Choosing an online college can be difficult for students who want to pick a quality program that fits their budget. Not only are there seemingly endless options out there, but there are also a number of colleges that will do little do advance your career. It’s more important than ever that would-be students do their research to avoid surprises down the road. If you’re looking at the many graduate degree programs available, it’s time to start narrowing down your choices. Keep the following in mind before you pull the final trigger.
Accreditation Is Not Always What It Seems
Some universities will say that they’re accredited when they’re actually not. They may receive validation from fly-by-night organizations or they may flat-out lie. Ensure your college is recognized by both the Department of Education as well as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation tells an employer that your program has made you ready to work in the real world, and it tells them that the skills you’ve received will be beneficial to their cause.
Before you get caught up in beautiful photos on a website or eloquent promises made by leaders of the school, it may be time to request a few more hard facts about them. Finding out how many students enroll vs. how many students graduate, and how often their students default on student loans can tell you a lot about the school. If you decide to switch graduate degree programs, make sure that your credits will be able to transfer. If they can’t, this may be a sign that other universities do not approve of the academic standards of the courses.
Support Services Are Not Created Equal
The quality of student support services at an online college is usually a large component in the success of those who attend. Getting a virtual education is all about knowing where to turn when you have a question, and where to go when you need to find a job. Make sure that whichever school you choose is making every effort to get their students the education they need to pursue the job they want. Students should be talking to officials about what how the school works to make their students successful, and what they can expect before, during, and after enrollment. If the answers are vague, it will tell you a lot about the institution and their values.
Finally, if you’re looking into graduate degree programs, make sure that you understand exactly how you will be paying for all of your courses. Diploma mills are usually the ones pressuring their students to do anything it takes to finance their education (e.g., private loans with high interest rates, etc.)