5 Criteria to Use to Find an Online Education Program that Fits Your Needs

This guest post was provided by Eric Hoover on behalf of Drexel University Online. Drexel Online has been providing accredited online degree programs since 1996.

Obtaining an online education no longer carries the stigma once associated with a virtual diploma. In fact, almost every major college and university offers undergrads classes online, as well as certification programs, graduate degrees, some even have their PhD’s available for students to complete remotely.

Learning is never a bad thing – but going back to school, even when working towards online degrees, is a step in life not to be taken lightly. With so many options to apply to, one needs to be certain the education will benefit their needs. These 5 criteria for discovering the best fit for an online diploma can help those researching programs make a decisive leap.

1. Be sure the degree program, certification, or institution you are applying to is accredited
When applying to an online degree program with an established college or university, it’s pretty much guaranteed that both will be fully accredited. If you’re applying to learn from one of many online schools (i.e.: Kaplan University, Coursera, etc.) it’s good to double check the organization’s accreditation.

There are multiple “checkers” online that will tell you if a specific institute of higher learning is accredited. Or, you can simply Google it.

2. Is Online Learning worth your time?
When considering a return to school online, one must include time management in their decision making process. Will you be able to keep life as an adult, with a full-time job or possibly children, on course? Sure, online degree programs allow for flexible schedules, but can you be certain assignments will be handed in on time? Make sure the class’s pace is something you can manage.

3. How much does an online degree cost?
Aside from the flexibility of scheduling, many opt for online learning because of its affordability. Tuition varies depending on degree programs, but you’ll save on materials, commuting costs, and gain the ability to focus on assignments and tests privately.

Another positive regarding the rise of online education is that many scholarships and loans are available to cover the cost of learning. Don’t forget to check employer benefits. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement for employees enrolled in job-related courses. Are you a current or former Armed-Services member? The government offers a variety of loan forgiveness and grant programs for those who have served.

4. Find an online program that will help boost your career.
Since it began, online courses have allowed those who felt they’ve plateaued at their jobs a way to advance careers. Changing careers is still one of the top reasons many go to school online. When looking into an online degree program, make sure that a) it’s something you’re interested in, and b) that the degree or certification will help you move on with a career.

5. Avoid getting ripped-off by Online Degrees
Do a little extra research into online programs by reading student blogs. See what current and former attendees have to say about the program you are exploring. If an online program is making “outrageous promises” like earning degrees in a week, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Stick with well-known colleges and universities. State schools and large city universities can help you obtain a solid, useful degree online, on your own time.

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