As the US continues to slog though a tough economy many people are taking this time to invest in themselves though higher education. With unemployment sticking at 9.6% and older workers staying out of work for an average of 36 weeks, there are simply a lot of people with time on their hands to retrain for a new career or brush up on old skills.
If you are thinking about joining the millions of Americans who are currently enrolled at an online university, there are a few things you should know before jumping on the bandwagon. Even though online education has been an overwhelmingly positive force in people’s lives since its widespread adoption 10 years ago, you should get to know the online education sphere and the different options available to you. This will help you make the most out of your time and money spent on this endeavor.
Difference Between For-Profit and Non-Profit Schools
A traditional non-profit college is usually a four year program sponsored by a public or religious institution. While most non-profit schools use online education as a supplement to their in-person classes, more and more of them are turning to online education in order to make their programs available to more students. A for-profit university is run as a business in order to create a return on investment for their financial backers. While it is hard to make a generalization about the quality of education at both of these types of institutions, non-profit colleges usually have the upper hand when it comes to prestige – an intangible but important asset when looking for work.
Advantages of Enrolling in an Online Program at a For-Profit School
Even though traditional non-profit schools outnumber those found in the for-profit sector, most online programs are run by for-profit schools. That means if you choose to embark on an online educational experience, you’ll most likely end up at one of these schools. The number one advantage that comes with online education is flexibility. Online schools know that their students lead busy lives and are sometimes balancing full or part time work in addition to their family responsibilities. If flexibility is important to you, make sure that the online school you are checking out offers an asynchronous learning option. That’s just a fancy way of saying, do the coursework on your own time when you choose.
Accreditation, Accreditation, Accreditation…
In order to ensure that you are attending a reputable online school, you should inquire about their accreditation status. Even though there is no national body that regulates online education, there are regional bodies like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that accredit degree granting institutions and assure the public that they meet high legal and professional standards. Another great place to check on the accreditation status of an online school is the Distance Education and Training Council.
Guest contributor Aaron Huber is a staff writer for Global Finance School. Global Finance School is a leader in producing interactive e-learning courses on finance, accounting, and economics.