Attention Students Seeking Online Courses – Test Drive Your School before You Buy!

When it comes to students seeking online education, most people look at the degree name, school name, accreditation and perhaps the list of required courses. That’s it – they make a decision with this information. While these are all very important things, there are some other factors that go into making a school a good fit for you – the support staff. Many students seeking online degrees do not realize how important the non-faculty workers at a school will be during their education.

Sure, the cost of an online degree is important. However, it is imperative that you recognize that you will interact with a variety of people throughout your tenure at a school, and that each of these people will be very important. If, early in your interactions with a particular school, you find this support staff lacking, you should seriously consider finding yourself another school. Trust me when I say that having trouble with financial aid, advising, or technical support can make your online education just as frustrating as an inattentive teacher or poorly designed course can.

Enrollment / Admissions

This will be the first group that you come into contact with. Now, obviously the enrollment counselor’s job is to get you into the school – hey, the school needs students. But if this person seems to lack knowledge or has trouble answering your questions, if you find that they give you false information, or if they are unfriendly or extremely pushy, let that give you pause about the atmosphere of the university as a whole. Students seeking online degrees who experience problems with this first person in the school system should attempt to talk to someone else in the school; if they still sense a problem then run for the hills and find another school.

Financial Aid

If you need help paying for school then the financial aid department will be very important to you semester after semester. If the people in this department are unfriendly, unhelpful or unknowledgeable, you could be in for a difficult time throughout your education. If you experience problems, ask for a supervisor. If they are difficult too I would consider a different school.

Technical Support

Students seeking online education need to ask a lot of questions up front about technical support. You want to ensure that it is available seven days a week, particularly if you know that you will be doing most of your work on the weekends. Also, check your time zone against technical support’s hours and time zone. Finally, test drive them by calling with some simple question and see how friendly they are.

Making the Choice

Obviously, the most important part of your education is the classes you are going to take and the teachers who will be instructing you. However, students seeking online learning also need to be aware that university support staff is also very important to your overall success and satisfaction.

Have you had an experience with support staff at your school, good or bad?

Share your experience in our community forum.