How to choose a distance learning program

With such a wide variety of online education programs available, it can be frustrating to narrow down the offerings to a manageable selection. Fortunately, distance-learning students can use services such as those offered by, in which students and their educational goals are directly matched with the best programs for their needs. Follow these steps so you can feel confident that you’ve chosen the best distance-learning program to assist you in achieving your goals.

Define your goals: Online students have a variety of goals – some want to finish their degrees, others want to get a graduate degree. Some might want to learn new skills that could help them in getting a promotion, others might just want to learn more about a topic of interest. Your personal goals will determine the type of online program you choose, and the intensity with which you want to approach it.

Look over your finances: Can you afford the costs of going back to school? Will you need financial assistance, whether it’s a loan or a scholarship? Will going back to school force you to reduce hours at work, or alter your schedule slightly? Consider the financial implications of taking classes – while the end result will be extremely beneficial to your career, resume and overall sense of confidence, you need to make sure you will finish your online education program in comfortable financial shape. Keep these issues in mind as you work to select a program.

Use a service to assist the search: By using a service such as, prospective students can have a large portion of the online program-search done for them. In fact, students who use services like will enjoy the benefits of reviewing programs that match their personal goals. Start the process by filling out the informational questionnaire; you will be put in contact with educational programs that match your profile.

Evaluate the programs that match your profile: Look over the programs that were selected for you. Review not only the program name, but also the types of classes. How often do they meet? How long is the term? How much do they cost? Is financial aid available? Take all of your other considerations and apply them to each program. Write down a list of pros and cons for each, paying careful attention to which programs will best help you achieve your ultimate goals.

Narrow and apply: Now that you’ve reviewed the programs selected for you, narrow the list down to the programs you most like – it could be just one, or maybe three, depending on your needs. Apply to the programs that interest you most – remember the “backup school” theory from high school? – and wait for your application to be reviewed. Depending on the programs, this could take some time – a few days or several weeks. Once you’re accepted, you can take some time to make a final assessment – review the coursework with an advisor, apply for financial aid, and select the program that will give you the best results.

Enroll, and learn! You’ve done all the preparations, now it’s time to enroll in your distance-learning program and start learning! Enjoy your academic journey!