Aah, if finding the best online university were only as simple as googling it! Unfortunately, web spiders can find the online schools (and there are thousands) but they can’t tell you which ones are actually good. Search engine ranking does not equal academic ranking. So how do you separate the qualified schools from the quacks?
There are several factors to consider before deciding which school to invest your money and your time in. The first, naturally, is the university’s regional accreditation. You would never go to a lawyer who had never passed his bar exam, would you? Nor would you see a doctor whose credits are limited to reading “Medicine for Dummies”.
In much the same way you should check if the school’s curriculum, teaching method and overall quality of education have met the standards and requirements of your country’s educational board, and that they have been given the proper accreditation. It doesn’t matter if a school is cheap—if it’s not going to be recognized by other schools, or will generally send you useless material and provide unreliable service, then you have thrown that money away.
Aside from verifying whether or not a college has been accredited, you also have to weigh which program is better. “Better” is relative; some schools have specialized in some courses. They are good at that particular field, and noticeably weak in others. You should also look at the quality of the faculty. How many years of experience have they had in that area? Do they have teaching credits? Are they available to the students and actively participate in discussion groups or consultations, or are they difficult to contact?
This doesn’t mean to belittle the issue of cost. Naturally, you need to stick to a budget, and if a school is too expensive, then you may find yourself struggling more on paying the bills than actually studying. Luckily online education is, by nature, less expensive than traditional programs. And you can enjoy a flexibility of study hours that lets you continue to work at the same time. You can also get a student loan.