How to Choose a Good Distance Learning College
Distance learning colleges vary significantly in their approach to delivering online programs.
Before committing to any program with a distance learning college, be sure to use this checklist of questions to get to the truth about their online programs.
After all, this is about your future and the many hours you plan to invest in bettering yourself, so it's important to be thorough in your investigation of different distance learning colleges.
- Is the School Accredited?This is the single most important question to ask. There are six regional accrediting agencies that complete a thorough evaluation of the quality of education delivered at each college or university. If one of the colleges is not accredited, check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education to determine whether they might be receiving accreditation soon.
- How many years has the school been offering courses online? For any college or university to offer online classes, there is a natural trial-and-error process involved. The longer the school has been offering online classes, the greater confidence you can have that the technical and logistical challenges of putting a class online have already been worked out.
- What's the instructor-to-student ratio in the program you are interested in? Keeping this ratio within the 1 to 10 ratio is best for online learning, especially if you are interested in getting a graduate degree online. When this ratio gets over 30, there is little, if any, time for the instructor to spend developing and in-depth relationship with individual students. For many programs, a 1 to 20 ratio is average and allows time for instructors to work with students individually. Many distance learning colleges strive for this goal.
- What is the refund policy in the event that you have to drop a class?Schedules change quickly, and if you are working full time and are a parent, your time is already tight. If your job workload increases or requires travel, it may not be possible for you to finish an online class. Get to the bottom of the refund policy before you sign up for any online education program.
All distance learning colleges are not created equal. However, there are plenty of accredited distance learning colleges that meet all of the above criteria and are worth considering for your distance education program. You can view a variety of degree programs and request free information from each online school. Then, compare the program offerings and costs to help you make a better decision about which online college is right for you.
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