Tips for Choosing among Online Bachelor’s Programs

Nowadays, literally thousands of online bachelor degree programs are available. Probably the only downside to this trend is the confusion it creates! How can students choose wisely when there are so many programs to consider? Read on for help choosing the best online program for you.

1.  Only choose an accredited program. Why does accreditation matter? As online degree programs have flourished, so-called diploma mills have unfortunately taken root alongside reputable schools. Educational accrediting agencies review degree programs to help consumers make informed decisions.

You can check a program’s accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation database.

2. Consider the schools’ admissions statistics. Many students want to attend the most competitive school possible because of the associated prestige. A school that accepts just 20% of its applicants has much greater prestige than one accepting 99% of its applicants.

Most bachelor’s degree programs post their admissions statistics online or include them in paper recruiting materials. Guidance counselors recommend that students use these figures to help decide on at least five schools to apply to. These should include a “safety school” – one that will almost certainly admit the student – as well as two “definite maybes” and two schools that are more competitive but remain possibilities.

3. Compare tuition costs. This may be trickier than it seems; the advertised price of a program is not necessarily what a given student pays. Fortunately, the actual costs are usually lower, not higher.

Most students at accredited schools receive some form of financial assistance. Each prospective student has the opportunity to fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Additionally, many students receive financial gifts directly from the university. In-state discounts and military discounts may also be applied.

In short, don’t eliminate a school from your list because of its high advertised price. Talk with admissions counselors to get individualized advice about what you would actually pay.