There is no denying the fact, not everyone has the ability and the time to attend full time college or school. 

For years, educational program have been imparted via night and weekend classes and opening satellite campuses but with the growth of the internet more and more people are opting for distance education. Distance learning also known as distance education can be explained as a mode of education mostly for individual students not present in the traditional classroom setting. Though, today it is possible to obtain a degree in almost any course with distance learning. However, fields like surgery that require intensive lab work can’t be done with distance learning programs. Also, distance learning program can be taken up by anyone be it businessman, student, professional, independently working individual and also a housewife whilst continuing with what he or she is currently doing.

Below is a list of the essential things you need to consider before choosing a distance learning program:

1. Accreditation- When choosing a distance learning program the first thing you should check is its accreditation, i.e. certification of adherence to quality standards that an institute enjoys from an accrediting body. The U.S. Department of Education enlists accrediting agencies that it considers “reliable authorities” relating to the quality of education provided by various institutions. Pat Wyman

2. Instruction/ Teaching Methods- Earlier distance education meant learning with the aid of printed material delivered to the postal address of the student. In the 21st century, distance learning courses utilize all sophisticated technologies such as webcams lectures, Internet forums, CD-ROMs coursework, and chat sessions to teach students. Moreover, studies have also shown that students in online learning tend to do better than those learning in a classroom format. You just need to ensure you’re comfortable with all these types of teaching methods. 

3. Affordability- Many students select a distance learning program over regular college programs due to the affordability it offers compared to traditional classroom-based counterparts. Apart from saving on the tuition and fee, you get to save on commuting expenses, accommodation and other overheads. This said, you need to check that the degree you enroll fits your budget as well as have financial aid programs, tuition grants in case you meet the criteria.
 
4. Flexibility- The reason why most people choose distance education is its flexible nature. There is a range of learning styles offered in distance learning. While some might be self paced others might require you to attend group discussions, online lectures, etc. as scheduled. But today, numerous distance learning courses offer hybrid programs wherein both online training and on-campus is included. So, you need to ensure the program you opt for, best suits your lifestyle.
 
5. Support Services- Even though you aren’t physically attending the school doesn’t mean you don’t need or for that matter entitled to Support Services from the school. The school you choose should help you provide student advisors, tutors for the coursework, employment assistance, and secure externships for practical training, if need be. 
 
6. Alumni- Talking to alumni is another important factor you should consider before finalizing a distance learning program. Many times, the institutes will on its own give your contact details to a few past students to help you get information about their experience. If this is not possible, the institution should be able to provide you short “testimonials” from prior students.
 
Now, when you know the things you should consider while selecting an online program, pick up a distance learning program to balance your hectic life’s responsibilities with the education required to stay ahead in life!
 
This is a guest post shared by Chanda Bhushan on behalf of DistanceLearning.com. Chandra is part time blogger and is studying  MA English. He loves writing, researching and learning.