It's nicer when Sam is around. I feel so self-conscious eating alone Well it's not my fault if the shower is leaking - he should fix it! But he won't budge How can I make him respect me?
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I guess I'll have to make do with a moldy bathroom. How will I stretch it until the 31st? Felt really comfortable. Because there is little overarching or central authority presiding over the American system of higher education, colleges exist across an incredibly broad spectrum of quality and credibility. The accreditation system gives you at least one instrument for determining where a given college falls on this spectrum.
That said, the quality and credibility of an accreditation can itself vary as a consequence of the reputation of the accreditation agency. Not all agencies are regarded with equal esteem, a fact that must figure into your search for the right college. At the very least, the college you are considering should be accredited by an agency that is recognized both by the U.
Another matter of critical importance relates to financial aid.
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In order to receive federal financial aid, a student must be attending a college or university accredited by a USDE-recognized institution. Similarly, employers who exercise tuition reimbursement programs for employees engaged in ongoing education usually require that the schools their employees attend be USDE-recognized. As you seek the right college or university for your intended course of study, find out if it has received regional accreditation from the above agency corresponding to a given region.
If you are considering a set of colleges in Massachusetts and Connecticut, for instance, seek out the New England Association of Schools and Colleges seal of approval. This association goes on to note these regional agencies provide this quality assurance in the public, private, profit, non-profit, secular, religious, urban, and rural contexts. Such agencies also provide accreditation regardless of age or student body size. National accreditation agencies are often less rigorous in their standards and less beholden to Department of Education oversight.
A great many nationally accredited schools are for-profit or vocational institutions. The variance in quality is far greater among institutions that hold only national accreditation without additional regional accreditation. Be sure that you understand the difference between regional and national accreditation agencies and, further, that you know which national accreditation agencies the U. Department of Education recognizes. Accreditation agencies not recognized by the U.
Department of Education are often shell organizations created to facilitate accreditation for otherwise disreputable schools. If you desire that the school you attend have one of these national accreditations, you will be wise to focus only on those schools that also include the geographically pertinent regional accreditation. Indeed, these distinctions are critical as you navigate the broader system of higher education, particularly as you move between institutions transferring credits and degrees.
Brick-and-mortar colleges, exclusively online colleges, and colleges with a campus but also offering online education all face the same basic accreditation hurdles. Courses and degree programs need to deliver measurable learning outcomes, and these outcomes apply to online education as much as traditional education. In particular, online courses go through the exact same review process and must meet the same standards as traditional courses. But note, for online education there may be additional conditions simply for verifying the identity of online students.
For institutions that provide the majority of their courses i. DETC has received recognition from both the U. Department of Education and the Council For Higher Education Accreditation for accrediting institutions that provide the majority of their courses online. In addition to regional and national accreditation, which you can use to evaluate the quality and credibility of a chosen college or university, there are numerous levels of accreditation you can employ to evaluate a degree program that attracts your interest.
Most reputable schools hold a wide range of specialized accreditations in addition to regional recognition. Specialized accreditation may be important if you are pursuing a degree program from which you anticipate continuing on to graduate school or to a profession. In either event, specialized accreditations can help you to determine how graduate school admissions officers or future employers will look at your degree.
The Department of Education recognizes about forty specialized accrediting agencies, while the Council For Higher Education Accreditation recognizes about sixty agencies. Accordingly, academic institutions receive accreditation based on internal evaluations conducted by colleges and universities and in accordance with such rigorous standards.
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Once self-review is complete, accrediting commissions call for a peer review of the applying university or college. This process should also conclude with a concrete plan of action for subsequent review of accreditation status in the event that consequential changes take place in the way the institution operates. Schools not awarded accreditation status at the end of this process often receive counsel and support from the accrediting agency so that they can make the changes and improvements needed to merit accreditation.
Institutions with accreditation may lose this recognition due to a decline in quality or a problematic change in operations. Distance learning classes have been praised for their easy access and flexibility. This makes them easy to add into the demands and commitments already made in our lives. But in creating that flexibility, distance learning classes have also been criticized for lacking the social component a face-to-face class has. Is it really possible to have a discussion-thread replace the value of an in-class discussion?
Can online group work really replace pulling an all-nighter over pizza and Mountain Dew to make sure your presentation poster-board is done right? And what about football games and concerts? Can distance learning students really enjoy the full campus experience of college while laboring behind a computer screen? For some students, the campus experience is an absolute necessity. Indeed, college is the first time that many young people will venture out from under the wing of a parent or legal guardian.
