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Editor’s note: This is the first of two posts on how to successfully pursue an online college degree.
Thinking about earning a degree through an online university?
Getting a college degree has never been as easy as it is today, especially with the availability of online classes and complete degree plans. People who live in remote areas or who have to flex their school schedule around family, military or job requirements can really benefit from an online degree option.
Make sure, however, to do your homework to ensure that you choose an online university that will give you a reasonably priced, quality degree that will be highly esteemed by employers and potential transfer universities.
1. Take a close look at your intended university’s status
If you are looking at a for-profit school to complete your online education, you should check into it very carefully, or perhaps look elsewhere.
Increased concern about these universities led to a two-year investigation by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions into high loan default rates and low retention rates of students. The for-profit universities tend to cost much more money, and their student loan interest rates can be as high as 18 percent. The Senate report said:
For-profit colleges devote tremendous amounts of resources to non-education related spending including marketing, recruiting, profit and executive compensation, while spending relatively small amounts on instruction.
Students may find it difficult to transfer credits, and potential employers may have reservations about degrees from for-profit universities.
Choosing a not-for-profit university that has an established brick-and-mortar school can be a wiser choice. Because greater legitimacy is one of the benefits of getting an education, it makes sense to ensure that the university you choose has a respected and credible reputation.
2. Look into the quality and the accreditation
Check out sites like U.S. News & World Report to find out the status of the school you are thinking about attending.
Make sure that the college is regionally accredited, which is the normal standard for accreditation, as opposed to nationally accredited.
3. Check into future transfer and completion requirements
Make sure to find out if the degree plan is available completely online or if it will be necessary to transfer credits to another university to complete the course work in person. If transferring is necessary, make sure that the transfer school will accept credits from the online university.
The options for a degree from an online university have expanded opportunities to many people who would otherwise never have been able to go to college.
Even those who do have opportunities to physically attend university may find that the convenience of an online learning option can make their lives much easier and enable them to squeeze classes into their busy lives.
With a little research and planning, you can earn a reputable degree and propel your career forward.