How many times have you found yourself taping a checklist to the door of the refrigerator so that you will not forget that all-important chore? A checklist is just a mnemonic that aids us when human fallacies like forgetfulness take over our normally efficient brain. Such a list will also come in handy when you decide to enroll for an online degree, the only difference being that this particular sheet of paper should be chockfull of questions that you should get satisfactory answers to before making your school and degree choice. I can almost read the question in your mind now, what questions should this list incorporate? The following suggestions are not exhaustive, but they should give you a good starting point, after which you can tailor your questions to the institutions and degrees you narrow down.
- Find out if the institution is accredited. If it is in the process of being reviewed for accreditation, ensure that the process will be complete before you enroll.
- Calculate your expenses for the entire study period taking into account your tuition fees, the scholarships and federal loans you may be eligible for, the cost of your books, and any other costs you may incur. Be sure to check for hidden and additional costs thoroughly before you commit yourself to signing up.
- Obtain details about the instructors who will be handling your online classes. If possible, get firsthand information on their teaching methods and skills from alumni of the course. Also enquire about the number of students that constitutes a class; you don’t want to be one in a crowd.
- Get adequate information about your hardware and software requisites before enrolling for a particular course.
- The size and history of the school do matter, because, all said and done, a school that’s been around a longer time has more experience to offer. So do some probing to find out the strength of the college and how many graduates it has produced.
- Make of list of phone numbers and email ids of people you can approach for academic or administrative aid. Most important, find out when they will be available for guidance; you don’t want to be interrupting their personal life just because your degree is flexible.
- Though most schools promise an expedited graduation process, go through your course requirements thoroughly, assess the pace at which you can complete the work, and estimate the time you will need to complete the course. Allow enough latitude for unexpected contingencies and unavoidable delays.