by Donna Carlson
In today’s business world, it’s important that owner-operators keep pace with the changes in business and technology that apply to trucking. Colleges and business schools are offering dozens of courses that may be able to teach you what you need to know to make your small business more profitable. With the anytime, anywhere availability of e-learning, you can give yourself a competitive advantage in the working world and, more importantly, make sure you keep it. All you need is a computer with Internet access.
First, decide what you want to learn, whether it’s worth your while to shell out big bucks for a business degree from a college or if a basic course in accounting by a company that specializes in business will do. For instance, a basic bookkeeping course from your local adult community education center (Check with your hometown high school. Many of them now have online classes.) will cost an average of $69. The web-based CyberU campus will bill you $130 for the same course. If you want Bookkeeping 101 toward a degree in business from the accredited University of Phoenix, it’ll empty your bank account to the tune of $400 per credit hour plus book and $85 application fee.
If these courses seem a bit pricey, how about a free course? Try www.free-ed.net/about.htm, a virtual university that offers courses in 13 areas taught by teachers from around the world. Naturally, it’s not totally free. You still have to pay for books plus shipping. Check it out. Though it calls itself a university, an Ohio limited liability corporation (LLC) operates it.
Surfing for an online school can be time consuming. If you are not sure you actually want an online education or you have questions about schools, financial arrangements and just who is teaching courses online or which business course is right for you, type in www.learnthat.com. Then click on business courses. This interesting site includes answers to questions on everything from how to write a small business plan to how to fire an employee.
The “World Wide Learn” site at www.worldwidelearn.com has online courses and learning resources in over 37 subject areas offered by educational institutions, companies and individuals from all over the world.
The web site www.reallifeaccounting.com may interest truckers and their spouses who want a quick and easy self-tutorial course in accounting. Author John Day has taught accounting for 20 years and offers his 20-hour course for $80 with online tutoring. Best part – there’s no book to buy.
One more site to check out is the CyberU School of Business. If you want to learn how to come out on top in a conflict with your boss or dispatcher, this site lists courses in public relations as well as accounting, finance and law. Their online address is www.cyberu.com. From here type in the course you would like to take or scroll down the center list of options.
Phony Internet degrees
Truckers and anyone else seeking to further their education by taking online classes need to check out the school carefully to make sure the class is either accredited or legitimate. If in doubt ask a school official or check with the Council on Higher Education. Otherwise those credits you burned the midnight oil for may not transfer to another school or count toward graduation.
Popularly called “diploma mills” by authorities, some “schools” are in business to defraud unaware students. In addition, unclear regulations written before the advent of the Internet show loopholes in state laws bigger than a pothole. It’s these loopholes that allow these schools to operate. One business source states the perpetrators who face lawsuits may disappear, change their name, or file for bankruptcy, taking your money with them. Students who have been defrauded have little recourse to recoup their money. On the other hand, if your goal is to gain information and not necessarily a certificate or diploma, there are legitimate classes from good e-schools that don’t meet accreditation standards because they don’t have an actual campus or are in the accreditation process.