If two accredited schools offer the same online program or course, how do I choose?

Look carefully through the campus website. Can you access all the student services you may need online such as academic advising, library and bookstore services, technical and tutoring services or do you have to go to campus for these services? Are the services available at a time that will work with your schedule? What are the technical requirements for online courses and does your computer system meet them? For example, do courses use a lot of streaming media that requires broadband access?

Is the content on the campus site up to date, consistent and informative? Is it easy to find what you are looking for and to find out who and how to contact the staff when it isn’t? Are communication standards posted so you know when to expect a reply?

In selecting a program, are all courses taught online or do some have an on-campus component? How long has the online program been in existence? Can you transfer credits into the program you have earned elsewhere? Where are former students employed? Make a list of questions and send them to the contact for each program you are interested in and then compare the responses.

In selecting a class, what are the instructor’s credentials? What is her field of study and experience teaching at this and other institutions? Is she experienced in teaching online courses which requires doing things differently than in the face to face classroom?

What do former students say about their experiences in a particular program or a certain class—information you may find provided by the campus on the site or you may want to look at one of the many comparison websites to learn more about the institution or the instructor. Adult students can compare some institutions and programs at College Choices for Adults.

Online Learning for Students and Parents