Being able to pursue a college education has become much easier in the last few years as schools such as the University of Phoenix Online and others have created college curriculums that you can complete without ever stepping foot inside of a classroom. Some of these programs are great alternatives for people who can’t be inside of a traditional classroom setting because of schedule conflicts, distance, or other reasons, but there are an equal number of online programs that no one should be going to. Here’s how to pursue an education online and not get ripped-off in the process.
Choose Your Program First. Before choosing a school, consider what type of degree you would like to get and why you would like to get it. You should go to school for something because it’s something you are truly passionate about and because the education you receive while earning the degree will be genuinely useful to you in advancing your career. Remember, it’s not the degree that matters, it’s what you learn when you’re there. A degree itself is not a one-way ticket to success, but it will help you get your foot in the door.
Choosing the School. This is definitely the hard part. The first thing you need to do is come up with a list of 5 or 10 schools that offer the program you are interested in. Compare their prices, curriculums, professors, and the like. Which will provide you the best value of an education? Do a lengthy Google search and find out what people who have already completed the program are saying about it. This will give you the best indication as to whether the school you are considering attending is worthwhile or not.
Avoid the scams. There are a lot of non-accredited “colleges” out there that would love to charge you a few thousand dollars and hand you a useless degree. These companies are called “diploma mills” and it’s actually legal for them to allow students to take out federal student loans to pay for them. You could enroll in what you think is a legitimate university, try to transfer your credits and take classes only to find out that nothing’s there. Make sure the school is well established and is accredited. Don’t take the school’s word that they’re accredited either, contact the accreditation organized and find out for sure.
Don’t Pay Too Much. Some of the online schools will charge you thousands of dollars for each course you take. Make sure you are paying fair and competitive prices for your education. It’s very likely that you can take courses from a public school in your state online or in the evenings for much less money than some online school would like to charge you. There’s no need to pay $50,000 for an online education when you could get the same education locally for $20,000.
Put Your Heart Into it. If you treat your online coursework as a nuisance to complete and get out of the way, you shouldn’t bother doing an online degree. You’ll go through two or three years of schooling and get nothing from it. Your education has to be a passion of yours and you have to put a real focus on it if you want to get anything valuable from it.
Getting a degree online can be very valuable if you do it right, but you have to make sure you’re in the right program at the right school and doing it for the right reason for it to be worth your while.