The option of attending online college classes and obtaining a college degree over the Internet has become the most chosen method for people to continue their studies. This is mainly because of the high level of flexibility that this option provides. Once you have decided to engage an online degree course, there are a few things that you will need to pay attention to.
While you may know that you want to pursue a course online, you may not have any idea about what traits to look for in an online university. Finding an online university is very easy since all you will have to do is search for one via Google or browse through this site and learn through our expert reviews. You may also find options through advertisements and social networking websites. It is the process of whittling the options down to arrive at the most feasible one for you that is the most difficult. These are the five main traits that one must look out for in regards to any online college.
It cannot be stressed enough that the online college you choose has to be an accredited one, approved and inspected by the US Department of Education. Irrespective of the amount of effort, time, and money you put into any course, if the college is not an accredited one, it will all be for naught. Accreditation ensures that the online college you have chosen is a legitimate one, that is deemed and recognized by the appropriate authorities and that offers college classes that meet or exceed the standards set by educational professionals.
There are many online colleges that say that they are “state licensed”. This is not the same as being accredited. The lack of accreditation is a deal breaker. Degrees from accredited online colleges meet the needs of your potential employers for one. In case you decide to take your lower level classes there for example, you will have to insure you will be able to transfer any credits that you have earned to other universities and colleges that are accredited or you would have just wasted a lot of time, energy, and money. Not a good feeling.
Reputation of the Online College
It is important to look for a reputed college that is recommended by people you may know personally as well as by reviewers online. You can check how long the college has been around and how long the course or curriculum you are interested in has been offered. This will offer you a fair and more transparent idea on the quality of the institution is and how successfully it has been running.
While an online course generally indicates that you have to accomplish tasks on your own, there are instructors and tutors who are sometimes available online to respond to any of your issues and answer your queries. In such a case, accessibility is a paramount trait. You should be able to call your enrollment counselor and they should give you a thorough walk-through before your first class (they should actually be calling you). You should have access to your instructor over the Internet and/or via the phone. Whatever your personal preference is, it is important that an online college makes their instructors be accessible.
Class Size and Ratios
In a traditional classroom, there is a cap on the number of students admitted keeping in mind the limited resources of the college (desks in the classroom). In a virtual class, it is important to have a decent student to teacher ratio so that individual attention is not compromised. In general, the larger the class, the higher the chances are that the instructor will not be easily available and they will have less time to offer feedback on assignments and to participate that much in group online discussions. University of Phoenix for instance has about 12 students per professor for undergrad college classes and an 8 to 1 ratio for master’s work. That seems to be ideal.
Have you been in a classroom with 30 to 40 students? How much feedback did you receive? How much individual attention? Especially at a traditional college where you meet only for 2-3 times per week. The professor, by the end of the semester, will barely know your name.
Even if the online college you have chosen is an established college with a solid reputation, you need to pay attention to the courses and major you want to take. It is essential to check if the curriculum has been revised recently. This is important because the program should be reasonably updated and relevant in terms of the current industry and market standards. Keep an eye on the suggested time frame that is involved to complete the college class to ensure that it is realistic and possible as well.
The primary thing to remember is that it is your preferences that determine the online college that is best for you. As long as you know what you want, you will be able to make a choice that is befitting to your needs, desires, and proclivities.