How to pick the perfect online school

There are many benefits of taking classes online, but students should research the institution before enrolling in a web-based program.
There are many benefits of taking classes online, but students should research the institution before enrolling in a web-based program.

According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, many students are opting to take classes online. In the fall 2009 semester, for example, about 5.6 million people were taking at least one web-based course. This marked a 21 percent increase from the previous year, compared to a 2 percent growth in overall higher learning.

Still, while many students are deciding to take a few online courses, others are deciding to earn their entire degree over the internet. This can be a very convenient way to earn a degree, as individuals can typically complete their coursework on their own schedules and from their homes. However, there are a few things people should keep in mind when searching for the right online school.

Before enrolling in a cyber university, students should carefully research the institution's accreditation. If a school is accredited, it will show that it has a solid reputation in the world of higher learning and may set it apart from other institutions. However, there are many different accrediting agencies, so students may want to research the standards of those that have approved their prospective schools. Additionally, it may be helpful to ask possible future employers if they have any accreditation requirements for employees' degrees.

Also, students may want to research the way in which the school's classes work. For example, there are two main types of online courses: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous classes require all students to interact at the same time, meaning that individuals must go online based on a professor's schedule. While this may enhance class participation, it does not provide the flexibility of asynchronous classes. These courses allow students to complete their work on their schedules, without having to go online at any certain time.

As with a campus-based college or university, students should also consider factors such as course offerings, class sizes, price and financial aid.

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