Online degrees have become big business with more and more universities and colleges around the world offering them. The areas covered by such degrees include anything from business through to nursing, accounting, economics, the fire services, health services and many more. You can also get virtually any level of qualification now too – Bachelor degrees, a Masters, and even PhDs. These degrees offer busy professionals, and even just busy people, an opportunity to further their qualifications at a location of their choosing, and in their own time.
However, as with most concepts that prove to be popular, the opportunists are out there as well waiting to take advantage of those who don’t do their research before spending money. These fake online degrees are invariably offered by online universities that are neither accredited nor recognised by any industry or accreditation body. Enrolling in one of these fake courses will not get you anywhere in your career. Therefore, if you are considering pursing an online or career certification, here are some points to consider.
How long as the college or university been around? A short operational history is not necessarily bad as there are reputable, accredited institutions coming online all the time but a long-standing history with a proven track record is definitely preferable in terms of security and reputation.
Is it accredited? This is important because educational institutions that have been accredited by one of the officially recognised accreditation boards like SACS must provide a certain level of education. Furthermore, credits gained at these institutions, whether online or not, can be transferred between them. Accredited institutions are also industry recognised and many employers will check to make sure your degree or certification does come from one of them. A degree from a non-accredited college or university could end up hampering your career aspirations so play it safe from the beginning and check this out before you enroll.
Is the institution financially secure ie does it have a secure financial history or is it a fly-by-night set up that could disappear overnight and take your fees with it!
What sort of expenses will you be up for with your chosen course? Be sure to check the requirements around attending classroom sessions for lab work or practical sessions. Most online fire courses for Fire Officer certification for example require candidates to attend an 8-hour classroom session to learn how to use the various pieces of apparatus. These may incur additional lab costs or equipment hire fees over and above the course content.
Will the training you’ll receive meet your educational aspirations? Enrolling in classes that won’t be of any use to you could be an expensive waste of time and money. Make sure you request a complete curriculum up front so you can make sure all the classes you’ll be paying for are going to help you move towards that educational goal.
Is the curriculum up to date? Get hold of a list of required textbooks and other learning materials and check them against the most recent versions. A textbook that is years out of date and has long since been superseded by more up to date material could be a red flag.
Is there technological support for online students as in online portals that allow you to check your coursework progression, assignment submissions, and various other pertinent details? Is there support for course related issues that may arise, and do they have an online library you can access?
Are there student services for online students? Some universities don’t offer tutoring, full placement or advising services to online students.
In other words, it’s important to get as much information as you possibly can about the college or university you’re thinking about enrolling in so that you can ensure it’s legitimate and meets your requirements.