Online learning is still a relatively new means to obtain an education. Many people wonder if online schools are legitimate and if the quality of the training is equal to a ‘regular’ school. Although it’s a very convenient way to learn, online learning isn’t for everyone. It’s important that you determine if online learning is for you and that you find the right school.
Potential students typically want to know the usual: tuition cost, timeline, student support, etc. Here are some additional questions that you should ask to ensure you get the most for your money:
Is the school accredited?
Why should you care whether or not a school has an accreditation? Accredited schools are responsible for establishing high education standards. Thus, there are very strict guidelines by their governing bodies that schools need to follow to ensure they are operating up to standard.
Some areas that are audited include enrollment numbers, graduate success rates, complaints, financial viability, employment rates, staff training… and much more.
If you plan on applying for financial aid, you’ll need to make sure you are enrolling with an accredited school; if a school is not accredited, most funders will not provide financial aid. Moreover, some employers will not hire someone with a certificate from a school that is not accredited. Enrolling with an accredited school will ensure you are receiving a quality education.
How many graduates has this school produced in this particular program?
Ensure you find out how many students enroll in a program AND how many of those students successfully graduate. There are many schools that enroll hundreds of students, but only a small percentage actually complete the course. Attrition rates should be lower than graduate rates. If not, ask yourself why. Which school would you rather attend?
School A enrolls 100 students but only 25 graduate. Of those 25, 20 find employment. Only 20% of their students gain employment, but the school may advertise that 80% of their graduates find employment.
School B enrolls 100 students and 75 graduate. Of those 75 graduates, 65 find employment. 65% of their students gain employment. This school could advertise their graduate employment rate as 87%.
Do you see the difference? Which school would you want to enroll with? My choice would clearly be School B.
May I speak to some of your graduates?
If you’re considering purchasing a car, you’re probably going to spend some time reading consumer reviews before you drive off the lot. It’s also important to read graduate reviews when choosing a school that’s right for you. Many schools provide graduate testimonials on their websites but it’s also a good idea to reach out to a graduate directly. Speaking to graduates should provide an unbiased outlook on their online learning experience and will give you an authentic insight into the school, helping you better determine if it’s the right for you.
Do you offer support after completing the course?
Schools that offer continued support to their graduates are willing to go that extra mile. You’ll want to look for schools that offer unlimited graduate support – just ensure you are clear on what this includes. Ongoing graduate support makes it convenient to approach an experienced student advisor who can quickly walk you through that Microsoft Excel function or that Microsoft Word feature you want to use again. Some schools even offer job placement assistance, ensuring their graduates are ready to embark on a successful career.
It’s important to make an informed decision when choosing an online school that works best for you. We encourage you to contact our Admissions Representatives and ask them the questions listed above! Our Distance LearningAssessment is a great tool to identify whether or not online training is right for you.