In the current economic downturn, with jobs in all sectors being cut back, the value of a good education and a skill-set suitable to the modern workplace is at an all-time high.
But while minors are compelled by law to go to school until a certain age, adults are often limited by financial and family concerns. Once they reach maturity, many Americans simply can not afford to invest upwards of $20,000 in a college or university education or put their lives on hold while they do so.
In previous decades, this would have meant an end to their academic ambitions and a resignation into the niche carved for them or which they had carved themselves. But in the 21st century, a new phenomenon has emerged along with the internet. Learn at home through an online college.
With advertisements appealing to man’s urge to better himself, gain qualifications and create a better life, thousands every year flock to the internet institutions in order to achieve the relevant piece which will allow them to switch the path of their career and life.
Although in principle, advancing oneself through education is an admirable aim, few prospective students realise the amount of time and effort which must be put in to gaining a qualification in addition to holding down a regular nine to five job. The dropout rate is similar to that of regular colleges and although conspicuously higher with some schools.
One of the biggest problems when choosing to enrol online is choosing the right institution. There are thousands out there and all too many of them are ready to take a student’s money and run. There is no ranking system for online colleges and no guarantee that the one chosen will give value for money or even a qualification worth having.
In addition, there are several online colleges which have been set up especially to tie the prospective student into punitive loan agreements while giving nothing, or very little in return.
Even colleges which claim to be accredited may not give a genuine academic qualification and hopeful graduates presenting their new diploma certificates to an employer could find themselves laughed out of the building.
“The fake accrediting agency is just for show,” explains the U.S. Department of Education. “It offers its accreditation for a fee without an in-depth review of the school’s programs or teachers.
“These accrediting agencies do not ensure that students receive a quality education. Often, the fake accrediting agency has simply conducted a business deal with an institution without investigating the institution in any manner.”
An important point to consider is that if it seems to be to good to be true then it probably is. No-one ever becomes a doctor or an architect or even a chef by putting in one hour of study per week for two months.
This is not to say that all online colleges are cynical scams set up to fleece the unwary. Many genuine universities offer legitimate online or distance learning courses, but to get onto these it is usually necessary to have some basic level of qualification to start with.
If a student failed to graduate high school, it’s unlikely that any legitimate higher education institution, would take them on unless they had achieved an equivalent qualification elsewhere. It’s never too late to better yourself and gain more qualifications, but unless care is taken you could find yourself a lot worse off financially.