Campus life is a remarkable educational experience that the online medium cannot replicate. Stated simply, if you consider this experience to be a necessary part of your personal education, online college is probably not for you. This does not preclude you from taking some online courses from the comfort of a dorm room or off-campus housing facility. However, it does suggest that you are an unlikely candidate for earning a degree exclusively through an online college. Another drawback is the difficulty of replicating the dynamic experience of being in a classroom or an interactive lecture hall.
According to U. In many instances, respondents cited a lack of direct interaction with their fellow students as a major reason.
Humans are social beings, and education thrives through social interactions. One of the features that make college attractive to the inquiring mind is the extent to which it promotes the exchange of ideas and the engagement of discussion that is only possible in a room full of keen fellow learners. Though small group interaction is possible through video-conferencing, no technology yet exists that can facilitate the type of rapid-fire exchange and engagement that occurs in the physical classroom.
The same disintermediation can impede the ability of students and educators to develop a constructive working relationship. Without seeking direct engagement, a student may find this mode of communication decidedly more impersonal than even a large lecture hall. When it comes to these features, your personal preference will play a significant part in your final decision. How much you need or desire face-to-face interaction will be a strong determinant of how satisfied you are likely to be with an online education. If online colleges are your only option and you have limited background with web-mediated education, prepare yourself for a more solitary learning experience.
Moreover, if you feel that you would benefit from real, face-to-face interaction, contact others in your class who might be interested in creating a local study group. The answer to all questions about the campus experience and distance learning is, It Depends. While the social component of college, or of taking a class, may be important to some students, other students are quite content with the life they are living, and the friends they have. On the other hand, students looking for the give-and-take of class discussion may be satisfied with the interactions of threaded discussions or real-time class activities offered through distance learning classes that feature teleconferencing.
For as many others, however, this is actually its biggest drawback. The absence of face-to-face interaction with professors or classmates can deprive students of the academic and emotional support that these relationships often foster in an on-campus setting. But distance learning also has some advantages over face-to-face classes in networking. Many students take courses to expand their professional contacts; this is especially true for older students who may already have a basic degree or certificate, and are taking distance learning classes to advance their careers.
When this is the case, students are more likely to find peers in their distance-learning classes with goals similar to theirs. If their mutual goal is to expand their network of contacts, that goal can be realized through a distance learning course as easily as it can be in a face-to-face course. Since many professionals taking distance learning courses work full time, and in different parts of the country, it could be argued that distance learning courses will expand professional networks more successfully than face-to-face classes.
In that respect, distance learning makes networking easier. Concerns about the absence of socialization opportunities in distance learning classes have made improvements in this area a high priority among distance learning professionals and accrediting bodies. Distance need not prevent that from occurring in a distance learning class.
One of the best steps that you can take to improve your online educational experience is to use the technology in your hands to create real and meaningful connections. Establish a personal relationship through correspondence with your instructor.
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Create an open pathway for communication so that you will feel comfortable asking questions or seeking assistance should the need arise. Be sure to avail yourself of the talents and knowledge of your instructor, even if you never have the opportunity to sit in the same room together. If you have never forged a constructive long-term working relationship via web communication, you might be surprised at how strong a communicative bond you can form. This is a powerful remedy against the isolation that often complicates online learning for some students.
You can achieve the same remedy when you make an effort to interact more closely with your fellow students. Become a regular and active contributor to bulletin board discussions and peer review sessions. You should also consider reaching out individually to online classmates in order to create either virtual or physical study groups, or even to plan casual social meet-ups just to blow off steam.
Making a few friends could go a long way toward feeling part of a real class. In addition to considering the job placement rate of each online college, you are wise to be wary of those online colleges with low graduation rates. For-profit colleges, on average, have more student turnover than non-profit colleges. In this connection, an editorial in the New York Times cites a five-year study released in that monitored the progress of 51, students attending Washington State community and technical colleges.
The study determined that students who were enrolled in more online as opposed to brick-and-mortar classes were substantially less likely to earn a degree or move on to a four-year college. The reason offered by researchers is that too many students begin their college education lacking the basic learning skills needed to succeed in college: from independent time management and healthy study habits to competence in compositional English and research capabilities. This is true of students attending both traditional and online college classes. Without access to such a support network, ill-prepared students run the risk of struggling with their academic and personal responsibilities.
