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How To Select An Online School Program

How To Select An Online School Program

The criteria for choosing an online school are practically the same as other schools

. Parents and students should be aware, though, that geography can be a factor in choosing a virtual high school. There are four types - private, public, chartered and university-sponsored - and some are available only for residents of certain areas. That aside, the following checklist is applicable for any distance learning institution:

Does the school offer or specialize in the program or courses that you are interested in? For example, you may want to study medical transcription in a school that specializes in medical courses. Also, check if you will be getting a diploma or just a certificate for your chosen program.

Is the school properly accredited? This ensures that you will not be wasting money, time and resources on a diploma that you can't use later to pursue a higher education or advance your career. The accreditation should be by recognized by creditors and include oversight as well as a license to operate.

Cost: Similar to traditional learning institutions, the cost for attending an online school can vary, from the very expensive to the practically free charter schools. Aside from tuition, some charge additional fees on training materials, graduation and the like. Learn what your payment options are, and it doesn't hurt to ask about discounts and scholarships, either.

Does the school allow transferring or earning of credits on courses? From the curriculum, see if there are equivalent courses that you have already taken in another institution, or have real-life work experience on. If the school allows crediting for these, you will be able skip these courses to reduce expenses and get your diploma faster.

Knowing how classes are conducted will also help in decision-making, since the process should fit the student's learning style and schedule. Things like teacher-to-student ratio, learning format and support for struggling students should be considered. It also pays to ask about the qualifications of online teaching staff, as well as opportunities to attend a demo class.

Next, examine the school's track record. The longer the school has been in business, the better. Aside from the number of students currently enrolled or the number of graduates, parents and students should also try to find out the quality of graduates the school has produced. For instance, how many students from the virtual high school went on to college? What is the drop-out rate?

Finally, parents and students can get additional feedback from current and past students and faculty. Other sources include online discussion boards and blogs on online schools. The important thing is to take time and exert effort to get to know several prospective schools before making a decision, instead of settling for the first school that seems to meet all the requirements.

by: Jordan McPelt

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