College Info & Planning: Online information; find the right school, program & degree for you.

Education is an important part of everyone's life, but up until recently entailed applying to and being accepted by a school, college or other educational institution that taught the relevant course(s). However, like many other services, education has expanded and evolved with the help of modern technology. There are now numerous institutes that offer online learning and courses, catering for many levels and covering a wide range of subjects.

Often referred to as 'distance learning' or 'correspondence courses'…

This method of learning makes it possible for many people, who may normally be unable to study, to gain valuable skills and qualifications. For example, stay-at-home mums and dads with children to look after, or perhaps those who already have full-time jobs and careers are now able to enrol and study from the comfort of their home and, in many cases, study at their own pace. Online learning has the advantages of being convenient, time-saving (in that you do not have to go out to a bricks and mortar building to learn), and diverse in the range of courses on offer.

Learning online no longer means that you are restricted to just a small number of available courses or subjects. Learning institutions now offer a wide variety of subjects and study levels, which include degrees, diplomas, high-school qualifications, vocational and non-vocational qualifications and skills. The selection of studies that are available is vast: you can take correspondence courses in everything from I.T. to Creative Writing and from Plumbing to Cookery.

The facilities on offer to students include strong levels of support, such as a virtual student common-room, chat rooms and forums, and e-mail communication with the professor or tutor. Course material is normally sent out via regular post to the student's home, or is sometimes sent to the student via e-mail. Many courses allow students to study at their own pace, which means that they can get on with their everyday lives and fit in the extra work as and when possible.

This method of learning is becoming more popular and common-place. However, it does require a high degree of determination, self-discipline, and motivation. Students will need access to the appropriate tools and equipment, such as a PC and Internet access. Potential students should also be wary of colleges and institutions that may not be bonafide. Opting for a learning institute with some form of proven and official accreditation is highly recommended or you may end up with a certificate that's not worth the paper that it's printed on.

The best method of finding an online course that will suit you…

Is to visit the individual websites of colleges and universities and other educational institutions. This way you can verify that they are accredited as well as browse the courses that each individual place offers. You will be able to view the facilities provided, check the course fees, and contact your chosen college with any questions that you may have. Many of these colleges also allow fees to be paid in monthly instalments as some courses can work out to be quite expensive.

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