What to Look for In an Online School & Program

Things to Think About
When Choosing an Online Program:

There are many factors to consider when choosing an online school.   The list below encompasses the main functional points, but you also have to consider your feeling you get about what you read, how it speaks to you, and what you see.   Most of us get an impression right away; like ‘this one feels perfect’, or “there is just something about this one that does not feel right to me”.  Pay attention to THAT and be sure to factor it in as well.

1) Accreditation

It is very important to do your research to ensure the school, and distance learning program you choose is recognized by an industry-specific organization because the nutrition and health coaching industry is unregulated by the government.   While this is considered by most a good thing from the perspective of not having the government make decisions on how we do our jobs (we all know holistic and alternative health is not something largely supported by the conventional system), it leaves wide open the opportunity for someone to easily slip into a career with no training at all.  Pretty scary stuff!!

This is where the industry organizations come in.  As you can imagine, there are no guarantees of integrity of programming when the school lacks an audit from an outside, unbiased authority.    The organization takes time to go over the curriculum in-depth to ensure specific subjects meets industry requirements while being combined and coordinated in a meaningful and sensible way that ensures high academic standards.

You can obtain membership and registration status through the organization which should always be through an organization, not the school itself.  Schools provide you with your certification and diploma, and governing bodies allow you to obtain registration status.   Most organizations will provide you with a membership seal for your website and marketing materials to give potential clients the peace of mind at a quick glance that you are an educated professional who took the time to earn your credentials.

Via the organization, you can also obtain liability insurance which is highly recommended, and some even have huge discounts pre-arranged for you to access things like office rentals, website development, yoga memberships, and group medical and dental.    It is also really nice to be able to be a part of a community of like-minded professionals after you graduate.

2) Personal student support

Make sure you are not left hanging on your own to work through your program. The level of personal student support is a huge factor when choosing a distance learning program and can often make the difference between success or failure of your studies. Does the school have an accessible toll free number, and student support email? Is there a support team available for any and all of the questions you have throughout the program? Is it easy to arrange flexible personal appointments if needed? Is there personal support for the exercises and during the exam preparation? Are questions answered immediately or do you have to wait for an answer several days? All these factors have to fit your personal learning needs and preferences to keep you motivated and engaged.

3) Study material and the digital learning environment

For distance learning education, the quality of the study material and the digital learning environment are often even more important than for conventional studies. A motivating learning environment with diverse and interactive tasks, videos, quizzes etc. can improve your study success rate considerably. In order to stay in contact with your fellow students, make sure your virtual campus allows you to work together and support each other via some type of online forum.

4) Flexibility

One of the most important reasons for distance learning is the higher flexibility compared to a conventional campus-based program. This is why distance learning enables you to continue working and tending to your other responsibilities while studying towards your diploma on your own schedule.   It fits into your life, vs the other way around.

That said, there are various differences regarding the flexibility depending on which distance learning program you choose. Does the school have a fixed semester schedule or can you follow the program on your own schedule?   Do you have to be online at certain times, or is everything accessible any time of day?  Is there on-site requirements or can everything be done online?   On-site meetings are often associated with high additional costs for travelling, accommodation, etc, and can take up a lot of your already scarce time.

5) Tuition fees

When choosing your distance learning program, you should ensure that you get high value for your money. It is an investment in your future and is critical that the curriculum is in-depth. Despite what we have been conditioned to believe, higher tuition fees does NOT automatically equal a better program. We know this from the volume of students enrolling with us coming directly from $5000-$6000 online programs that failed to provide them with the comprehensive education that instills the required confidence in their abilities as a holistic nutrition practitioner.

Distance learning programs generally (and should) cost less than study programs on campus due to lower overhead. However, there are many online programs out there that unfairly charge equivalent fees to in-class programs while not providing adequate training, so be sure you compare curriculum’s very carefully. Our tuition has been carefully considered, and even though our program is much more in-depth than most of the other programs, we are so passionate about what we do that we are committed to keeping our tuition reasonable and affordable to help change as many lives as possible.

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Healthy Body • Healthy Mind • Healthy Spirit

Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.

Anne Wilson Schaef

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