What is Distance Learning?
Distance Learning is an alternative way of taking college courses without having to commit to a regular campus attendance. Many distance learning programs are connected to traditional schools, others exist independently.
What are the Pros of Distance Learning?
Distance learning allows students to complete online classes from the privacy of their own home. Most online programs allow the students to go at their own pace, which provides the student to conveniently plan their school work around their everyday lives. Many people who are balancing a job and family can take pleasure in the flexibility with this type of learning.
What are the Cons of Distance Learning?
Besides the obvious social aspects, some people find distance learning difficult to achieve the self motivation required to be successful. Procrastinators struggle with the flexibility of assignment deadlines. Although online discussions take place with distance learning, students miss out on the “live” classroom interactions and ongoing dialogue.
Is financial aid available for Distance Learners?
Financial aid is available to students enrolled in a regionally accredited school. To find out if your school is regionally accredited, go to www.chea.org (Council for Higher Education Accreditation)
For students enrolled in other types of school, there are some forms of additional aid available.
What equipment is required to learn online?
Most schools require you to provide your own computer with access to the internet. High speed versus dial up is a much better way to go considering the amount of time you will be spending online. Standard software is also a general requirement. Students will likely need to have a word processing program, email, and a multimedia player.
What is an “Accredited” school?
An accredited school is one in which it meets the minimum requirements designated by an accrediting agency. It’s important to remember though that not all accreditation is equal. Most schools and employers consider the six regional accrediting agencies to be the only legitimate agencies. Some schools claim to be accredited from a “fake” accrediting agency, so make sure your school is officially part of a regional accrediting agency.
What are the Six Regional Accrediting Agencies?
There are six geographic regions in the United States that provide an agency that accredits college and university education programs. The six regional agencies are recognized by both the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). If you want your online degree to be widely accepted, make sure it is accepted by one of the six regional accrediting agencies.
The following are the six agencies:
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Accreditation of colleges in the middle states region (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico).
The New England Association of Schools & Colleges
Accreditation of colleges in the New England region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont).
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Accreditation of colleges in the north central region (Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming).
The Northwest Association Of Schools And Colleges
Accreditation of colleges in the north west region (Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.)
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Accreditation of colleges in the southern region (Alabama , Florida , Georgia , Kentucky , Louisiana , Mississippi , North Carolina , South Carolina , Tennessee , Texas , Virginia)
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Accreditation of colleges in the western region.
Find out if the college or university you are interested in is regionally accredited by visiting the regional accrediting board Web site for your area looking up the institution name.
How do I choose an online class?
Once you know your school is accredited by the proper regional association, start doing your homework. Making a decision on where you will attend online is just as important as deciding where you would go physically. Start by reading the online degree program descriptions that you are interested in. Write down questions and then set up a meeting with the admissions counselor apart of that school. Read testimonials of other students. This will give you a good idea on the experience they obtained by learning online. If located by a campus that an online school uses, check out the campus to see what it’s like. Sit in on a class- although your online experience is different, generally the lectures contain the same information. Do as much research as possible to avoid any regrets later down the road.
How do I apply for distance learning?
Each school has different requirements. Most accredited schools will ask for materials similar to a traditional school. A high school diploma or GED is likely required, along with taking an admissions test such as the SATs or ACTs. The scores for these tests determine whether the individual is a right fit for that particular college. Many schools let you apply online and mail the additional completed application packet. Typically an application packet includes transcripts, tests scores, an application essay, and letters of recommendations. Some schools have programs that are more lenient and even allow enrollment of students without a high school diploma. For more information on requirements check out the school’s website, usually found under “Admissions.”
Is an online degree the same as a traditional degree?
Some online degrees will be viewed just as equal as a traditional degree, however others will be considered greatly substandard. This all varies on factors such as which school you go to, what degree you are receiving, (Bachelors, Masters) and the industry you are looking at getting into. Degrees from schools that are not accredited will most likely not be viewed as legitimate by an employer. Online bachelor’s degrees raise the most skeptics, where online graduate degrees are more accepted as being just as credible as a traditional one. Industries such as Technology and Marketing are more accepting of an online Degree versus an industry that requires less technology based and more hands on experience. If you would like to use your degree to advance your career, do your homework ahead of time to make sure your degree will be accepted down the road.