AP Photo/Lisa Poole
Laurel Ranticelli looks at her UMASS online class information, July 1, 2008, in Springfield, Mass.
Online College Courses and Degrees: Go to College Without Leaving Home
If a busy schedule, physical handicap or other obstacle has prevented you from attending college at a local campus, then distance learning may be ideal for you. Most major colleges offer at least a few online college courses and degrees with more and more colleges operating exclusively online.
Distance learning can be a great opportunity for some but it isn't suited for everyone. The following Web sites reveal the types of students who do best with distance learning.
- Sites with tips and tricks to help you determine if distance learning is right for you are included below. Review the advice and see if you can imagine yourself following it.
- When looking for general information or opinions about online coursework, go for objective sources rather than an online college's Web site.
For an introduction to distance learning coursework ...
features an excellent introduction to distance learning. Visit the "Ask the experts" section to find answers to frequently asked questions.
aims to provide a comprehensive picture of elearning. The site also features a blog
with content that is regularly updated.
To assess whether distance learning is right for you ...
For tips to help you succeed ...
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System
offers distance courses but goes the extra mile with this helpful tutorial, "How to Survive in an Online Class." The tutorial is broken down into 25 practical tips aimed to help you thrive in an online classroom.
Study Guides and Strategies
contains tips and tricks for all college students, such as preparing for tests and avoiding procrastination. Take a look at the "Online learning/communicating" section for resources specific to distance learners.
One of the most important details to consider when finding an online college is whether the school is accredited by a respected national agency. Also consider cost, degree programs, student support services and anything else that is important to your educational experience.
- The following sites each list dozens of colleges that offer distance courses. Make a checklist of what you are looking for in an online school so that you can easily narrow down these exhaustive lists.
- If you prefer to search for available degree programs rather than just finding an online college, appropriate sites are listed for that, too. In fact, this may be the best way to narrow down your choices for an online college.
For detailed lists of online colleges ...
The Online Education Database
can help you find an online college with its impressive list of the top accredited online schools. Find descriptions of each college, which agency has given accreditation and the specific degree programs offered.
U.S. News & World Report
features a distance learning guide that includes an exhaustive list of online colleges offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Directory of Schools
features more than 1,000 online schools and links to each college's official Web site, where available. Find online colleges in categories like masters degrees/MBAs, graphic design, Web development and more.
The United States Distance Learning Association
is a nonprofit group for those involved with distance education. Although the emphasis of the site is more on distance learning providers than on students, it has a good directory of distance learning institutions.
For lists of online college degrees ...
World Wide Learn
has a directory of online degrees arranged by degree level and degree subject. If you just want to take an online course, scroll down the left of the page to find a list of online classes and training programs.
Don't assume that you can't qualify for financial aid for online courses. Even if your GPA is low, your credit is bad or you earn a large income, there are still resources available.
- The following sites are the safest and most legitimate places on the Web to research financial aid for online courses. Never share personal financial information with a site unless you're sure of its legitimacy.
Federal Student Aid,
an office of the U.S. Department of Education, is an invaluable resource for those looking for financial aid for online courses. Start by filling out a FAFSA form
, your first step in acquiring financial aid. Use the "Financial Aid Wizard
" tool to help determine your financial needs and options.
can help you find sources of financial aid for online courses beyond what the federal government offers. From grants to obscure scholarships, FinAid seeks to help you gain as much financial assistance as possible.
There are many distance learning tools and Web sites that can increase your productivity as a student and assist you with your online school correspondence.
- Try the findingDulcinea College Living Web Guide to get more distance learning tools and tips. Although that guide is aimed at students on a college campus, many of the resources listed are perfect for distance learners.
For a free virtual classroom ...
offers a free online classroom environment for live chat with teachers and students. This nonprofit service is completely free and open to the public.
Distance learning tools for online research ...
brings the long-respected dictionary of the same name to the Internet. A reliable source of information, this site is like having a complete set of reference books sitting on your bookshelf.
is a massive online library of books and journals, possibly the largest of its kind. There's even a tool that saves bibliographic information, useful when citing sources in research papers.
Distance learning tools for composing homework ...
is an invaluable online distance learning tool for composing, saving and sharing documents and spreadsheets. It's handy for online students who need to work virtually on projects in groups, and those without Microsoft Word or Excel.
is the easiest way to convert Word documents to PDF files and vice versa. This free tool requires no registration.
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