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Archive for May, 2008

The Name Game that Diploma Mills Play

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

 In the chameleon-like underworld of diploma mills, anything can happen.

A diploma mill, also known as a fake degree mill, is a business operating as a school which awards college diplomas with little or no academic work. It is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or any reputable accrediting body.

Some of these elusive (and in some states illegal) non-schools are here today and gone tomorrow; while others survive after being forced out of business by resurrecting themselves, like the Phoenix, under a new name.

But diploma mill names are not usually chosen at random. Instead, they are crafted to sound like the names of reputable, accredited, legitimate colleges and universities.

For example:

So when choosing an accredited online school or traditional school, carefully check the name to make sure it is the college you think it is.

Also, employers should be careful as well in checking the credentials of their employees. Do not assume that everything is fine because the college sounds reputable. Instead, check it out.

Several states maintain a list of diploma mills, substandard and unaccredited colleges. Oregon, Texas, Michigan and Maine are just a few. But the U.S. Department of Education and  the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are two great places to start when checking out a college.  

But being aware of the name game is also a great way to avoid being ensnared by diploma mills.

diploma mill,  degree mill, fake college degree, college_diploma, colleges and universities

Popularity: 9% [?]

Posted by vida

The Five Worst Mistakes to Make While E-learning

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Like ivy quietly overtaking a house until its removal becomes a major problem, the mistakes made by e-learners are not apparent until they become overwhelming and difficult to correct.

Discipline is tantamount in a distance-learning college environment; and the milestones for the online class must be met with completed homework, on-time performance of class projects and clarification of any misunderstood syllabus elements.

But the best defense is a well-executed offense; so online school students should avoid allowing these destructive mistakes into their high-tech, virtual classroom experience:

  1. Flying by the seat of one’s pants by adding e-learning classes to an already overbooked schedule. Although online classes represent the ultimate in flexibility, they also require the same amount of work (or more) as traditional college classes. If there is no time left in the schedule to study online, then don’t add an online class. It will only exacerbate the situation. Before enrolling in online school, make sure that sufficient study time is available.
  2. Not taking the time to carefully read and re-read the details included in the class syllabus. The syllabus offers vital information about deadlines and homework instructions, required materials for the class, office hours of the instructor, the grading formula, the repurcussions of late or missed homework, how to find help when needed and more. Skimming over this material could cause major fallout.
  3. Procrastinating on assignments, especially the final project. Although cramming may work in the short-term for some traditional classes, e-learners may find themselves in trouble if they begin to slip behind in required reading or do not allow enough time to complete assignments. It is especially important to allow a generous amount of time to complete final projects by starting early. That way, if trouble arises, there will be sufficient opportunity to seek assistance from the instructor. 
  4. Assuming that the professor will not know that the required watching of live or archived lectures has been omitted. If students are required to watch video lectures via computer, it is easy to assume that the teacher will not know if this requirement has been fulfilled. But beware – new technology is able to keep a record of which students logged into the live or archived lectures. In live lectures watched by computer, teachers can see the names of students present in the virtual classroom; and students can raise their hand, be called upon by the teacher, type in comments or questions, applaud and view demonstrations on the teacher’s computer screen. So watch the lecture; or you may be docked a few points.
  5. Attempting to get by with dial-up Internet, a computer that does not meet the specifications for the class, or a significantly different version of the software and textbook. Although it is not impossible to successfully complete the class using materials and equipment that are outdated, the student will experience undue stress and will waste a tremendous amount of time overcoming the limitations posed by the situation. It is not worth it; so spend the extra money on materials to ensure the best possible learning situation.

Online degree programs and online classes are a wonderful way to earn a college diploma.

