea if they are credible enough to teach their course.

Consider also the amount of teaching experience they have with online education.  You have to understand that from a teaching perspective, online education can be quite different from traditional education experiences.  If two or more of the faculty have degrees from the online educational institution you are enrolling in, this may not be a good sign of the quality or teaching experience you will receive.

  1. Ways to communicate

Establish the different methods of communication made available by the online colleges and universities to the students.  This will give you a general idea as to how conveniently easy it can be to get hold of classmates and instructors.  Check also for the possibility of having tutors handy, in case you may need the services of one.  Keep in mind that communication is extremely important for online education because this serves as the primary venue to seek help or assistance.  This is synonymous to the customer support services of retail shops.

  1. Payment scheme

This is a criterion that is often overlooked by many online students.  Looking at the reality of things, many enroll in online educational institutions because they are comparatively cheaper than traditional colleges and universities.  Many of these online educational institutions allow students to pay tuition on an installment basis.  Do not be surprised also if there are scholarship programs made available or even financial aid options like loans.

Asking questions is not enough; you need to be able to ask the right questions in order to arrive at an educated decision.  By using these criteria, you will be able to ensure that your selection will be towards the right online colleges and universities.


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