What To Know About Online Colleges
- Paying Tuition
- Additional Costs
- Good Time Management is a Must
- Is the School Accredited?
- Online College and Prospective Employers
When thinking about signing up for an online college, the adult student should be aware of the pros and cons of this potentially life-changing decision. Online schools remain an effective and time-tested way to earn your college degree, but consider the following before making a commitment.
While it’s true that the costs of attending an online university can be lower than attending a brick and mortar school, you need to be aware of how your online college collects tuition in addition to other fees. Tuition and fees should be clearly listed on the school’s website, they should be easy to find, and it should be possible to contact an informed representative of the school should you have any questions.
Obviously, you will need a computer and a reliable Internet connection to take courses at an online college. Reflect also on other expenses that might not seem obvious at first glance. Some courses require that the student use a webcam to communicate with the Professor or Teaching Assistant running the class. Along with a webcam, you may need to purchase a headset. Don’t forget that you will still need to purchase the required course texts and other materials just as if you were taking a course at a physical university. These costs can add up. Budget for them in advance.
Good Time Management is a Must
Taking online courses while working a job or tending to a family full time can seem like a dream come true, especially if these factors make attending a physical university impractical if not impossible. Many students imagine that they will readily be able to carve time out of their schedule easily but this is not always the case. It can be tempting to not log on to a course when other, more pressing responsibilities beckon. In short, if you need the flexibility, make sure that you commit to a fixed schedule. Make this your “student time.”
Is the School Accredited?
The adult student will find that online colleges have grown alongside the expansion of the Internet which means that there are many schools to choose from. Some unaccredited universities are nothing more than diploma mills requiring little real work in exchange for a useless diploma. Thankfully, it is easy to check up on the accreditation status of a school when shopping around. The US Department of Education lists accredited schools as does the non-profit Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If you do not see your school on either list, be both wary and prepared to ask some questions. Do not forget that you cannot be awarded Federal Financial Aid if your university is not accredited.
Online College and Prospective Employers
It is largely a myth that employers automatically view an online degree as inferior to a degree issued by a physical university but there are still caveats. First, make sure that your school has a good reputation especially in the field in which you plan to put your degree to use. Also, remember that a prospective employer may place a premium on your ability to work with your colleagues and clients. An online school that requires some manner of interaction, such as via webcam or Skype, might be a plus in your column during the job interview.
Signing up for an online college is not a decision to make in haste. Nonetheless, if you research your school thoroughly in advance and make a conscious plan to succeed, online universities offer a convenient way to earn a degree.