Thursday, March 10, 2011

Online Degrees: How to Make The Right Choice

By Eileen Brand

The best choice of school for online degrees is an individual one, depending partly on the degree objective. There are many commercials and advertising for online schools but more investigation is necessary. If the right questions are asked up front, then time and money can be saved from an uninformed choice.

The very first piece of information needed is whether or not the institution is accredited. The accrediting agencies are regional and are in limited number. If an institution states it is accredited, find out by who and then make sure the agency is legitimate. The next step is finding out if the program you want a degree for is accredited. If not, it may keep you from getting an advanced degree.

Another important issue is whether or not the credits are transferable. This is especially relevant when moving from an associates to a bachelors degree. If you want to move to another school, you need to be sure the course credits you have earned will go with you. The school should have a list of other schools that will accept their credits and in what programs. Because a school accepts them for their business program does not mean they will take them for their math program.

All online degrees are not just from online schools. There are some long standing brick and mortar schools that now offer degrees online. Check the local colleges and universities to find out what they offer. Find out if the school requires any in class sessions or if it is totally online.

Look into the background of the professors in the major you are interested in. Their educational background information should be on the school website. As should any experience in the field and how many years they have been doing either or both.

If financial assistance is necessary be sure the college or university accepts federal funds. If not, some will offer payment plans. Scholarships may be available. Student loans can also make school more affordable. Speak with their financial aid office for assistance. They should be able to answer any questions regarding it and offer direction toward those programs that will help pay for school.

Online degrees offer a convenience that is unmatched. The courses are usually rotating, so you can start at anytime. You take the class when you have the time, there is no set class time to show up to. The course work is done completely online. Getting in touch with professors is typically done by email. Assignments have no excuse for being late because they are also emailed. The professor may have a time when they are online and you can instant message. The experience should be much easier than going to a campus, but expect to work hard.

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