• Tim Herrera

Do your homework before enrolling in an online education program

If you are considering enrolling in an online education program, do extensive homework long before signing up for that first class. Finding the right program takes a lot of preplanning on the student’s part.

You might have some hesitation because some online college degree programs seem kind of shady. Many are, and many aren’t. Do more than cruise around the college’s website and look at the smiling faces of college students who are likely just stock photo models.

We’ve all heard stories about online, for-profit schools, that leave students with loads of debt with little to show for it. Make sure the school you choose is accredited. Accreditation is the validation for colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. To earn accreditation, a school or program undergoes an intensive self-evaluation, and then a review by peers from other colleges.

Accreditation is important to employers because, as MyCollegeGuide.org, points out: “Some employers and recruiters may hire only graduates from accredited colleges, since they know those graduates attended a reputable college.”

To help you get started, here are two websites that can help you in your investigation: the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Some courses are “go at your own pace” while others require working with classmates and your instructor and require attendance. Regardless of the format, if it’s a reputable program be prepared to work hard.

Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff, at New York University’s school of professional studies, told the New York Times, “If you are going to invest in an online program, you should understand how many hours a week are expected of you… You have to say, all right, with my job and with my other obligations, is this something I think I can do?”

Students must act as their own advocates and do some serious investigating when considering online degree programs. When you put the college’s name in the Google search box, does your search find negative news stories about that school? Does it just provide you with ads promoting the programs and information on how to enroll? That should tell you something.

Good luck in your search!

(Tim is the author of the ebook What the Online Student MUST Know, and several books on communications, available on Amazon.)

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