“I know that I want to pursue an online degree, but what are some of the things I should I consider?”  If this question sounds familiar, rest assured that you are not alone. Many aspiring students ponder whether one online program over another will offer a leg-up advantage in their career pursuits.

The cornerstone of most online programs is their flexible schedule, however, all online programs are not alike. There are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that offer certifications and there are postsecondary degrees, which the data shows most employers still prefer for their employees. 

First things first, what should I consider in an online program? Here are 5 top things to consider:

  • Mission of the university
  • Pace of schoolwork and course completion
  • Navigation platform
  • Support
  • Competitive/Competition

The Mission of the university should be one of the first things to consider in your choice.  What does the university stand for?  Is their mission and core values something you want to be attached to?  Remember, once you complete your degree, you will be associated with the school from which you earned your degree.

The pace of schoolwork and course completion is a big factor due to the complexity of individual lives.  Everyone learns at a different pace.  Does the course offer flexibility in a pace at which you can go?  Meaning, can you finish your work quickly if you want or take a few days if you want?  Do you have the flexibility to complete your schoolwork in the morning or evening if you choose?  Data shows that being able to work at your pace within the structure of the university, greatly increases your chances of success. Ask yourself, (1) what are my learning strengths, what are my learning weaknesses and (2) what time of day can I focus the most? 

The platform should be user friendly.  Most of your time should be spent on the schoolwork itself not navigating the platform.  If the platform is tough to navigate, this can be a deterrent to the student experience.  Online platforms should be able to handle complexity but deliver it in a simple straightforward way.

Support is a major consideration in an online program or the university offering it.  The two (2) major supports to consider are IT (Internet Technology) tech support and student support.  If you need help, how easy is it to get to someone?  Is the university a “student first” environment?  Studies show having a good student to teacher ratio helps when you need to reach out.  Is the instructor/coach response time quick?  These are all good questions to ask and consider, making sure you will have the support you need when it is needed.

Competition is a factor that many students don’t consider high on their list of requirements.  If you are going to take a course, wouldn’t it make sense to ensure you are going to be competitive in the field you are pursuing?  Is the value for the course competitive to others?  See what the university offers to help make you competitive in the workforce.  Another factor to consider is if the university offers networking opportunities.  Value and competition are very broad and can mean different things to different people.  When choosing a university and program to take online, make sure it meets your standards of value and competitive.

Hopefully this article brings clarity to choosing an online program and university. To learn more about the Online programs at Ohio Christian University, feel free to email the Admissions Department at ags@ohiochristian.edu. Let OCU help bring a Christian World View to your online experience.

Phil Hooks, Th.M.
Vice President of Enrollment