You probably know that a traditional, well-known school with a campus, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford and others, is going to have a better reputation. However, the cost of attending these schools is prohibitive for many, besides having to go through the acceptance process.
But there are many other schools that have excellent reputations that are worthy of attending or taking classes from online. There are also vocational and traditional schools that are limited to online degree programs only.
The program and major you plan to pursue and whether you want an associate's, bachelor's, master's degree or doctorate will greatly influence which online school you decide on.
Online colleges and online degree programs are becoming more and more popular and are more and more accepted by employers, much more so than they used to be. Many of the largest companies in the U.S. readily accept applicants with online degrees, especially from accredited online colleges.
Technology is also gaining and improving every year so you have better access to your professors and to other students as well.
You want to avoid schools with unrecognizable names that offer promises of quick diplomas or degrees. These are called diploma mills and they're still operating. Some of these schools report that you can get your bachelor's degree in 72 hours. You don't want to present this kind of degree to a prospective employer. It will work against you.
Recently in our community, I read that it was discovered that three state (highway) patrol officers had online degrees from diploma mills and were fired.
Staying with a recognizable name school and checking to make sure they are accredited is very important. You can check through the Council of Higher Education Accreditation to make sure they are accredited.
If you're unfamiliar with the school here are a few questions you can ask of any online college or school that you're considering. What is the acceptance rate, can they help with financial aid, what is the retention and graduation rate and what is the number of years the school has had accreditation. You also want to make sure that any school you transfer into later will accept your credits. Know this before you sign up.
What online college is best is going to depend on your needs, as there are many variables. Your location, how much money it will cost, whether you're on a budget or have plenty of money to spend on an online degree or do you want to get to go free or cheap? It will also depend on the program you choose and how specialized it is.
There is plenty of federal financial aid and other money available for online degree programs so you may want to check this out. There are also grants and scholarships available for online students and many go unawarded every year. There are many scholarships available in specialized areas too. Some students go free. Just take a little time to do some research and you can save a lot of money.