Taking classes online used to be looked at as utterly inferior to traditional, face to face classroom instruction. Online classes were treated like a passing fad. Many students that wanted to take classes online for credit to transfer to their brick and mortar university found that they could not get approval by their university or college for the online-earned credits. There were, however, some savvy students who would merely present course descriptions to their universities getting approval without the university ever realizing that the classes were online.
Much Has Changed in Taking Classes Online!
The digital age is here and more and more universities are not only accepting the value of online education, they are also starting their own online courses to offer to student (or already now have established online programs).
While classes online can serve both students and universities, not all online classes are created equal. Despite the widening acceptance of online classes, many institutions have turned education into one big diploma farm. Colleges or universities that function as diploma farms typically accept 99% of applicants in hopes of making money regardless of the academic prowess of their students.
Not only do these institutions accept nearly all applicants, most students also receive an “A” in most (if not all) of their online classes. These programs plant students like seeds and are growing money trees with little regard to the quality of education students are truly receiving.
Answer These Three Questions Prior to Starting Classes Online
- How long has your chosen institution been in existence?
If you cannot find this information directly on the institution’s website, a good place to start is the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org) if you are in the United States. If you cannot find information on your potential institution there, you can even just verify how long the institution’s website has been in existence. Visit WhoIs.net (http://www.whois.net/) and type in the institution’s website address. There you should find information about the business and additional contact info, if needed.
- What kinds of reviews has the institution received? (Are they mostly positive or mostly negative? And, if mostly negative, do any benefits outweigh the negatives?)
A simple Google search using “Institution Name reviews” (replacing “Institution Name” with your chosen institution, of course) can often give you enough information to get started. Be sure to check several sites since some companies can actually create their own reviews trying to trick people.
- What is your main goal in taking classes online?
Write down your overall goal in taking classes online. The criteria for choosing an online institution can be much different if you are just looking for a one-off course versus a 4-year online degree. Either way, you want quality and you want to meet your goal. If you want to just learn one piece of elearning software like Adobe Captivate (screen capture software), then you can do that cheaply without going through a large university. Do you want an easy degree or do you want to actually learn valuable skills to help you in your career? Do you just need classes as a requirement for your current job? Do you need a degree for a specific trade? Only you can answer these. Bottom line: Define your goal, focus on that goal when choosing your educational institution, and see it through to the end.
Okay, so there were a few more than three questions listed… and there are many other things to consider as well. But these should help you get started.
Always do your research prior to paying any money for classes online. Typically, with little effort, you can find plenty of information on the institution from which you would like to take online classes by searching in Google.
Remember: Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time. Here’s to your success! All the best to you.