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Online College Degrees - The Wave of the Future?

Crunched for time by kids, careers, and commutes, more and more people, particularly those in their 30s, 40s, and even their 50s, view online college degrees as the most viable way to further their educations. Designed to facilitate adults whose 9-5 jobs interfere with traditional on site classes, colleges and universities nationwide continue to add and expand programs to tap into this fertile market. A recent study indicates that more than ninety percent of institutions of higher learning intend to or already offer classes via the Internet.

One such school is Regis University. Online college degrees offered by Regis include masters of business administration degree programs in finance and accounting, health care management, and marketing. Another trusted learning institution is DeVry University, which offers bachelors degrees in business administration, computer information systems, information technology, and technical management - all attainable online.

There are scores of universities and colleges now offering "e-learning" programs via the Internet, and instructors teaching the courses for these online programs seem adamant in their observations that online students invariably produce higher-quality work than on site students taking the same classes.

Before you take the plunge into cyber learning, however, you need to do a little homework unrelated to your studies. Make sure any entity offering online college degrees that you target as a potential steppingstone toward your higher education meets proper accreditation. To find out this information, check with what agency the institution claims accreditation, and then go to the Department of Education's Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/index.html to make sure the agency is listed. If it is not, then you can assume the institution in question has claimed accreditation from either a non-existent agency or one it's created itself. Bottom line? Move on to the next institution on your list.

The last thing people need or want are online college degrees from "degree mills." Just like it sounds, these places crank out diplomas to whomever is willing to pay the $200 or $300 to get one of them - no studying required! But, a word to the wise: If you're ever caught with one by an employer, expect immediate termination, possible fraud charges - and big-time embarrassment!

Hiring managers still pay attention to names of established universities like Duke, Stanford, or Penn State and are more likely to consider online college degrees from those schools in a better light than say, Capella or the University of Phoenix. Such comparisons do not hold much weight in reality, however, since both Capella and the University of Phoenix (as well as many others) hold valid accreditation and adhere to vigorous academic standards.

Acceptance of online college degrees from all accredited institutions is definitely on the rise. Some companies not only hire job seekers with online degrees, but encourage current employees with tuition reimbursement as a perk. Experts predict that as more traditional, recognized brick-and-mortar schools offer online programs, the more the Internet-educated will be accepted. And the news in this area is good: One study reports that the number of accredited colleges and universities offering online education jumps about 15 percent every year.

So you've decided to go for it. Now what? Selecting which institution to go to does take a little more thought just deciding on whichever one has the best price. Price should be your last criterion because most colleges and universities offer so many scholarships and grants for online college degrees, you're sure to qualify for at least one to pay at least a portion of your tuition if you're conscientious about researching them. Student loans make tuition affordable, too.

Part 2 Obtain Online Degree