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Earning a degree online, also known as distance learning, requires the same commitment and dedication as a traditional school except you can do your work at your convenience. The coursework for an online degree will be the same, just delivered in a different manner. Many distance learning institutions hold "class" via webcams and chat rooms, enabling students to listen to course lectures by instructors and interact with other students. In fact, some online degree programs mandate that students post to a class message board a certain number of times a week. Group work involving a number of students is also built into the curriculum of some online degree programs, and the students are graded on their group project
While some online degree programs have "open enrollment," many others have the same enrollment requirements as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Some online degree programs use the same curriculum and admissions standards whether a student is learning at a distance or not. When issuing degrees or transcripts, those schools don't specify whether the courses were taken online or on campus, because they are the same courses. Legitimate schools offering online degrees are accredited by one of the regional or national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The CHEA's database will tell you if a school holds legitimate accreditation. Schools that are accredited are expected to adhere to certain education standards. If classes or instructors are not up to par, schools risk being put on probation, or worse, losing their accreditation.
While online degree programs have made great strides to deliver personalized, engaging lessons, it's up to the student to stick to a study schedule, meet their course deadlines, and do large amounts of work independently. Some students find working toward an online degree a comfortable fit for their lifestyle, other students need the kind of structure a classroom provides.
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