It isn’t hard to find schools and universities that are offering online classes. It isn’t hard to find institutions that have good programs where you will learn a lot. What is a bit more difficult is determining how well a degree will serve you in getting jobs for the rest of your career.
When you attend a school, you are somewhat tying yourself to that schools reputation for the rest of your life. Obviously when you are 50 years old and have years of experience and a proven track record, the school you attended doesn’t matter so much, but it is still going to show up on your CV.
When people are trying to choose a place to go to college, they need to consider the future. What is the institution in question likely to do over the next 20 years and how will that change the value of your degree.
This is the main issue I see with schools like University of Phoenix and Capella University. Even if they are fine institutions with impecable academics (and I’m not trying to comment on whether they are or aren’t), they are run with a profit motive which necessarily puts them in a different situation than other non-profit schools. If times get tough, their profit motive may prompt very different decision making than what you’d see at a non-profit school.
Students need to align themselves with institutions that offer stability in the future. Would you rather tie your career to the reputation of University of Phoenix or to the reputation of an established state school, Harvard’s extension school or even a small lesser known non-profit college that has been around for a century?
That isn’t to say that for-profit schools don’t have a place, but it is very important to understand the long term differences in getting a degree from a college that has been around for 15 years and is operated as a business and getting a degree from a college that has been around for 100 years and isn’t seeking to make a profit.