The Internet has made distance learning classes easier to register for, easier to participate in, and easier to use to work toward a college degree. Not all distance learning classes are the same, however, and it is important to choose the best ones before committing time and money to them. The best distance learning classes are offered by accredited institutions that offer the programs in which you are interested. The cost of each course will vary from institution to institution, so it is important for you to first determine a budget for your education, as well as your schedule and capabilities for accessing online content.
Accreditation is obtained by an educational institution from one of several accrediting bodies. Accreditation essentially means that the educational institution is offering a high quality education, and offering degrees that are recognized by employers and other institutions. You should only take distance learning classes from an accredited institution that employers will recognize as legitimate; whether an institution is accredited may also affect the types of funding you can receive for your education. Most importantly, accreditation will be one step in ensuring that your investment of time and money in a distance learning program is not wasted.
The distance learning classes you choose will depend on what type of degree or certificate you intend to earn. Some degrees combine distance learning coursework with in-class coursework, so be sure to determine your needs and the availability of programs that will fit your schedule and abilities. Many distance learning classes are conducted entirely through the Internet on message boards, so if face-to-face interaction with a professor is important to you, distance learning may not be your best option. Distance learning will also require you to work at your own pace and complete all coursework in a timely manner, so be sure to choose a course taught by a professor who is easily accessible via e-mail or other communications.
Keep in mind that the cost of distance learning classes will vary from institution to institution, and even from program to program. Research prices of different programs and choose the ones that fit your budget best. Remember, too, that even after you have researched the best programs to suit your needs, you are not guaranteed a spot in a program. Most distance learning schools have admissions requirements a candidate must meet before enrolling, so make sure you qualify and that any credits you have already earned at other institutions will transfer to the distance learning institution.