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There are many things that go into choosing where to go for your educational needs. Here's a brief overview with more details to come soon.

Yvonne LaRose, CAC

I want to get my bachelor's degree. The trouble is I'm working full time, have a family and a strained budget. More than that, the local university is more than a 40-minute drive from my home and office in rush-hour traffic. How do I choose the right place?

Many of the concerns a person of your age and background has are answered in the Frequently Asked Questions at DETC, The Distance Education and Training Council. This is one of the three major distance education accreditation bodies.

You will probably want to look at a few of the resources they offer. In particular, check their link to Degree Programs so see if the school you're considering is accredited for distance learning.

The other two accreditation entities that will have information about courses and institutions in which you are interested are Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and U.S. Department of Education.

You will want to pay particular attention to several links at the Department of Education portal. In particular, explore Office of Postsecondary Education, Accreditation and Information for Students.

Yet another portal that provides evaluations of distance learning programs is Lguide. Pay particular attention to three articles they have: How to Choose and Take an Online Course, Determining Your LMS Business Requirements and Researching LMS Vendors.

You'll also want to visit Admissions Tips from Kaplan Test Prep in addition to their Financial Aid knowledge.

You also mention funding your education. There are several resources you can explore.

First, consider checking in your own backyard. Your employer may have a tuition reimbursement program that will help offset the cost of higher education. Or your employer may have distance learning classes that can be taken online, in-house during business hours. It's to their advantage to keep their employees as much up to date on state of the art practices so that their workforce drives profitability with knowledge acquisition and management of expertise.

A few other places to check for funding sources are Fast Web, a portal that provides information about various forms and sources of scholastic funding

Knowledge First: Another source for funding information

ScienceWise: For those pursuing education and careers in the sciences and engineering, the portal called ScienceWise is a definite "stop by." In addition to all of the industry information it serves, it also provides information and bulletins about education financing sources as well as grants for research projects.

Accreditation Means
There are several places where you can get more information about accreditation to aid you in your search. Excellent discussions can be found at DETC, in addition to an explanation of what DETC is.You'll also find an A to Z list of distance education courses available throughout the United States.

DETC also has a European division familiarly known as EADL, European Association for Distance Learning, in case those of my non-North American readers are curious.

A list of distance learning Accredited Schools is also available at DETC and at

CHEA has similar information. Check their About CHEA for more than you ever thought you'd ever want to ask about accreditation and distance learning. Then check their Directory of Participating Organizations to do a double check on the institutions you're considering for your education.

There are a lot of ways to find the right place. It's just a matter of knowing the right places to look.

This was an excellent question. In fact, come back soon for we'll be talking with experts in the distance learning industry who will provide more indepth information.

Originally published March 20, 2001

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