What Should I Consider Before Starting a Distance Learning Program?

Find out what you need to know before you embark on a distance learning program. Read about accreditation, learning styles and what kinds of services are available to you as an online student.

Program Overview

Preferred learning style and school accreditation are among factors to consider before starting a distance learning program. Keep reading to learn more about these and other considerations.

Important Facts About Distance Learning

Prerequisites Varies by program level; a high school diploma or equivalent, undergraduate, or master's degree may be required
Degree/Certificate Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctorates are available in select fields, as well as both undergraduate and graduate certificates
Online Availability Some programs are offered fully online, while others are in a hybrid format
Continuing Education Some distance learning programs award continuing education credit (CEUs)

Is the School Accredited?

Finding out whether a school is accredited is a prime consideration before beginning a distance education program. Credits and degrees earned through schools that aren't accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education might not be recognized by prospective employers. They also might not be accepted by other colleges or universities, should you decide to transfer or enroll in an advanced degree or certificate program.

What Kind of Learner Are You?

If you're a visual learner, a distance education program that consists primarily of online reading assignments could be an ideal fit for you. However, this type of program could be detrimental if you're an auditory or kinesthetic learner. Identifying the type of learner you are before beginning your search for an online program could help you find the best match for your learning style.

Are You Motivated Enough?

Many online programs allow students to work at their own pace, with a set time frame in which all program work must be completed but no individual deadlines for papers and other assignments. Thus, if you have trouble with procrastination or time management, you might want to look for a structured distance education program.

What Level of Technical Assistance is Available?

Not everyone is a computer guru. If you expect you'll need help navigating a distance education program, you might want to look for a school that offers 24/7 technical support to its online students.

What Additional Services Are Offered?

Today's online students often have access to the same services as those on campus. Before starting a distance learning program, you might anticipate what services you think you'll need and then check to see if your desired school offers them. For example, will you have online library access? Does the school offer online academic services, like advising, tutoring or writing assistance? And will career services be available to you once you've finished your program?

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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