How to choose an online college

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‘How to Choose an Online College’ talks about important factors which need to be considered while selecting an online college. The article discusses the most critical aspects to look into for choosing an online college.

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How to choose an online college

  1. 1. How to Choose an Online College Due to the current state of the economy, job hunters are finding that the competition on the job front can be fierce. However, education is one of the surest ways to help increase your opportunities and advance in your career, since employers value the knowledge, experience, and proficiencies that a college degree can instill within an individual. But physical disabilities, financial constraints, family responsibilities, or long working hours can mean that many people do not have the time, means, or inclination to attend classes daily. For those who can’t attend a traditional bricks-and-mortar institution, distance education can be the key. Online degree programs are gaining popularity. They do not require your physical presence in a classroom, and instead use e-mail, video broadcasts, live chats, forums, discussion boards, and other technologies to allow students to view lectures, engage in discussions, ask questions, complete assignments, and receive grades and feedback. With this freedom and flexibility, distance education programs allow you to save on commuting and relocation costs, and can give you the opportunity to keep your job, take care of your family, or fulfill any other responsibilities you may have. However, there are several factors to take into account before choosing an online college. First, decide what field of study you want to pursue and narrow down the various online degree programs that would meet your professional aspirations and simultaneously fulfill your intellectual interests. Look for colleges that offer the programs you are interested in. Once you have made a list of prospective colleges and programs, inquire about their requirements in terms of GPA, prior academic credentials, standardized tests, etc., and make sure that you are qualified to be admitted to these institutions. It is vital that you choose an online college that is accredited. Pay attention to the accreditations listed on the college website; bogus colleges often list existing accreditation with a slight misspelling, which can mislead prospective students. If in doubt, check the U.S. Department of Education1 website for institutional accreditation listings. A degree from an unaccredited college is worthless, no matter how much time, money, and effort you put into it. Also, student and alumni reviews and official college ratings are important factors; make sure you research the reputation of prospective colleges thoroughly before making a commitment. If you want to pursue your degree without attending any classes on campus, ensure that your prospective distance learning program provides you with this option; many so-called online degrees require that you complete at least part of your credits on campus. Inquire about the instructional methods used, the technology you will require, and ascertain if you are comfortable with the style of teaching and the technology. Don’t let the quoted cost of tuition and fees deter you from applying. Inquire if the online college provides financial aid opportunities and/or accepts external aid. If you are eligible for institutional and/or state federal aid, grants, scholarships, or loans, your education might actually turn out to be very affordable. Also, remember that college degrees can pay for themselves in the long run; the Bureau of Labor Statistics2 states that the average bachelor’s degree holder makes $520 more than the average high school graduate every single week. Besides, you may be able to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility afforded by distance education to keep a full-time job, so that your wages help pay your tuition fees. Choose an online college carefully and avail yourself of the flexibility and freedom that distance learning affords, to gain the knowledge, expertise, training, and credentials you need to pursue professional success. 1 http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx 2 http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

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