Not all online colleges, universities, and training centers are created equal, something many students have discovered at their cost. However, online certifications are growing in popularity due to their convenience and affordability. How do you ensure which one is the best one for you, and separate the diploma mills from the real deal?
There are three important things to consider when looking for legitimate online degrees and certifications. The first of these is marketability. If you are pursuing an online education for professional reasons, your degree and training need to be marketable. They must reassure employers not just that they’re legitimate ie accredited but that they have also given you the required skills needed to perform your job to the required standards. Some educational institutions have a better reputation than others in this regard but that doesn’t mean you can’t consider some of the other options.
The second thing is usability ie a usable teaching system. Most online learning environments incorporate teaching tools such as access to webcams, webinars, online chat groups, forums, discussion boards and so on. However, these tools need to be easily accessible by students, and do their job satisfactorily. Some of the common issues students have with these types of online learning situations include tedious classroom chats and malfunctioning webcams. Good online educational institutions have taken steps to address these issues by installing more up to date technology, or having alternative options available.
The third consideration that should influence your choice of online training facility is the quality of the classes. This includes both the teacher to student ratio, and the range of classes and degrees available. Bigger universities or colleges with a number of campuses and teachers available to supplement their online courses may be able to offer better class quality than smaller facilities trying to stretch a few teachers over a large number of students. More teachers means they can spend more quality time with individual students, an important consideration even for online classes.
There are many excellent online universities and colleges out there, as well as long established institutions that have added online classes to their programs. By shopping around, doing your research, asking questions, and studying the information available about each college or university, you can start to create a short list of those that suit both your learning goals, and your preferred study methods.
You may for example prefer to do a mix of online and on-campus classes, or you may want to do your degree completely online. You’ll therefore be looking for educational institutions that offer either or both of these options.
Also don’t forget to check online forums, social media, and review sites for feedback about the various universities or colleges you’ve short listed. Indeed, reviewing what former and current students say about their experiences in these places is probably some of the most reliable feedback you’ll find to help you make your final decision. You should also find out what experiences graduates have had finding work, or advancing their careers with the various degrees and certifications offered. If employers for some reason are not accepting a particular online qualification then it’s probably not worth enrolling in it.
For those in the fire services seeking to further their education online, you should be looking for e-learning training centers that have been approved by state fire colleges like the Fl State Fire College in Florida, or the Tennessee State Fire Academy in Tennessee.