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.
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) atfafsa.ed.gov.
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.
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?
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