Picking the Best Program for You
There are likely to be dozens of reputable, quality online schools out there with the program you’re looking for. How can you choose the best online degree program for your personal goals and needs?
- Program Structure: As stated in our article about online learning methods, not all online programs are created equally. Particular schools may follow different structures, from hybrid programs to asynchronous courses. Consider carefully which type of course work meets your own learning needs or desires. For example, if keeping the most flexibility in your schedule is your most important learning need, then an asynchronous program is more likely to work best for you. On the other hand, if you learn through hands-on work, or need more structure in your life to meet your obligations, then a hybrid program might be a better fit.
- Time Management Skills: You should consider your personal time management skills as well, when selecting which online learning format you would like to pursue. If procrastination is something you struggle with, then courses with more structure might help you stay on track with the material and your academic requirements. However, if you’re great at scheduling and are very excited about your program, it may be easier to fit school around your other life obligations with an asynchronous program.
- State Requirements: Some professions, such as teaching or working in a healthcare field, require state licensure, and consequently, a degree that is recognized by that state’s licensure board. If you’re pursuing one of these careers, you’ll need to attend an online program that is recognized by that particular state’s licensing board, otherwise your degree won’t prepare you for employment in that state.
- Course Availability: Some online programs offer required courses very frequently, such as every semester, or more than once a year. Having more opportunities to complete a course will give you more flexibility in the overall trajectory of your degree program. If a class is offered less frequently, you will need to be more careful about planning your class schedule and staying on track, if you want to complete your degree by a certain date.
- Class Size: Just because a program is online, that doesn’t mean a professor can handle hundreds of students. Professors in online programs still have to grade assignments, help students, and respond to questions. Choosing a program with a small class size can help ensure that you get the personal attention you need, even if you’re learning via the web.
- In-Person Requirements: How do the school’s in-person requirements match with what you’d like in a program? Some people like the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their peers, while others don’t have the time or money to travel to their school’s campus. (ed.gov)