If you’re interested in pursuing a degree at an online university, you’re in good company. According to the Babson Survey Research Group’s 2014 Survey of Online Learning,
roughly 5.3 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in the fall of 2013.*
But with so many online colleges and online universities to choose from, how do you select the right one? We’ve identified six criteria that can help you narrow down your search and select the very best institution for your personal and career goals.
When it comes to selecting the right institution, the best place to start is accreditation. Accreditation by an independent accreditation organization, such as The Higher Learning Commission, ensures that an institution meets rigorous quality standards and you will receive a high-caliber education.
If you already know what you’d like to major in, make sure the online colleges and online universities you’re considering have strong programs in your area of interest. If you’re still undecided about what you will study, choose an institution with diverse offerings to provide a number of different options.
Once you’ve identified a suitable program at an accredited online university, investigate its curriculum. Many online colleges post all required and elective courses—as well as descriptions of each class—on their websites, making it easier to determine the right program for you.
An institution is only as strong as its technology. From mobile apps to video chatting with instructors and classmates, technologies employed by online colleges and online universities help you learn and stay engaged. Be sure to investigate the technologies used by the institution you’re interested in attending to ensure they meet your needs.
Another important element of choosing the right online college or online university is price. While classes, books, and fees can add up, don’t let the cost of online universities keep you from pursuing your dream. Many institutions offer financial aid, grants, and scholarships for adult learners just as they do for younger students.
Online universities and online colleges often highlight the stories of recent graduates. Explore the websites of your top picks to see what graduates have done with their education. One inspiring story may be enough to help you make your final decision and get started pursuing your dream career.
Ready to start your search for the right online university? Fully accredited and equipped with the latest educational technologies, Walden University offers a wide range of online bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs. Explore how Walden can help you achieve your career goals, at your own pace and on your own schedule.
*Babson Survey Research Group, 2014 Survey of Online Learning - Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, on the Internet at http://onlinelearningconsortium.org/read/survey-reports-2014/ (viewed online May 29, 2015).