1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How to Compare Online Colleges


Comparing online colleges can be a challenge. You may know the type of program you’re looking for, but narrowing your list of potential programs can be difficult. The five considerations below can help you compare online colleges based on what each school offers. Before enrolling in a virtual program, make a list of possible schools and see how they measure up.

1. Compare Online College Accreditation

Accreditation is the most important factor to consider when comparing online colleges. If you attend a school with regional accreditation, you may have an easier time finding jobs, transferring your credits to other schools, and using your degree to apply for graduate programs. Online schools with DETC Accreditation are also accepted by many schools and employers.

2. Compare Online College Residency Requirements

Some online colleges require students to spend several semesters attending physical classes on campus. Others require weekend seminars or summertime forums. Some programs allow students to earn degrees entirely through the internet, without ever stepping foot at a brick-and-mortar school. When comparing online colleges, look for residency requirements that fit your lifestyle. Don’t forget to take your proximity to each college into consideration – a weekend course at a local school is much easier to attend than one two states away.

3. Compare Online Class Schedules

Another important aspect to compare is course scheduling. Depending on the college you select, you may be allowed to complete courses at your own pace, you may have to meet strict deadlines, or you may need to log on at a certain time each week for real-time learning. When comparing schedules, try to determine how you learn best. Some students have enough motivation to complete coursework without any steadfast deadlines, others prefer the structure of set class times.

4. Compare Online College Testing

Almost all online colleges require students to complete course exams. But, each program will have its own testing requirements. Some mandate that students take all exams at a proctored testing center. Others allow most tests to be completed online, with open-book allowances. When comparing online colleges, consider how you prefer to take your exams. If proctored exams are required, don’t forget to think about your proximity to testing centers or the school’s brick-and-mortar campus.

5. Compare Online College Admissions Requirements

There is a huge variation in online college admissions requirements. Some colleges have a lengthy application process including essays, recommendation letters, and interviews. Other colleges accept all applicants and allow students to begin courses within a week. Compare schools based on your ability to meet admissions requirements and your desired start date.

6. More Ways to Compare Online Colleges

In addition to considering the above factors, make your own list of school preferences. This list of questions to ask potential schools can also help you make a smart decision.
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Distance Learning
  4. Choosing a School
  5. How to Compare Online Colleges - 5 Ways to Compare Online Colleges

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.