Online degree programs | Going back to school out of necessity
Since the recession, the world has changed considerably. One of the biggest shifts is the workforce. Since losing so many jobs, consumers are contemplating the effectiveness of earning a completely different set of skill sets. For example, manufacturing took a particularly hard hit and more than 2 million jobs in the sector were eliminated. A good number of those jobs will never be recovered and most people in the field will need to rethink their career direction to find employment. It may take new education and training to make them viable candidates for future jobs.
Online degree programs
One thing that has surged in recent years is the number of online schools advertising their “fast-track” curricula. It’s an alluring advertisement. Rather than spending four years or more traveling to and from school, people today can join in on an online program and do their work from home. It can take a few weeks for a certification or a few short months for a full degree. The draw is the quick timing and convenience of working on skills from home.
What to watch out for with online degree programs
Still, with so many abounding, there are cautions in what to look for. Here are some tips to be aware of when choosing an online school:
- Accreditation is key. The first step is to make sure the school a consumer wants to go to is accredited by the US Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation. These are national resources that monitor the classes, work and procedures of schools, and their approval means the institution is consistently meeting or exceeding basic learning requirements for students.
- Examine pricing for insight into the school. Consumers who find schools that require pay per diploma or pay per program business models may be getting drawn in by “diploma mills.” These are businesses that mirror reputable schools but are hardly the same. An accredited school should charge by credit hour or semester, not by degree. If a school promotes getting more than one degree concurrently, it also could be a diploma mill.
- CLEP tests should be handled with caution. CLEP, or College Level Examination Programs, is becoming increasingly popular due to the experience factor. There is a good sector of consumers who have minimal education but years of experience. That experience sometimes gives them better aptitudes for their field of choice than a 4-year degree would. Schools created the CLEP to give them credit for that time in the actual field of study. People should be aware that diploma mills use their own form of CLEP too, and it means nothing in terms of value.
- A good online college should be transparent. If a school is truly worth it, it will work hard to keep its reputation clean. That means it will be forthcoming with the program, contact information, curriculum, payment process, financial aid system, etc. Consumers should do their own research with a new online school. It’s always a good idea to check the school’s background and history of complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
School in the future
School in the future is a necessity. There is a huge sector of unemployed Americans who may very well have to prepare themselves for another career choice. Going back to school to continue education may be the solution to help them reintegrate back into the work force, but they need to do it with caution. A little research will help them find the best schools and the best foundation for their new career.