A real college degree takes time and energy. Adults with careers and families often use time crunch as an excuse to talk themselves out of a college education. This might be the reason some end up actually buying into the “life experience” degree sold by illegitimate diploma mills. The message every working guy or gal wants to hear is: “your experience matters just as much as academic college credit.” Theoretically that might be nice, but it is definitely out of step with the metrics of higher education.
Traditional curriculum, online or not, requires students earn a real college degree by completing courses for credit and fulfilling a number of required fundamental courses. In between are exams and papers, both tools by which high-quality institutions measure the skills necessary to succeed in a field.
Online degree programs offer students the freedom to participate in their education on their own schedule and at their own pace. The virtual classroom and online tools have evolved so that peer collaboration, virtual meetings, and online messaging and forums may effectively bind course participants together.
Consumers shopping for online college degrees most likely believe that when they search for those keywords that legitimate college programs will show up in the search results. And why not? No one said anything about “fake” or “phony” or “diploma mill.” The Internet’s attributes that make it possible to access THE WORLD can also be its biggest drawbacks.
Simply put, online search is a milieu of legit and bogus online colleges. Unless you know what to avoid, you could be as easily duped as others. Natural search results are those that show up outside the blocks of sponsored links. And sponsored links are paid for. Paid online advertising provides a lucrative and effective means of advertising using popular search keywords, such as “online college degree” or “online bachelors degree.”
Check out every online degree site. The Oregon Office of Degree Authorization maintains a fairly up-to-date list of unaccredited colleges in the U.S. Also check out the accreditation credentials of any online college you consider. The Department of Education has a list of recognized distance learning accreditation agencies. Cross check it with ODA’s list of un-recognized accreditation suppliers.
Online programs are no longer the exclusive domain of online universities. Plenty of traditional colleges and universities have added online courses. Not every program is suited to online study, but more students are including online curriculum in their degree program.