Distance education or distance learning has had a bad rap for many years, primarily because distance education was not part of mainstream higher education in the past. Today almost every technical school, community/junior college, four-year college, and the university has fully embraced distance education. This has lead to degrees earned through distance education becoming readily accepted by most organizations and businesses.
Even though distance education is the mainstream, there are still educational institutions and organizations on the Internet that are considered diploma mills.
Being an essay writer at the service where everyone can ask to write my essay, I can say that online learning is the easiest and most convenient method of taking college courses for those who what to continue their education. However, as with everything on the Internet, you need to be careful of scammers and in this case – diploma mills.
Diploma mills are online schools that are only interested in taking your money rather than providing real education. The amount of actual online learning which takes place is minimal.
Diploma mills are in reality a business that is disguised as a legitimate educational institution. Their only motive is to make a profit. They offer college, university, or vocational-technical degrees without any academic standards. They make money by providing degrees, providing academic references, and questionable transcripts for specific prices.
Avoiding Diploma Mills
Knowing how to avoid diploma mills, sometimes referred to as degree mills, is important to ensuring valuable time and money are not wasted. To protect one’s self as a consumer of education, the Better Business Bureau says to avoid online schools that:
- Offer a degree in less time than an accredited institution; for example, earning a bachelor’s degree in less than six months.
- Lists accrediting agencies which sounds too impressive and do not exist.
- Places too much emphasis on earning a degree based on lifetime or real-world experiences.
- Charges tuition based on earning a degree or discounts for enrolling in multiple programs.
- Provides students little or no interaction with instructors in the degree program.
- Has a name similar to well-known accredited institutions.
- Has addresses that include a suite number or post office box number.
- Uses an application that has no admission requirements or no questions asking about previous academic history.
- Have vague degree requirements and lack program or course descriptions.
- Change their address often, even moving from one state to another.
- Charge a fee for specific grade point averages and other awards.
Reputable Online Schools
Legitimate online schools do not fall into any of the categories listed above. Their schools have academic expectations and are accredited institutions recognized by the US Department of Education, examples include:
To verify an online school’s accreditation, visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation which is the US Department of Education’s accreditation source. Simply enter the accreditation name(s) provided by the online school and check it against this database for legitimacy.
There is an increased interest in earning an online degree, because of the convenience. This has also brought about an increase in diploma mills. Like any good consumer, do your research ad homework on a school before enrolling.
Myths about Distance Education
Even with the mainstream acceptance of distance education, there is still a lot of inaccurate information being circulated by people who have suffered bad experiences at some Internet sources. This inaccurate information persists because of diploma mills. Spending time researching potential distance education programs will weed out diploma mills.
The quality of distance education is not as good as traditional education
Quality distance education programs are just as good as attending the traditional classroom instruction. Distance education programs provide opportunities for students to interact with fellow students and instructors using multimedia programs. Students learn to work collaboratively online with people they may never see, build online portfolios of their work, learn to use the latest technologies in their careers, and more.
Employers will not accept an online degree
As long as the degree is earned from a fully accredited school, then an employer will accept the degree. Typically, accredited school transcripts do not state that courses were taken online. However, employers will not accept a degree earned from a diploma mill.
Credits earned through distance education do not transfer
As long as credits are earned from a legitimately accredited school, they will transfer to other colleges and universities. The only limitation a person may encounter is the number of transferable credits for a program they are applying to in a new college, due to program limitations.
Accreditation always means that a school provides a good education
This is not always true, because diploma mills claim to be accredited. Avoiding diploma mills is best accomplished by checking the legitimacy of their accreditation organizations. Also, even enrolling in a legitimately accredited school does not mean a good education.
Distance education schools offer a faster and easier path to a degree
Legitimate distance education programs do not take shortcuts in time and quality of education. However, diploma mills use this claim as a method for hooking people into their programs. The advantage of distance education is the flexibility to complete a college or advanced degree based on anyone’s schedule and situation. Legitimate distance education programs are easier or harder strictly based on the school offering the program.
Distance Education in an Online Environment
Taking classes online is a practice that has been around for decades, although to varying degrees. As time continues to be a limited commodity in most peoples’ lives, it also becomes more valuable. In a troubled economic environment, people are faced with additional stress and decisions when it comes to determining how to juggle schedules and multi-task priorities.
Pursuing or continuing education may be one of those decisions that require much forethought; monetary and time consumption issues need to be considered. Time management skills will be put to the test. One option that can alleviate some of the time and cost restraints is taking online classes.
Pros and Cons of Online Education
Are online classes for everyone? The answer is no! Students who pursue distance educational goals require structured self-discipline to succeed in an online educational environment. Individuals who are procrastinators, or who are easily distracted from their goals, have problems achieving online success. It’s too easy for them to put off doing assignments or find excuses for not logging into classes.
Some students have a fear of computers and avoid using them whenever possible. Still, others just need that face-to-face environment, where they can attain physical and verbal instruction. Another major challenge that online students face is the need for good communication skills and the ability to chat online without offending others.
The students who benefit from online classes are the ones that can manage their schedules to accommodate all activities. These people are usually proactive, conscientious, organized, and can commit to timelines. These types will do well in an online classroom setting and usually accomplish the goals they set for themselves. They can weigh the pros and cons of taking online classes versus attending classes on campus. In most cases, saving travel time and in-seat class time makes a difference in a student’s decision to continue his or her education.
Distance Education Opportunities
To some students, the opportunity to take classes online makes getting a college degree more of a reality. This is because they can schedule working on their assignments around their job, family, and personal activities. Life is constantly changing, and being able to accommodate schedule changes as they occur is a definite perk.
As long as individuals can work independently, or in an online team environment, it is feasible for them to achieve their academic goals across the Internet. The Internet itself, and the continuous improvement in technological advancements such as Webcams, speakers, microphones, software, and availability of Internet access make online classes even more convenient. The freedom and the convenience of not having to commute to a specific location to pursue educational goals is one of the reasons that students desire to become successful online learners.
The important points to remember when enrolling in any distance education program are to research the quality of the program, verify their accreditation credentials, if in doubt about a program or school check with human resources for acceptance, and ensure the program meets short and long term educational goals. Many myths circulate about distance education and most are untrue. Do your homework before enrolling in a distance education program to be safe.