Questions to ask an Online Degree Provider
Are you accredited?
Whether you pursue it online or in a classroom, a career-enhancing degree and life-enriching education is what you want. Accredited universities have proven to an objective third-party commission that they deliver both. That’s why employers value degrees earned at accredited institutions.
- Have your university’s online courses and programs been reviewed by an accrediting commission for quality?
- How long has your institution been awarding degrees?
- Do all of your instructors have doctoral degrees or terminal degrees in their respective fields from fully accredited universities?
If you don’t like the answers you get, consider another provider.
Do you publicize student success & satisfaction?
While protecting individual students’ right of privacy, successful programs make available data that indicates how well students performed in online courses and programs, whether they persevered, and their level of satisfaction. Low grades or completion rates may indicate that students did not receive adequate support or were unable to access online resources. And student satisfaction surveys speak for themselves.
Do you provide students with comprehensive support?
You know how you feel about any company by how well it treats you after you’ve paid the bill? An online program’s level of support for students after they enroll should be comprehensive, well organized, and friendly. On those occasions when you have a computer or administrative problem, help should be easy to find and responsive. If in doubt, make sure you ask questions like:
- Can I send my coursework and documents via mail if for some reason my computer breaksdown or I dont have internet connectivity.
- If I am in the same town as the college, will the professors be willing to meet face to face if I have any questions.
So look for a university that has always been student-centered and doesn’t take its student community for granted. Ask whether there’s an office that attends specifically to online students and whether essential resources, such as mentors and library services, are available.
Do courses have a small teacher-student ratio?
In a face-to-face class, you walk into the classroom and the ratio is visible. Not always so in the online class. A school that doesn’t publicize its ratio probably doesn’t want you to know. Universities that give students individual attention want you to know how many students your instructor’s limited time is being spread across.
If you’re just another number, you’ll feel remote and isolated. On the other hand, if instructors or course assistants are responsive, you’ll feel valued … and motivated to persevere and succeed. And many online students have full lives, including demanding jobs and family obligations, and will benefit from the motivation they derive from online connections with their instructors and classmates.
How do students “attend” classes online?
Students who don’t find their educational experience stimulating and efficient are likely to withdraw or lose motivation. So before you choose, you may want to find out what kind of online experience you will receive from a university.
Any college or university can take material intended for on-campus courses and deliver it over the Internet. (Such programs are simply using technology to offer a version of old correspondence courses.) A good online program will be both equal in quality to and fundamentally different than an on-campus program. It will have developed a specific model for students learning online.