Distance education is popular with those who cannot fit in with the regular-course schedule for personal or professional reasons. Under these circumstances, it is pertinent to ask the following questions before zeroing in on the online distance-education course and institution.
- Is the host institute capable of handling distance-education programs?
The days of correspondence courses sending study material by post are long over. In this Internet age, online classes, e-textbooks, and e-notes are the norm. A really good institute should have the infrastructural capability to hold Webinars, seminars/group discussions, which require inputs from multiple locations without any problem. This helps to hone interpersonal skills in an otherwise-impersonal study environment.
- Is the host institute accredited by a recognised body?
The value of a course depends upon the recognition and endorsement of the course, the course material, and the faculty by national or international governing bodies. Unfortunately, several fly-by-night operators make tall claims and dupe innocent students with their false credentials.
- Is the open-university course content on par with global standards?
It takes just a few hours to search the Internet for the course content of regular, leading management institutions. A comparison of the content can give a fair idea whether the institute has given careful consideration to what a management student requires in the global arena.
- Is the course flexible? Can it be customised?
The intent to join a correspondence course is to be able to balance one’s personal and/or professional life with acquiring new knowledge and skills. This means that the course in question should provide mentors who can assist the students to choose their courses according to their aptitude and interest. Students should also be in a position to complete the required number of credits according to their convenience, a choice of doing more credits in one semester and less in the next depending upon other factors.
- Does the course have value?
One of the most important things to determine before deciding on a course is whether it truly awards a diploma/degree or is merely a certification course.
- Does the course rank high on surveys/potential employers’ lists? Are alumni well placed?
The ultimate test of the best distance MBA program is when credible job offers come through. Institutes/courses that are poorly ranked in public surveys and unknown to potential employers aren’t worth the time, money, and effort.