The transition from attending brick and mortar colleges to online graduate degree programs can be great for those who need a flexible school schedule, either because of their job, family or location. More importantly it is for the self-starters who can weave through the perils that lurk behind the screen.
More than 62 percent of colleges offered online degree programs in 2012 compared to just 32 percent in 2002 according to a survey.
As students move towards getting graduate degrees online, there are many factors that threaten their goal. One thing to look out for – especially if one intends on earning the degree to further one’s professional career – is ensuring that the college is accredited. In some cases, an employer will either pay for, or reimburse, the cost of tuition if it results in becoming a more skilled employee, according to Reyna Ramli, writer at CyberCoders.com.
However, aside from a rigorous self-motivated and accelerated curriculum, prospective online-grads have to look out for “faux accreditation” – a process by which an online college gains accreditation from a fake agency. Accreditation can be the difference between getting the job and not. It is always advised, if a student plans on engaging in an online graduate degree program, to pick one that has name or brand recognition. These colleges are usually accredited, and, at times, can ease the apprehension of an employer inspecting an “online” graduate for hire.
Frequently, “faux” agencies are an accreditation front for diploma mills (also called degree mills): a fraudulent scheme aimed at [sometimes] unwitting consumers looking to get a diploma quickly at a low cost. These fake diploma issuers provide a tempting cost effective solution, with minimal work, in an education market worth nearly $900 billion [in the United States].
Online education is starting to take hold as the norm among younger degree-seekers and it is may be having adverse effects on professionals, even doctors, who earned degrees through brick and mortar schools.
“Although having a high formal education may retain its social value, the financial rewards that customarily accompanied are continuing to deplete as universities move towards the use of more technology (online courses and pre-recorded lectures),” said Dr. Carlos Siordia, former statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau.
For those who require a flexible schedule it is the perfect option. Jocelyn Reis, mother of one, earned her master’s degree in early childhood development, specializing in autism spectrum disorder, through what is a called blended learning. Blended learning refers to a combination of teaching methods whereby students engage with learning material in a variety of ways, known as models. These include: the flex model, the rotation model, the self-blend model, and many more. Reis used a method referred to as the online driver model; which is a combination of face-to-face and online learning.
“Having to go away one weekend is much easier than classes a few
days a week. Also, there are no real grad schools in my immediate vicinity which would have made a regular program very difficult.,” said Reis.