If you've been investigating potential online colleges, you know you have a good number of choices. Some are better than others. So how do you tell the difference? The single most important factor in choosing an online college, or any college, is to find out if that college is accredited.
Accreditation affects your education in many ways. It will affect your ability to earn an advanced degree, and it will affect your chances of getting that first job fresh out of college.
What is Accreditation?
Websters Dictionary defines accreditation as:
" to recognize (an educational institution) as maintaining standards that qualify the graduates for admission to higher or more specialized institutions or for professional practice."
Those schools that have been accredited through legitimate accreditation agencies provide an independent review of educational institutions. Accreditation provides the student and employers with assurance that this is a legitimate institution with experienced and qualified professors, and functions as a legitimate organization.
Beware of Diploma Mills
While not all online schools that don't have accreditation can be defined as a diploma mill, the lack of accreditation will greatly hurt your opportunities in the future as you further your education or seek employment after graduation. Diploma mills will disguise themselves as legitimate schools but their diplomas are worthless. They will not hold the student responsible for their past academic history and will apply life experiences to credits earned. They are only interested in your money and not reputation. Often, they will allow the student to purchase high honors for their diploma. If an online school promises you an impossibly easy degree in a time period that is unreasonably short, and has no accrediting agency, or one that is made up (yes, you do have to investigate their accrediting agencies), you can be certain that you are looking at a diploma mill. Avoid them like the plague!
Benefits of Online Schooling
If you're about to choose between a traditional college campus, and a qualified online school, you'll need to consider many factors. While there are many advantages to an online education, there are also a few disadvantages you'll need to be aware of.
Whatever your choice, you'll make better choices in education when you've done your homework.