Questions To Ask Yourself When Selecting An Online College

Published on: May 23, 2023

Online degree programs have opened up a new world of possibilities for students unable to attend traditional colleges. However, just as there are good and bad brick-and-mortar colleges, there are also online institutions that are better than others. While some institutions put a lot of time and effort into offering quality online degrees, there are a few with degree programs that were put together with much less care. Therefore, students who know what they want to study but still need to decide where they want to complete their degree should consider the following factors before making a choice.

Does the Course Schedule Meet Your Needs?

One of the most common reasons why students opt for an online degree instead of a traditional university is because of their schedules. Some students have part-time or even full-time jobs that make it impossible to attend classes daily. Others have family obligations that make it difficult for them to follow a rigid studying schedule. In these cases, looking for an online college that offers student-centric scheduling is better. These include being able to choose from multiple starting dates for the courses as well as the ability to set your own pace for the classes. 

Does the Curriculum Meet The Necessary Standards?

It is essential to know what degree you want to complete, but you also have to ensure that the courses offered by an online college meet the necessary standards. One of the best ways to verify this is if the online college itself is regionally accredited and if the individual programs are also accredited. In addition, other factors can set some online colleges apart from the rest. For example, look for colleges that list their faculty members along with the type of professional experience they have and the reputation that the college has for producing workforce-ready graduates. Online colleges that use case studies and industry tools as part of their content also are more useful for students. 

Does The Degree Program Include Relevant Certifications?

Specific fields like information technology require students to have particular certifications before finding employment. Therefore, before enrolling in an online degree program, ensure that it includes the required certificate. If not, the program should prepare you for licensure so that you can do so after completing your degree. 

Does the Faculty Offer The Type Of Assistance That You Need?

A faculty with extensive professional experience is good but only helpful if they are approachable. If you are a student who excels at studying independently, then self-paced courses are good, but most students benefit more from instructor-led degrees. With instructor-led classes, the faculty members are often available at all times to offer students additional support beyond the virtual classrooms. This allows students to get quality mentoring along with practical advice when studying online, which can be invaluable. 

Does The Learning Environment Meet Or Exceed The Standards of A Traditional College?

An online degree can be equal to a traditional degree, and the same should go for the online learning experience. When studying at a traditional college, students typically have access to a lot of help and resources. A good online college will offer students the same opportunities to get in touch with the faculty and advisors and their peers. This allows students to get much-needed support and build connections that can help them beyond simply getting a degree.

Is The Online Institution Transparent About Their Fees?

Getting your degree online can be more affordable than doing it traditionally, but this might not always be the case. When choosing where to study, make sure that they are upfront and transparent about all the fees so that you are not left with any nasty surprises midway through your studies. Ensure that all information bout the cost per credit hour and required credit hours are readily available and that any additional fees are mentioned upfront instead of being buried in the fine print. Some online colleges also offer other financial support, such as financial aid or scholarship opportunities.   

How Easy Is The Enrollment Process?

As with the fees, the enrollment process of an online college should be straightforward. All the application requirements should be easy to find, along with any relevant contact information needed for support. In addition, the college should be able to provide support for actions such as transferring credits and registering for courses. It is also important to establish beforehand whether the college is transfer credit friendly and how many credit hours they will accept towards a degree. This can be very beneficial for students who want to complete their degrees faster without redoing courses they might have already completed. 


Not all online colleges are the same, but unfortunately, the bad ones usually make the headlines. Knowing what to look for and avoiding the ones that fall short of expectations helps to make your studying experience safer and more enjoyable.

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