As with any college selection process, you ask yourself questions before you enroll with the university you have decided on. Distance learning and online colleges and universities are no different. College is an important decision in the lives of young adults and students should do research and ask questions before they enroll in online programs. Be sure to ask yourself the questions below before you commit to an online school.
- Do you have discipline and time management skills? Contrary to what many people believe, taking courses online is not exactly easy. Online courses are usually extremely demanding and require students to be disciplined and have some sort of time management skills. Because you don’t typically attend lectures and have a professor lecturing and repeating due dates, you must work hard to read online notes and chapters from your books, stay on top of your studies, and keep good track of when assignments, reports, and exams are due.
- Is the university accredited? University accreditation is extremely important when choosing a college, especially in online and distance learning settings. Accreditation is a process in which accrediting agencies recognize schools that have policies and procedures set in place to ensure students are receiving a quality education, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Attending a university that is not accredited can be a total waste of time and money and many employers will not hire candidates who have degrees from learning institutions that are not accredited.
- Does the school offer degree programs that interest me? This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important that you research the degree levels that the school offers and the concentrations and subjects that they offer them in. If you have decided already what field it is you want to specialize in, be sure that the online school you choose has both the area of study you wish to study and the degree type that you wish to earn. It’s not uncommon for schools to offer a degree type in one subject area and not the other, so be sure the school you enroll in has what you are looking for.
- Are there opportunities for interaction with professors and other students? Many students like to feel confident that if they need help with something or have a question, they can contact a professor or another student. Many schools offer programs such as Blackboard that allow students to interact and communicate with one another, so if this is something you know you’ll be interested in, you might want to look into what type of interaction opportunities your school has in place.
- What technology is needed? It’s obvious that if you are taking online classes, you are going to need a computer or laptop and an Internet connection. However, some schools require students to have specific hardware, software, and applications to access their online programs so it is important to know what those are first. You don’t want to enroll in a program to later realize you need to spend a whole bunch of extra money on computer programs when you hadn’t planned on it.
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