But students should remember to stay on top of their online education by developing excellent time management skills and discipline. This is the best way to avoid costly mistakes and to insure a rewarding e-learning experience.

distance learning, e-learning, online schools, online students, virtual class, online education, online class, e-learning mistakes, study online, online degree program

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Eliminate a Major Regret: Pass the GED Test

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Quite a large number of adults share the common regret of having dropped out of high school before earning a diploma. Even those who now have well-paying jobs often express remorse at not having graduated with their classmates. 

And for those who desire to enroll in an online school or traditional college, a high school diploma is a prerequisite.

But this ’no diploma’ regret is easily fixed by studying for and passing the GED (General Educational Development) test. It is possible to prepare for the GED test at home, but the test must be taken at an approved GED test location. In other words, it must be take in person, as explained in the blog, Beware GED Testing Offered Online or By Mail.

There are several ways to find resources to prepare for the GED test:

  • Check out a GED preparation book from the local public library. This is a free option, provided that library materials are returned on time.
  • Purchase GED preparation books (or books with cd rom) from a local or online bookstore. This can be a low cost option.
  • Purchase GED prep software that covers all subjects for the exam. For example, Merit Software offers a complete GED program for one price; but each part is also sold separately. Online bookstores, office supply stores, and computer stores may be options for locating GED software.
  • Sign up for a GED prep class at the junior college, local adult school or a class found through county or community services.

Most preparation materials contain sample questions and exercises designed to improve the chances of success on the test. Potential test-takers should be diligent in studying for each part of the exam — Language Arts: Reading, Social Studies, Science, Language Arts: Writing, and Mathematics. 

There is no reason to delay moving toward earning the equivalent of a high school diploma.

So prepare and take the GED test. Then one more regret can be scratched off the list.

online school, college, high school diploma, high school, GED test

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Five-Step Career Plan for Military Personnel

Monday, May 26th, 2008

At duty stations around the world, military personnel ask themselves which course of study will lead to a lucrative and challenging career once they separate from military service.

In other words, how does military training and experience translate into a well-paying mainstream job after assigned duty in the armed forces? 

Although the U.S. economy is currently unsteady, G.I.’s can increase their chances for career success by preparing for it while still on active or reserve duty.

These are five ways to help prepare for a future career “on the economy”: 

  1. Capitalize on the current military job. Many soldiers already receive valuable on-the-job experience in a number of fields — including computer science, legal services, business, electronics, telecommunications, engineering, health administration, nursing, teaching, food preparation and security. With a college degree or professional certificate, any of these jobs could lead to a satisfying career down the road.
  2. Use the Bureau of Labor Statistics to research possible career paths. The BLS website offers valuable information about specific jobs — including necessary training and credentials, pay scale, work duties, environment and whether future job opportunities are expected to grow or shrink. Just type the occupation into the search box — like “paralegal“; and a wealth of information appears about that job.
  3. Enroll in an accredited online degree program. Take advantage of the financial assistance that the military provides to pursue the chosen career through distance learning or traditional classes offered on the base. Gain new skills or enhance current skills; and bump up resume credentials for what may be a competitive job search ahead.
  4. Be diligent in successfully performing all college coursework, thereby building an impressive educational record and honing learning skills that will enhance later job performance.
  5. Avoid negative performance ratings or disciplinary red marks while in the military — especially those that lead to a dishonorable discharge. Employers often perform a routine background check before hiring employees for sensitive positions or promotions within their companies. Although the employer may denied access to details of the infraction, any hint of a problem may suffice enough to keep a potential problem candidate out of a job.

Wise employers value the experience, discipline, work ethic and loyalty that they can count on in those who have successfully served out their military service. And often, the military veteran has a favorable advantage when all else is equal.

So  plan ahead to increase the chances of a sweet career payoff down the road.

careers, employers, jobs, military, online degrees, soldiers, distance learning, veterans, armed forces, U.S. economy

Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

Foreclosures, Bankruptcies Shut Parents Out of Student Loans

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

According to Bloomberg News, parents who have a bankruptcy or foreclosure on their credit history may find closed doors when they apply for certain types of financial aid for their child. 

