What are some questions to consider before applying to an online school?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

What are some questions to consider before applying to an online school?

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

What are some questions to consider before applying to an online school?

Most importantly, will the courses, credits and degrees be recognized and how will missing the social aspect of college affect you.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Computers: do they create less hassle in everyday life or foster bad habits?

Think of someone you know who doesn't have a computer. In fact, try to think of someone you know who has never used a computer. Pretty difficult, right? While the older generations among us learned to adapt to the computer age, the younger generation have learned from computers; many people under age 25 have never known a world without computers. Computers and other forms of technology make certain tasks that were once tedious or difficult much easier (consider the capability to instantaneously send photos to a friend in another state versus what some of us at the time believed to be state of the art Polaroid cameras). Nevertheless, some people argue that computers have done more harm than good. In his book titled The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future (or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30), Mark Bauerein argues that Generation Y, people ages 16- 29, has been negatively affected by growing up in a world rife with BBMs, chatting and email. He argues that the habits we form when communicating through these mediums are hard to break when transitioning to writing a paper for school or the workplace. He also states that social networking sites provide a distorted perception of reality that makes the users believe they are the center of the universe. Outside of social networking sites, some people are unable to interact with peers; the computer robs them of healthy, in person social skills. Others disagree with Mr. Bauerein and maintain that people are just as smart as ever. They assert that even though computers may affect the ways in which we process information, it has not changed innate human ability to do so. In response to this idea, many teachers embrace technology and use it in the classroom to help their students learn in new and exciting ways. Some teachers have classroom online blogs while others use Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog character to study Homer's The Odyssey. They recognize that students respond more positively to what they may deem as "boring" topics when the concepts are supplemented by the use of computers. It seems that Mark Bauerein's argument may be proven wrong as many American schools push for abandoning 10-pound textbooks with computer based books and learning materials. Of course, the transition will take time: schools must ensure student access to computers and proper teacher training. However, the effort expended on the transition may save some schools as much as $419 million dollars per year, allowing them to hire more teachers and reduce classroom sizes.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Pertinent Questions

Credentialing. Who has accreditted the institution? Will my credits transfer? 

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Online School Applications

Make sure you do your homework on the program before signing up. Talk to a program director, not a salesperson. Investigate the course quality. What are the professor's credentials, what is the class size, are there teaching assistants? Is tech support available, will your credits transfer, is the school accredited? Ultimately make sure you have an advisor, who can help you plan your coursework and who will help when problems arise.

Donovan Blake
Lead Consultant Griffin Blake Educational Consulting

Should I bring my own bra?

There are two major concerns when taking online courses: 1) Support Services (the bra)- It is key to find out what types of support services are offered to you. Without supporting services, many student are unsuccessful in online classes. 2) Re-enrolling in a Course- If you are not successful in a class, you need to find out the policy for retaking a class. These two issues should be your key questions when considering an online school!

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

time comittment and study skills

students shall consider their study skills carefully before signing up for online school. we all learn subjects differently. however, technology may not replace human interactions and two way of communicating between the student and the teacher is always the key to learn more than just text book concetps.

Felice Kobrick
Owner, College Consultant, Kobrick College Consulting, LLC

Check the Accreditation List....

Do your research! The online learning community is plagued by disreputable organizations. I just learned about a website that lists schools that are accredited to provide online learning. Take a look: http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.net/ . The site also provides information about the 6 legitimate agencies that provide accreditation and why accreditation is important.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Are you self-motivated?

You must be independent and a self-starter in order to be successful in online classes. Often students think these courses will be easy, but they aren't. They require a lot of self-teaching and strong oganizational skills. Do you prefer class discussion? That is not very easy with online classes. Do you like to meet your professor and classmates? You will miss that personal interaction and connectedness that comes from sitting in a classroom. Look into how the courses are set up to make sure they sound manageable for you.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University


Is the school Accredited? Is is a proprietary institution and who owns it? What is the reputation? The other piece..Is this what you want your college experience to be? Some view higher education is not only academic, but social. My mentor and Dean of Students told me, "Geoff, you are in class only 15 hours per week. I have to fill the other 153 with a social education."

Angela Hebert
Director of Admissions Fletcher Technical Community College

What are some questions to consider before applying to an online school?

There are several things to consider when applying to an online school. First and foremost, it is important to research the accreditation of the institution. With so many degree and diploma mills, you should always make sure that the institution you are applying to is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies. If the institution is accredited by one of the six agencies, this will allow you to transfer credits you earn at this online institution to other accredited universities. Another important factor to consider is cost. Many online programs are offered through private institutions and can cost between $20 and $40,000 per academic year. Shop around before committing to an institution. Most importantly though, you need to determine whether or not you will be successful in an online learning environment. Online classes require you to be a self-motivated learner and little instruction is provided. You must be able to comprehend what you read and be able to process that information in order to successful in your classes.