Top 4 Things to Ask When Considering an Online Program

The number of online degree programs is overwhelming, and it can be tough to figure out which program fits your needs. We met with Vivian Jones, M.Ed., Academic Advisor and Program 60 Coordinator to get her recommendation on the top 4 things to consider when selecting an online program.

1. What goals are you trying to achieve? And how will this online program help you achieve them?

I usually tell prospective students that, “You want to be part of a program where you feel inspired by your peers and professors.” There could be two programs that seem very similar but think about the people in the program. They will be the ones guiding you through the coursework, teaching from their experiences, and ultimately, helping you achieve your goal.

2. Accreditation Matters

Picture this: you’ve graduated from that online degree program you’ve exhausted time, money and resources on. You’re applying for your dream job because this degree gave you a competitive edge. Then, you find out your online degree program is not accredited and your dream job won’t accept your application.

Accredited schools have been audited by accrediting agencies to ensure that the education provided by the institution and/or program meets acceptable levels of quality.  There are three different types of accreditation at the national, regional and the state level.

Through this accreditation site, you’ll be able to search for online program/institution accreditation.

3. Program Costs

This is always a tough topic, I never want my students to defer a dream because of cost. There are lots of different options to cover the cost of tuition like grants, scholarships and federal aid. Your workplace may even offer tuition reimbursement. I recommend knowing the total cost of your degree or certificate program before seeking help from private loans so you don’t take out more than you need to. Ohio State has created a cost to credential tool for online programs. 

4. Know Yourself

You can go through the process of vetting the perfect online degree program but make sure you check in with yourself as well. Is the timing right? You may have hit a point in your career where earning an extra degree or credential would give you a competitive edge in the job market. Remember that an online degree program is time-consuming. How are you going to manage a work/school/life balance? An online classroom setting is different from attending class in person. There is a lot of self-discipline involved, there is no one to check in on you or ask why you haven’t been to class.

Are you ready to start your online program? Check out Ohio State’s online readiness tool. This tool will help you discover if you have the skillset to be successful in an online classroom. 

Download your free online student readiness assessment