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Making An Informed Decision

  1. Regional Accreditation: Accreditation is very important because it ensures that an institution meets or exceeds an established set of educational standards. As a result, courses from an accredited university are transferable to other colleges, and degrees from an accredited university are more likely to be valued by both current and future employers. Not all accreditation is the same! Beware of accreditation claims. Many questionable “accrediting agencies” exist. Look for the words “Regionally Accredited,” as regional accreditation is approved by the United States Department of Education.
  2. Financial Aid: Investigate your financial aid options. You may be pleasantly surprised by the financial aid, the loans, and the scholarships available to you. In addition, many colleges and universities offer tuition installment plans which help make college more affordable. Ask about such programs. You can get started today by filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.ed.gov.
  3. Degree Programs: Be sure that the colleges and the degree program(s) you are considering “fit” with your long range educational plans. For example, if you are thinking about enrolling in an online associate program and later hope to earn a bachelor’s degree (online or on campus), find out how likely it is that your associate degree coursework count toward your bachelor’s degree.
  4. Student Resources: Does the school you’re considering have a student services office dedicated to assisting prospective and current students? Are research materials easily accessible? Is there a career services center? Tutoring? Technology support? All of these things are essential to your success! Also, if these things are available, how easily accessible are they? 
  5. Flexibility: Occasionally, a student wants to take a class but finds it impossible due to scheduling conflicts.  Education has made great strides in the past few years to ensure flexible scheduling options.  Compare the flexibility you need for your lifestyle with the flexibility offered by schools you are considering.
    • Look for opportunities for accelerated education, completion, flex-paced
    • Look for a program that has an alternate online path or can be completed entirely online - this will provide you with additional flexibility along the way.
    • Examine individual coursework options. These may include: 
      • Self-paced, flex-pace or on-demand options, which allow flexibility with completion times, be it at an accelerated pace or extended beyond a semester
      • Online courses that run a typical semester schedule, but allow coursework to be done at flexible hours
      • Evening/Weekend course offerings
      • Alternative session dates and locations

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 Last Modified 3/14/18