This means that in deciding to attend an online college, you need to give very serious consideration to your preparedness to take on its inherent challenges without the support that students attending brick-and-mortar schools are more likely to get. There is a justifiable concern for many prospective students that some employers view online education with suspicion. Even as online degrees proliferate and gain increasing mainstream credibility, some employers remain skeptical of their value relative to the traditional degree earned by attending a physical campus.
Still, an article in U. This is to say a degree earned online from a truly venerable institution has the same respect as a traditional degree. Today, employers are accepting online degrees with an increasing sense of normalcy. They are, however, looking over carefully the online colleges which award these degrees. This is truly the burning question when it comes to online education: Will I be able to get a job with my online degree?
This front has mixed news. Some employers still have reservations based on the high variability in academic quality that exists in the online education sphere. Adding to this skepticism is the pervasive tendency among many employers toward conservative hiring practices, preferring a traditional campus-based education for employees to an online education.
However, this skepticism and conservatism are starting to give way as a generation of business leaders raised on web technology increasingly assume control in the private sector. Managing these conflicting findings can be a challenge.
There is no need, nor is there any law, nor is there any ethical standard that requires individuals to indicate they earned their degree online. In most cases, there is no special notation indicating an individual earned their degree through an online college. This underscores the recommendation to exercise discretion when applying for a job.
Increasingly, students are experiencing higher education through a blended course of study that includes some combination of online learning and physical class time. Thus, the perceived dividing line between these two modes of education is becoming increasingly blurred to prospective employers. As online education continues its expansion into traditional institutions of higher learning and becomes a necessary part of the course catalogue for major colleges and universities, employers are becoming less apt to scrutinize the medium through which your degree was earned, though perhaps increasingly likely to place greater stock in the reputation of the college or university from which you earned it.
Some employers may even place a higher premium on prospective employees who have demonstrated the ability to manage their own education, to work well with others from a distance, and to operate on a flexible and non-traditional schedule. Indeed, the same skills that one might exercise to successfully complete an online education are highly adaptable to a wide array of 21st century jobs.
Still, for all of these gains, there are employers who may view online education as subject to too great a variance in quality. There are employers who, if pressed to choose between two worthy candidates, will instinctively choose one with a brick-and-mortar education over one with an online degree. Some employers are just plain old-fashioned.
The recruitment and interview process may reveal an employer who is receptive to or even places greater value on the online educational experience. As a future job-seeker, it is best to use your judgment when deciding to articulate or omit information regarding the medium through which you received your degree.
Ultimately, as we have noted throughout this discussion, the institution from which you earn your degree and the applicability of the skills you have gained there will be of the utmost importance to employers. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to once again stress this point:. In choosing an online college, cast a wide net, carefully sift through your options, and exercise all due diligence! At the heart of your search for the right online college is your own level of compatibility with web-mediated education. One of the key differences with online colleges is that in many ways you are truly on your own.
Much of your research will have to be self-guided. Your ability to maintain an effective study schedule will be up to you. You will have limited access to campus personnel, guidance counselors, and faculty. Therefore, before determining whether online college is the right path for you, make sure you can properly deal with this type of independence. One of the valuable aspects of campus life is that there are many services and personnel close at hand to help you ease into your course of education.
Such services can help you locate academic assistance, plot out your path of study, select your major, and participate in meaningful campus activities. You must do much of this navigation on your own when you attend an online college. This can make for a difficult adjustment period and one that can interfere with your studies. This is not to say that online education is completely lacking in support services. All online colleges will have some support services. Yet, as with all other aspects of online education, the support services offered will vary from one school to the next.
Before beginning an online degree program, make sure that the school in which you are enrolling offers a range of services commensurate to your needs and expectations. If this is your first attempt at managing your educational affairs without the assistance of parents or teachers, make sure you are up to the challenge, that you are using all the support services available to you, and that you have somebody in your corner, be it a family member or a professional tutor, to help you through the early stages of transition and hold you accountable.
As an editorial from the New York Times points out, your performance at an online college is determined in large part by the way that you have historically approached education. It is important that you, as the college applicant, know into exactly which of these categories you fall. For some enrollees, compatibility will require the adoption of improved study habits, better schedule management, and a stronger work ethic.
Of course, the positive offshoot is that if you can successfully make this transition, you will also be gaining absolutely essential life skills. It should come as no surprise that educators have tried for centuries to create tools for learning that reduce or eliminate distance as a barrier to learning. The history of distance and online education gives us some important insights into the assumptions and practices used today in this ever-growing field.
