Guest Author - D. Lynn Byrne, Ph.D.
There is nothing, or at least very little, in this life that is truly free. Everything comes at some cost, some investment (time, money, belief). Unfortunately, there are many educational "providers" out there that would have you believe that you can gain an educational credential (degree or professional experience) by trading in on your life and/or work experience. While some few accredited colleges and universities will do this for a very small number of credits, the hard truth is that none will give you a degree in exchange for just life/work experience.
Educational "institutions" that offer you degrees or professional credentials in exchange for proof of your work/life experience, and a nominal fee, are referred to as "diploma mills." These are typically virtual providers, offering their "services" online or by mail; and if you research them very carefully, its likely you'll find they not only don't have a true college or university anywhere, but they're also not accredited or certified by any governmental body. That makes the degree or credential you purchase worth little more than the vellum its printed on.
Now, not all online degree programs are bogus institutions churning out degrees in exchange for cash. There are many degree providers and credentialling agencies that have legitimate authority to provide education credentials in a virtual space. The difference between the degree mill and the legitimate institution is that you earn your degree or credential through these legitimate providers. Your credits are not just given to you in exchange for your fees.
Again, there is just no such thing as a free lunch. It takes time, money, and a true personal committment/investment to earn college or university credits. If you want a legitimate degree that is worth something in the modern market place, you're going to have to invest quite a bit of yourself to get it.
If you'd like to read more about legitimate online programs, check out: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Degree Programs. A little knowledge can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Until next time!