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Read the Label, It’s Good for You

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How to understand researched information on an online schoolHere’s a quick history refresher. In 1906, Upton Sinclair wrote, “The Jungle,” which publicized unsanitary food processing conditions in the meatpacking industry leaving countless Americans dismayed and wondering, what’s in the sausage?

The novel sparked the Meat Inspection Act, regulations that paved the way to the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. Now, we have detailed nutrition labels on all foods. We as consumers get to know the tidbits of every product right down to those long laboratory words like maltodextrin or hydrolyzed corn (and yet strangely we’re still wondering, what is that?).

As prospective college students, shouldn’t we also have the right to know exactly what we’re buying upfront?


But before you decide to organize an Occupy Higher Education rally, relax, college food labels are already here, metaphorically speaking.

Although some institutions of higher learning like American Public University already lead the way in keeping tuition costs low and transparent, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) wanted to ensure ALL colleges (online or offline) clearly communicate key information so that applicants are choosing the best college for their individual needs.

Here’s how you can “read the label.” Let’s say you’re interested in an advanced degree designed for business professionals. At American Public University’s website, you can click on the degree and visit www.apus.edu/disclosure. You’ll see vital stats like tuition & fees, annual completion rates, and median loan debts in one simple snapshot.

The disclosure statement should always be prominent on every college’s degree program site. And in case you want independent verification, it’s always a good idea to visit the online College Affordability and Transparency Center, where you can compare key stats amongst various public and private colleges alike. You can even generate your own unique report.

With all this valuable information at your fingertips, it’s time to get a little educated before you get an education.

By J. Thompson
Online Learning Tips Staff

J. Thompson is the Vice President of the Content team at American Public University. He earned an M.F.A in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and performed his undergraduate studies in English literature, political science and business management between the University of New Mexico and East Carolina University. His career insights draw upon experience as a communications vice president supporting learning management, applicant tracking, and talent and leadership development for Bank of America and other Fortune 500 firms.

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