You Need to Do Your Own Research
- Research starting salaries in the typical career fields associated with your chosen degree plan so that you won’t get lured into enrolling in an online program based on false promises of the money you could make. A good resource for salary information is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Learn whether the income you are likely to make will be enough to offset the cost of your online education. According to Inside Higher Ed, many bad factors in the for-profit sector have left students saddled with debt and unable to repay their federal loans, resulting in an alarmingly high student loan default rate.
- Look into any degree requirements you must fulfill for you to enter your chosen career, and then carefully evaluate whether the online program will adequately fulfill those requirements. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights a documentary showing the plight of three nursing students who were required to complete a pediatric clinical rotation to become nurses. Unfortunately, their school had them do the rotation in a daycare center instead, effectively leaving them unable to become licensed, unable to get a job, and yet still loaded with student debt.
- Ask about your company’s tuition reimbursement benefits, and find out whether it covers online learning. Investopedia points out that many employers make their workers sign a contract saying that the employee must work for the company for a set amount of time and maintain a certain GPA to be reimbursed, and you don’t want to be surprised by any fine print.
- Research the school’s retention and graduation rates to get an indication of the school’s quality. A good resource for doing this is a consumer information tool called College Navigator.