The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

By Les Hollingsworth

Whether you're a new graduate with a bachelor’s degree, a blue-collar employee looking to strengthen your resume, or a skilled professional looking to climb the corporate ladder, it’s likely that you’ve thought about continuing your education. The odds are also good that you’ve wondered about doing it online. This five-part series will provide a few tips and thoughts over the next two weeks to help you decide.

Part I: How to find and choose an online degree
Part II: Deciphering accreditation: What the alphabet soup really means
Part III: Public vs. for-profit colleges: Pros and cons
Part IV: Red flags and warning signs when evaluating online degrees
Part V: Starting the admission process

Part I: How to find and choose an online degree

So you're thinking about going back to school. With a family, a job, and/or other commitments, going to class on campus is not an option. And it would be really difficult to attend evening and weekend classes. Have you considered an online degree program? How do you find one that’s right for you?

Step one: find a list of institutions that offer online programs. There are actually countless schools that provide online degree programs – and many are highly respected state institutions. Several of the larger for-profit institutions have effectively dominated the marketing efforts for online education, making it somewhat difficult to find the traditional university that also offers online degrees. The moral of the story is that you can find a great school with a great reputation - you just have to know where to look.

In my humble opinion, the best - and most objective-source is Peterson's Guide to Distance Learning, which lists thousands of institutions and their distance learning programs in a clean and easily searchable format. Many of the institutions also list general information such as how much of the coursework can be completed online, tuition, etc.

If you're like most people, you will do a Google search of the degree name that you're looking for, i.e. "project management master's, business degree online", etc. The top results for these searches will often be lead aggregators. These websites gather information from numerous schools and then sell information that you provide to target schools. They are extremely useful to a potential student for requesting information from large numbers of institutions, but be aware that they are not a comprehensive list and certainly aren't objective. Position and findability on the website are determined by the highest bidder for different degree areas.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me at My goal is to be a resource for anyone who seeks to improve themselves through education. Good luck!

Next week: Accreditation: What it really means.



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