Online degree programs are growing in popularity and appeal to all age groups. Making certain that the chosen program is accredited ensure a more successful outcome. Plus are many advantages to completing your college or university studies online. Many online degrees are considered just as valuable as their traditional and on-campus counterparts though the difference between an online degree and a traditional one is that the student “attends” classes via the Internet from any location rather than attending a college campus. Many students must continue to work full time while pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, masters or doctoral degree. The physically disabled, those who must maintain work responsibilities, and stay-at-home parents benefit from having the option to take online classes. These students have the same opportunity to continue their education in an online-accredited degree program as those who choose the traditional campus setting thanks to the response of many colleges and universities who offer the flexibly scheduling of online programs. What sets most online degrees apart is whether or not they are accredited. Accreditation helps ensure a high quality education for students, which is important in today’s highly competitive job market since acquiring an accredited online degree is looked upon favorably by employers and increases opportunities for promotions.

The Accreditation Process for Colleges and Universities

To be recognized by accrediting organizations and agencies, colleges and universities undergo evaluation against specific and established standards prior to receiving accreditation. This validation process in the United States is voluntary and is conducted by private non-governmental accrediting agencies. Accredited online degrees satisfy all state educational guidelines and are readily accepted by most employers. According to a survey conducted by the Distance and Training Council, a high percentage of employers preferred accredited online program graduates because of their in-depth knowledge and organizational skills. Those who earn an online degree exhibit more self-discipline and are more inclined to meet pre-determined goals.

The Difference Between Accredited Schools And Accredited Programs

Many schools offer online degree programs, but not all are accredited. It is vitally important for all students to remember that just because a school is accredited does not mean that the online degree programs are accredited as well. The primary types of accreditation include regional, national and international accreditation agencies. Certain areas of study for a specific degree program require programmatic accreditation. One example of a regional accrediting agency for colleges and universities is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools The Higher Learning Commission. An example of a programmatic accrediting agency for an online program in library science is the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation.

The Online Degree Experience

Today’s technology enables some individuals to begin or continue their higher education in a convenient way that enhances learning and helps them maintain a connection to other students. The online college experience provides many opportunities for students to interact with one another in a digital or alternative setting. Many schools have established social studying sites for those who prefer studying in a group setting so even online students get the first hand college experiences necessary to establish the educational foundation necessary for success.

Students who choose online learning to complete their degree have the opportunity to engage in numerous activities that offer similar social interaction experiences as those who attend classes on campus. Online threaded discussions allow students to interact with instructors and other students at the same time. These discussions involve posting a response to a question or possibly commenting on another student’s post. The online setting provides students with an opportunity to engage other students in more thought-provoking discussions.

Online learning gives students the opportunity and independence to choose when to participate in the class. This aspect of online classes challenges some to develop time-management skills to avoid procrastination, but this skill can be useful later on in the workplace. Most online students enjoy the opportunity to interact with fellow classmates and look forward to logging in to the class every day. Building online relationships with fellow class members provides motivation to interact with others in a meaningful way.

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