Before I sit down to write my weekly blog post, I read countless articles about online learning and training, learning management systems, and why online learning is the key to our future educational success. And you know what? It can get confusing and more than a little overwhelming. If I’m just putting the information out there, imagine how all the prospective students feel!
The article that got me thinking was this one, published in the November 4 online edition of The New York Times. For those of you who have yet to click on the link, the title of the article is, “The Online College Crapshoot.” I’m sure I’ve got your attention now, because that title certainly got mine in a hurry.
Having received my degrees the “old fashioned” way, I have to admit that I had a healthy amount of skepticism about online learning until I learned more about it. Now, I feel confident enough to not only write about it, I would not hesitate to take an online course or two myself. But, I am in a position to experiment; what if I was counting on an education to help me find a better job in order to support my family? Then, I wouldn’t have quite as much time to research my decisions. The thing is, you have to; if you don’t you might as well be playing craps with your future, because many of these educational entities are counting on their students not being particularly diligent in their research.
Read the Fine Print and Think It Over
I suggest to everyone reading my words to go back and click on the link I provided. In the first section of the article, author Laura Pappano talks about How US News & World Report attempted to compile a list of quality online schools, similar to their trusted version of bricks-and-mortar institutions. They ran into some significant roadblocks, and to date, the list remains unpublished. Many of the online institutions refused to cooperate and provide the data US News required. Things like SAT scores, number of students, graduation statistics – you know, important stuff that is vital to figuring out if a particular school is suitable for your needs. But, the average online student may not care so much about the same information a tradition student does. Still, as your parents always told you, it pays to do your homework.
Having a clear-cut goal is crucial for getting the most from online employee training courses. Make sure you have a specific plan of action before choosing a school. Pay attention to the reception you receive when you contact your institution of choice. Many of the for-profit online universities tend to engage in the “hard sell” because they have quotas to meet. If you choose one of them, you’d better be 100 percent certain the institution has the exact courses you need. If you’re going for a degree, make sure it is exactly the degree you want to receive. Remember, you’re embarking on enrollment with little to no guidance, so it’s up to you to make sure you kick the tires and look under the hood before you agree to anything and enter those credit card digits.
More and more traditional colleges are starting up online programs, so if there’s a school in your area you’ve always wanted to attend, investigate that one first. In other words, go with the devil you know, rather than the one you don’t. It’s a good place to start.
Always keep in mind that education is a lifelong process. As a lot of questions and think about the answers you receive. It’s only a matter of time before you find the right path.
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