Going to college or university used to be reserved for young students straight out of high school and usually from families who could afford to send their children to an expensive school. Thankfully, those days are long gone. With the growing popularity of online universities, now anyone can affordably get a degree and do it in their own time. However, knowing how to select an online university can feel like a daunting task when making important decisions about where to get your degree. Additionally, you want to feel secure about the quality of the education. The first thing you should determine when looking for the best online universities is whether or not the schools you are considering are legitimate. Unfortunately, there are many schools that will allow people to pay to receive a diploma without actually doing any work. These schools are often referred to as "diploma mills." Having a degree from these schools is as useful as a blank piece of paper. Employers will not want to hire graduates who have not actually done the necessary work to earn their degrees. One way to safeguard against wasting your money on a diploma mill is to find an accredited online university by doing a little research. Oregon Student Assistance Commission Office of Degree Authorization Diploma Mills is a great resource that offers descriptions of diploma mills, links to accredited and unaccredited schools nationwide, and important information on accreditation laws across the country. Another helpful place to turn is the U.S. Department of Education. Their website offers several resources and publications to help you learn about diploma mills, accredited, and unaccredited schools in the United States.
After determining what schools offer a legitimate and good quality education, the next step is to determine specifically what you want from your online education. Some schools offer specialized degree programs for students with a specific types of career in mind. Many online universities offer opportunities for students interested in fields such as nursing, computer science, or criminal justice or for students wanting a more vocational education such as studying to become an electrician or earning a culinary certification. Once you decide what career path you want to follow, choose a school that offers a specialty in your desired area of study. Another important factor to consider when selecting the best online university is the level of education you wish to obtain. Online universities offer a range of degree options from associate degrees that can be earned in two years or less to graduate degrees that requires a bit more of a commitment. Many excellent online universities offer Bachelor’s degrees in such fields as accounting, psychology, biology, and anthropology and Master’s degrees in Business Administration, Education, and even a JD from law school. Understand how much education you need to obtain to be successful in your career and choose an online university accordingly.