Interested in pursuing an online college degree? Why wouldn’t you be? Furthering your education is a good way to help prepare yourself to pursue new career challenges, and the flexibility of an online degree program can make it more convenient for you to do so.
However, not all online colleges are created equally. Here’s a checklist, presented by AIU Online, of things you should look for when narrowing down online colleges for your degree program.
First, check that the online colleges you’re considering are regionally accredited. This means that the school’s course structure, curriculum, and administrative practices have been thoroughly examined by one of the six third-party organizations that report to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), and that the school can meet their standards of quality.
Many ground-based campuses seek regional accreditation, so your online college should have it, too. You can search for regional accreditation status at the DOE website.
Some individual degree programs can also earn programmatic accreditation from professional organizations in the field to which they relate. For example, online business administration degree programs can seek accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Business administration degree programs accredited by this organization have undergone an audit to ensure they meet high educational standards in that specific field.
Believe it or not, some online degree programs don’t offer access to their virtual interfaces all the time. One of the major advantages of an online degree program is its flexibility, so make sure yours lets you log in 24/7. In the unlikely event of a glitch, make sure there’s also 24/7 technical support you can rely on.
Bonus points if there’s an app for that degree program: mobile sites and mobile applications that let you download lectures or check discussion boards while you’re out and about make fitting in study time that much more doable.
Even though you may study alone at your computer, an online degree program should never let you feel like you’re on your own. Instructors should hold regular “office hours” where you can have a live chat with them, and there ought to be somewhere on your virtual campus where you can socialize with classmates. Tutoring for certain topics, such as using computer software or research paper citation format, is another thing to look for.
Career Development Support
A mentoring program that links you with either a more advanced student or a graduate of the field you’re studying can also be helpful. You’ll also want to look for a career services department that could coach you on life after graduation, including how you could prepare application materials and on interviewing skills. Finally, there should be an active and involved alumni association that offers you networking contacts in future.
This article is presented by American InterContinental University, a provider of career-focused degree programs. Students can study on our Virtual Campus at AIU Online. Find out more at http://www.aiuniv.edu.
American InterContinental University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. Additional information is available at www.ncahlc.org.