In the early days of online education, colleges that offered online degrees and certificate programs received a tremendous amount of criticism concerning their credibility. Experts predicted that they would fail at providing students with an education equal to an on-campus student. As we now know, attending an online college can provide a student with the same knowledge and expertise as a local college or university.

An online education can be the perfect solution for full-time workers, stay-at-home moms or those that need flexibility in their schedule. While receiving your online education is as rewarding as attending a local college or university, there are some important aspects that you need to consider before choosing the right online college for you. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to conduct research about various online colleges and universities before you select the one that will work best to fit your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Here’s a list of five things to look out for:

Cost

This might seem like a no-brainier, but many college-students-to-be often don’t take the time to fully compare the costs that they will be paying. Online colleges will normally fast-track you through your degree at a much faster rate, so be sure to ask how your financial aid and loans are going to cover it. Discuss financial aid from the beginning and explain your current financial situation. Ask about the out-of-pocket expense that you will have to pay, if any, if financial aid and student loans are not enough. There are other financing options available if you are not fully covered, but be aware of the interest rates for these types of loans.

Accreditation

An accredited college can mean difference between working at Starbucks after finishing your degree or proceeding on to a rewarding career. Ask questions about the college’s accreditation status from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The college must give you information about their standing with the HLC. Be leery of colleges that do not have Good Standing Accreditation. Colleges that have been placed on a probationary accreditation status can be in serious danger of losing their accreditation which can affect eligibility for financial aid.

Success Rate

A success rate of a college can tell you a lot of things. A low success rate can indicate a poor teaching structure, poor communication between students and college staff or a curriculum that is difficult to understand. Online colleges that have a more entertaining and engaging way of instructing online are more likely to have a higher success rate.

Job Placement Network

Once you’ve completed college, you may need a little help finding the right job for you. Ask potential colleges about the services that they provide for you upon graduation. Do they have resume assistance or job boards?  Do they have an exit program for students?

Required Materials

Don’t have a computer at home or the necessary programs to work on and complete your assignments? Ask questions about the materials that you need and what materials the school will provide to you. Some online colleges will require you to have PowerPoint, Excel and Word. Keep in mind that you will have to have the full licensed Microsoft packages to work on these assignments properly. There are online colleges out there that will provide you with all of the materials that you need to be successful. For example, Full Sail University provides a Launchbox for their students with a Macbook and software targeted toward the major that the student selects.

 

Use the links above to request information from the colleges that you are interested in and remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions!