As the internet grows up, so do so-called online colleges spring up like daisies. You can be sure they are about as much value to someone wanting an education as the trade and correspondence schools that advertise on afternoon TV. Usually, their pitches are made between scenes of interminable old movies. I like to call those TV pitches Drop-Out Theater.
Their eager announcers promise to get the unemployed or underemployed qualified to qualify for careers in such exciting fields as veterinary assistant, drafting, auto repair, hairdressing or hospital bedpan jockey. Or they offer training for other jobs that appeal to people sitting on their couches at 2 p.m. every day with nothing better to do, because they dropped out of school or were kicked out of their most recent jobs. For those people, neither belated online high school diplomas nor college degrees will be of any help, unless they get the incentive to get up and do something positive about their futures.
Many of the phony colleges have very prestigious-sounding names that are just slightly different than the real ones. Some use words such as Columbia or Southern or California in their names to impress potential suckers. The worst ones are just so-called diploma mills, where the campus is a P.O. box somewhere. No matter what TV or online promises are made by the totally phony or almost legitimate online or mail-order colleges, the total, on-campus, hands-on experience at a traditional institution is still usually the only way to get a meaningful education.
Of course, not all of the online or TV education courses are phony. Many legitimate colleges and universities now offer combination courses, particularly to employed people, where some on-campus study is required, while much of the course work can be done by computer, CDs, DVDs and/or special TV educational programs.
Through intelligent research and advice from knowledgeable experts, prospective students can easily learn the difference between the real and the phony. Of course, the first requirement is to get off those couches, turn off Drop-Out Theater, and go do something positive about their education and careers.