With the downturn in today’s economy, many adults find themselves returning to school. Whether it’s due to unemployment or simply the desire to enter a more lucrative career field, a college degree is often the first step on a path towards greater financial stability. When deciding upon a college, many people wonder if the rankings of online schools against other schools should be taken into consideration. The answer is yes… and no.
Online vs. Traditional
Traditional schools are ranked most often on reputation. For instance, who doesn’t ‘know’ that Harvard and Yale are fantastic schools? But why do you know this? It’s not because you’re aware of how many students graduate each year or how many entering freshman aced their SATs, it’s because the schools have a great reputation. Online universities like University of Phoenix are often too new to compete with this type of ranking system.
Online vs. Online
If you’ve settled on distance learning or an online course of degree study, you may find it more beneficial to compare online schools to each other rather than to traditional universities. Online universities are ranked more fairly side-by-side than when compared to brick and mortar universities. When looking at online universities, look for those that are accredited. Accreditation means that the college or university has achieved a certain basic standard and that you will receive a quality education.
Universities Offering Both
Some highly ranked traditional universities are offering the best of both worlds: the prestige of a university and an online education. Top ranked schools like Boston University are making the move towards online education to meet the needs of a rapidly changing student body. If you are looking for a degree from a top college or university without having to step foot on campus, attending a college that offers distance learning may be for you.
When you find yourself researching colleges and degree programs, rankings should take a part in your decision making process but shouldn’t make your decision for you. While certain rankings are important such as graduation rate, post-degree employment rate and even cost of tuition, other rankings aren’t as important. If you’re going to be attending school online, campus security and the cost of room and board obviously don’t matter.
When deciding on an online college, your considerations should lie in program availability, software support and accreditation status. Use a bit of common sense when choosing an online degree program; remember that rankings are often based on reputation and take those rankings with a grain of salt.
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