Distance learning is on the rise. If you're considering getting a degree or taking an enrichment class online through a distance learning program, you are likely interested in finding crucial stats about distance learning in general and about specific programs, too. Here are some ways you can learn more about the ins and outs of distance learning by finding stats on the general trend and specific schools.
- Check with the government. If you're looking into specific schools or distance learning in general, check out the federal government's publication on "diploma mills" (disreputable online learning outfits). Here you can learn what stats are important and where to check for them. The link is http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/diplomamills.htm.
- Talk to the school directly. If you are interested in enrolling in a specific distance learning program, contact the school to find out what you want to know. How many students do they enroll? How many graduate? How long have they been in operation? How many teachers are PhDs? How many credits must a student have to graduate? Where does the program fit in the rankings of different schools? If you're working through a reputable school, like the distance learning branch of a four-year state university, you will not have a problem getting answers to your questions. If the school is dodgy, you may find people trying to evade your questions.
- Talk to whomever accredited the school. A reputable school is accredited by a real organization. Some diploma mills have been known to start their own dummy accreditation companies to promote their fraud. If you're dealing with a reputable school, you will be able to contact the organization that accredited them and ask how they judge the schools they accredit. You can visit http://distancelearn.about.com/od/accreditationinfo// for information on the proper accrediting organizations.
- Do an internet search for the school. You can also find stats on distance learning by simply doing a general internet search. You may find news articles singing the praises of highly successful and reputable programs with high graduation rates or lots of financial aid. Or you may find out your program of interest has fallen short in some way or another. Just be cautious, of course, and don't believe everything you read online.
- Check the Better Business Bureau. Sometimes a great way to find out the stats behind a service is to check with people who get complaints about them. Visiting the BBB website, you can plug in the name of any institution to see if complaints have been registered against it and, if so, how those complaints have been resolved. That's a good set of statistics to know.