It’s never been easier to earn your college degree online. With easy transfer credits, flexibility for class schedules, and plenty of student support, online learning is a great option for many non-traditional students. However, like any traditional college, where you go matters. College, online or on campus, is a big investment in your future, and you want to make sure you take the time to find the right school for you.
Below, we offer a few tips on how to find the online degree program for you:
Only Accept Accreditation
An online degree involves the same academic rigor and hard work as an on-campus degree, so you shouldn’t accept anything less than a fully accredited degree program. You’ll want to make sure that an independent entity, like the Higher Learning Commission, has accredited the program you are interested in before you apply, and that they are authorized for operation in their given state.
Accreditation ensures not only that your degree will retain its value after graduation, but that your school is eligible for federal government recognition. This makes the school’s students eligible for a variety of financial aid assistance, like grants, scholarships, and federal loans, that are unavailable at non-accredited institutions.
As a non-traditional student, you already know a thing or two about work-life balance and keeping commitments. That said, everyone needs a little help sometimes, and a good online degree program will offer student support to help their students graduate on schedule and in good standing. At Antioch, our caring faculty, student services staff, and admissions advisors are here to help our students succeed at the highest levels. Whether you’re looking for help with writing, full online library services, or 24/7 technical assistance, we have what you need.
Be an Equal
No matter what your needs, you want an online degree program that treats you as a full equal to your on-campus peers. Antioch’s online community is as valued as the communities at any of our on-campus programs, and if you’re local, you’re invited to participate in all of our on-campus activities. Talk to admissions officers, current students, and alumni to get an idea of how integrated online learners feel with the school, and decide what level of participation you’d be most comfortable with for your own experience.
Find Your Fit
Just like there are many different types of traditional universities, online programs are each a little different and have their own style of learning. As a nontraditional student, you may be especially drawn to Antioch University’s unique “no grades” policy, which can resonate powerfully with students who have work experience already and share the view that true learning is about more than just memorization and scores. In place of letter grades, Antioch faculty provide all students with a written narrative evaluation. This more closely mirrors a workplace evaluation and allows students to gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement.
Do Your Research
More than anything else, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. Spend time online researching your institution to ensure that it’s legitimate. For the best results, you’ll want to read the school’s own website thoroughly and search for reviews from people who have already attended. Don’t be afraid to ask the admissions office if there are current students or alumni who you can talk to about the program.
Look for programs that are managed by universities you’ve already heard of and that have strong reputations for their in-person degrees. Google the faculty in the program you’re looking for to make sure their research interests align with your own. You can also contact professionals in your field, like your boss, an HR officer, or someone whose career you admire, and ask them what they’ve heard about your program and whether it will help you achieve your dreams. Although it can be intimidating at first, by following the guidelines above and digging into your research, you’ll have no trouble deciding which school is the right fit for you.