Choosing An Online School
Our mission at The Best Colleges is to help you get the best education possible, whether through a traditional brick-and-mortar college or university, or an online degree program. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paths and determining which one is best for you depends on your particular life situation and learning style. On this page you will find a regularly updated listing of the best accredited online colleges and universities around.
Earning a college degree online requires a significant investment of time, energy, and money. That’s why it’s important to make a thorough investigation of your options before making a decision about which online school is right for you. Online colleges and universities, like their traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts, vary widely in reputation, quality, and value. As you move forward in your journey towards choosing the online school that is right for you, take a look at our ranking of the top online colleges and universities, or some of our online degree program rankings by subject.
In making your decision about which online school is best for you, here are some questions to ask:
Is the school accredited?
An accredited school is one that has been approved by an independent system of accountability and quality control. When checking out online schools, be sure to find out if they are accredited, what kind of accreditation they have, and which agency or agency they are accredited by. The best form of accreditation comes from regional accrediting agencies. Some of the most respected regional accrediting agencies are Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, and Western Association of Schools and Colleges. All of the school’s on our list have been accredited by reputable accrediting agencies and you can find their accreditation information by clicking on the links below.
Does the school have a good reputation?
When you go out on the job market, or start trying to get into graduate school, the reputation of your alma mater will be very important. If an employer or graduate school admissions committee doesn’t recognize the school on your resume, or it has a bad reputation, your chances of getting an interview or being admitted could be jeopardized. Surveying potential employers or graduate programs in your area of interest is one way to find out which schools have a good reputation in your area of interest. Itâ€™s also a good idea to check out an independent ranking of online colleges and universities to get a sense of which online schools are performing the best according to objective criteria.
Is the school honest and transparent in its marketing and recruiting?
Some online schools are more up-front than others about things like tuition costs, fees, accreditation, job placement record, etc. Be wary of schools that make you jump through too many hoops to find these things out. Online schools that are confident in their quality and their value will be forthcoming about these things because they recognize that they are selling points for their program and want prospective students to make an informed decision.
Does the school have a good track record?
Nothing tells you more about the quality and value of an online college or university than a history of retaining, graduating, and placing students in good jobs or quality graduate programs. That’s why graduation and retention rates are weighted so heavily in our ranking of the top online colleges and universities. If a large percentage of students aren’t graduating or are dropping out or transferring after the first year, be skeptical. Perhaps the school just happens to enroll a lot of really bad or hard to please students. It’s more likely, though, that the school or the program is low-quality and/or isn’t investing what it should in helping students succeed and graduate.