In order to increase your options and guarantee acceptance into at least one online school, it’s always best to apply to at least 3 or 4 different online colleges or programs. But what happens if you get accepted into all of the schools that you applied to? How do you narrow your choices and select the "best" school for you? After all, this decision will affect you for about the rest of your life: the skills you learn from a particular school will mold you and lead you to different career endeavors. With that said, to help you choose the top choice, it’s usually best to do some further research and see which school is able to meet your wants and needs best. Below are some factors you should consider.
First and foremost you need to investigate the online school’s accrediting agency. Is it regionally or nationally accredited? While national accreditation is valid, let it be known that employers do in fact favor regionally accredited online schools. You also need to consider the name and status of the school. Since some employers are still skeptical about online education, it’s usually best to earn a degree from a well-recognized and prestigious institution to increase your employment opportunities.
With that said, you also need to do a thorough investigation of the online schools’ programs and teaching staff. Does it have a good reputation for offering a good program in the field that you would like to pursue? What is the length of the course and how is it taught? Meaning, what is the format? Is there an in-person component? And if so, are you close enough to make the drive to complete it? How are exams conducted? Will they assign you a proctor or will you need to find one yourself?
The teachers’credentials are also highly important. For instance are they PhD holders or just master degree holders? Have they written books or preformed some sort of prestigious research? Typically this sort of info can be found on the school’s website or by simply doing a Google search. You also want to know the student-teacher ratio. Even though you are taking courses online, the student teacher-ratio still plays an important role. It will determine whether professors will have more time for you and whether he or she will have a quicker response rate via email, etc. It will also determine how many classmates you will or will not have to engage with. This can create a very intimate or reclusive online environment for you. Be sure to investigate which online schools also have the highest retention and graduation rates, as well as which ones offer internship and career services.
Hopefully by researching all of the proposed questions above you are able to at least narrow your choices to two schools. The last factor you should consider to help you choose the best school for you is to look into tuition and other costs. Which one is more affordable and which school offers you the most financial aid (if you qualify)?