Should You Consider A Degree From A Non Profit Online School?

For-profit schools like Kaplan, The University of Phoenix and others have grown into tremendous businesses in the past decade, and that’s caused a good deal of apprehension in both the educational community and the government. The situation got a whole lot more tense in 2010, when the US General Accounting Office charged that many of the major for-profit schools were using over-aggressive recruiting policies, and then encouraging students to borrow money to pay for degree programs of questionable value. The GAO’s report làm bằng đại học came complete with video evidence, taped secretly, of recruiting officers at for-profit schools telling prospective student to engage in downright deceptions to get more money from Uncle Sam in the form of Pell Grants.

That was followed by a storm of criticism in Congress, spearheaded by Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat of Iowa), who is now pushing for regulations that will control the for-profits’ recruiting practices and force them to demonstrate that students are finding jobs after they graduate with degrees that can cost well into the $30,000 range.

On the other side of the argument are the for-profit schools, who argue that there are no restrictions on recruiting practices at state or private colleges, and that none of them are being asked to prove that graduates with liberal arts degrees in anthropology and political science are finding jobs with their high-priced degrees.

Non-Profit Choices Grow

If you want to get a college degree online, and you believe there’s a real difference between the education at a for-profit school and a non-profit one, your choices have expanded dramatically in recent years. While online education was once almost totally dominated by for-profit schools, a whole range of state university systems and private schools have gone into online teaching, some with very large, varied degree offerings. It’s perhaps a bit surprising that many of the largest players in online education today are religion based schools. Christian colleges and universities with Baptist or other evangelical affiliations have built large online degree programs, most of which do not require students to have any particular religious bent to participate in. Another large block of online offerings comes from Roman Catholic schools, which have operated large campuses across the U.S. for many years, but have now gone into online teaching in increasing numbers.

A look at the non-profit schools offering online degrees shows an interesting mix. Liberty University, an evangelical school founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1971, has become a massive online teaching juggernaut, with over 50,000 students around the world taking its distance learning programs each year. The school offers a range of degrees to train students for the ministry, but also quite a few others for very real-world careers like computer science and nursing. At the other end of the religious school spectrum is the poetically named Our Lady of the Lake University, a 2,600 private Roman Catholic school in San Antonio, that offers just one online learning program, a master’s degree in informational systems and security.

State Universities Move In Gradually

State universities have had a bumpy ride into the online learning world. The failure of a large, highly-touted online degree program at the University of Illinois just last year was a disaster that scared may other public schools away. It highlighted a problem of poor commitment by professors to online teaching that has come up at many schools. But gradually, many of the state universities have begun to find their footing in distance learning. That’s a good thing for students, because state schools have always tended to have some of the lowest tuition rates available anywhere, and many of them have made it a policy to charge out of state students either the same rates as in-state students for online programs, or added just a small surcharge for non-local students studying online. Public schools that have made a deep commitment in this regard now include the University of Massachusetts, whose “UMass Online” program now offers 75 online degree programs, Charter Oak State College, a tiny Connecticut school that gives online degrees in five major categories at super-low tuition rates and Oregon State University, which has created a national footprint with 16 online degree programs.

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