May 28, 2017  

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8 Tips for Choosing an Online University

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It’s that time of year where everyone is making resolutions to live a better life. Maybe a college education is one of those goals, but not everyone can attend campus classes. So what can be done? Get your degree online.

Selecting a college or university to complete your online degree can be tricky. Use these easy tips to choose the university that meets your educational goals.

  1. Research accredited colleges and universities, as not all institutions are created equal. Learn more about accreditation on the U.S. Department of Education website https://www.ed.gov/accreditation.
  2. Decide on and find your major. Be aware that not every university offers all majors and not all are available online.
  3. Verify the program and classes are offered fully online. Some degree programs are hybrid, a combination of online and on campus classwork. If you can’t travel, make sure the program offers the entire degree completely online.
  4. Check admission requirements and application fees. Also check to see if previous college credits will transfer.
  5. Compare tuition, fees and financial aid. Investing in an education is like investing in your future. Ask the right questions. What does tuition cost? Do I have to pay out of state tuition? What financial aid is available?
  6. Keep an eye out for fees above tuition costs. These can include course fees, textbooks, course materials, labs, examination proctoring and online delivery fees.
  7. Ask about the faculty credentials. Who is teaching the online courses? Are the same faculty who teach on campus teaching online?
  8. Find online student services. Online students can’t walk into a campus office and ask for help. Make sure the institution has services and resources available specifically for online students.

One university that has been consistently ranked top in the nation for affordability and academic excellence in online learning is The University of Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss offers 14 undergraduate and 26 graduate degrees fully online and its Office of Online Learning provides support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs.

Tom Hutchinson, interim director of the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, says since most online students cannot access campus services, they need to choose a university can meet their needs. “We offer 24/7 student support and offer a wide range of services for our online students including access to our Writing Center, Speaking Center, online textbook ordering, and even a student success website,” said Hutchinson. “When choosing a university to get a degree online, be sure to find one that can help you when you need it.”

Overall, when deciding to get a degree, look for the best value you can find with the highest quality of education. But don’t forget to keep an eye out for hidden values. “At Southern Miss, as an undergraduate student, once you reach full-time status of 12 hours, you can take up to 19 hours with no additional tuition cost,” said Hutchinson.

For more information online degree programs at Southern Miss, visit online.usm.edu.