Thursday, November 19, 2009

Western Governors U. Helps Students Choose an Online U.

As increasing numbers of students turn to online colleges for their degrees, choosing the right school adds to an already difficult process. Many online universities have cropped up, but some have become known as, quite frankly, “diploma mills”. But this month, Western Governors U., one of the leaders in the field, issued some guidelines for students to help them find “a reputable, accredited online university."

Western Governors was an early entry into the field of distance education. It was founded in 1997 by 19 governors of the Western states and the state of Indiana. It is a private, non-profit institution and supported by tuition, as well as funding from corporations and foundations. With that said, it is a believer in online education. But it also seems to recognize that it is not the only show in town. So it created a list of questions to help all online degree seekers make informed decisions. These include asking about the following points:

1. Is the school equipped with the programs and guidance to help you with your desired career? For instance, does the school have a master’s program that will take your education further? Most importantly, are the programs demanding enough to challenge you?

2. Is the college accredited? The school should be accredited with the same regional accreditation as all other colleges and universities.

3. Do employers hire graduates of this university? Students need to ask their school for information about how successful past students have been in getting hired after graduation.

4. Online universities have different models for how they teach and expect students to learn. So WGU recommends that students know whether the school uses traditional, “competency-based,” or combined online and traditional modes of learning.

5. One of the most important questions is, how much will the school cost? Sometimes, online universities will have higher tuitions than traditional state schools, so students should know the price in advance and ask if the school offers scholarships.

6. How well are students supported? Does the school pair you up with an advisor? Is there a way for students to come together as a community to help each other?

“An online university can be the ideal solution for career-minded adults who want to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and there are some excellent schools [that] offer rigorous, challenging, and respected degree programs,” said Patrick Partridge, vice president, marketing and enrollment, WGU. “Before you choose a school, make sure to do some good research to ensure you find a reputable university that offers the program you need and fits your personal learning style. By investing the time before you start, you help ensure that you can be successful and that the degree you earn will help you advance in your profession.”

For more information, go to .