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Are There Bad Online Schools for Getting a Degree?

written by: •edited by: Sylvia Cochran•updated: 5/23/2009

Congratulations on deciding to earn a degree from an online school! Now where should you start? Are there bad online schools for getting a degree? Actually, there are a few to be on the lookout for. Read on to find out how to avoid bad online schools and know a reputable distance learning university

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    Choosing an Online School

    Deciding to earn a degree from an online school is easy. The hard part is choosing the right online school. There are so many options when it comes to online learning. For example, there are big name brick and mortar schools that offer online learning programs.

    There are also virtual universities that have an online presence only. To further complicate matters, there are expensive online programs and cheaper alternatives. With all the choices, it’s hard to know which online schools are bad and which are good.

    At this point I am sure you are wondering: are there bad online schools for getting a degree? Let’s just say that there are a few you should stay away from.

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    Considering Unaccredited Online Schools?

    When looking at an online school, it is important to look at the school’s accreditation first. A school that has been accredited means that it has met certain academic criteria. The school has gone through a review process of its facility, its teachers and its curriculum and has passed the tests set forth by accrediting organizations.

    There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is considered the “gold standard” of accreditation. If you have a degree from a regionally accredited school, the degree will be accepted and acknowledged by other universities. National accreditation is still a great achievement by a school; however, you should know that not all employers or universities accept such a degree.

    Despite most students’ quests for an accredited school, there are some schools which are not accredited. Websites of such schools seek to mollify would-be students by expounding in detail about the voluntary nature of an accreditation and claims that an accreditation does not necessarily mean you will get a quality education.

    This is actually quite true. You could attend a regionally accredited school only to continuously get bad teachers and end up learning very little. Of course, this can happen in any school, whether it is an online school or a traditional school. It is even possible to get a great education from an unaccredited school.

    On the flipside, knowing that accreditation means a school has passed a rigorous approval process tells you that the school cares about proving its quality to others. Most employers will not accept a degree from an unaccredited school, and accredited schools will not accept such a degree for transfer credit.

    Why would you want to be put in such a precarious position? Online school is expensive. Why pay for something you may not be able to use? It is much better and safer to stick with accredited schools only.

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    Life Experience Degrees

    Have you ever received an email advertising a “Life Experience Degree?” The email explains how your work and life experience more than make up for the lack of a college degree. For a nominal fee the “online school” will take your work and life experience and give you a degree based on it. Your money buys you a diploma to hang on your wall, and some fake transcripts detailing the classes you never took.

    There are a few things wrong here. First, it is dishonest, especially if you are planning to use the degree to get a new job. Second, using one of these degrees to get a job is actually illegal in some states. Third, these degrees undermine the hard work that students put into receiving their degrees.

    These so called schools are actually just individuals who have set up shop on the Internet to take your money and print out a diploma for you. Most of these people have already been caught by police once. They just change the name of their “online school” and build a new website. Be on the lookout for these types of places. Their websites look very real and professional. Remember that a real school with have contact information. Many of these sites list only an address for contact information.

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    How to Pick the Right Online Schools

    Formulate an idea of what field you want to go into. Find an online school that offers a wide variety of choices if you think you might change your mind. Next, research the school’s accreditation. Regional accreditation should be your first choice, but remember that national accreditation can work for you, too. Research the field you want to go into and make sure a nationally accredited program would work for you.

    So, are there bad online schools for getting a degree? Yes, there are; but now you know how to avoid them!