What To Look For In A Distance Learning College

As the Internet becomes as common in many homes as bathrooms, sinks and stoves, the opportunity to turn any location into a learning one is becoming more evident. More and more colleges and universities are allowing those jacked in to the Net to turn their home computers into powerful learning tools by offering distance learning college courses.

These classes sometimes translate into full degrees, or they add to ones students are seeking in person. Either way, when a distance learning college program is involved, making the right choices can be as difficult as screening colleges for personal attendance.

Unless the course are offered by a college a student is already attending, there are some considerations that should be made before course fees are turned over. These include:

* Programs offered. While the idea of attending a distance learning college in the privacy of one's own home can be very alluring, if the right programs for personal advancement and interest are not available, there's little point.

Make sure any distance college seriously considered has the type of course work that really benefits personal career choice, or at least learning interest. Novelty aside, these programs are still hard, so why invest when the end result might be coursework that just doesn't fit personal needs.

* Accreditation. This is a big thing to consider. Make sure the colleges considered are accredited and that their online programs are, too. If a college says its accredited with a particular agency, check it out before signing on. Some of the bigger schools, such as state universities and well known private colleges, likely don't require this consideration, but do check and see if their online degree programs are extended accreditation, as well. This can mean the difference between a very valuable degree or just a piece of paper.

* Class schedule. Pay very close attention to this even with online learning. Some courses might require students to be online at appointed times for virtual lectures. If work schedule doesn't permit this, signing up for a class can be a costly mistake.

* Pricing. Check into pricing and scholarship/loan opportunities. There's no point signing on for a $10,000 program if it cannot be paid for. Most accredited institutions offer help with student financial aid, even for distance learning programs.

* Staff availability. While students who choose to learn online tend to do so to avoid the classroom setting, access to professors will still likely be very important. Make sure this is available. Even if it's through online chat or telephone calls, being able to "talk" to a professor should never be cut out of the distance learning equation.

A distance learning college can really open doors for those who cannot attend classes for whatever reasons. There are some things that should be looked into very closely before signing on and paying for one of these programs, however. If the roadblocks to learning aren't actually removed, the program being looked at might not be the best one for personal needs.

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