In general terms, accreditation is the means by which a school is officially recognized as a provider of a satisfactory education that public institutions (i.e. employers) can trust. It is a voluntary process that requires the school to meet minimum requirements that are established by various regional accrediting agencies.
The lack of one official accrediting agency creates an opportunity for sub par online schools that are trying to obtain students through any means possible. In other words, just about any organization can say that they are an accrediting agency, so potential online school enrollers should do their research before signing up for classes at a particular online school.
Sadly, a number of online schools create false accrediting agencies in order to make candidates think that they are trustworthy and established. To avoid this conflict, be sure to check whether or not an online school is accredited by one of the six major regional accrediting agencies. These include the 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).
If your online school is accredited by one of the above agencies, your degree will be seen as legitimate by most employers. However, if your online school is not accredited by one of the above agencies but by a false accrediting agency, your degree may not be acceptable to most employers.
An innovative program put in place by the University of Phoenix is called FlexNet. Rather than being a purely online learning experience, a portion of each course is held at a campus or learning center location. For many this feature adds a sense of personal and community involvement, giving the student a chance to interact directly with instructors and classmates.
Courses at the University of Phoenix Online are concentrated. Students need to be willing to make a serious commitment.
While online learning courses vary they tend to have certain features in common. In today’s hectic environment, the ability to flexibly schedule your hours is critically important for many prospective students. Being confined to fixed hours in a fixed location for a traditional offline course just won’t work for many. The demands of work and family too often cause missed classes.
Traditional college education may also involve taking subjects with little application to the professional’s working life. Online education can allow you complete a degree in two or three years.
In many online college environments, all your courses will be focused on your professional needs. Generally, you’ll also be able to focus on one course at a time rather than having to split your attention among several over a long period. This intensity and focus can be a significant benefit.