I can still remember my first solo car buying experience. I was excited, but afraid at the same time. What if I didn’t make the correct choice? What if I got a lemon and the dealership wasn’t willing to take it back? So many variables seemed to loom on the near horizon. But determined to finally take my girlfriend on a date in MY car I persisted.

We found ourselves at the library one day and I picked up the Consumer’s Guide for cars for that year. It was a lot of information, but after a few hours looking through it I was able to narrow down my choice to a Nissan Maxima. I had a few restraints that helped to guide the process. I knew that I only wanted to spend a certain amount. I knew that would affect the year of the car. I knew I wanted something with good gas mileage. That would affect the size of the car. I also knew that I wanted something that I could use to take people places in. That crossed out the sports cars and super compact ones.

So, slowly as I read about certain functions of a car, what’s important for safety, how long cars usually last when taken care of well, I began to cross off the possibilities. All of a sudden I wasn’t as scared as I had been at the outset. There was a moment when I had selected the car that I wanted, the year and the price range I was willing to pay for it. Now all I had to do was go and look around to see who had it. Simple.

Similarly, when you are looking for an online college to further your education it helps to have an idea beforehand what your parameters are. If you only have a certain amount you’d like to spend, note it. If you have some interests, try narrowing them down with an aptitude test or reading more about each. The better idea you have in your head about what you hope to achieve the more likely you are to find exactly that. Conversely, if you just have a vague idea that you want to go to school, worse yet, if you have decided to go to college at the behest of a parent or another, chances are you’re in for a rougher ride than if the determination comes from within.

So, some questions to ask yourself before looking for an online school that matches your needs may be:

What kind of education do I want or need to receive to get where I’m going?

Of course if you don’t know where you’re going then you’re not likely to get there, but assuming that you have some idea. Narrowing it down allows you to pinpoint the schools that offer excellent training in that area.

Do I want to want to work and go to school at the same time?

You may say no, and of course that would be easier to simply go to school, but unless you have money saved up, you are most likely going to be borrowing money (scholarships are good option if they are available to you). So, do you want an easier time now or later? When you’re graduated do you want to be in debt or do you want to start your new career?

Do I want large class sizes or smaller, more individualized ones?

You may thrive in collaborative environments. Many students do. However, you may be more of the type that benefits from a lot more introspective reflection on a topic. Whatever your ideal scenario is, there is most likely an online education solution that fits that aim.

So, without analyzing it to death there are three questions you can ask before seeking out online colleges and programs. Good luck!

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