For whatever reason, when deciding to continue education through distance learning or online colleges, the most important requirement to check out first is if the establishment is “accredited” by accrediting institutions that are recognized by the federal government through the Department of Education. Otherwise, students could end up paying their money for a qualification paper that will not get recognition by almost all traditional establishments.
The downside of distance learning or an online degree is, even if the learning establishment that is giving the qualification has the required accrediting, it is not yet widely accepted by employers. It could also be difficult when trying to transfer the credits obtained to other programs run by those that do not recognize the particular learning establishment. This attests to the fact that it is a mutual recognition among the educators and their partners, so that the quality of the education given will be at a higher level, and there are no sets of rules to follow.
The accreditation is a process where other learning institutions, through a peer group setup, ascertain that a given learning establishment has what it take in terms of the education quality it is availing. The essential issues they would be looking at could be the school’s mission, goals, objectives, available resources and how they are utilized, enrollment requirements, and the overall quality of the education.
It is important to pay attention to the accrediting of a learning establishment because the acceptance level is very much dependant on the assessment done and the kind of recognition given by these groups. Not finding the name of the establishment a student is planning to attend in the listing of National and Regional Accredited Agencies could mean whatever qualification a learning establishment is availing to the public will not be recognized by a wide margin, which will include those who are in charge of hiring or admitting student to the many higher learning institutions, because the peer group that is doing the accreditation is made up of this group. It has nothing to do with the government and what the government does is to assesses the recommendations to see if there are irregularities and whether the process meets certain criteria.
There is also an agency known as Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that carries its own list of those that had been validated as accredited establishments, and not finding the establishment a student wants to join in these two lists could mean a red flag. However, still there could be establishments that cannot make it into the list, yet they could avail quality education or they are not necessarily illegal, but the downside is there will always be a recognition problem.
There are certain establishments that are offering professional training that might not need the accreditation, because the profession itself might be a hands-on training where there is a high demand for it in the job market, or the establishments are recognized by a given sector as professional organizations. For example, most short-term computer training courses fall into this category.
As a result, the two essential concerns students should pay heed to are employers and other higher learning establishments where the students might be planning to further their studies. Because their not recognizing the certificate might reduce the value of the education that is attained by incurring a lot of expense and time investment. If students are doing it just to satisfy their learning drive, there will not be a problem.
It is also possible that there is a better chance that the certification would get recognition by a current employer for advancement, raise, or the like. But the bottom line of the accreditation is a certification obtained from any learning establishments will be as good as the traditional learning establishments if it is from an accredited school, and that definitely will go a long way and would be worth the investment. In addition, more and more employers have started recognizing the distance learning education.
The expense more or less would be the same with students who attend regular classes, because there is always room and board, whoever is covering it. The cost involving learning material will also be the same except that students can opt to buy used ones. One expense that is possible to eliminate could be the cost of commuting to a school, but again most distance learners are working people who have to commute to work. Cosnsequently, the only advantage it avails for the most part is doing it at one’s own convenience and pace.
If there is one thing lacking in the process, it is live interaction that usually takes place in a classroom environment. However, there are teleconferences, videos, email, message board, and chat rooms that will help the students to interact with other students and the faculty members, including the instructors. That might be the only area that will be different. Other than that it is possible to listen to a recorded lecture that could take the normal class room hours at the comfort of one’s home or if the workplace environment allows it.
There are what are known as diploma mills, establishments that are not striving to avail a high standard of education that students have to watch out for no matter what kind of incentives they are offering. Some of them could also be unnecessarily expensive and comparing price and doing a thorough research about the stand of the learning establishments is very important.
As it is, distance learning is not yet fully accepted even if the acceptance rate is on the rise and incurring a huge expense will not make things any better. Going for those schools that have the accreditation and offer an affordable tuition fee is a wise decision for the long haul. Because it is always possible to borrow money for the distance learning, which means paying back the money could be difficult, and might take a long time if some kind of planning is not in place in advance.
Hence, especially adults who were procrastinating going back to school because of work, family, lack of time, and drive will find the latest development of distance education very attractive and accommodating, as not only the quality of the education has been augmented, but the number of the establishments is on the rise. The fee and the amount of time it takes to complete a diploma or a degree is also shrinking making it the best time ever to look toward the direction of furthering one’s education level, not to miss out from the advantages that could be had, as the demand for higher education in the workplace is not letting up.