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15 Questions To Ask Before Enrolling In An Online University

Doing your homework before you enroll can make your educational experience more valuable, saving you disappointment and dollars.

December 22, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

11. What Is the Quality of the Curriculum?

You want to see a strong variety of courses in your given field. Can you specialize in different aspects of your field of study? Do some research and find out.

12. Do I Have to Partner With Other Students on Class Projects?

Hell is other people. This is especially true when your grade depends on people who don't care as much about your grade as you do. Just about every college graduate has had the experience of getting partnered with a slacker. In an online education program, you may get partnered with someone five time zones away, who may or may not be a slacker. Avoid partners, if at all possible.

13. Who Can Proctor Your Exams?

Some online education programs require exams to be proctored. This prevents cheating, and it gives the student someone to ask questions about the test. Find out who is eligible to proctor your exams. Will you have to pay for proctoring? If so, how much? How often?

14. Is the University's Software User-Friendly?

Just about everyone who has ever earned a college degree can tell you horror stories of professors who didn't speak English. The online equivalent of this is educational software that's difficult to use. Ask if you can try it out. You're going to be living with it for the next four years or more so make sure you can live with it.

15. Does the School Offer Tech Support?

You are taking your courses online. That means that sometimes your computer will figuratively stick its tongue out at you and say, "Not today, chump." Like computers are prone to do. When that happens and you've got a paper due in the next hour, you're going to need help. Look for a school that has 24-hour tech support. "We have the best technical support people," says Franzi Walsh, associate dean of criminal justice for the University of Phoenix. "They are very supportive, and it's nice to call them."

Online Degree Programs:

American Military University

Bellevue University

Bethel University College of Criminal Justice

California Coast University

California University of Pennsylvania

Columbia Southern University

DeSales University

Drexel University Online

Henley-Putnam University

Jones International University

Keiser University

PACE University

Nova Southeastern University

University of Maryland University College

University of Phoenix

Waldorf College

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Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Steve Rothstein @ 12/30/2011 6:00 PM

Recognizing the limitations of this type of article, most officers need a better explanation of accreditation than was given.

And one question that was forgotten but is very important:

Will my department recognize the degree? If your agency pays education incentives, ask your HR department if this degree will qualify. If it is a properly accredited degree, it usually will, but make sure.

A minor question that can be considered is if the school also offers brick and mortar classes or if it is just online. I like Midwestern State University because it offers an online Criminal Justice degree but it is also a regular Texas public university with a real campus in Wichita Falls.

BJW @ 12/30/2011 7:09 PM

The point about accreditation is misleading and hypocritical.

First, it leads the reader to believe that "nationally accredited" and "diploma mill" mean the same thing. NOT TRUE. National accreditation is quite real and nationally accredited degrees are accepted by many agencies and companies including federal government and military. The wrinkle is that many if not most regionally accredited (RA) schools do not accept nationally accredited (NA) units or degrees. Which is their privilege, even though short-sighted.

Short version - if you ever want to teach at a RA school, or if your department specifically states they only recognize RA schools - then go to a RA school. Otherwise, nationally accredited schools ARE accredited, provided the accreditation board is recognized by the Dept. of Education.

The hypocrisy? While the article beats up NA schools and mistakenly lumps them as "diploma mills," POLICE magazine certainly has no problem in taking advertising money from NA schools - in fact, the issue in which this story appears has several, one of them immediately following the story!

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