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Foreign Student Series: Getting a US Education From Home

In part eight, advice for choosing an online program. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week in our Foreign Student Series, we talk about getting an American education online. A student named Hendra has written to us from Indonesia asking about a good online university.

Finding the right online program requires research, just like a traditional education. Talking to advisers and recruiters can help. Keep in mind, though, that they might have a financial interest to direct you to certain programs.

Avoid a diploma mill. We talked about this last week. Diploma mills, also known as degree mills, are nothing more than businesses. The education is poor quality, if they even require any class work to get a degree.

The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes a group in Washington, D.C., to accredit schools that offer distance learning. One hundred ten programs in the United States and six other countries are accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council.

We asked the executive director, Michael Lambert, for advice on choosing a distance learning program. He says the first thing is to go on the CHEA Web site to find if a school is accredited. The address is c-h-e-a dot o-r-g.

Next, make sure the school offers what you need. Do you need a degree, or will a certificate or license be enough?

Another consideration is cost. Often the published price does not include all the costs -- like books. Technology requirements can also add to the costs. Will you need to get new software or a high-speed Internet connection or even a new computer to take the classes you want?

Also, consider the level of interaction that an online program offers. You might never meet the teacher or other students in person. You need to be able to work without the supervision that you might find in a traditional class.

Finally, and this is our own advice, find out what others say. You might search on the Internet for comments or ratings or news stories about schools that interest you. Just remember that what people say is not always fair or true.

So now we have talked about getting an American education online. Next week, we begin explaining the steps to getting an American education in the United States.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Our Foreign Student Series is online at I'm Bob Doughty.