How to Find a Solid Online College: 5 Things to Look For

  • Classes and Curriculum
  • Communication and Support
  • Accreditation
  • Technology
  • Career Prospects

In the age of technology, an online college is a great way to get a degree. The challenge? Finding one that’s reputable and equipped to teach. By learning to spot the signs of a solid online institution, it’s easier to invest wisely in education.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Colleges for a Bachelor’s Degree

1.Classes and Curriculum

One of the signs of a solid online college is a comprehensive curriculum. Take a look at the classes that are required for a degree. How do they compare to major in-person degree programs at established universities? If an online program only covers the bare minimum, or if it’s missing important classes, it might not be a great choice. Take things a step further by comparing the class syllabi to make sure that the course content is satisfactory. Finally, look into the availability of each class. Is it offered every semester? If not, is it possible to get all of the required credits for graduation in a reasonable amount of time?

2. Communication and Support

In a traditional university environment, it’s easy to ask questions or get help from professors. Great online college degree programs offer the same level of support. To evaluate a program, look at the resources for communication. Consider options such as online office hours, class discussion boards, or the option to video chat with professors. It’s also a good idea to look into the college support system as a whole — make sure that it’s easy to reach financial aid, admissions, and career counseling staff.

3. Accreditation

Accreditation is one of the most important characteristics of a great online college. The U.S. Department of Education states that when a program is accredited, it means that it’s been reviewed and approved by government-certified agents. Those agents look at all aspects of the program to ensure that it meets basic quality standards. A degree from an accredited university looks better to potential employers down the road, which makes it easier to get a job. When looking at different accreditations, be sure to research the certifying body and ensure that it’s recognized by the government.

4. Technology

When it comes to finding a reputable online college, technology is a big consideration. After all, since almost all of the teaching and collaboration occurs online, the software can make or break the experience. Clunky, slow systems can be frustrating and make it difficult to learn. Fast, intuitive programs enable students to get the information they need quickly and without roadblocks. If it’s not possible to take the technology for a test drive, look for online reviews and blog posts for feedback from other students.

5. Career Prospects

The end goal of most degree programs is simple: better or more lucrative employment. To spot a great online university, look at the post-graduation career prospects. Where are alumni working? What are the employment rates after graduation? A good career services office can provide this data. If it seems inflated, check into student or alumni groups on social media to get honest feedback.

A college degree is expensive, whether it’s in person or online. That’s why it pays to investigate each institution and program carefully. By investing in a solid online college, it’s easier to secure a great, well-paying job after graduation.