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6 questions to ask when researching online courses

Written by Ashworth College on Wednesday, 18 April 2018. Posted in Online College

6 questions to ask when researching online courses

You’re currently balancing job, family, kids, taking care of parents, and the loving care and feeding of one dog, two cats, and a goldfish. But for all that, you’ve decided to consider online courses to take that next big life step.

First of all, kudos! Not everyone has your drive. That glint of determination in your eye inspires us. Employers are also taking notice of people like you in a big way. According to a 2013 survey, many employers believe that getting an online degree requires the same or even more discipline than a traditional degree.

Based on our experience helping tens of thousands of students earn online college degrees, career diplomas, and career certificates, here are the six most important questions to consider as you research online courses. Above all, choose an online course that fits your life and your goals.

1. Does the school offer the online courses I’m interested in pursuing and the right staff and experts to make it useful in the real world?

Compare and contrast the program of study you want across several online schools. Look to see how many and what type of courses are offered in the areas you want to pursue.

Browsing faculty listings is a great way to find out what sort of expertise they bring to a program. Are the online faculty credentialed in the specialty area they teach? Most important, do they have real-world experience?

2. Will the online courses I’ll take be backed up by an approach to learning that will help me succeed?

Even the most committed student needs help. Creating time to focus on school in addition to other commitments is challenging. Where will you find the time?

Look for an online school that allows you to customize your studies in a way that fits your life.  For example, many Ashworth College students already work full-time and have family and outside commitments. They love that there are no pre-scheduled classes or exams, no group projects, and no due dates.

If you have a complicated schedule, make sure the online courses you select allow you to fit your learning around your life--not the other way around.

It's not asking too much to have access to teachers and staff that want to support you on this journey. Ask admissions how the school you’re considering helps students with busy lives succeed.

3. What are the costs involved?

Don’t borrow thousands of dollars from your future self. Online courses make degrees accessible and affordable to more people. One of the reasons many people choose online colleges is to avoid the financial debt often incurred with traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Ask about hidden costs, such as “Do I have to pay extra for books or supplies? What sort of software or equipment is needed for me to complete my program? Does the online school help with internships?"

Bonus tip: Go beyond just money when considering costs, however, and ask yourself how much time you can afford to devote to your program, how much academic help is available to you, and is the program flexible enough to meet your needs.

4. Will an employer recognize my degree?

A growing economy and low unemployment are encouraging employers across the spectrum of industries to take a serious look at online certificate and degree earners. Small business owners create a lot of jobs. They are looking for people with the ability to juggle family, job, and other life demands.

Earning things such as a career certificate is increasingly seen as a bonus. Ask your boss or someone you know that’s in a hiring position what they think. Would they promote someone who showed up with a completed certificate for high-demand skills?

5. Is this school nationally accredited?

There are quite a few accrediting entities for online colleges and universities in the United States. Accreditation ensures quality. Don’t consider a school that isn’t nationally accredited because you may not get the quality you expect or deserve.

Ashworth College is a nationally-accredited online college. All of our career diploma, certificate, and degree programs are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

6. Am I the right sort of student for online courses?

This is the most important question of all because only you know the answer. The fact that you are here reading this blog means the inner desire and drive is already present. But to be ready to press into larger life goals and work past doubts and barriers requires an extra push.

  • Do you want to improve your life by growing in a job and earning more money?
  • Are you tired of focusing on "Why I can't," and ready instead to focus on "Why I can!"?
  • Do you believe that your past does not have to determine your future?

Yes? Okay, get started!  Whether you’re just starting out or pursuing your next career goal, flexible, affordable career educations out there. There are approximately 5.8 million students nationally taking online courses. And every one of them is unique in their reasons for doing so.

They’re doing it. You can, too.

About the Author

Ashworth College

Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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