By: Daniel Kane
With the growth of online education, students have more and better choices than ever before.While that's something to celebrate, it does give students a lot of institutions to investigate before choosing one.Fortunately, the narrowing down process is easier than it may seem. Step one is for students to ask themselves what they are looking for in an online college or university. As that question is answered, it raises the questions students must answer about the colleges they wish to consider.The questions below are universal...they are a good starting point. Depending on your needs and preferences, just add to them.Accreditation should be a primary concern. Institutions not accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved agency should be crossed off your list without delay. Any time spent investigating such institutions will be wasted. Rule them out and move on.Your second question should be whether or not a college offers a major in your area of interest and how its program compares with those elsewhere. Faculty qualifications, the availability of academic concentrations, the specific course offerings and requirements, and how well the program might prepare you for your chosen profession are all areas to investigate.Finances, of course, are important to most people. But, asking only about tuition does not result in a full picture. Be sure to find out about the availability of scholarships, student loans, grants and tuition installment options. All can play a role in making an institution affordable.Next is the question of credit for prior coursework and/or experience. Some institutions offer credit for military training, others do not. Some allow students to apply more transfer credits toward a degree. Many, but not all, will evaluate credit in writing, so students know exactly where they stand. Don't forget that previously earned credit, if accepted, can save you time and money.The final "must" questions are about student services. Is anyone available to help you with filling out financial aid forms? How tough is it to contact a professor if you have a question? Does the college offer free job placement, and if so, how effective has it been?Spend some quiet time thinking about your educational and career goals. Add a few questions to those above. Then, start getting answers by reading and by speaking with admissions representatives. As your questions are answered it will be easier for you to eliminate some options and move others to the top of your list.For most students, getting their questions answered turns out to be pretty easy. The harder job is being certain they are asking the right questions. Luckily, that should not now be a problem for you.
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About the Author:
Daniel Kane has been assisting students for more than 25 years through his positions in higher education and more than a dozen educational websites on education online and online colleges.