Just like the American school system is shaped in part by its history of giving students the summers off so families could go on vacation and avoid the heat , distance and online education is affected by its own history, and the history of education in general. The ability of online and distance learning to break through the barriers those traditions create is a rich part of its history, but many parts of that history still shape our attitudes and practices, at least for now.
The idea of using available technology to create new learning opportunities has been with us since the invention of the wheel, when something as simple as a wagon or coach allowed some students the opportunity to attend classes in person, where walking the distance proved to be too great of a burden. That same technology of horse and wagon or horse and chariot led to the development of the first postal delivery services, enabling people from afar to communicate in an organized fashion for the first time.
The creation of the first formal postal system in England in meant that the delivery of messages and letters was now more uniform, and relied less on the goodwill of neighbors willing to deliver a letter on their travels, or the availability of servants, who would deliver letters on behalf of their employers. England may have developed the first postal system, but the first distance learning course is generally recognized to have started in its colonies in , when an American shorthand instructor named Caleb Phillips thought to offer instruction by mail in Boston.
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England later realized the potential of learning by mail, when the innovation of standardized penny postage in the United Kingdom made distance education a reality. Distance learning opportunities were soon created for foreign language instruction in Germany, and mining safety in California.
The University of London created what some believe is the first university-based distance learning program in This is an important development for two reasons. First, this is the inaugural effort to use distance learning as a substitute for a comprehensive college experience. Until then, distance learning had an emphasis on discrete topics, with a particular focus on development of a skill, like shorthand. Its distance learning program reaches thousands of students in countries , offering over one hundred credentials that can be obtained completely online.
This advancement would only be possible with continued expansion of the mission and vision of the purpose of distance learning, as well as the incorporation of the latest technology. Distance learning gained ground with educators throughout Europe as the nineteenth century wore on. As with online colleges today, early distance education was greeted with mixed feelings.
Many saw it as simply a business operation, and viewed this alternative as inferior education. Moreover, these distance opportunities extended education potential to the masses, an extreme departure from the undemocratic educational system that characterized the early years of U. Distance Learning posits that in spite of the reservations of its critics, distance learning spread thanks to a cultural push for more equal educational access in the U.
In a similar way, this account will demonstrate that online colleges today are very much affected by the same mixed bag of support and criticism that impacted distance education in its earliest incarnations. That is, the desire for equal educational access continues to collide with questions of quality assurance all across the online college industry. The mission and outreach of distance learning received a significant boost in , when Anna Ticknor founded a correspondence school designed by women, to educate women.
This informal network aimed to provide access to at least some of the elements of education women were regularly being denied, as only a handful of colleges and universities were admitting women at the time. Another common feature of distance education throughout its history is that technological innovation has often been the force to spark its evolution. With the proliferation of radio in the earliest 20th century, a number of the first regularly broadcast programs incorporated educational instruction coming from universities and other places of learning. In , Pennsylvania State University partnered with Westinghouse Electronic to develop the first radio-based classes.
This simple advancement would significantly improve the quality and efficiency of distance learning. This would also increase the pace of learning, since instructors could give assignments orally over the radio. Students could still submit their work by mail, but general feedback could be given by radio, allowing the courses to move at a faster rate. Still, it is important to recognize that the current movement to provide more people with access to high quality learning experiences has deep roots in the distance learning movement, roots that surpass the invention of the computer.
In many developing nations, call-in educational programs remain an important channel for teaching otherwise remote, isolated, or impoverished populations. By the late s, television was beginning to supplant radio as the preferred medium for broadcast correspondence education. The role of TV in distance learning grew as the overall use of the technology grew. The University of Houston presented the first televised courses in , as part of the broadcasts of the first public television station. Most of these courses were broadcast at night, a scheduling decision designed to meet the needs of working adults who were looking for easier access to courses for college credit.
Efforts to use TV as a method of instruction took a big step forward in , when a group of television stations was created for the sole purpose of offering college classes. The Instructional Television Fixed Services system was run on a microwave frequency, and was less expensive to maintain than conventional broadcast channels.
What most separates this earlier form of distance learning from its present online incarnation is asynchronicity. This means lapses of time necessarily interrupt the cycle of instruction, inquiry, response, assignment submission, assessment, and feedback. Though asynchronous distance learning historically overcame the physical limitations caused by spatial distances, the challenge of temporal lag or delay always limited its dynamism and appeal.
In addition, the goal of distance learning has always been to increase the quality of instruction available to students who are not directly in front of their teachers, and the introduction of TV went a long way towards that goal by introducing an active image of the teacher.