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Monday, January 11, 2010

Do Distance Learning Degrees Impress Employers?

Posted by patrick

By Mary Jack

With the ability to keep working, take care of a family, and receive a quality education without relocating, distance learning degrees have continued to increase in popularity. Unfortunately, the Internet also provides a venue for bogus diploma mills sprouting up to make money on the sale of fake degrees. In a report published in 2003, USA Today says 400 such businesses are currently in operation, and the numbers are increasing as these dubious businesses continue to make approximately $500 million annually.

However, despite all the unpleasant information going around about distance learning degrees, the fact is there are plenty of legitimate universities and colleges offering online degree programs. These colleges are legitimate and not involved in any way in offering dubious and fake diplomas. Instead, these colleges are going the extra mile to provide quality education online by taking advantage of all available instructional resources such as quality instructional design coupled with video lectures, online digital libraries and proctored exams to ensure their students get quality education and a valid, qualified diploma. Unfortunately, numerous employers have not yet been sold into this alternative way of acquiring education, thus they still regard such degrees as invalid or dubious.

To avert the confusion, 6 accrediting agencies were set up by the National Education Board of the U.S government with the role of providing accreditation to colleges and universities who meet a set educational standard. This ultimately differentiates the legitimate colleges from the fake ones. Students enrolling in these accredited colleges can rest assured they are receiving quality and qualified education. Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) is an additional accrediting body which solely exists for the purpose of providing accreditation to colleges that offer distance learning degrees. DETC is a legit body that falls under the umbrella of the US Department of Education and CHEA.

Other distinguished specialized accreditation agencies exists that are designed to accredit specific course programs. Programs that meet the set standards of excellence are given accreditation by these specialized accredit ting agencies based on area of specialization. A good example of such an accrediting agency is International Association for Management Education (AACSB) which accredits accounting related programs. Also American Health Information Management Association is tasked with accrediting health programs in different colleges. It is worthy to note that all these accreditation agencies have to be recognized by CHEA for them to be considered as legit agencies.

Why should a student be concerned about an educational institutions accreditation? Basically, it is to ensure everyone is receiving the same quality education, whether they are attending classes on campus or seeking distance learning degrees. Before granting accreditation for online degree programs, an agency assesses whether the basic requirements for support, education, and learning facilities are in place. In addition, specialized programs must submit curriculum to be evaluated, based upon the pre-determined standards of the specialty, regardless of the college or university.

Distance learning degrees from accredited institutions assure graduates, parents and prospective employers any degree earned is well deserved. The work completed has met the standards of adequately preparing people in their major area of study. Conversely, it also means colleges and universities not granted accreditation do not meet the standards of excellence required. Nevertheless, for the student who is only taking classes necessary to an area of specialization, only the courses need that all important stamp of approval.

Nevertheless, in the end, it all comes down to the discretion of the employer. He or she must decide whether potential employees have satisfactorily completed an online degree program. Hopefully, with accreditation through a well recognized agency, the confusion can be eliminated, and a valid resume will make it to the short list of excellent candidates with their distance learning degrees as an impressive symbol of fortitude and dedication to personal achievement.

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