Selecting the best for-credit online courses usually requires more than evaluating the subjects that interest you. To make sure the credit you receive counts for something, you will usually need to consider accreditation and whether a course will move you closer to your educational goals. You may also consider whether your credits will transfer to another institution if that is your goal. Additionally, any support the school offers and its technology requirements may factor into your decision-making.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing the best online classes for college credit is the accreditation of the school. When a school is accredited by a respected authority, this means it has met quality standards for the education it provides and the credentials of the faculty. Accreditation also means it has met standards regarding admissions requirements, the school mission, and the resources made available to the student. Selecting online classes for college credit from an accredited school usually means your credit classes will be recognized as legitimate if you want to transfer to another school or get credit from an employer. Additionally, some employers and educational institutions will only view college degrees as legitimate if they are granted by accredited institutions.
You may also consider your goals for taking classes when choosing courses. Often, people take classes in an effort to earn a particular degree or certificate. If such is the case in your situation, you may do well to determine the credit requirements for that degree and take classes that will help you fulfill them. For example, if you need eight biology credits towards a science degree, you may choose to take one course in environmental biology and another in general biology online.
If you want to take some online courses and then transfer the credits to another school, you will need to know whether the school you hope to transfer to will accept your credits. Each college has its own rules for acceptance of transfer credits, so you may do well to contact the school to which you will eventually transfer and ask whether it will accept the specific classes you plan to take. For example, if you plan to take Composition I for four credits, you will want to know whether the school will apply the four credits you earn towards the completion of its degree or certificate program. If not, you may want to choose online classes for college credit through a different school, choose different credit courses, or select another school to which to transfer.
While it is common to transfer online course credit to a specific degree program, you might not know which degree you want to pursue. In such a case, you may want to fulfill the basic requirements most degree programs set. For example, whether you will eventually transfer into a history or science program, you will usually have to take classes in history, math, science, and composition. You may also have to take electives. If you are undecided about your major, you can take online courses that fulfill these general requirement and then select courses that apply to a major once you choose one.
Comparing online classes for college credit also means considering the equipment and software you will need and the resources the school will offer you. For example, you will typically need regular access to a computer with a reasonably fast processor and a significant amount of memory for most courses, but you may also need word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software for some classes. In addition, you may compare courses based on the amount of support you can expect from the professor, any platforms the school makes available for communicating with other students, and the availability of tutoring. The accessibility of such resources can impact your ability to excel in a for-credit online course.