According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, one in six students in higher education is getting their degree online. Online education programs offer students a flexible and convenient schedule that is just not possible at traditional brick-and-mortar schools. And faced with little free time and a desire to advance their education, more and more students are choosing online degree programs as a way to get the skills and training they need for the jobs they want.
Especially ideal for full-time workers and stay-at-home parents, online degree programs allow students to complete their education from the comfort of their own home. With little more than a computer and an Internet connection, students can access lecture notes, reading materials and assignment guidelines at anytime, day or night. And as the popularity of online classes continues to grow, more and more degree options are becoming available from various online colleges and universities. So, if you have taken the time to decide that an online education is right for you, then chances are there is an online degree program available to meet all of your educational and professional needs.
But finding the best online degree program for you can be difficult. There are lots of schools that offer online degrees, and there are a ton of phony degree programs out there. Students can search the Internet for listings of online education programs, but they must be careful. Any student looking for a specific online degree program should ask themselves the following questions as they begin their search:
- Is the school to which I am applying accredited? An accredited school has been evaluated by an agency with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that it meets acceptable standards of quality. The credentials of an accredited online degree program are generally more reliable, and it may be more difficult to get financial aid, transfer course credits and find a job if your school does not have the proper accreditation.
- Is the institution reputable? It may be hard to gauge the effectiveness of an online degree program if it is relatively new, but you should consider the reputation of the schools to which you are applying. Some online degree programs have the backing of a brick-and-mortar institution whose background you can research. Other schools, like the University of Phoenix, have been around long enough that you should be able to evaluate their success rates relatively easily.
- What are the qualifications of the instructors? It is important to find out the credentials of professors for any online degree program that you are considering. You should check out their degrees and work history as well as their educational experience and teaching effectiveness, particularly in an online setting.
- What is the feedback from alumni? A great way to determine the effectiveness and reputation of a specific online degree program is to speak to alumni. If possible, contact former students and look at job placement rates among graduates from your school.
An online degree program can be a great way for students to advance their education. Online classes offer a lot of benefits, and the flexibility and convenience they provide are two definite perks. Students who work or who need to stay at home with their kids can complete a degree without having to leave their house. However, an online degree program is certainly not for everyone, and the lack of face-to-face contact between students and professors can be a challenge. As with any college search, students should take the time to determine if an online education is the best option for them. With a number of online degree programs in existence, the perfect school is only a mouse click away. And while bogus online degree programs are out there, with these tips in mind, students should have no problem finding the right one to meet all of their personal and professional needs.