There are many online colleges and universities that are not properly accredited and that do not provide degrees that can be used to land a good job. If you are ready to enroll in an online program, take the time to thoroughly investigate your options before enrollment. To get started, follow these suggestions:
- Check accreditation status – The United States has six regional accrediting bodies that are recognized by the United States Department of Education. If the school you are considering has not been accredited by one of these, you may not be able to transfer credits from that school, and your degree may be considered worthless by employers. Ask questions about accreditation and check into credit transfer before enrolling if you have previously earned credits.
- Talk to students – Use social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and others to find and talk with people who have experience with the school. Ask about their experiences with the school and how the degree helped them get a job.
- Talk with employers – Ask potential employers how they regard online degrees and how they feel about the school you are considering attending. Before you invest your time and money, it is a good idea to make sure you are getting a degree that will help you land the job you want.
- Review data – The Department of Education provides data on default and loan repayment rates for every U.S. institution that receives federal funding. A low repayment rate or high default rate is an indicator that you may want to look elsewhere for your degree. It is also a good idea to check into graduation and retention rates.
- Look into student services – It takes a lot of effort to be successful with online education. Check to see what prospective schools have to offer to help you succeed. Look for schools that provide financial aid advising, academic advising, career counseling, and other services to online students without the need to visit a physical campus. While searching, also be aware of any additional costs of using such services so you can factor this into your total cost of attendance.
Online colleges and universities provide a convenient, flexible way to get a college degree. Before you make a commitment to a school, however, make sure you take the time to ensure that you are getting the most benefit from your investment.