SolveYourProblem Article Series: Online Degrees
Is An Online Degree Program For Me?


     Are Online Degrees All The Same?

Unfortunately for those who wish to learn online, not all online degrees are created equal. There are some degrees which employers will be extremely impressed by, and some degrees, which will make a prospective employer laugh and point. What’s the main difference between the two? That would be accreditation. Accreditation is what separates a real online program, which allows you to learn with a fake one where you can just pay money to get a diploma. Those are what you would call diploma mills – there’s no course work, no tests, no essays, and because of all of that there is no real diploma – only a sheet of paper that looks like a diploma. Also, some diplomas are going to be taken more seriously than others. For example, if you received a degree from Harvard, obviously you’re going to be taken a lot more serious than if you had received a degree from Mike State. So just how do you navigate the treacherous waters of the online degree world?

The first thing you should be doing when you see an online degree you would like to pursue would be to look to see if that online program is accredited or not. Generally there will be a place somewhere on their website that you can find this information out from. After you see that the program you are interested in is actually accredited, you need to make sure that the accreditation that they received is legitimate. Ever since the rise of diploma mills there has been a rise in accreditation mills. The only difference between these two is that while one gives out diplomas the other one gives out accreditation to the diploma mills, allowing them to pretend that they’re legit. To be a legitimate accrediting agency it must be recognized by either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The latter of these two has a database on it’s website that will allow you to quickly search for the accreditation agency that you’re looking for. In some states it is against the law to use a degree as a credential on a resume if the degree has not been accredited by a recognized accreditation agency. This often comes back to bite would-be employees, sometimes very hard. The moral of that story is that not only do you need to look to make sure that the diploma course is accredited, but look to make sure the accreditation agency is legitimate.

Next you should spend your time comparing schools and researching their reputations. Look closely at the credentials of whoever is in charge of running the program – if there is a person. If you want to learn about nuclear power, you’re going to want someone who fully understands nuclear power to be running the course. Many universities will boast about the credentials of their teachers, so this information shouldn’t require too much digging. Along the same lines, you may also want to look into that course’s alumni. If one particular school is consistently putting out people who are doing great work and finding jobs in their field, you have to give that particular course an advantage over the other ones. Finally, when evaluating a course, make sure you look how long it has been running for. Generally speaking the longer a course has been running the more refined it is, and the better it has become. Every course is going to have a few mistakes in it – maybe essays that should be done on different topics, or maybe they neglect to focus on a particular topic – but the fact is the longer the course has been running the more time they have had to find these mistakes, and thus, fix them.

If you’re really having a hard time deciding between two different programs, one of the best ways to go is to contact prospective employers and see if they know what that program is, and if they do, what their thoughts are on it. This will give you an inside edge into the mind of the field you’re looking to enter. Also, make sure to look on various forums and ask for information. If someone else has taken the class you’re looking at, they can give you all the inside dirt that won’t be mentioned on the website.

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