Distance Learning Programs –
Choosing the Right School

Right now, there are literally thousands of distance learning programs to choose from – both with online-only universities and from traditional learning
establishments (such as Harvard and Yale).

You can either earn an Associates, Bachelors, or Master’s degree online, supplement an existing degree with additional classes, or take a la carte classes through continuing education. So how do you choose which learning institution is right for you?

The first step is deciding upon your course of study. Some schools only offer certain programs, so if you’re seeking online nursing degree or law degree, a number of schools will not suit your needs. Narrow down your focus. If you’re interested in computers, which aspect would you prefer to focus on – repair, programming, digital design, website fabrication, etc. Would you like to work in a corporate atmosphere, or do you have that entrepreneurial spirit to go into business for yourself? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Secondly, seeing as some distance learning programs require occasional on-campus class attendance, you need to decide if this is something you are willing to do or not. Some universities insist all students (traditional and virtual) meet with an advisor prior to matriculation. If this is not a possibility, you will need to choose a different school.

A final concern is cost. Some online schools charge as much (if not more) than traditional learning institutions. Although there are some scholarships and college financial aid available for distance learners, the costs can still be prohibitive. Additionally, you need to factor in “hidden costs,” such as technology or lab fees, and your own monthly internet service provider (ISP) charges.

Note that the military has established online degree programs for soldiers, the idea being that they can work on studies whether they’re in Germany or Afghanistan. The Army distance learning program is available at www.earmyu.com.

If you’ve thought carefully about these concerns and weighed the realities of online education against your “real life” responsibilities and are still eager to earn your degree via a distance learning program, there are several online degree program databases on the Internet. All will help you research degrees, certificates, and courses from online colleges, universities and schools.

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