Checklist for Potential Online Learners

Earning your college degree online can seem like a impossible dream when you work a full time job and have other obligations. However, countless people are finding it easier than they thought to earn a degree while still working and spending time with family by attending school online. Online education is not a new phenomenon, but it is enjoying an explosion in popularity as increasing numbers of people are finding themselves with a need for advanced education in order to increase their earning potential.

About Online Education

Most colleges and universities now offer online classes, and many are offering entire degree programs online. This format is so popular that there are numerous accredited colleges and universities that operate solely online. Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees in nearly any field, all from the comfort of home and on a schedule that meets their need for flexibility.

Although it may sound like a dream come true, online learning is not for everybody. Successful online students are highly motivated and organized and are able to learn easily through self-study. In addition, they have a good computer system, access to high-speed Internet, and are moderately skilled with computers and technology. If this sounds like you and you are considering earning a degree online, use this checklist to determine which program is right for you:

Checklist for Potential Online Students

  • Do you meet all requirements? Online universities are identical to traditional schools in every way except the delivery of classes. They have admissions requirements you must meet, such as a GED or high school diploma. In addition, graduate programs often require a particular GPA, undergraduate degree in a specific field, and GRE or other examination scores for admissions. Before applying to any online program, research all requirements and make sure you meet them.
  • What accreditation does the school hold? Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Education for quality of programs. Not all accreditations are worthy, however. Look for schools that are accredited by one of the six regional and/or 80 professional accrediting organizations recognized by the Department of Education. If your school is not properly accredited, your degree may not be recognized by other schools or employers as being valid.
  • What are your goals? Before making a choice, think deeply about your personal goals. Make a list of your criteria and then evaluate each potential program based on how well it meets your needs as well as its accreditation, expenses, features, and services. You can find a great deal of information on the official websites and/or through conversations with admissions officers and other school personnel. Check such facts as enrollment numbers, faculty qualifications and education, graduation rates, and academic policies and processes.
  • Is it affordable? When comparing programs, remember what you can fit into your budget comfortably. While most people check tuition right away, there are many other costs to consider. Your total cost of attendance will also include the price of books and supplies as well as administrative and other fees. Get a total cost of attendance before making your decision, and check into financial aid, scholarships, and other funding options that may offset the cost.

Getting your degree through an online college or university is a fantastic way to open new doors of opportunity and to increase your earning potential without sacrificing your family time or current job. If you believe you have what it takes to be an online learner, use this checklist to find your ideal program. Soon, you will have the degree you need to make your dreams come true.