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Distance Learning Degree Programs

Completing a secondary education is easier than ever with today's options in distance learning degree programs. Some of today's leading colleges and universities are offering essential curriculum and courses of study in a variety of fields, and long distance learning offers more opportunities for students interested in completing their bachelors, masters or doctorate degree program on their own schedule. A distance learning program is designed for online delivery with an emphasis on collaboration, networking, and studying using today's leading web technologies and applications.

Students need to consider a variety of factors before enrolling in a distance learning college as these programs are designed for students who can work independently and use specific web programs to coordinate their projects and coursework. Students who may be working full or part-time can find many rewarding opportunities of a distance learning program as an alternative to a classroom setting, and a distance learning college degree can be just as advantageous as earning a campus-based degree or certificate.

What is a Distance Learning Degree?

A distance learning degree is a degree that is completed off campus, and often includes an online component for courses, classes, and lesson plan delivery. Some courses are also developed for mail or video delivery, and students may be expected to complete handwritten assignments or other projects to send to their course instructor. A distance learning degree is comprised of classes and programs that are not delivered in a traditional classroom setting, and the format is becoming more attractive for today's non-traditional college students.

Advantages of a Distance Learning Degree

Completing a distance learning degree program offers many benefits for a working student, returning adult, or even a student who works better independently. Many students choose a distance learning college when they do not have an interest in the social experience of college and want to focus on their studies instead. This allows them to complete their degree at their own pace and take on the responsibility of independent learning instead. A few advantages include:

  • Ability to work with students and professors from around the world

  • Improving communication and networking skills online

  • Ability to make use of research databases and other resources on the World Wide Web

  • Opportunity to take part in discussion groups and online forums for each class

  • Ability to collaborate on projects using web-based platforms and new technology

  • Ability to download and view lectures, presentations, and other course materials

  • Easy access to the online campus from with an internet connection and computer

Myths About Distance Learning Programs

While many students move ahead to use today's technologies and innovative platforms for learning, others are still reluctant to join this emerging solution for secondary education, largely because of many myths about distance learning programs. Common myths are:

  • Distance learning programs aren't as valuable as traditional, campus-based courses. This may have been true when these programs were only available in video or mail delivery formats, but today's online programs allow students to take part in a richer educational environment and build up many technology-based skills and internet research abilities in the process.
  • Distance learning programs do not qualify for college credit. Almost all accredited distance learning degree programs allow students to earn the necessary college credit for a degree, and can also be transferred to other colleges throughout the country. It's important to remember that a distance learning degree is just as valuable, if not more, than a conventional degree.
  • A distance learning college degree is easier than a conventional degree program. This is a myth that many traditional students have a difficult time understanding, but today's distance learning degree programs are designed to fit the needs of each student and can be taken at both a steady or accelerated pace. This may be easier for some but a challenge for others, and each student is different in how they handle their college workload.
  • All accredited distance learning college programs are equal. An accredited distance learning degree program does not always have the necessary accreditation to be recognized appropriately. College programs need to be accredited by at least one of the six nationally recognized accrediting agencies in order to be accepted.
  • Future employers frown upon a distance learning degree. This is no longer the case, as many employers are realizing that students who complete a distance learning program have strong internet research skills, the ability to work independently, and exceptional communications and collaboration skills that can be particularly advantageous in a variety of industries.

How to Choose a Distance Learning College

With hundreds, even thousands of online education programs available, it can be challenging to choose the right college. Many traditional campuses and state universities are developing online learning programs to supplement their campus-based coursework, while other independent colleges and universities operate exclusively online. Choosing the right college involves answering a few questions:

1.     Is the distance learning college accredited by one of the six national accrediting agencies?

2.     Can coursework by transferred to other colleges or used toward graduate or doctorate studies?

3.     Are certificates also available in an online format?

4.     What is the class size and professional background of the instructor for a specific distance learning course?

5.     Can you audit a class session to see if the format and style works for you?

6.     Can you call the school for references and testimonials from other students?

7.     What type of software will you need to invest in or download to be successful with a particular distance learning program?

8.     Is online technical support and guidance available?

How to Find an Accredited Distance Learning Degree Program

All distance learning college programs and certificates need to be accredited by at least one of the national accrediting agencies, and may also be approved by local and regional agencies for verification. You will need to contact the admissions office for proof of accreditation, and most of this information can also be found on the college's website. While distance learning college programs offer many benefits and advantages to students, some 'opportunities' found on the web are scams that do not provide legitimate degrees, diplomas, or certificates. Contacting the admissions office for verification is the first step in finding an accredited program that best suits your needs.

Distance Learning Course Flexibility

Distance learning course programs offer flexibility and convenient formats for students of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels. With today's advances in web-based technologies and efficient communications over the internet, it has become easier than ever to complete coursework, conduct research, and download course materials. Students who are working at a job, are stay at home parents, or simply prefer to learn and pursue their educational goals independently are strong candidates for learning online. Almost every field of study and industry is now available in an online format, and the curriculum can be adapted to suit the student's learning rate and abilities in both a slow-paced or accelerated program. Students can network and communicate with their professors without worrying about time constraints or scheduling conflicts, and can also work with other students in their 'class' through e-mail, instant messaging, and discussion forums. Course objectives are usually provided at the beginning of each week, and students have a chance to work through their requirements by setting goals and meeting deadlines by taking their individual work style into account.

Interesting Facts About Long Distance Learning

  • College students are one of the most active groups on the internet, and college distance learning is becoming an attractive opportunity to make use of web-based skills and learning technology
  • Over 50% of North American colleges and universities use e-mail and other online communication tools as part of their distance learning programs
  • More colleges and universities are focusing on integrating technology and instruction into their curriculum, and college distance learning is becoming more favorable to students as a supplement to their campus-based course load
  • Distance learning may be more rewarding and 'deeper' in experience since students are not immersed in the social element of traditional college campuses and universities
  • Distance learning college students can learn key organization and project management skills that they would not otherwise have an opportunity to learn in a campus-based setting

Tips on Being Successful with Long Distance Learning

In order to be successful, students must have some specific skills and attributes. It's important that students:

1.     Learn how to manage time effectively. Students enrolled in distance learning college are expected to complete a variety of projects and course objectives each week, and must keep up with discussion forum participation and ongoing assignments.

2.     Set aside study time at home or at the office. Students who choose to work and study at home must learn how to filter out distractions and stay focused on their work. This can be stressful and challenging, but it's an essential part of learning how to make long distance learning work over the long-term.

3.     Are self-motivated. Distance learning students need to keep up with the course load and projects by turning in all work on time and staying up to date with news and readings on their own time. This requires organization and effective time management skills.

4.     Learn how to work independently. Working independently is one of the key benefits of choosing a distance learning program, but it is not the right fit for many people. In order to be successful, students must learn how to work at their own pace and avoid procrastination.

5.     Eliminate as many distractions form their work spaces as possible. Successful students know how to adapt and be flexible with their schedules so they can carve out quiet spaces to work and study from.


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