Online College Advice: An Interview with Lindsay Peterson

Last month, the Tampa Tribune posted an article written by Lindsay Peterson entitled “For Profit colleges leave many with debt but no jobs.” We decided to reach out to Lindsay and ask her what advice she would give to students considering private online colleges. Here is what she told us:

If you’re considering a private, on-line college, do some research before you decide which one.

Can you give some pointers about accreditation?
Find out what kind of accreditation the program has, especially if you think you may want to transfer to a public college or university. Look for regional, not national, accreditation. Regional accreditation is more rigorous. There are six regional accrediting agencies and most public colleges and universities recognize them all.

What should people know when thinking about transferring credits from online colleges?
Find out if your state has a credit transfer system and how it works. Florida, for instance, has the Statewide Course Numbering System. It assigns common numbers to courses that meet content and faculty criteria. If a college participates, its courses on the list should be accepted by all colleges and universities in the state, public and private.

What should people consider when picking a major at an online institution?
Find out whether there’s a demand in the field you plan to study. Look at help wanted ads. Ask area employers. Find out from the college or university the graduation rates and job placement rates in the program you are considering. Find out how much you can expect to make after graduation, and double-check that with the state. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistic has information, http://www.bls.gov/bls/blswage.htm.

What cautions should people take when enrolling?
Go to outside sources, labor analysts, potential employers, when possible to double check everything an admissions counselor tells you.

Many thanks to Lindsay for her insights and great original article.

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