If you're considering getting an online degree, you've got to make sure you pick a program that will give you credentials that are in demand. And one way to know if a program is the real deal is to look for accreditation. Accreditation is a stamp of approval that the program is of good quality.
An online degree is a way to study and get a degree from the comfort of your home. When choosing an online degree, it's important to ensure the program is legitimate and recognized by others.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a way to ensure that colleges, universities, and educational institutions are operating to a high standard. The process is carried out by specialized accrediting organizations that evaluate educational institutions and programs. These accrediting bodies are recognized by organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education, which have quality standards. Keep in mind accreditation is a voluntary process in the US. Colleges don't necessarily need accreditation to operate or offer educational programs. If you're considering attending a college, research is important to ensure it has the proper accreditation. This way, you can avoid degree programs that have yet to be accredited or chosen not to be accredited.
Importance of Accreditation
Accreditation is crucial to getting a quality education, acting as a seal of approval. It verifies that a school meets certain academic standards. This is important for job seekers, especially those with online degrees, as most employers prefer to see that the candidate's degree comes from an accredited program. Furthermore, if you're planning to transfer credits in the future, it's more likely that other schools will accept credits earned from an accredited program. Accreditation also increases the chances of your degree being recognized by graduate programs and future employers. On the other hand, a degree from an unaccredited school is sometimes not accepted.
Types of accreditation: Institutional vs. Programmatic
Accreditation can be divided into two main categories: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation looks at a college's ability to provide quality education and meet academic standards, while programmatic accreditation focuses on specific programs, departments, or academic schools within the college. Institutional accreditation assesses several aspects of a college, such as academics, finances, governance, administration, mission, and resources. On the other hand, programmatic accreditation specializes in a particular academic discipline, like nursing or counseling. It's important to note that not all academic fields have a specialized accreditation organization.
How to Find the Right Online Program
Define Your Needs and Goals
College is about much more than just classes and spending money on a degree. It's an opportunity for you to shape your future by pursuing your interests and building professional skills. When researching schools and programs, look for those that align with your needs and aspirations. However, it's important to remember that goals should often be flexible. Many students change their major at least once before graduation, so don't worry if you need to figure out your precise career path when applying to schools.
Define Your Budget
By comparing your current expenses with projected future costs, you can assess your short and long-term financial needs and determine the maximum amount you're willing to spend on college. This information can help you find funding sources, such as personal savings, loans, scholarships, and grants.
Evaluate Different Online Programs
When choosing an online program, feel free to be selective. Today thousands of colleges and universities provide online education, which means you can find one that's right for you. You can also create a unique evaluation method to compare different options.
Recognition of online degrees by employers
Earning a degree online is becoming an increasingly popular option for many students, and it's important to understand how potential employers perceive it. Online degrees can offer an advantage over traditional classroom-based degrees. Here's why:
Collaboration in the Virtual World
Online degrees often require collaboration through web-based work platforms, similar to how many projects are completed in the corporate world. The ability to work comfortably in a virtual environment and communicate effectively with team members can set you apart from others who may not have had this experience.
Obtaining an online degree involves utilizing technology in numerous ways. From communicating with instructors and submitting assignments to managing online forums and dealing with tech-related issues, you develop valuable tech skills in high demand in today's business world.
Balancing Work and Life
Studying online requires managing your time and balancing your responsibilities, as there is no schedule like in a traditional classroom setting. Earning an online degree demonstrates your ability to effectively balance work and life commitments, a valuable skill for any employer.
What is the best accreditation for online colleges?
Accrediting agencies play a crucial role in ensuring that the education you receive from a college or university is of high quality. In the past, accreditation was mainly divided into regional and national categories. Regional accreditation was considered the gold standard and was awarded to public and private four-year institutions. In contrast, national accreditation was mainly given to trade schools, Bible colleges, and for-profit colleges. However, with the growth of online education, the lines between regional and national accreditation have blurred.
With so many colleges and universities now offering online programs, it's important to be wary of fake accrediting agencies. To ensure you're getting a quality education, check the databases provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). When researching, look for institutions and programs that have received institutional and programmatic accreditation, as these are the two main types of recognized accrediting bodies.
The Closing Thought
Accreditation is a crucial factor that must be considered when considering online colleges. It ensures that the school meets certain standards and provides quality education. However, accreditation is only one aspect of checking a college's overall quality. To understand a complete picture, you must also dig deeper and examine other key factors.
Take a look at graduation rates, student retention rates, job placement statistics, and exam pass rates. These statistics can offer insight into a college's academic performance and success. Additionally, reach out to current students and ask about their college experiences. This can give you a well-rounded perspective on what to expect when attending the accredited online college of your choice. Considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the right accredited online college that aligns with your goals and expectations.