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Advantages of Online Learning
Article Title: The "Distance Learning Phenomenon" is Changing The Face of
Higher Learning In America
Author: Justin Brown
Distance learning programs - college courses taught over the Internet - have
really taken off in recent years. As home computer ownership has expanded, due
in part to lower prices and increased interest in the Net, the idea of working
on a college degree in the comfort of one's home has struck a chord. It's
definitely one of the more practical uses of online technology.
many advantages to distance learning.
First, there is the convenience aspect for students. There's no need to get
ready (shower, shave, dress), no commute, and no walking from one side of the
campus to the other to get to the next class. Additionally, in many cases there
is no set meeting time, so no rushing to get to class on time.
Many courses involve downloadable lectures, giving students maximum flexibility.
This has been enormously helpful for those who work full-time jobs during what
are traditionally considered "normal" class hours. Now, the working distance
learning student can keep a busy work schedule and still keep up with lectures
and coursework. Likewise, the flexible structure has made life easier for many
professors as well, who also deal with time pressures and scheduling
Another big advantage that distance learning
offers versus in-person classroom attendance is money savings. With traditional
college educations, there are everyday expenses that quickly add up:
1 Gas, if you commute (which is now an even larger expense!)
2 Vehicle maintenance or bus fare
3 Dorm room fees, if you live on campus
4 Meals at a local restaurant or campus cafeteria
5 Clothing, makeup, etc.
Distance learning eliminates virtually all of that! Additionally, more and more
programs are becoming nearly or even completely paperless. No more outrageous
textbook fees, blue books, pens, Scantron forms, book bags, and all the other
incidentals that accompany the old way of doing things.
The savings extend beyond just what the individual students experience directly.
Universities also save tremendously, especially the newer ones that have been
built around the distance learning model. Class size is more manageable in a
virtual environment, reducing the teaching work force and building space needs
at many colleges. Moreover, a significant advantage for many universities is
that more time can be spent by professors on critical research and scholarship,
which is how many institutions earn reputations and make their money.
College tuition inflation is also a real and growing problem. And it's borne by
many students who already struggle just to make ends meet. At some traditional
universities, tuition is increasing at an astonishing 10-15% annually, pricing
potential attendees out of the running. This situation illustrates another
advantage of distance learning. Institutions created specifically around the
off-site education model offer comparable instructional quality at greatly
reduced tuition rates.
The only potential cost disadvantage with distance learning is for students who
do not already own a computer. However, this is increasingly a non-issue, since
personal computer ownership, especially among teens, is rapidly expanding. And
the cost for a basic PC has come way down in recent years.
How to pick the best distance learning program for your needs:
Once you decide to pursue a degree from an online distance education
institution, there are a few steps you should follow. First, get on the Web and
research the various schools. This is arguably the most important part of the
entire process, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Just do a search at a major
search engine, like Google or Yahoo, and use the phrase 'online education' or
'distance learning schools.' You'll want to weed out the non-accredited schools
What does accredited mean? Good
question! For standard higher education institutions and colleges, there are six
regional accrediting associations in the United States. They review an
institution's standards, curriculum, and degree requirements, and issue
accreditations for schools in their geographical areas that meet their criteria.
This process takes place for a wide variety of colleges and universities,
ranging from small community and junior colleges to the giants of academia, like
Harvard and Yale. The six accrediting associations are:
1 Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
2 New England Association of Schools and Colleges
3 North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
4 Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
5 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
6 Western Association of Schools and Colleges
If you're pursuing a degree in a specialized field
from a school that focuses exclusively or mainly on just that field - religion,
health, technical, computer-related - look for one of the following
1 Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges
2 Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
3 Accrediting Commission for Career Schools/Colleges of Technology
4 Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
5 Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools
6 The Association of Theological Schools
7 Council on Occupational Education
8 Distance Education and Training Council
*Note: accreditation does not guarantee a superior (or even adequate)
educational experience. Be sure to look into each school's history to discover
any complaints or legal troubles they've had or are having currently.
Next, when you have culled your list of potential schools based on accreditation
and a clean track record, visit each institution's website or call them to learn
if they offer the exact program you're interested in. If you're not sure of the
degree you need or want, set up a phone or face-to-face meeting with an advisor,
which most of these colleges will provide at no charge. The key is to keep
looking until you've found the program that most closely matches your goals. Go
through your entire list before you jump into any admissions process at a
For most students, tuition differences will also
be a pivotal deciding factor. The costs vary considerably from school to school,
but are generally about one-half of the fees you would pay at traditional
colleges. That's good news! Here's more: the vast majority of these distance
learning institutions will accept the same tuition assistance, grants, and
government loan payments that other colleges always have. Moreover, if you're
already working in a career and are seeking a degree to advance, more and more
employers will reimburse part or all of the tuition, as long as you get
Finally, be sure to factor in differences in coursework loads and how many terms
you must commit to in order to earn your degree. If you're younger and work only
part-time, you can probably handle a full load and faster advancement. But many
folks who find distance learning colleges appealing already have careers and
families and cannot pursue their degrees full-time. By screening your choices
with a realistic eye on your personal schedule, you can save yourself a lot of
unnecessary stress later on, once you've paid for and are taking courses online.
As with most endeavors in life, careful planning and research first will make
life simpler after you choose a distance learning program and begin your higher
education journey. Good luck!
About The Author
Justin Brown is a successful business writer and educational advisor providing
valuable tips and advice for career minded individuals who are interested in
pursuing a distance learning
doctorate degree or a
MBA degree. His numerous articles offer career
advancement tips and valuable distance education insight.