Comparing online colleges can be a challenge. You may know the type of program you’re looking for, but narrowing your list of potential programs can be difficult. The five considerations below can help you compare online colleges based on what each school offers.  Make a list of possible schools and see how they measure up before enrolling in a virtual program. Accreditation is the most important factor to consider when comparing online colleges. You may have an easier time finding jobs, transferring your credits to other schools, and using your degree to apply for graduate programs in case you attend a school with regional accreditation. Online schools with DETC Accreditation are also accepted by many schools and employers. Some online colleges require students to spend several semesters attending physical classes on campus. Others require weekend seminars or summertime forums. Some programs allow students to earn degrees entirely through the internet, without ever stepping foot at a brick-and-mortar school. Look for residency requirements that fit your lifestyle when comparing online colleges.  Don’t forget to take your proximity to each college into consideration – a weekend course at a local school is much easier to attend than one two states away. These are the first two ways to compare online colleges.

Ways to compare online colleges

Another important aspect to compare is course scheduling.  you may be allowed to complete courses at your own pace, you may have to meet strict deadlines, or you may need to log on at a certain time each week for real-time learning depending on the college you select.  Try to determine how you learn best when comparing colleges. Some students have enough motivation to complete coursework without any steadfast deadlines, others prefer the structure of set class times. Almost all online colleges require students to complete course exams. But, each program will have its own testing requirements. Some mandate that students take all exams at a proctored testing center. Others allow most tests to be completed online, with open-book allowances. Consider how you prefer to take your exams when comparing colleges. Don’t forget to think about your proximity to testing centers or the school’s brick-and-mortar campus in case you proctored exams are required. There is a huge variation in online college admissions requirements. Some colleges have a lengthy application process including essays, recommendation letters, and interviews. Other colleges accept all applicants and allow students to begin courses within a week. Compare schools based on your ability to meet admissions requirements and your desired start date. Make your own list of school preferences in addition to considering the above factors. Take a few minutes to interview the school of your choice before you enroll in online classes. Asking your questions upfront can ensure that the school is a perfect match for you.  You’ll have a pretty good idea about whether or not you want to enroll once you have asked the following questions, as well as a few of your own. Your tuition should be comparable to that of regular universities, perhaps slightly less. Make sure that you won’t be overcharged or stuck with mandatory fees.