If you’re interested in furthering your education online, there is no shortage of opportunities available in today’s increasingly online world. Most universities and colleges offer e-learning versions of their courses that are every bit as valid and recognized as their classroom courses. However, not all online courses, and not all classroom courses either, are created equal! Therefore, before you launch yourself into an online degree, it pays to check a few things out first. Otherwise, you could be spending money and wasting valuable time on something that will ultimately be worthless to you.
Top of the list is checking their accreditation. All reputable online universities, colleges and training centers should be accredited. It’s your guarantee of quality and a recognised degree. However, there are different levels and types of accreditations so even here you need to be diligent and ensure your choice of online education provider has the relevant accreditations for your career.
Regional agency accreditation is by far the best level of accreditation an educational institution can hold. Holding SACS accreditation for example, which is a national level accreditation for colleges and universities in the southern US states, is recognised nationally. Earning an online degree or certification from institutions with this level of accreditation ensures your degree or certification is as valid as one you’d get by attending regular university or college. Most future employers will accept the degree as such, and you can transfer credits earned to other universities and colleges should you need to transfer, or want to further your education later. For example, government and fire authorities across the country recognize fire service courses like Fire Instructor 1 done through e-learning training centers that hold regional accreditations. You can also transfer credits to other educational institutions.
Another type of accreditation is that issued by a Distance Education and Training Council. Whilst this accreditation isn’t as widely recognized, it’s still accepted by many employers. However, you may run into problems if you want to transfer credits to another institution. If that’s not something you intend to do, then enrolling in online courses provided by institutions with this accreditation is definitely an option for you.
Some professional organizations accredit certain online training centers and education providers. An example is ‘The American Library Association’. However, be aware that generally only companies in that specific, or related, industry or discipline will recognize the qualification or degree. Some colleges and universities may accept credits from these courses depending on the reputation and standing of the professional organization that accredited it.
The final type of online education providers are those that are not accredited at all, or at least not by any recognized accreditation agency. This type of degree or certification is fine for those who are studying for their own enjoyment and not to further their careers, or get a job. However, industry and employers do not generally recognize them nor can you transfer credits to any other educational facility.
Whichever type of online educational facility you ultimately choose to go through depends entirely on your reasons for wanting to further your education. If you want to boost your chances of climbing further up the corporate ladder and earn more money, you’re best sticking with one that holds a regional accreditation. If you’re simply studying for your own interests, then certifications issued by non-accredited facilities are fine.