Once you have decided to pursue higher education online, your next step is to choose a school. Today, the marketplace is filled with a wide variety of colleges and universities offering online degree programs. But before you register, you may want to do some research. For many, selecting an accredited program from a traditional school is critical for earning their desired degree.
By choosing a traditional or “real school”, you are able to get the high-quality education that was developed and cultivated on college campuses across the nation. The courses offered online from these schools teach students the identical material being taught in on-campus classrooms and labs. As opposed to degrees from for-profit institutions that were created in the recent years, the degree will come from a respected and recognized institution with a rich history and tradition of educating students.
- When researching online schools, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What training and credentials do the online instructors have?
- How does the online curriculum compare with what is taught on campus?
- Do the professors have experience teaching online?
- Does the online college offer a degree recognized by your profession?
- Will you be proud of the degree you earn and the alumni who share your school?
At a “real school,” the same distinguished faculty that teaches on campus is involved in the instruction of online courses. Most of the faculty members have traditional academic credentials, such as a doctorate or other advanced degree. These knowledgeable professors and instructors are skilled teachers, both in the classroom and online. In addition to teaching, many faculty members at “real schools” are involved in research and writing projects, adding to the institution’s involvement in the academic community. Finally, many of the established schools and program have a formal, written faculty peer review process, which help keep faculty members accountable to both their students and to one another.
The online classes often mirror the on-campus offerings, with parallel syllabi and equal work required from students. Professors at “real schools” promote and encourage student participation in classes and allow them opportunities to regularly interact with other students. The professors hold office hours, are responsive to emails and phone calls, and regularly assess student work and progress throughout the course, just as they would for students taking classes on campus.
When working toward a degree at a “real school,” students have the benefit of access to on-campus student services, such as career placement, use of university facilities, career resource centers, and active alumni networking opportunities.
In a recent study conducted by US News and World Report, findings reported that for-profit schools are among the schools with the highest enrollments in online programs. However, not one of these for-profit institutions received high marks for the education they delivered. In contrast, schools with established on-campus programs and online courses received high marks across all categories.
As you evaluate the pros and cons of different colleges and universities, keep in mind that an online degree from a traditional school may be just what you are looking for. This diploma offers you a solid education from a reputable school entrenched in tradition and active in the academic community, while providing the convenience and flexibility of online learning.