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Distance learning has opened doors for many students, especially for those who cannot afford to pay for the high fees of FULL-TIME courses. Although online distance learning courses have many advantages over on-campus degree courses, many factors come into play in order to make this a success for students. Due to the differences in the way that education is being delivered and acquired, adjustments and changes in APPROACH need to be undertaken.
SELECTING THE RIGHT SCHOOL
The first element for success is to choose the right distance learning school. There are many unscrupulous “degree mills” around in the market that are only keen to sell their degrees without providing good education and ample student support. As a result, the degrees offered by these institutions may not be recognized, or may sometimes even be regarded as bogus degrees. In order to prevent this, do the proper BACKGROUND check on the institution you are considering with the relevant authorities to VERIFY on their accreditation and authenticity before registering.
Some students enroll in an online distance learning course without doing a cost benefit analysis of taking the course in the first place. It is a known fact that obtaining an education requires a hefty sum of INVESTMENT. However, this should be compared with the potential additional INCOME that can be generated from the degree that is earned. Only then can the full rewards be reaped from gaining an online degree.
There have been many cases where employers or business industries were WARY of the validity of online degrees. With so many online institutions selling degrees, it is justified for employers to exercise caution. Although a distance learning degree may be 100% legitimate, it would help if you provide adequate explanation on the ACCREDITATION of the degree in order to avoid misunderstanding. By stressing that the accreditation body which accredited your institution or your program is recognized by the United States Department of Education, you can then eliminate any doubts that employers about the validity of your degree.
DISCIPLINE, DETERMINATION, AND TIME MANAGEMENT
In the actual course of study, many students lack discipline and FOCUS and therefore are unable to keep up with online lessons and assignments. It is very important for distance learning students to have great determination to succeed, as it is very easy to get de-motivated and DISTRACTED when you are alone with no peers. Good time management along with communication with other students would make excellent measures for success.
MAKE FULL USE OF FACILITIES PROVIDED
Many distance learning online courses offer online lectures and email correspondence to facilitate COMMUNICATION with lecturers, tutors and other students. These facilities should be utilized as much as possible as it provides a link back to the education institution. Furthermore, this would be a great source of MOTIVATION in order to keep progressing through the course of study.
UTILIZE CREDIT TRANSFERS
Most distance learning institutions allow students to transfer their credits from other courses that they had taken from other universities or colleges. This way, students will not have to REPEAT what they have already learned. In order to do this, it is important for distance learning students to obtain TRANSCRIPTS and results from their previous schools and send them to their distance learning online university to obtain credit transfers.
TECHNOLOGY FOR EDUCATION
The final element for distance learning success it the ability to make full use of the CONVENIENCES that technology has to offer. Many online universities provide students with online research resources that are valuable for completing assignments or producing research papers. The cost of facilities such as virtual libraries and online books has probably been factored into the fees paid and therefore it makes good sense to utilize these facilities to the fullest.
BOGUS DISTANCE LEARNING DEGREES
With the rise in demand for online distance learning degrees, many bogus learning institutions have mushroomed over the internet with the sole intention of taking ADVANTAGE of innocent students seeking for a genuine degree. These so-called “Colleges” often attract applicants with their ATTRACTIVE degree programs which are boasts of easy graduation, low tuition fees, no examinations and credit given for life experience, all of which just sound too good to be true. Some of them even go to the extent of prospecting for customers by sending out bulk email citing university degrees for sale.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE
Therefore, with all the confusion generated, how can students sieve out the genuine from the bogus? This may be especially difficult for distance learning programs when students practically make their choices based on what is shown on a WEBSITE. In many cases, especially for international students, it may not be feasible to visit the physical site of a college before enrolling. With this, making choices will really depend on the appearance and content of a website, which sometimes may not be an accurate judge of the CREDIBILITY of a college.
One of the qualifying factors that can be utilized by students to make correct enrolment decisions is by determining the type of college accreditation that has been received by their college of consideration. If the college vaguely states itself as having “nationwide or worldwide accreditation” without stating specifically which REGIONAL accreditation body it is accredited with, then most likely this college does not possess LEGITIMATE accreditation.
NAMES TO LOOK FOR
In the United States, college accreditation is awarded by one of the following six accreditation agencies which are all appointed by the National Board of Education - New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA), Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU). Each agency has been allocated responsibility for providing accreditation for schools in specific states. Therefore, it would be best to run checks on a particular online degree institution with the agency offering college accreditation for the state in which the college is registered in.
Another tell-tale sign of bogus degrees offered is when the university advertises itself through mass-mailing email featuring university degrees for SALE. Many bogus distance learning institutions prey on people who are desperate for a degree, but don’t have the time and money to go for proper education. That is why these colleges boast of degrees without any examinations, classes, studying or even waiting. There are even websites that offer degrees for just a few hundred dollars which can be ordered and received within 7 days. Furthermore, some of them also have dubious web addresses, stating accreditation from agencies which are not any one of the six listed above. Additionally, they offer fixed prices for their Master’s, Bachelor’s, and even Doctorate Degrees. Their JUSTIFICATION for awarding degrees will be for giving credit to life experiences such as any type of work experience, any educational background, any workshops or community services attended as well as travel experience, hobbies and even on the number of books that a person has read!
Rose M. is the editor of www.distance-learning-college-guide.com where you find answers, information and advice on distance learning colleges, accredited online degrees and online courses. You may visit her website at www.distance-learning-college-guide.com.
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