How To Research Legitimate Online Colleges And Universities
Online colleges and universities sometimes have an undeserved bad reputation. When the idea of classes over the Internet first hit the world of higher education, many people sought to take advantage of this new medium to make money. A lot of illegitimate programs popped up on the web. Some were diploma mills, eager to give a degree to anyone who had the money to pay for it, regardless of the work done in classes. Others were outright scams, collecting tuition fees and then disappearing. Still others were programs run by people with good intentions, but, unfortunately, little qualification to teach about certain topics.
Today, a lot has changed with online education. In fact, many of the programs available online are actually run by traditional campus colleges and provide the same quality education as you’d get if you physically went to a class every day. That doesn’t mean that scams and diploma mills don’t exist; they do. That’s why it is extremely important for you to do research on any online college or university before you sign up or give them any of your money.
First, it is important for any school you attend to be accredited. There are numerous companies that handle accreditation. Some accredit an overall school, while others look specifically at degree programs. The school you attend should be accredited, and if you’re interested in certain careers, like in the medical field, find out what national programs accredit online degrees that qualify you for licensing programs. Without accreditation, your degree might just be a piece of paper, even if you learned all you need to know to be successful in your career. The government doesn’t do accrediting, but they do keep a list of organizations that handle this process.
There’s something to be said, as well, for attending online colleges that are well known. Accreditation proves that a college is legitimate, but some employers might not feel the same way. Fortunately, this is starting to change, and many employers are realizing that an online education can be just as good as one at a traditional college. If you’re worried about an employer believing that you degree is legitimate, though, look for an online school that is established and has a recognizable and respected name.
Even if a school says it is accredited, you should still call them to find out more about the program. Just because a school is legitimate doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best choice for you. Some programs offer degrees where you need to be a very independent learner, and although their testing standards are just as high as other schools, you may not be able to ask questions or get feedback from professors or classmates. Take a virtual tour of any school you’re considering to find a program that fits you well.