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How do I Choose the Best Online Higher Education?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Online higher education programs are gaining considerable popularity around the world. Using distance learning and Internet-based courses, programs can now offer the chance to obtain associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees, as well as many different types of trade certification, to a wider variety of students. Choosing the best online higher education programs will depend on several factors, including lifestyle, career goals, and budget.

One of the biggest advantages to online higher education programs is that they allow students to do work on a flexible schedule. Though a student may have due dates for projects, papers, and homework, the materials and lectures for the class can often be accessed on the student's own time, as opposed to on a regular class schedule. Nevertheless, online higher education programs can be rigorous and may take several years to complete; it may require some careful scheduling to arrange a full-time job or family responsibilities around an online program. Check program requirements carefully before choosing an online higher education program to make sure that it will be compatible with other responsibilities.

Online higher education programs allow students to have a flexible schedule.
Online higher education programs allow students to have a flexible schedule.

Possibly the most important part of choosing an online higher education program is picking a major. Unlike at a traditional college, students generally won't be able to access courses that are not required, leaving limited opportunities to explore other areas of interest. Be sure to pick a program with a major that truly interests or excites, and make sure to check out career prospects in the chosen field. While education for education's sake can be wonderful, many people need to turn their training into a lucrative professional career; if this is a goal, beware of majors that have limited career opportunities attached.

Another issue that may affect the choice of online higher education is the program's accreditation status. Accreditation is what gives a program the right to hand out nationally or internationally recognized degrees, such as a master's or bachelor's degree. Without accreditation, a school may still provide an excellent education and give students certificates of completion, but these certificates may not rate on par with degrees in the professional world. Additionally, when taking a degree-oriented program, be sure to have met prerequisites to receive a graduate or post-graduate degree; in many regions, for instance, a person cannot receive a master's degree unless he or she already has a bachelor's degree.

While many online higher education programs are less expensive than traditional universities, most do charge tuition and material fees. If budget is a concern, find out if the program offers scholarships or if it is eligible for government student loans. Even if the program meets neither of those criteria, education may still be financed by third-party scholarship programs, grants, or private loans. Talk to the school's financial aid officers to find out what types of aid and payment programs are available.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a WiseGEEK writer.

Learn more...
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a WiseGEEK writer.

Learn more...

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    • Online higher education programs allow students to have a flexible schedule.
      By: LoloStock
      Online higher education programs allow students to have a flexible schedule.