The popularity of online colleges and universities has exploded over the past decade, and figures to continue to grow steadily for years to come. Thanks to their easy accessibility, affordable tuition fees, and ever-expanding number of course offerings, online accredited colleges have become the preferred choice for many of this generation’s students.
Best of all, today’s employers view most online degrees in the same light as those earned from a traditional school.
If you’re interested in finding out about the best online schools for a specific field of study, surfing the internet is undoubtedly a great way to conduct research. With so much information available, however, this process can sometimes become a little overwhelming. It is also important to first ask yourself whether or not you are the type of student who succeeds in a distance learning environment.
While the individual freedom and flexibility afforded by online colleges and universities is certainly one of their greatest attractions, studies have shown that not all students are cut out for self-paced, distance learning. Success in the virtual classroom usually comes easiest to students who possess a very specific set of characteristics. Among these common traits are:
- Proficiency with computers and the internet in particular
- Strong reading comprehension and writing skills
- A high level of self-motivation
- Good organizational skills
- An ability to understand and accurately follow directions
Because almost your entire learning experience as an online student will be governed by you and you alone, it is important that you are independent, motivated to succeed, and able to work with a minimum of direct supervision. The five traits mentioned above are indicative of a person who possesses these qualities as well as the technical aptitudes required to pass most accredited online degree programs.
This is not to say, however, that individuals who may be lacking in some of these areas cannot succeed through online colleges and universities. In fact, there are many examples of students who have used their time in a distance learning setting to develop the aforementioned technical and personal skills. If you know that you are someone who procrastinates, has a hard time staying motivated without a direct supervisor, or who struggles with reading, writing and technology, you should be honest with yourself and reconsider whether or not online learning is a good fit for you.
How to Choose Online Colleges and Universities Deciding where to go to school is usually a difficult task, and it is certainly challenging where online institutions are concerned. With that said, it doesn’t have to be a chore to find a college where you’ll be comfortable, successful, and receive the type of training or online degree you want. It’s really just a matter of following a process.
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Have a Specific Goal
Before you even start the process of deciding which online colleges and universities best meet your needs, you’ll have to know what your ultimate educational goal is. What is your intended field of study? Are you interested in earning an associates degree online or a professional certification. Perhaps you’re interested in pursuing a bachelors or masters degree?
These are the types of things you must decide before looking for a school, since finding the right one is entirely subjective to what exactly it is that you want to get out of it.
Find Accredited Programs in Your Field
One of the greatest challenges for any college student is finding a program that offers a high quality education in the specific field that interests them. For general areas of study (e.g. business administration) this can be relatively easy but, for others, it can be more difficult. When adding the online variable into this equation, things can become even further clouded.
For this reason, it is important that any school you consider be accredited by a recognized national governing body, and that any vocational courses be affiliated with a relevant professional organization. This step guarantees that you will get the high-quality education you deserve, and that your degree or certification will be recognized and valued by employers.
Financial Assistance and Job Placement
Finally, two additional things to consider are if an institution provides financial assistance to students who may need it, and if it actively works to place its graduates in jobs. The better schools will offer both of these services to their students, and the same should be true of any online colleges and universities that you are considering enrolling in.