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Choosing an Online Course or Program

Before you enroll online, research the course(s) or program and its requirements.

Find detailed information about postsecondary online learning options. You can also find useful information on the websites of online learning providers.

The following are key questions to ask when making your decision. The online learning program should provide answers to these:

  • What will the class or classes be like? Do you know as much about each course as you would know about those offered at your school as you would for any class or educational program? Do you know about the prerequisites, syllabus, workload, credit, and ability to transfer credits?
  • What will the teacher be like? Do you know anything about his/her reputation or background? Are there any teacher evaluations you can review?
  • What kinds of support will be offered? Do you know how to access counseling, guidance, disability services, or technical support services that you may need in the online course? Is tutoring or academic support offered and how is it delivered?
  • How will communication work? Do you know how to contact the online teacher when you have concerns and questions?
  • What's expected of you? Is there a students' rights and responsibilities statement for the course or program? Is there a sample course you can view with example lessons, assignments, and teacher/student communication tools?

Other questions may be more complex, and require other sources of information. Review the links under "Learn More" on the right side of the page.

  • Can you stay enrolled in your off-line program and just take a course or two online?
  • Will you graduate from your current program or the online learning program?
  • How does this online course or diploma impact your future plans?

Source: National Education Association Guide to Online High School Courses 2002 and Minnesota Department of Education


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