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Is online Grad school a scam? Am I getting scammed?

rhunt2rhunt2 1 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2 New Member
Hi,
(Excuse the typos, I'm writing this on my phone)
I'm a junior and I'll be finishing my undergrad next spring. I unfortunately didn't plan on attending grad school because I'm low income and I'd really like to start working after college, I feel like I need more structure when it comes to my finances. However, I feel like getting my masters might give me a solid foundation when it comes to my future career and the type of jobs available to me.

- I've thought about taking a gap year but I can't trust myself and I'm scared I won't finish.



To give some academic background: I double major in Mass Com and Visual Arts and I'm interested in pursuing my MFA in Design Thinking because I feel like it might "look good" on my resume and I'd the opportunity to teach. Because I'd like to work while pursing this, I'm considering schools that advertise being 100% online.

My Questions:

Is online college a scam?

Will it hold the same weight when it comes to my resume?

Is it easier to get in? How does admission work for online school?

Can I use financial aid for online courses? How do I know if the school is accredited? Will I need to inform my future employers that I obtained my degree 100% online?
9 replies
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Replies to: Is online Grad school a scam? Am I getting scammed?

  • rhunt2rhunt2 1 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I left this part out: I want to be a full time student (online) while working. Is this ambitious?
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 636 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 647 Member
    I did grad school online while working. Finished my two year masters in a year. I went to a brick and mortar state university but completed my degree online. My transcript and diploma are identical to those who took in-person classes, so there couldn’t be stigma attached to the degree imo. Some online colleges seem scammish, but not all- you have to vet the school and program for yourself.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 1832 replies23 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,855 Senior Member
    Thousands of students are seeking degrees online, just do your research on the program, the type of job you ultimately want, and the outcomes of the students with that degree---this applies whether seeking a degree at a traditional brick and mortar college or online. You can look up accreditation status of a college here: https://www.ed.gov/accreditation

    Stay away from for-profit schools.

    Good luck
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29297 replies169 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29,466 Senior Member
    You have time to research this. Don't leap into grad school anywhere, let alone online, until you have determined that
    1) you do need that grad degree for your career goals,
    and
    2) you have a plan for paying for it.

    Spend some time at your college/university career center and get help with the job hunt. Find out about salary differences between bachelor and master degree in your field. Leatn about different career pathways that are open to you. Since you are low income, you certainly don't want to be taking on debt for a master degree that isn't going to make a huge difference in your salary.

    If you want to teach, you neet to make certain that any grad program you start has extensive opportunities to get teaching experience. I expect that you would have more opportunities for that at a brick and mortar program than through an online program.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14633 replies974 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15,607 Senior Member
    edited May 25
    Can I use financial aid for online courses? Yes but aid would be loans only.

    How do I know if the school is accredited? You look at their website. if it is accredited it will say so.

    Will I need to inform my future employers that I obtained my degree 100% online? No. But if it is not a brick and mortar college they will know.

    Some well known universities offer an extensive array of online degree programs e.g. ASU and Purdue. Many others offer a more limited number of online degrees. Avoid the online only for profit schools like University of Phoenix etc.
    edited May 25
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  • tk21769tk21769 10587 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,614 Senior Member
    edited May 25
    Without knowing something about the particular online program, none of us can say flatly that it is (or isn't) a scam. Nevertheless I'm skeptical that the goals of a legitimate graduate degree program can be accomplished easily online. @happymomof1 mentioned opportunities for teaching experience. Mastering a body of knowledge usually involves other social interactions (Q&A, mentoring). How would you get that?

    Apparently, your on-line program would not be free.
    Nor are all brick-and-mortar graduate programs very costly to the student.
    Employers often cover masters degree programs.
    Good PhD programs usually are fully funded (with free tuition plus a stipend).

    If the online program is inexpensive and you have the time for it, it might be worthwhile.
    Hard to say for sure in an online forum like this.


    edited May 25
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  • OttermaOtterma 1500 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,529 Senior Member
    I agree with others that enrolling in a well chosen online school can be a good plan. If you do take that route, try not to start school and your first real job at the same time since you don't want to compromise your performance at either. Ideally, you would get a job in your chosen field, then give yourself a bit of time to settle in to the routine of work, and possibly new location, before starting classes.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29297 replies169 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29,466 Senior Member
    I completed one master program in science on campus that was fully funded, and one in an online program in education that I paid for myself out of pocket. I had no grad school debt from either program. The good thing for me about that online program, was that I could take (and pay for) one class at a time, and there was no time frame in which I had to complete it. It gave me a lot of flexibility. Bad things about it included the lack of immediate feedback and direct human interaction, and the need to set up so many things myself such as classroom observation hours and teaching internship. Online classes won't work unless you are disciplined and self-directed.

    I don't know anything about the kind of MFA you would be looking at. Perhaps it is something that people usually do immediately after an undergrad degree. However what I hear from MFA candidates in other design fields is that several years of work experience makes a big difference in knowing which program will be the best fit, and being able to take best advantage of what the program has to offer. At least one of them started immediately after college, was miserable, dropped out, worked a number of years, and now has gone back to grad school at a different university. Please don't fear a "gap year" or two or five!

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  • moooopmoooop 2202 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,219 Senior Member
    It's probably safest to pick a college that has a name most people would recognize. This is not the same thing as being prestigious or elite...but just in case the issue of it being an online degree comes up in a job interview ( & it might, if online college & place of employment during the same timeframe are not close geographically), if it is a well-known college there will likely be less doubt about the degree's legitimacy.
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