Features to look for in Choosing an Effective Distance Learning Program

Training has never been easier to obtain than today. With the constant growth of our local universities, the increase in numbers of community and career colleges, and the availability of private and public colleges via online educational programs, we have never had more options to choose from in higher education.

The recent explosive growth in online education has brought a new convenience and availability to thousands of Americans searching for ways to further their careers through training. But is getting your education online the right thing for you?

There are many things that you need to keep in mind when choosing an educational program online. The most important thing to know is if the online education environment is right for you. Do you have sufficient computer skills? You don’t need to be a computer guru, but you do need to know how to browse the internet, how to save and locate files on your computer, and how to use email. Knowing how to use programs such as Open Office Writer or Microsoft Word would also be helpful.

Additionally, you need to be a self-starter. An online education requires the ability to independently study and complete your assignments, without having an instructor prodding you to get those difficult assignments completed. If you have difficult motivating yourself, or if you seem to always be putting things off until later, then you may be better suited to a scheduled classroom environment than the online environment.

Once you have decided that an online education is right for you, and have decided on your course of study, you will need to choose which online educational program meets your needs. One of the best places to start is by finding other people in your area who are enrolled in an online program. Their personal experience with an online institution can be extremely helpful in choosing which school to attend.

Depending on your requirements, you need to choose your program based upon the following:

1) Accreditation – Is the institution accredited? If not, this eliminates many sources of scholarships, grants and student loans.

2) Travel – Some institutions will require you to make one or more trips to their campus during your educational program. If this is required, will you be able to make the trip? Can the requirement be waived?

3) Reputation – Is the institution you are considering reliable? Are they a private/public institution that is providing educational opportunities on the internet? Or is the school a brand-new internet company that has no history of providing education? Have they been reported to the Better Business Bureau?

4) Financing – Does the institution provide counseling on education financing? Will they put in writing the total cost of your educational program and any additional fees they may have? Learning just prior to graduation that you have to pay $150 to graduate, and $50 for your actual diploma would not make you happy!

5) Tutoring – Are the teachers available to provide you online assistance with your school work? If so, how many students are going to be fighting for time with each teacher? Are other students available to discuss the work?

6) Materials – Will the school provide all textbooks, or will they send you printable versions? Textbooks are expensive, but printing out the textbooks would be even more expensive, and extremely inconvenient.

7) Student Body – Are there other students from your area attending the school? If so, can the school arrange for some one-on-one assistance during your first classes to help you learn the online environment?

Many people have already benefited from an online education, and many more will follow. Taking the simple steps I’ve outlined will hopefully help you make your online education an unqualified success. They certainly helped me!