Since these adverse credit items usually remain on a credit report for 7 or more years, children who are now 11 years of age and older may face difficulty obtaining federal and private student loans when they are ready to attend a college or university. Financial aid decisions for new freshmen are routinely based upon the parents’ income and credit worthiness.

The current banking crisis, coupled with new laws that limit the compensation received by student loan lenders, has created a tighter situation for those without stellar credit. Although the federal government is scrambling to fix the situation, some college students will find a less-than-friendly borrowing climate when they apply for the smaller pool of available student loan monies.

Both Stafford and PLUS loans are affected; since a third of student loan banking institutions fled the scene when recent legislation placed tighter restrictions on profitable, but questionable, lending practices. Excessive government subsidies to lenders were cut by approximately $20 billion. Some banks that once made out like bandits at the expense of college students were unwilling to continue their services when profits fell.

A new program provided by the federal government, called Direct Loan Servicing, may make it easier for students and their parents to apply for college loans without going through banks.  The borrowing is done directly through the federal government and has four repayment options; but the loan must be offered through the student’s college as part of a financial aid package.  Repayment can be easily managed on the Direct Loan Servicing page that is part of the US Department of Education’s website.

However, parents should remember that the repercussions of today’s financial decisions may impact them and their children tomorrow. It is important to plan ahead and strengthen, not weaken, one’s credit history by:

  • paying all bills on time,
  • avoiding bankruptcies and foreclosures,
  • checking personal credit reports regularly for discrepancies,
  • paying down credit cards to below 30% of the card limit,
  • taking additional measures to improve credit scores.

Also, parents and students should begin saving for college and consider a Plan B if financial aid for college falls short of the required amount. Attending junior college for two years may become a necessity, rather than an option.

With careful planning, parents and students can avoid the disappointment of being denied the necessary funds to achieve their college goals.

financial aid, student loans, student loans, colleges and universities, credit score, credit report, foreclosures, bankruptcies, credit history, parents, college students 

Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

The Hidden Hazard of E-learning

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Nowadays, students go from Sesame Street to video games, and from more television and video games to a high-tech college experience.

But too much television, playing the latest video games for hours, and sitting too long in front of a computer can lead to the same problem – poor health. The key factor is inactivity; and full-time students of online degree programs should be aware of these health risks. 

A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to an increased incidence of diabetes 2 and obesity in children and adults. For example, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), adult males who watched television more than 40 hours a week had three times the risk of diabetes 2 than those who watched less than 1 hour.

It is easy to rack up 40+ hours of inactivity per week as a student if you factor in a full or part-time desk job and either traditional or e-learning classes.  Traditional university classes usually involve a significant number of hours sitting in lectures, as well as numerous hours spent completing assignments in front of a computer. And let’s not forget the time spent reading course textbooks for traditional and online school students.

But it’s not all bad news: there are a few easy steps that can increase health and lead to better physical fitness.

  1. Don’t sit too long while studying. Get up and move around at regular intervals – at least once every hour.
  2. Rest your eyes from the computer and blink often. The eyestrain of staring at the computer screen and blinking less, like most people do, can lead to vision problems down the road.
  3. Become physically active. Add daily exercise to your regimen — including aerobic exercise of 30 minutes or more at least 5-6 days a week. (Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program, especially if you have been inactive for awhile.)
  4. Cut your calorie intake. The less active you are, the fewer calories you need. Those excess calories can lead to obesity, heart disease and other problems.
  5. Watch what you eat. Avoid the fast foods and donuts; and eat a well-balanced diet.
  6. Be sure to get plenty of sleep. This allows your body adequate time to recover and is important for mental health as well.
  7. Pay attention to your body. Although symptoms of conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure may be silent, you may notice some symptoms — like blurred vision, a wound that won’t heal, or poor circulation in your hands and feet. These will give you a heads-up that something is wrong.
  8. Get regular check-ups and see a doctor right away if you suspect a problem.

