How to Choose an Online University

We’ve all heard about the for-profit university industry problems: graduation rates; the ”helping” of students with financial aid; poor instruction; accreditation; transferability of credits etc…  All in all, some online universities are better than others.  When you are pot-committed, the unversity makes more money from you if you fail a class and then have to retake it. Do some online universities want you to fail? Do some online unversities deliberately design courses that “help” you fail?

With that being said, we thought we’d put together some useful tips on how to choose an online university:

Before paying a penny, read the policies carefully:

  1. Is the university accredited?
  2. Do credits tranfer to other institutions?
  3. If you are completing a vocational degree, will the industry accept your degree?(i.e., you can take an online law degree but will you be able to get your license to practice?)
  4. What are the refund policies? Know what the last day to drop your course for a full refund is? Do not enroll unless you are certain you can get your money back.
  5. What are the guidelines for grade disputes? It is our belief that some online universities deliberately make dispute resolution almost impossible – so that they do not have to refund you.

After paying for a class:

  1. Immediately go to the course pages and look around. Is it easy to navigate?
  2. Read the syllabus and again navigate the course pages to see if materials, discussion forums, assignments, and exams are easy to find.
  3. Is the structure and content user-friendly?  Is it absolutely clear when assignment 3 or exam 2 is due? How/where do you submit completed work?
  4. Read your professor’s/instructor’s bio.  Where is that person from? Where did he/she receive his/her education? Does he/she have a terminal degree? What about work experience?
  5. Send the instructor an email and ask a question!  If you don’t receive a timely response that answers your question, then chances are the instructor will not be helpful should a problem arise during the course.

Consider dropping the course and choosing another online unversity if you are not confident after having followed these tips!


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