Online Education: 5 Questions to Ask Your Admissions Rep: By Treva Macy, Ed.D. (Re-Print)
Today, it is possible to earn from an associate’s degree to a doctoral degree without ever stepping foot on a college campus. Online education has evolved for most colleges and universities across the country and students benefit. But, not all online universities and programs are the same.
Here are some important questions you should ask your admissions representative before you pay your application fee regardless if you are seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree.
1) Is this school a regionally accredited university or college?
Regional accrediting bodies are recognized by the Council for Higher education (CHEA). If your intended school is not regionally accredited, you may want to reconsider. If you should ever decide to transfer to a school that is accredited by a regional accrediting body, your hard earned credits will not transfer. You will essentially have to start your degree from scratch.
For example, there are online (and on campus) schools that offer Associate and Bachelor’s degrees that are not regionally accredited and students can receive federal financial aid for attending non-accredited institutions. When those students later decide to work on an advanced degree from a regionally accredited university, they are told that the degree earned from a non-accredited institution are not recognized. It is a heartbreaking situation when a student realizes that they have paid thousands of dollars for a credential that is not academically recognized beyond the institution that awarded the degree.
Having your degree from a regionally accredited program really does matter. Degrees and credits earned at a regionally accredited university or college will follow you and be recognized at any other accredited institution you choose to attend.
2) Is the program you wish to study a nationally recognized and ranked program?
There are certain universities across the country that have earned national recognition for the quality of their online degree program(s). Earning your degree from a university that is recognized for the program of study you are pursuing may impact your future career. Some employers prefer candidates with a degree from certain universities because they know that graduates from those programs are highly qualified, skilled individuals.
3) What support services are available to you as an online student?
It is not enough to offer a program online. Online students need to have resources available 24/7 that will help them be successful. In addition to support resources, having a dedicated staff member to assist online students navigate university policies as well as the degree program, are key elements to the success of online students.
The university you earn your degree from should be committed to your academic success.
4) Are classes Synchronous or Asynchronous?
Some online programs are synchronous. Those institutions expect students to all be online at a certain time together to participate in chats or other projects. These programs are generally more rigid and offer less flexibility for students.
Some online programs are asynchronous and use discussion boards where comments are posted by individual students at various times but every student is expected to participate, but not necessarily at the same time. These type of programs are generally more flexibility for students to complete their course requirements on their schedule and still allow time for work and family commitments.
5) Does the online program offer co-ops or internships or research opportunities with faculty?
Co-ops, internships, and research with faculty members are all wonderful academic opportunities that should be afforded to students…even online students. Find out if the university you are considering provide these opportunities for their online students.
Quality online programs offer these opportunities and more, for students. Opportunities to work with faculty on research projects and conference presentations are of great benefit to students. These types of opportunities enhance the overall educational experience. Just because a student is online, does not mean that they should be excluded from having these resume building opportunities as well.
Education is more than just an investment of money. You are investing your time, your dreams, and your future. Get the most return possible on your investment by choosing your online university and program of study wisely.
To learn more about Dr.Treva Macy click here.