Remember to play it safe and take these steps for better health. Then you can long enjoy the fruit of your college labor. 

online degree program, e-learning, online school, health risks, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, eyestrain, college students

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Reader Mistakes Westwood College for Diploma Mill

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

There is another side of the coin regarding diploma mills. And that is the accredited colleges that have been mistakenly lumped in with diploma mills through rumor.

It is important to research potential college possibilities — not just to avoid diploma mills, but also to avoid disregarding possible higher education choices simply because of a rumor that has been passed along as fact. Below is one such example regarding the accredited school, Westwood College.

A reader wrote the following e-mail to us at DirectoryofSchools.com after reading our website article, Fake College Degrees: An Epidemic:

“ . . . this article . . . does get its point across about the colleges that are scamming students. However there is one really big problem with it. The paper goes to tell about how these colleges are stealing money from students but for some crazy reason, on the right side of the screen you have one of these colleges that are considered to be fake advertised. I am referring to Westwood college. This is one of the most notorious fake colleges out there. This entire website is considered to be a joke with that still on there.”

Our reply was as follows:

” . . . . We are glad you found the article helpful and informative; and we appreciate your comments. Also, we are happy to address your concerns about one of our featured schools, Westwood College.

Westwood College is a reputable, highly-accredited school with over 17 campuses located across the United States — including Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, and Dallas. The accrediting agencies of the college are approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Westwood College Online, which is part of Westwood College, is based in Denver and is regulated and approved by the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Westwood College Online is also approved by all branches of the military for its commitment to academic excellence for military students. Students who attend Westwood College are eligible for federal financial aid, a benefit not available to substandard colleges or diploma mills.

DirectoryofSchools.com lists only accredited colleges and universities and reputable vocational schools on its website. We take the time to research each institution of higher learning, so that potential students may avoid becoming victimized by diploma mills and substandard schools. We continue in our mission to illuminate the problem of fake college degrees and their negative impact upon the society at large. Yet we are also advocates for those accredited higher-learning institutions whose excellent reputations are harmed by the misinformation and rumors that abound on the Internet.

Thank you again for taking the time to write us; and we hope you will continue to find our website useful for your educational needs.”

diploma mills, fake degrees, higher education, military, students, Westwood College, accredited colleges

Popularity: 15% [?]

Posted by vida

10 Reasons to Improve Income with a Degree in Nursing

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Disturbing headlines about the economy and recession have left many career-minded individuals wondering what to do next to improve or maintain their standard of living.

Even those with “good” jobs are perusing online schools to seek coursework that will build and expand their skills without impacting their busy schedules.

But there are others who barely make ends meet and who need an economic boost to improve their household income. They are searching for a career that will prepare them to work in a new, lucrative job within a couple of years.  And of course, employment prospects must be extremely favorable.

Fortunately, there is such a career – registered nursing. And this profession offers almost instant employment for those who successfully complete their studies.  

There are a number of excellent reasons why registered nursing fits the bill so well:

  1. Nursing jobs are plentiful.
  2. Nursing jobs pay well.
  3. Nursing coursework may be completed in as little as 2 years.
  4. Nursing can be combined with criminal justice, business, or education.
  5. Nursing coursework for the RN to bachelor’s degree in nursing is available online.
  6. Nursing offers a number of promotion and advancement opportunities.
  7. Nursing offers a variety of specialties within the career.
  8. Nursing offers a variety of work schedules.
  9. Nursing offers international employment opportunities.
  10. Nursing is a highly-regarded profession and is a way to help and serve others.

online schools, economy, recession, career, nursing, online nursing degree, employment

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

E-learning Takes the Lead in Saudi Arabia’s Universities

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

According the the English language newspaper, the Arab News, most colleges and universities in Saudi Arabia plan to switch from traditional learning to e-learning next year.

