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How do I Choose the Best Online Distance Learning Programs?

B. Miller
B. Miller

There are a number of different considerations that go into choosing the best online distance learning programs. These include cost of the programs, amount of time that is required to invest in order to earn a degree or certificate, the quality of the education, the size of the classes, and the ease of interacting with the other students and the professor, as well as the accreditation of the school. Some people may find that certain considerations outweigh others; in this case, it is best to sit down and make a list of your most important considerations, then take notes while you are researching schools to find out which online distance learning programs best meet your standards.

When choosing online distance learning programs, the first and generally must important consideration is whether or not the program offers the specific degree or certificate in which you are interested. It is now possible to get many different types of degrees online, from an associate's all the way up to a doctoral degree, so your options are fairly open. Then, consider how much each credit costs, as well as any additional fees that might be added in to the costs of the program, and any methods of financial assistance that are available such as grants, loans, or scholarships.

A woman taking a distance learning class.
A woman taking a distance learning class.

Class sizes in online distance learning programs should be kept small, ideally under twenty students per class. This will ensure that the students can interact with each other and the professor through email, chat, and discussion forums, and can develop important contacts. The professors should encourage student interaction and questions to ensure the best learning experience possible. In addition, search online and with college review boards to see the quality of the education that is delivered through this particular educational institution.

In addition, you will want to make sure that any online distance learning programs you are considering are accredited. At the very least, the institution should be nationally accredited, though an additional regional accreditation is preferable because this type of accreditation is more difficult to get. This information can generally be found on the school's website or by simply searching online. Accreditation is important when you will be applying for jobs in the future, and employers will want to know the quality of your education, as well as if you want to transfer to another school; if you attempt to transfer, and your school isn't properly accredited, you will often have to repeat classes.

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    • A woman taking a distance learning class.
      By: Yuri Arcurs
      A woman taking a distance learning class.