Online programs and courses from reputed universities such as USD Online and Penn State World Campus have made education a lot more accessible than it ever was before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every online course out there is just as good. In fact, there are plenty of misleading programs offered by shady universities that every student should be wary of. On that note, you should always look for the following qualities, before joining any online program offered by an institute.
This is the most important feature for any degree course out there, be it online or offline. If an educational institution is offering a course, it needs to be accredited by the concerned authorities or your degree won’t have any significant value in the field while hunting for a job. For example, if you are planning to do an MBA, the course should have an AACSB accreditation. The accrediting authority may vary, but as long as it’s a valid institution, the course should have value as well.
Just because it’s an online course, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to understand and learn everything just by reading the study material and watching video lectures; you will almost inevitably need real-time support at times and therefore, you need to ask the college directly about the support features which they have. If the answer you receive seems unclear or the lofty promises do not seem to be backed up by a systematic approach, it probably means that your experience as an online student of the concerned university won’t be that great either.
Have you heard about them before? If you have, did that leave a good impression on you? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you are probably looking at a reputable institution. However, since we are talking about online universities, there is a chance that you may not have heard about them just because no one near you ever went to an online school! So, do your own research on the web, check out reviews and go to student forums before drawing any conclusions. Additionally, beware of scam universities that use the good name of a reputed institution by modifying the spelling or the name ever so slightly.
Check the Address
Shady universities do not have an actual physical address, therefore, if the concerned university does not have a campus or even a place for their online students to occasionally meet at, it’s probably a scam site and you are better off not wasting any more time on it. These fake institutions generally have a few other common features as well and they are as follows:
- A pressure to enroll as fast as you can
- Upfront payment, often in full or large chunks
- Promise of superfast completion without any difficulties
It is important to understand that the accreditation authorities and the exact specifics of the concerned course will differ, depending on the particular program in question. Nevertheless, what you read above are the basic staples of any quality program offered by an affiliated institution, so they are universally applicable.