Is An Online Degree Credible in Your Employer's Eyes?
How to Ensure Online Degree Credibility
Earning a degree from an online school is an excellent way to achieve your academic goals while creating a flexible, personalized class schedule to fit your lifestyle. There are hundreds of online programs to choose from, and sifting through your options may seem like a daunting task. There are methods for selecting a dependable, responsible, and recognized online institution. With a little bit of time and research, you’ll be able to find a great, credible online program to help you reach your academic and professional goals.
Researching the School’s Credentials
Recognize the importance of accreditation.Colleges and universities are reviewed by outside, non-governmental sources to ensure that the school meets certain educational standards. These organizations review the school’s student services and resources, faculty, degree programs, curriculum, and many other elements that make up a robust academic atmosphere. This is important when selecting an online program because it ensures that your school has been reviewed and meets basic academic standards.
Determine if your school is accredited.Most schools will state on their website that they have the proper accreditation, but it is important to keep digging for more information. Since accreditation bodies are non-governmental organizations, they are not guided by generalized metrics and standards. Phony accrediting bodies exist as do accrediting bodies with bare-minimum academic standards.
- Refer to the U.S.-based Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to determine if your school has legitimate accreditation. CHEA is an organization that helps certify schools and accrediting organizations. They maintain an international database, so be sure to check out their website for more information on your potential online school.
- If you are in the U.S., see if your school is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This is another way to verify a school’s credibility.
Look up the school’s graduation rate.Reviewing a school’s graduation rate can reveal a lot about the institution.If the graduation rate is low, this could indicate that the academic programs are lacking.
- If your potential school is based in the U.S., the Federal Student Aid office, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Education, makes it easy to check these facts and figures online. Their online Federal School Code Search allows you to compare up to 10 schools at once. Just type in the school’s name, and the website will provide this information in a simple, straight-forward table.
Look up the school’s loan default rate.A loan default rate measures the percentage of individuals who are unable to pay back his or her loans. If a school has a high loan default rate, it could indicate that the school does not provide sound financial guidance.This information can help you gauge a school’s credibility and reliability.
- If you are going to school in the U.S., refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s online database, Official Cohort Default Rates for Schools, to discover your school’s loan default rate.
Spotting a Scam School
Discover how long it takes to earn a degree.Be wary if an online school promises that it is fast and easy to earn a degree; this could be a sign that it is a diploma mill. A diploma mill churns out fraudulent degrees, certificates, and diplomas, and they can be earned with little to no effort from you. Real, accredited institutions require that you complete significant coursework to earn your degree.
Look at the financial commitment.A scam school may request a large sum of money upfront for your degree, or offer discounts if you enroll in multiple programs. Accredited universities typically will not ask for a flat fee and will charge students per semester based on the number of credits taken during that period.
Check for familiar names.If a school’s name seems familiar or reminds you of a famous, prestigious institution, this could be a red flag.A scam school is counting on the chance that you may recognize the name with the hope that you will be sold on their program's authenticity.
Look for student services.Check to see if the online school has a team of administrators, a technology support program, library services, and other resources for students. Support systems are important for academic success and should be in place in any legitimate academic environment. Be skeptical if the school does not offer this or makes it difficult to find this information.
Review the instructor qualifications.Take the time to review the instructors' biographies, educational history, their impact in their field of study, and if they have adequate publication records.A credible school and program will attract successful instructors who contribute to his or her specialty.
Understand the impact.Claiming a degree from an unaccredited scam school or diploma mill can have lasting impacts on your professional credibility and personal life. Listing the degree on your resume or CV will not help you in your job search; most employers will review a school or program that they have never heard of and begin to ask questions.A fraudulent degree can prevent you from securing a new job and can be grounds for termination or prosecution at an existing job.
Preparing for Job Interviews
Refer to your school’s alumni group.Once you have selected a trustworthy, accredited online school, make use of your school’s alumni association. Talk with alumni and ask how his or her degree has helped in the workforce, if employers have raised questions regarding the school’s credibility, and how he or she responded to these questions. This tips and real-life experiences will help you as you begin to interview and look for employment opportunities.
Ask potential employers about online degrees.More and more employers are becoming more familiar, accepting, and confident about hiring candidates with online degrees from accredited programs.If you are nervous about how your online degree may look on your resume, reach out to potential employers and ask about the company’s expectations. See what you can do to demonstrate that your degree is viable and applicable.
Show that you’re a team player.Before going into a job interview, be prepared to cite examples of how your online program fostered networking, collaboration, and teamwork.Provide evidence that can help an employer better understand an online program’s value and how your experiences will be beneficial to the company.
- Check to see if your online program is a part of a brick-and-mortar school. This can help establish the integrity of the school. Be wary of programs that do not provide a legitimate address.
- Be hesitant if a program offers college credit for “real-life” experience.
- Notice if a school is using pushy advertisements, such as spam e-mails, pop-up ads, and telemarketing calls. Accredited universities will advertise via traditional methods.
Video: Is an Online Degree as Credible as a Traditional Degree?
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