Interestingly, the change is expected to bring about “dramatic progress” in higher education and in the country. The article goes on to add that the traditional learning model does not adequately prepare students for the “complexities of today’s rapidly developing society”.

As Saudi Arabia prepares to move toward utilizing educational technology to better prepare college students to compete in this age of technology, distance learning continues to grow in popularity in the United States and around the world.

E-learning has taken off in elementary schools, middle schools and high school classrooms as well.  School districts across the United States and Canada have embraced distance learning as a way to enhance classroom learning, or to offer parents a flexible option for the education of their children.

However, it will be interesting to observe whether distance learning will prevail over traditional colleges in the future as the more technologically advanced and efficient pedagogy model for higher education.

Is it possible that Saudi Arabia is the forerunner in recognizing the true value of e-learning and its impact upon the future power of a nation?  That is something we will have to wait and see.

e-learning, Saudi Arabia, higher education, distance_learning 

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Five Ways to Succeed in an Online Classroom

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Like ivy quietly spreading throughout a garden, the popularity of online schools is quickly becoming an undeniable force in the education arena. The vines of change extend boldly into the halls of brick-and-mortar schools, shaping the future of higher education. 

Online class choices expand daily; and traditional colleges and universities proudly display their newly-developed online degree programs like trophies. Distance learning has evolved; and its future is bright – not like a copper penny but like the sun.

Students often amble Into this idyllic picture, tightly grasping their preset views on how to study and succeed in an online classroom. They often draw upon high school memories and rumors about college life. Then they enroll in online classes without skipping a beat or changing a tune. So of course, challenges easily arise without fail.

There are five common challenges for e-learning students to overcome:

  1. Students are surprised by the rigor of online classes.  Students may think they have a sweeter deal by enrolling in online classes. And just having the flexibility to study when it is convenient makes that somewhat true. But online classes are every bit as challenging as the same class taught on-campus. So students must give the same diligence and effort to their e-learning endeavor.
  2. Students overestimate their grasp of technology and software. With all of the techno-gadgets used these days — i.e. cell phones, Blackberrys, iPods, laptops — it is not a stretch for students to assume that they can handle the technology side of an online class. However, depending on the class, the professor may assume that a working knowledge of Word, Excel, Powerpoint or Photoshop is a given. Therefore, students should carefully check the course prerequisites before enrolling; and they should also peruse the class syllabus for information about software knowledge that may be necessary.  
  3. Students underestimate the impact of distractions on study time. Of course, it is great to be able to study at home, work or somewhere else; but distractions are everywhere. Studying at the beach may bring out the creative juices; but it is easy for one’s focus to drift away with the surf. At home, the television, snacks in the refrigerator or video game system may become blaring distractions. Online students must develop a strict study discipline for time dedicated to completing assignments. If not, procrastination may become a problem.
  4. Students forget to include adequate study time for their online class. Enrolling in online classes may enable students to work a job or take part in extracurricular activities. However, if time management skills are lacking, students may find themselves overscheduled and overwhelmed. Regular study time should be scheduled for the online class, using the class syllabus as a guide. Extra time should be alloted for midterms, final exams and class projects.  Planning ahead insures that the e-learning class will not be neglected. In other words, avoid out of sight, out of mind.
  5. Students fail to communicate effectively with their professor. Most college distance-learning classes incorporate a requirement that students communicate with their teachers via e-mail, message boards, or in virtual classrooms to turn in homework or discuss problems. This interaction requirement may be extended to fellow students in the same online class, or for group or colloborative projects. Students should contact their teacher right away when they do not understand course material, when they cannot fix a problem, or when personal circumstances interfere with completing homework assignments.  Students create undue pressures on themselves and on their instructors when they wait too late to simply send off an e-mail with the relevant information. 

By successfully addressing these five challenges, online students open themselves up to a wonderful e-learning experience.

online schools, online degree program, e-learning, distance learning, colleges and universities, college students 

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida