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

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

Cheryl Millington

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

There is obviously a huge difference between attending a regular, campus and an online school. If you’re very disciplined and feel confident that you can study independently, an online degree or courses may be a viable option for you. But note, there may be some reputational issues with doing some courses or a full degree online so research the school very carefully. You can also use online courses as a stepping stone to a more traditional degree.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

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

Online education is an increasingly valuable option but there are a number of things that anyone considering that route should consider. First, you should be aware of the accreditation status of the program, for proper accreditation can be a big factor in how the degree will be treated in both the job market and in any future educational endeavors. Related to this is the potential for transferring or applying the credit you earn on-line credits to another school whether an on-line program or a standard one. If you are planning to pursue a full degree or program at the on-line institution then it may not matter, but if you are simply seeking to get a couple courses under your belt as part of another larger program than it can. Too, cost is always a factor. One of advantages of the on-line offerings has been their relatively lower costs, but in some areas that is changing. Overall, on-line programs can be very valuable but make sure you know what you are getting.

Cara Ray
Senior Associate Montgomery Educational Consulting

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

Before applying to an online school you may want to consider a few things. First, consider the accreditation of the school. You want to make sure that your courses and degree will hold value upon graduation. Make sure that the program you have selected has the right types of accreditation (usually you want to look for it to be regional). Also, you will want to consider what type of learner you are. Online classes require you to be incredibly self-motivated and self-disciplined. While it may sound tempting to go to class in your sweatpants think about what type of environment you learn best in. Are you a hands on learner? Do you like to ask a lot of questions and get to know your professor? These types of things may prove difficult with online classes. In addition, you may want to compare costs of programs between the online school and a university or college closer to your community. Many online programs are quite expensive.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

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

Primarily, students should be concerned about accreditation and potential employer opinions of these programs.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

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

While it is quite possible to have a worthwhile learning experience through a well-developed program of an online school, there are several aspects which should be carefully considered before deciding to go in that direction or WHERE to go in that direction. The first thing you should look into is the legitimacy of the online school. Is it accredited? Will the credits you gain be transferrable to other institutions? Will the degree or certification you earn be recognized? Is the online school/program associated with a recognized and accredited college or university? (Some online programs are outgrowths of college/university offerings; some are independent.) Do your research. Just because an online program calls itself a "school" is no indication of quality. Find out how the course will be delivered. How will class material be presented? In what ways will you be able to interact with instructors and classmates? What provisions are made for the exchange of ideas? How much individual attention will you receive? How will your progress/learning be evaluated? What will be expected of you in completing the course or degree? Will there occasionally be requirements to be physically present for a classroom, laboratory, or lecture hall experience? Don't hesitate to ask these questions of the online school. Be sure you know what you could expect in working through a course of study with any given organization. Another thing to consider in making your decision is the extent to which you personally will be able to commit to an online course. This is an aspect of personality and learning style. Studies have shown that the drop-out rate is considerably greater for online courses than for courses for which students are required to be physically present. This phenomenon undoubtedly has much to do with the relationships which develop in face-to-face encounters. Ask yourself whether you will be able to fully commit to an online program or whether you would prefer the interactions which would be part of a campus-based college/university study experience. In making a decision as to whether to apply to an online school, you should consider your personal needs and financial resources, carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of online study against campus-based study. Consider whether you will learn more effectively through an online program or in a study environment which provides the opportunity for hands-on experiences and face-to-face exchanges with others. Would you make greater progress through the online contacts that you would have with your professors and classmates, or would you prefer the academic and social interactions which are part of an on-campus experience? Do a "cost vs. personal value" analysis of the two options. Studying through an online school will, in almost all cases, be less expensive than attendance at a residential campus-based school. This is primarily because there is not an extensive infrastructure which has to be supported - class buildings, laboratories, sports facililies, dormitories, dining halls, etc., etc. etc. Expense will also be less in that there will be no need for you to pay for room, board, and travel expenses in addition to tuition. It may be that, for financial reasons, an online course is the only option which is feasible for you at this time. In that case, choose an online school with great care considering the suggestions above.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

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

Are you an accredited school? What are my chances of transferring my credits if I don't continue here? What's the average % of financial need that you meet?

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

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

First, be sure to do your research. It's essential that the school you're considering be reputable and accredited. Don't be afraid to ask pointed questions about the school's history and track record. Second, do an honest self-assessment to figure out how successful you can be in an online learning environment. Many people find it challenging to stay on track and complete assignments when they don't have the incentive and inspiration of classroom-based meetings. If having person-to-person contact is necessary for your learning, it could be tough to get the interaction you need in virtual classrooms. Look at your personality and learning style and your track record of motivating yourself to work hard. Online education is a new and very different experience for most of us, and it pays to be sure it's a good fit for you before you log in.

Reena Gold Kamins
Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.

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

Accreditation is the most important criteria when evaluating online school options. There are several accrediting bodies. For example, The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits degree-granting institutions in states like Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The accreditation process is rigorous and evaluates things like a school's mission, size, degree requirements, and resources. Accreditation guarantees that an institution is meeting certain standards. Without accrediation it is likely that other institutions and employers will not recognize the work you have completed or the degree you have earned. Similarly, even if a school is accredited, you want to make sure that other institutions will recognize transfer credits from it. If you spend a year taking courses but are unable to transfer those courses into another institution and earn credit for them, you will have wasted the year.