Choosing to earn your degree online can be a fantastic decision for your future. By studying online, you can get the same degree as you would in a traditional setting while still working and meeting your other responsibilities. Unfortunately, there are some really bad online colleges that will take your money and leave you with a degree that is worth less than the paper on which it is written. If you are shopping around for an online college, look for these 5 warning signs that mean an online school is trouble:
- No Accreditation – In order for your degree to be widely accepted by graduate programs and employers, it is important that you attend a school that has the proper accreditation. While all online schools will claim some sort of accreditation, the words alone are not enough. Check the accreditation of your potential school to make sure it is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation is best and, ideally, the school, department, and program of study should all be approved by the accrediting agency. More information about accreditation is available on the Department of Education’s site.
- Excess adjuncts – Although adjunct faculty may have more real-world experience, too many classes taught by adjuncts equals to an education taught by teaching assistants instead of qualified faculty. This can lead to a lower quality of education and a degree that will not provide you with what you need to succeed in your chosen profession.
- Varying requirements – If the requirements for the online version of a program vary greatly from those for the on-campus program, it is probably because the online degree program is less strenuous and of a lower quality. Look for online programs that have rigorous requirements that are closely aligned to those of a traditional degree program. After all, education isn’t cheap. You want to be sure you are getting the most for your money.
- Excess discounts – While we all want the cheapest education possible, a school that offers deep discounts for online classes is probably reducing services for online students as well. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you are tempted by extremely cheap online tuition, just remember that you get what you pay for.
- Constant changes – While it is good for an online program to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in technology, too many frequent upgrades and changes may mean that school technology departments and faculty have little experience with the system. This can lead to headaches for students who have problems. Be wary of online schools that change their technology and platforms too often.