How To Navigate the Search for an Online Degree
- Make Calls
- Talk With Former Students
- Look Into Professors’ Credentials
- Find Previous Course Syllabi
- Embrace the Research
With millions of distance-based learners, the question of how to be successful when seeking an online degree is slowly becoming extremely common. After all, finding a good program is easily one of the most important parts of someone’s academic career. So, what are a few useful strategies that will make the search more successful?
1. Make Calls
In an era where physical communication is slowly being eradicated, Millenials have developed a tendency to prioritize computer-based research over actual conversations. The greatest example of this is the fact that many prospective applicants seldom get in touch with the school where they want to apply. Instead, they use the internet to learn about the application process, read reviews, and similar. What they do not do, however, is call the school to get in touch with a representative. As a consequence, they often overlook the red flags of long response times or lack of accessibility.
2. Talk With Former Students
Although reading the reviews is going to make one more successful when seeking an online degree, it is not the most optimal approach. Instead, students also need to get in touch with the alumni and hear about their personal experience. Since most successful degrees will have a solid track record, finding former students should not be too difficult. If it is, simply contacting the school and asking to speak to someone who has personal experience with the program may be a good starting point. The school will usually respond by referring the caller to one of their alumni associations.
3. Look Into Professors’ Credentials
Getting a degree that lacks credibility is futile. According to U.S. News & World Report, for instance, only 1,400 out of nearly 4,300 qualified institutions of post-secondary education get ranked. That means that there is a very good chance that someone will eventually run into a program that is not worth their time. One of the easiest and most efficient ways to determine the quality level is to look into the professors’ credentials. The reason why is the fact that highly qualified educators cost a lot. Schools that can afford them are usually successful.
4. Find Previous Course Syllabi
Out of all the strategies on this list, finding the course syllabi from one of the recent semesters is probably the hardest one. A lot of schools do not publish such paperwork online. Fortunately, the laws of public disclosure and public access to information mandate all post-secondary institutions to make certain documents easily accessible. That means that even those schools where the course syllabi may not exist online will still have to present it in some other way. Given how a syllabus showcases everything from learning objectives to a detailed schedule, students can use it to determine if the online program is indeed a good fit for them.
5. Embrace the Research
Finally, there is probably nothing more important than embracing the long, tedious, and tiring research. Students who want to be successful when seeking an online degree should look into at least a dozen different alternatives. In other words, they can expect to spend anywhere from 20 to 60 hours of in-depth research. The hours usually increase as the degree level goes higher. Even though it may not be an extremely exciting part of the process, looking into multiple alternatives will maximize the likelihood of finding an excellent program.
Related Resource: The 50 Most Affordable Colleges with the Best Return
The ideal approach would be to take advantage of all five of the strategies mentioned here. Although it is not guaranteed that the student will be successful with their online degree search, doing so will help them avoid many common pitfalls.