- Is it an accredited institution? A college that is accredited has had its educational program reviewed and credentialed by an independent association. Accreditation of an online program is important when you're looking for a job or applying to a school.
- Does it have a full-time faculty? Find out about the teachers and their backgrounds.
- What are students doing after graduation? Look for a college that has advanced students into good careers.
- Are the courses interactive? The classes should offer an interactive learning environment - not just course materials to be downloaded and tests to be taken online.
- How structured is the program? You want a program that is structured enough to motivate you, but not so structured that it limits your lifestyle.
- How timely is teacher feedback? Ask about the school's policy governing when teachers must answer your questions and give feedback on your assignments.
After you research your next car, book a flight and find a scholarship, why not do one more thing online -- earn a degree. Lots of busy people are trying out this new alternative to the traditional college career. All Kinds of Programs The number of online education options has grown tremendously over the past several years. There are schools that focus exclusively on online education while more traditional institutions have added Internet programs to their mix. Penn State's World Campus enrolls over 6,500 registered students - 70 percent of whom do not live in Pennsylvania and 5 percent of whom do not even live in the United States. The World Campus programs offer the same courses and the same faculty as Penn State's traditional courses. Find the online school that is perfect for you. Other online courses are run through educational institutions that are completely Web-based. These programs usually charge a one-time administration fee that can sometimes run as low as $10. The courses you register for are either included in the fee, or you pay a low course fee. There are even some programs that offer a free trial course. Evaluating Programs When choosing an online education course, it's important to know it can deliver the goods. Gary Miller, the Executive Director of Penn State's World Campus, suggests that you ask these questions when evaluating a program: