Just because applying to online colleges and universities is more convenient and involves less steps than the traditional method, does not mean the admissions process or your online search should be taken lightly. There are tons of online universities around the nation that students apply to all the time. However, it is important to remember that the online schools you're considering should meet your own checklist of requirements.
Don't have such a checklist to refer to? Then take note of the following requirements below to point you in the right direction.
Is the Online School Accredited?
Even though there are a ton of online schools out there, not all of them are accredited. Being accredited, either nationally or regionally, is important for online universities because it gives these educational institutions the necessary approval to be eligible for federal and state financial aid programs. Additionally, attending an online school that is accredited makes it much easier when it comes to transferring credits between online colleges. If the online colleges you're considering are not accredited, it is best to leave it off your list.
Your Admissions Experience to Online Schools
The interactions you have with an admissions officer (phone, email, regular mail) from the online universities you're interested in should play a role in your checklist. The admissions process should be one that you're comfortable with and anyone that you speak with should not pressure you into applying or be hesitant to provide you with answers to your questions. The best admissions officers have students best interests at heart, even if it means not enrolling in their degree program.
Degree Program Availability and Strength of the Program
Not all degree programs are the same, just as not all colleges and universities are the same. When pursuing the online educational route it is important to make sure that the online universities on your list offer the degree program you're interested in. If not, move on to the next choice. Aside from making sure your degree program is available, it is just as important to check that the online school has a good track record for the strength of its programs. You'll want to get your degree from a school that will properly prepare you for entering the workforce and going after your dream career. So instead of settling for a degree program that is rated so-so, shoot for the ones that you know will give you the education and experience you need and look impressive on a resume.
Additionally, it is a good idea to compare the degree programs and their curriculum among your choices. See what types of classes are being offered and which best suit your desired career goals.
Tuition & Financial Aid Options
A common myth many college bound students have when dealing with online universities is cheap compared to enrolling in a traditional college or university. However, this is not very accurate. While there are definitely ways to save money by attending an online school, the cost of tuition is still a hefty amount for most people to afford. Compare the total costs of tuition between the online schools you are looking at and decide which one will be the easiest for you to afford. Also do research about your financial aid options, such as applying for the FAFSA, start saving your money and seek scholarships to help you cover any school-related expenses.
This basic checklist will help you sort through your options and make finding the right online school much easier.