I’m happy to have another guest article today continuing the subject of online education.  See the last article on looking for a career change.  This one is written by another reader, Rick Mulligan, who felt most people interested in self learning may also have interest in online studies and so he offered to write this great article about how to find the best resources for study.

Distance education offers a flexibility that many students need in order to work and get the education needed to move up in today’s working world. More and more people are seeking out educations outside of the traditional campus courses, and with the new advancements in distance and online education it is becoming quite a popular choice. There are schools of all different types offering degrees and certificates in almost any subject. From accredited online administrative assistant schools all the way to distance education cosmetology degrees. Online training and IT courses available can lead to rewarding careers in the technology sector. When choosing a school there are many things to consider. I will offer some tips from my own experience and from the experience of others. Sometimes choosing a school can be frightening, hopefully this information will give you a heads up and aid you in your search for the school that is right for you.

Personal Checklist

This is perhaps, to some, the most important thing when it comes to deciding on the school that suits your needs. When you are looking for schools make your own checklist of qualities and requirements that you have personally set in place for your school. Dong this is a great way to shorten your list and eliminate personal problems once you have agreed on a school. Be sure to meet your personal requirements so that when entering the school you are completely prepared for all aspects of earning your education. This is a great tool and has benefited many students in their search for a school.

The Internet

Another tool that you have that is extremely valuable when deciding on a school, is the internet. Every school will have their own personal web page. This makes researching on the internet simple and a great way to acquire information. Make sure that you research all aspects of the school. This will eliminate problems with the school and other aspects of you education. When you visit the websites of the schools that you are interested in be sure to look at the course curriculum and requirements. Also check the school’s frequently asked questions page, you can usually answer many of your own questions by reading the FAQ.


Be sure to ask questions concerning the schools accreditation, this is an important part of choosing the school where you will earn your education. Accreditation is assurance to you as a student, that if you were to take your education elsewhere to a new online or distances school, or to a traditional classroom based program, you will be able to transfer credits. With out accreditation from a nationally recognized accrediting organization a school will not be eligible to participate in any government student assistant programs. Meaning that you as a student will have no means of financial aid or assistance. Grants and loans will not be an option, eliminating all the financial aid opportunities that may be available to you. If your college is accredited you are allowed the same rights to admission, registration, tutoring and other services that are provided to all other college students, regardless of the means in which your education is delivered. Also, some employers may offer tuition reimbursement. Most will not pay you back if the college that you attended is not a nationally recognized, accredited school. Keep this in mind when looking for the school that is right for you. The opportunities both financially and in regards to other student services that should be provided are very beneficial, you will exclude yourself from those programs if you choose a school that is not accredited.

Financial Aid, Scholarships and Payment Plans

The amount of tuition paid is something that all students and sometimes those students family members must deal with. When choosing your school look into all of the scholarship options that are available to you. Some schools may have different projects that can be completed for scholarship money. If there are opportunities for scholarships make the most of them. This can greatly reduce or even cover the money that will need to be spent on tuition. Financial aid is another avenue which is available to students who may not have the means of paying a tuition in full. Financial aid criteria may differ a small amount between institutions and states and the requirements may vary as well. Even if you believe that you may not be eligible looking into financial aid and filling out the required paperwork can never hurt. Any little bit counts when it comes to paying for college education. Some schools may also offer payment plans which works well for students and parents alike when working towards paying off your tuition. Ask about payment plan options and the requirements to be eligible for setting up this type of payment option. Most times you will pay in monthly installments which seems to make the payment process a little more simple. Don’t exclude yourself from any of these financial options you may be eligible to exercise the use of all three.

There are many schools out there that are offering degree programs in all different types of education paths. When choosing your school keep the things that I have mentioned in mind, and keep your own personal checklist in mind as well. I hope that these tips will aid you in discovering the school that suits you best.

Success as a Student

Now that we have covered a little on choosing the institution that is right for you, lets talk a little about success as a student. Once you have your school and course picked out, you now have to begin the process of earning your education. There are many tips available to you as a student that can be greatly beneficial to your overall success as a college student, and eventually a college graduate. Here are some that have aided many students in the process of earning their educations.

Find the Studying Habits and Methods That Work For You

Every individual learns differently and should base their method of study upon that. It has actually been proven that studying in short busts, rather than studying for long periods of time, is much more effective. Try this technique and form a routine based upon how studying this way works for you. Some people may find that for them the way that they’ve always studied or been taught to study works best. This could be because it is the way you were taught or because it is the way you formed study time for yourself. Either way sticking to what works for you is always best when it comes to studying. If you have bad study habits breaking free from those can be difficult but is almost necessary if you want to succeed in your college education. Try starting to study more regularly and once again go based upon how you learn and the study method that seems to work best for you as an individual. There is plenty of helpful information online from college students just like you, who are working their way through. Sometimes talking to other students is a great way to get ideas for studying. Getting creative while studying can help make the process seem less mundane. Try having group study, personally this always worked best for me. This way you are having a bit of a social gathering, human to human feed back and more often than not, if you are one who isn’t fond of studying, there is someone in the group that can hold you accountable. This way seemed to make studying much more interesting. Having the feed back from others can help you keep focused. Whichever way seems to work best for you is probably…best for you!


At cross country practice I always ran around 6 miles even though our actual meets were only 2 miles long. Same applies to other things. When you exaggerate the learning process everything that comes after seems to be a little easier. Knowledge is such a powerful tool and using it can get you many places in life. You may be learning to get the job that you’ve dreamed of your whole life. Some may be learning just because of a thirst for knowledge or an interest in a certain subject. Whatever your reasons may be remember how important knowledge is and exaggerate that with your learning and your college education. This way everything after will seem like a piece of cake. That job you wanted will be a breeze if you are well educated in your field. Same with anything else.

The opportunities that our generation has are amazing and nearly endless. With the advances in technology, distance and online education we have doors open to us that we should definitely take advantage of. Remember to explore your options and keep your personal needs in mind. Take the opportunities we have and run with them, in whatever direction you want!

Rick Mulligan is a career counsellor living in Oregon, U.S.A. When Mulligan is not working, he is spending time with his family, and advocating for distance education through online universities.

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