Friday, January 18, 2008

Online College Accreditation - How to Tell the Real from Scams

The Internet has recently brought forth a new kind of university, one without a geographical center. These colleges offer an education through online lectures, discussions, and assignments. They are a good option for people without the time and money to spend four years at a college site, but can also turn out to be scams. Before enrolling in an online university, you need to determine whether it is accredited.

If a school has been accredited, that means it has been reviewed and certified to teach an academic program and hand out degrees. If a school is not accredited, it can claim to teach all they like, but you will never receive a real diploma from them. Accreditation ensures that schools are providing a high quality education and a somewhat consistent curriculum for each subject core.

There are many schools claiming to be accredited, but accreditation doesn't mean anything if it comes from a non-recognized organization. Any organization stating they are accredited by the IAAOU (International Accreditation Agency for Online Universities), Board of Online Universities (BOUA), World Online Education Accrediting Commission (WOEA), and UCOEA (Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation), are not real universities and will not offer a quality education. Hint: no real accrediting organization has the word "online" in its title.

These so-called "online universities" that claim accreditation from such sources will, at best, provide you a poor education that few respect. At worst, they will simply sell you a fake diploma. It is illegal in many states to claim you have a degree if all you really own is a diploma from one of these schools.

There are real online schools, but legitimate ones are the in the minority. To be a valid, recognized university in the United States, a school must be accredited by an organization that has itself been recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), or both. There are five main regional accreditors and many smaller organizations recognized by CHEA and USDE. These organizations have lists on their web sites.

An online education is not as well respected as attending a physical university, but it can be a great option for self-motivated people who need to earn a degree more quickly while they move forward with their lives. It is not such a good idea to jump into an online education straight out of high school, but is very helpful for those already employed and who want to give their careers a little boost by finally earning that coveted degree.

Make sure the online school you are considering is accredited from a respected institution that has been approved by the CHEA or the USDE. They authenticate the only real schools online that count!

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