Choosing An Online College ? Things To Look For Before Admission

October 28th, 2010

Guest blogger:Abby Nelson

More and more people are taking this route today than ever before; the popularity of online degrees keeps growing by the day as employers start to see their potential and take them seriously; and the importance of education and continuous learning no matter how old you are has never been understood better. So if you’re considering an online degree, now is probably the best time ever. But before you rush to sign up, you need to ensure that you lay the proper foundation for your degree, because without a strong platform, its value decreases and inches closer to zero. Here are some of the things you need to look for and be careful about before admission to an online school:

  • Are the school and degree accredited? This is the single most important aspect of any online degree – its accreditation and the credibility of the accrediting agency. In the USA, the following agencies are authorized by the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit online degrees:

 

  • Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges  (NEASC)
  • North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA)
  • Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS)
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Distance Education Training Council (DETC) – the above six are regional accrediting agencies while the DETC provides national accreditation.

Check to see if your degree and college are accredited by any one of the above agencies   before you sign up.

  • Will you be able to transfer credits from one online school to another? An important aspect of college education is being able to transfer credits earned at one institution to another. This allows you to continue your education seamlessly without having to spend additional time and money if you ever have to transfer from one school to another for any reason. While all the regional accrediting agencies recognize each other and accept credits earned at the others, they are wary of degrees and credits from DETC approved colleges. Some schools accept them without question, others may accept some credits but not all, and yet others may reject outright all your credits. So before you join a degree, find out if credits earned there are transferrable.
  • Are some online schools better than others? Even though online degrees are more readily accepted today than they were a few years ago, some employers still don’t take them seriously or approve of them. So to ensure that your degree gets its due in the employment arena, choose the best school that offers the degree of your choice. Research your options on the web, ask around, check out rankings from US News, and then make your decision. Some schools may be better than others, but what really matters is that your potential or current employer accepts the validity of your degree.

 

  • Are you prepared for the uphill climb ahead? Contrary to popular belief, online education is not easier than its traditional counterpart. In fact, it’s significantly more difficult because you’re often trying to balance more than one thing on your plate. The coursework is as challenging as that offered by regular colleges, and if you’re working and have a family to support as well, online education becomes a very stressful task. So ask yourself if you’re mentally prepared for the uphill climb ahead and if you’re willing to make sacrifices and changes in your life until you’re done with your degree.

 

  • Will you be able to get a sponsor? Some employers may be willing to sponsor your degree if it benefits your organization as a whole. So before you sign up, talk to them about paying your tuition if the degree will add to your knowledge and skills and help you serve the company better.

 

Online education is an invaluable tool for the mature learner – it not only allows you to continue to hone your skills and enhance your knowledge, it also keeps you from becoming outdated and obsolete.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Abby Nelson, she writes on the topic of Masters in Counseling . She welcomes your comments at her email id: abby.85nelson<@>gmail<.>com.

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