Some tips when considering online degree programs
- Be wary of websites that promise to match you with the best college. They're often operated by companies whose business is to generate leads about applicants for admissions offices. They'll ask you a few questions — and for your contact info — and then may bombard you with emails and phone calls about programs from sponsoring schools.
- Search locally first. In-state tuition at a public university or college may be the best deal, generally lower than at religious schools or for-profit schools. "Institutions that are locally based often have a greater commitment to serving students locally," says Poulin.
- Check with employers and professional groups. Ask their opinions on how online programs — and which schools — favorably impact employment and promotion opportunities. Some companies have relationships with certain schools. Also, check websites such as electroniccampus.org and collegechoicesforadults.org.
- Make sure that any online degree program in which you enroll has been fully accredited by a recognized accreditation agency. Otherwise, no matter how hard you study, your degree won't have much value in the workplace.
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Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.