The Downside of an Online University Education
Accredited online universities do not have the prestige and name recognition of their offline brothers. A degree from Walden University inevitably will not receive the same weight in a job interview than a degree from Harvard University. The University of Phoenix, one of the largest university institutions, was recognized as one of the first universities to offer course work online, and began doing so in 1989. This was prior to mass commercialization of the Internet and mass accessibility and connectivity. The University of Phoenix has their name on a professional football team’s stadium!
Aside from publicity efforts and the merits of the degrees, the University of Phoenix Online, as well as other online institutions, offer important educational opportunities. Receiving a bachelor’s or master’s degree online or through distance education has become a reality for thousands of people each year, who may otherwise be unable to attend a physical classroom location.
Preparing to take the step into online education and learning can be a scary step. It is essential to weed out the offers that are not offering good opportunities, and the task can be difficult. Diluting the rigors of legitimate online education are the many websites that exist for the sole purpose of sending visitors to the website through an affiliate link to the accredited universities webpage. The owners of these sites earn money for subsequent sign ups or requests for information, and they are often willing to spend large sums of money to obtain qualified website traffic that will result in signups at the accredited university webpages. Some affiliates offer truly invaluable information, but some do not offer more than banners and text links with no content of assistance in choosing the online degree program or accredited program suited to interests.
Additionally, some websites claim to offer degrees for life experiences. A life experience degree would be earned based on activities and learning opportunities that have already educated a person and made them an expert in their field. These are not ethical ways to earn a degree, and are viewed as “diploma mills” which print diplomas for commercial gain. Other websites that are frequently labeled as diploma mills are websites which claim a degree can be earned for a low, one-time investment.
Step one to finding the best accredited online university to earn your degree is to realize that while diplomas can be earned online, they will cost more than a $200 investment, and won’t be based on your current business or life experiences. Earning a degree is a time consuming, financially consuming, and brain consuming task. If it seems as if it doesn’t require work, it’s too good to be true. Cross these “opportunities” off of your list. If the university does not prominently display their accreditation, be wary and proceed with caution.
Planning to Find the Best Accredited Online University to Earn Your Degree
If you have read this far, you’re looking to earn your degree. Earning a degree in the fastest time possible, potentially online, through an accredited university, is a great option. Discovering how to differentiate between the opportunities presented to you online is the challenge. Though affiliates and diploma mills may seek to mislead you, accredited online learning is a safe alternative, and it is usually easier to be accepted into an online program than traditional universities.
There are several questions that you need to ask yourself before joining an online university. Planning is certainly key in any endeavor, but takes on increased relevance when approaching a decision on how to earn a degree. Three of the most immediate questions that an online degree seeker should ask themselves are:
How focused am I on learning the material on my own?
How technical am I with a computer to be able to access multimedia content?
How will I afford the tuition payments?There are resources available to help in focusing on completing assignments on time. There are also loans and scholarship information available to provide assistance in affording tuition and fees. Do not dismiss the questions! Rushing into an online university degree program would be a tremendous mistake.
Actually Finding the Best Accredited Online University to Earn Your Degree
Online university programs have exploded onto the scene in the last few years and can attract some of the brightest minds in academia and business to teach your classes. However, doing research on several degree programs, and their corresponding diplomas is absolutely required.
Step One: Do not immediately visit the online universities with the largest name recognition. Seek information from sources that provide free advice, and rankings of accredited universities. Look especially for accreditation from higher education commissions.
Step Two: Do not spend any money applying to universities, or on information requests until settled on one or two online degree programs. Accredited online universities are competing for your attention. Paying for information prior to the application process is a red flag.
Step Three: Speak with admissions officers of your local community college or state university system. Many of these universities offer courses online or on weekends. These opportunities can be inexpensive and convenient. Additionally, they may offer greater prestige than institutions strictly located online.
Step Four: Request free information.
Step Five: Examine the degrees and how they may fit into your interests.
Step Six: Contact an admissions representative and ask them questions regarding the qualifications of their department heads, their retention rate of students and faculty, their career services resources, and their alumni relations network. Keep a database, spreadsheet, or checklist of certain institutions and their responses. Later, prioritize your questions and reexamine how the institutions responded.
Step Seven: Apply, Take Classes, and Good Luck!