Choosing an Online School: Points to Consider

In this day and age, with the technology available, it is becoming more and more common for students either graduating from high school or students going back to school to look to the option of distance learning. More courses and degree and certification programs are becoming available online. The benefits of this can be ten-fold; there are a great many accredited schools that offer online courses to supplement a degree program, and there are complete accredited online universities and programs.

Choosing an online school doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Research and write a plan to help you when looking for the online school that’s right for you. Photo courtesy of

When choosing the appropriate online coursework, it is important to look for a program that is designed either to help supplement coursework already being completed, or a program that will fit into one’s daily schedule and give them the education and degree or certification that the student needs to start a career upon completion.

Sometimes there are online schools that are just too good to be true, and avoiding these can be tricky. For more information and what to look for on weeding out scams from the true blue programs, take a look through this article  “School or Scam”.

In my experience, I have considered plenty of online options for continuing my own education, and I have included three of the top points of my own consideration:

  • Career: The first and most important question to ask when searching for an online program or coursework is, “What will this enable me to do after completion?” As in, what career field are you interested in? Take some time and think about the career path you have the most interest in, what it is you would like to see yourself doing for a large portion of your life, and begin there. Once you have figured on that part, you can start researching colleges and programs that will fit your needs and give you a professional certification or degree in that field after you complete all coursework.
  • Costs: Once you start researching schools to attend and complete for the desired degree, you need to think about finances. Ask yourself—even write it all down in a list—what your budget is going to be. This budget should include how much each class or degree program will cost by itself, the cost of books (eBooks, new and used books; check out “Saving Money…” for some great tips in saving money on books and materials) as needed, the cost of taxes, and the cost of what it will take monthly to keep your internet up and running so that you can attend the courses. There are also many grant programs and financial aid available through the school or other services that specialize in that area. The FASFA program is the most common and usable, and information concerning financial aid and grant programs is included in their website: FASFA
  • Time Management: After budgeting out the costs, you need to be realistic when choosing classes, as they are very demanding on time—especially those courses that require a lot of writing, research, or projects. Think about how much time you are able to commit to each course each day. If you work part time, you may be able to take on three to four online courses at one time. If you work full time, it may be best to start out slow with two classes to be sure you don’t end up getting behind. If you plan on being strictly full time in your coursework, it may be easier to manage your time constraints for each class. Plan on giving each course a good two hours a day worth of work; this is a general guideline and can be changed here and there accordingly. If you don’t think you can take something on, then don’t commit to taking it on. For some awesome tips and hints on how to manage time while taking online classes check out this article from US News .

Every student is different, and every student learns and develops skills in different ways and at different paces. There are many great online schools out there, as there are many schools that offer programs online through them. Education is a great experience, as it can never be taken away from you. Working with the above tips, and taking the time to research and plan can be the most beneficial part in choosing your school.

For some more helpful and relevant tips on planning and choosing your online school visit Online Degree Center; this is a helpful article looking at other common factors to consider when looking for the right online program.

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