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Getting The Most Out of Your Degree Completion Program

Jan 10, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

A degree completion program provides a path for nontraditional students to return to school and finish their Bachelor’s degree. Many degree completion programs are two-year programs designed for students who already hold an Associate’s or at least two years of Bachelor-level study. Others are more customizable. Here are a few tips for choosing the right program for you—and getting the most cost-effective deal.

Find the right package

There are many different types of traditional and online degree completion programs. Some are specifically tailored toward individual students’ backgrounds, while others offer set packages that result in specific degrees. Be
sure that if you choose a package, it’s the right fit for your
skills, background, and goals. Depending on cost and
other factors, a custom program may be a better
fit for you.

See Also: Online Degree Completion Programs

Choose the one that offers the most credits

Some degree completion programs offer credits only for classes you’ve taken before—or will admit you only if you’ve completed at least two years of postsecondary study. Others will also look at life experience and work experience when assessing how much credit you qualify for.

See Also: Online Bachelors Degree Programs

Choose the right degree

Some schools will issue a degree to you that’s indistinguishable from the degrees given to their four-year students. Others work within a network of partner schools, and will give you a degree from your local public college or partner school at the end. Be sure you know which school you’re getting the degree from—and it’s the one you prefer.

Be sure it’s legit

There are a lot of diploma mills out there that will issue you a degree for a fee. Some of them make you take classes, grade your homework, and seem very much like normal schools. But there are ways to spot the difference.

First, be sure the evaluation process is rigorous for life and job experience credit. The school should do more than ask for your resume; it should ask you to write an essay, submit a portfolio, show up for an interview, take a test, or be evaluated in person to determine that you really have the skills you claim.

Second, check its accreditation

False schools often claim to be accredited, but the accrediting agency is also fraudulent. All schools should be accredited by one of the regional accrediting agencies throughout the United States. In addition, specific departments may be required to have accreditation from a legit national or professional certification body. Click here [] for further information on accreditation and a list of legit accreditors. Remember—if your school’s accreditor is not on one of these lists, something’s fishy.

In addition, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you have only half a year’s worth of college credit and the school is saying it will grant you a four-year diploma in just a few months, use your common sense. Schools invest a lot of money in their teachers, infrastructure, and other costs to delivering an education—so they don’t like to give up credits easily.

Compare costs

Are you getting the best deal in terms of student aid? Are you being offered the maximum amount of federal aid possible? Are they offering you a scholarship? Compare costs not with the most expensive options available—but with comparable programs at community colleges and other online schools. Where does your school stack up?

Investigate online options

Online degree completion programs are common—as degree completion is often designed for nontraditional students, it fits in well with the mission of many online schools. An online degree program will often be easier to fit around a full-time job and other obligations, and it’s worth investigating.

Deciding to go back to school is never easy. But ask these questions about the degree completion program you’re considering, and the choice is likely to be easier. Always be sure you’re getting as many credits as you deserve; the school is legit; and the package and degree work for your goals. If you do, you’re more likely to find a program that can help your education—and your career.

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