Choosing an Online College

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Life nowadays has become quite hectic. Many among us are working full-time and/or taking care of families at home. All this doesn’t leave much time for studies, especially for a full-time degree course. Getting that degree may just help you become eligible for the promotion you’ve always wanted. Or it can help you learn something new while taking care of your responsibilities. For many of us, the answer lies in getting an online degree via a distance learning course.

The trend has caught on thanks to Internet penetration in several places around the globe. This means you don’t have to go all the way to another country or city to do a course that you’ve wanted to do. You can simply attend a lecture online―over the Internet―while sitting in the comfort of your own home. You can even turn in your assignments and papers online. And once you complete the necessary examinations, which may also be held online, you get your degree in the mail.

All these courses are usually designed by special online educators, and have a teacher or a course coordinator who monitors all student activity. They read through and grade your assignments, and communicate their feedback to you. As a student, you can also interact with these teachers via the Internet, and discuss your questions or problems with them.

Thus, these online classes can be like regular classes at a university, with a lot of interactive content. With the innovative technologies available on the Internet, students of these classes can interact with each other, discuss problems, and make groups for an assignment―all possible with a lot of online collaboration.

How to Find a Reputable Online College

Many regular universities are now offering several courses online. They offer distance learning courses and award degrees to their online students. While searching on the Internet, you can look if any college offers ‘distance learning’ or an ‘online degree’ course. Alternatively, you can even choose an online college―this is a college which exists only online―and provides only online degrees. There are several such colleges which specialize in providing degrees online; these have specially trained teachers who administer the course to the students. Here are some tips which will help you choose the right online college for you.

First of all, check if the college is accredited by the Department of Education and the Distance Learning Council. This is important, because there are also many bogus schools on the Internet. The next step is to check the history of the college. Check to see if there have been, or are, other students who are studying with them. Then check and see if the online degree that they award you is officially recognized by any professional accreditation body in that field. It won’t do you much good later on if your degree is not recognized.

Another thing to check is if the college accepts credits from courses that you may have done in another college―whether online or offline. Also check if you can transfer credits from the courses you study in this college to any other college, online or offline. Then it is important to see if the course study method offered by this college fits in with your learning style. Is it more of an interactive course? Do you prefer to study at your own pace? Does this course follow this kind of pattern? Choose a course which is in line with your style of study, so that you get the best out of it.

Check the credentials of the teachers who are going to administer the online degree course for you. Are they experienced in their field? Are they qualified to teach you that particular course? What kind of experience do they have in the real world? Check for other services that are offered by these online colleges. Do they offer library facilities or links to other resources? What kind of technological infrastructure do they have? Are there forums where you can meet and interact with other students who are studying similar courses?

And then, most importantly, check to see if the course fees are within your budget. See if you can pay the fees per course or per lesson. Most good colleges have different payment plans. Check for hidden fees as well. Make sure you read the entire fine print before you sign up for an online degree course.

The Authenticity Issue

This trend of acquiring degrees online has come under severe criticism due to the presence of several ‘degree mills’ which provide fake degrees. They simply ask you to pay a flat fee and award you your degree within a month or so and then disappear. After some time they reappear somewhere else on the Internet with a different name. However, these online degrees are fake and are not held in high esteem by employers. In the end, having such a fake degree will only reduce your credibility in the real world.

In order to ensure that your college is not one such degree mill, it is important to first check its accreditation. Then check at the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints lodged against them. The more the complaints, the more likely it is fake. Another sign to spot a fake is if the only pre-requisite for enrolling is being in possession of a valid credit card number.

In conclusion, we can see that along with the good, also exists the bad. By using common sense and checking to see the credentials of these online schools, we can avoid falling into any traps which can spoil our future.

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