The Problem With Online Education
Going back to college is time consuming and expensive, two things that most people returning can’t afford. You have a life, a family, pets, a job – you can’t afford to give it all up, move into a dorm and take out a mountain of student loans to get by. Online programs can be a life saver when you’re juggling a life, but you should be careful about what kinds of schools you sign up with.
There are plenty of legitimate and budget friendly online options for the new or returning college student, most of which will be connected to a local community college or brick and mortar university. There are even some law schools you can attend that are entirely online for those looking to go through graduate programs. But there are also many private, for-profit institutes that are more than willing to take your money and give you almost nothing in return.
Always check to see whether or not your school is accredited locally by either the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This ensures that your degree is considered locally valid. For example, if you were to attend an online legal program that wasn’t accredited you wouldn’t be qualified to practice law in the majority of American states. One trick a lot of online colleges try is to state that they’re internationally accredited – which does nothing to help you if your degree is based in the United States.
Brick and mortar schools were listed above for a reason. Another common swindle online colleges try is giving you the run around when you try to find a physical location. Sketchy schools may offer a PO Box, or an address that changes frequently. Beware of any institutions that haven’t stayed in one spot for very long.
Legitimate school websites also have a .edu website rather than a .com or .net. These websites are only given to actual schools, so an institution without a .edu may well be giving out fake or otherwise useless degrees.
A common argument against taking courses online is often the lack of student resources. You won’t have access to a library, they say. Tutoring is impossible, and you won’t be able to see a counselor. With a real online program, though, you should have access to all of the above. In addition to being able to physically go on campus and access these things as needed, a good online program will offer you access to a virtual database of articles and give you links to tutoring online. You shouldn’t be settling for less just because you’re attending classes online, and only fake schools will expect you to.
Even if you’re mindful of all of the above, you’re still running a risk if you try attending an exclusively online program. It may seem like a quicker solution right now, but odds are good that you’re just wasting time and money in the long run. Take online courses, but be wary of colleges that are entirely virtual.