Selecting The Right Online College

By | December 2, 2014

Kool Derby

You are ready to earn your online degree, but you are unsure which online institution is right for you. When you go online and submit an interest form, you are bombarded in minutes by so-called “Academic Coaches,” who are actually skilled salespeople. When making the decision on the right place for you earn your online degree, you need to consider your situation, including programs offered, learning modality, and tuition.

Degree Programs

It is critical that you are clear on what you want to be when you grow up! One huge advantage of online learning is that you can find every imaginable program, from becoming a pre-K schoolteacher to sitting for the California Bar and practicing as an attorney. In other words, make sure you take an inventory of your skills and find where your passion lies.

Most online students are non-traditional, meaning they are working adults returning to school after learning through the school of hard knocks – the real workplace. You are probably one of the many who is concerned about the direction of your career, and this is your chance to make it right. Therefore, take the time to consider what will make you happy in the future, and that will guide your degree program decision.

Learning Modality

Most online colleges offer an asynchronous learning approach. The point here is that discussion boards are used on which the instructor (known as the “facilitator”) will post questions for the students to discuss. The students will also review the syllabus for assignments and due dates. No one has to be online at the same time, making learning asynchronous.

However, some online colleges are moving to more engaging technologies, such as webinars, and that means that learning is partly synchronous. With the webinar or other real-time technology, the students and professor are online at the same time. If you are the person who needs this level of engagement and interaction, make sure to select a university that offers it.

Tuition

A discussion about higher education is remiss without mentioning the tuition. The fact is that online learning is usually more expensive than attending the university face-to-face. Why? From what I hear, it takes more technology and customer support to manage an online student. I am unsure if this is true, but you can expect to pay at least 15% or more for an online class.

The “Academic Coach” will give you the array of financial aid options, including government assistance and student loans. Students should also consider their companys’ tuition reimbursement programs, qualifications for military education programs, and scholarships.

Regardless, even when the external financial assistance is minimal to nonexistent, you must think about the big picture, which when painted in its entirety will result in a person with increased opportunities.

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