A friend asked me for information for her sister
who is considering an online program. Here is what I shared with her.|
1. Regional Accreditation is what I look for.
If a school is accredited by one of the Associations listed here, I look no
farther with respect to whether or not the school is a "diploma mill."
If an undergraduate degrees require specialized accreditation, such as
Engineering, I look for ABET accreditation:
The easiest way to get the answer to the general
accreditation question is by searching the Department of Education's new website
If this is the college, it looks ok:
SANTIAGO CANYON COLLEGE
OPE ID: 00128401
IPEDS ID: 399212
|8045 E CHAPMAN
ORANGE, CA 92869 - 4512
2. The next question your sister might ask
herself is, whether or not this the best online college for her educational
goals? Is it important for her to go to a school with a "name." Is she
hoping to go to graduate school? Will this school hurt her chances for
getting into graduate school or getting a job? How about the price - is
money a concern? Is the school for-profit (I am still somewhat skeptical of
these schools unless there is no other alternative). For-profits are in
the "business" of education. That can be good news as well as bad news.
In many cases the for-profits are ahead of traditionally delivered online
programs with respect to delivering student services at a distance (admission,
registration, payment, bookstore, library, academic support, advising etc).
If they don't have excellent services, they will lose their customers.
In addition to the "name," the real question is
whether or not the educational experience is comparable to online programs
delivered through traditional colleges. If this is a concern, I would look
for ways to take one online course as a "student at large" before making a
commitment to the school that doesn't have a recognizable name. Remember,
if your sister gets an online degree from the University of Illinois, for
example, it is appears as any other U of I degree.
I have a tendency to explore traditional colleges
that offer fully online programs before selecting a school that is fully online
or where most people consider it an online school, even if it offers some on
campus courses such as University of Phoenix. I believe there is still an
elitist attitude with respect to non traditional schools (Capella, Walden, and
many others). Depending on your sister's situation, that may or may not be
an issue. When working with a student who is looking for a Bachelor's
degree for advancement at their current company, this is less of an issue.
For all other students, I suggest they call potential employers or graduate
schools to assess the possible consequences of having a degree from a
non-traditional school on their resume. Just like all other decisions that
have to do with the "name" of a school, if your sister interviews for a job or
graduate school admission with a person who has a degree from a
for-profit/non-traditional college, this becomes an advantage.
3. Here are some additional resources I use to
find online programs and help students decide if these programs are good for
them. I am not recommending any programs included on this list: