Whether you are a busy professional looking to augment your education or right out of high school and looking to enroll in a good college, online schools offer more advantages now then they ever have in the past.

Many years ago, schools who offered training that you could do from home were called correspondence schools. Although popular for certain skills and trades, the fact that there was really no verifiable achievement standards made it difficult for those taking the courses to be certified or have their training recognized by professional boards.

Now however, with the increasing capabilities of networking and the internet, online schools are not only highly accredited, most of them actually simulate class room environment and interaction. Where in the past, you may have had email contact with your instructor, and 8 to 9 weeks to complete all the assignments for the quarter, online schools today require regular weekly assignments and interaction between other students in the class.

This is not to say that you don’t have the flexibility and freedom to schedule your school time around your current life style. The instructors just don’t let you go a whole week without submitting assignments. Most students appreciate this since it keeps them on task even when they are busy with work and other activities. Even with the new requirements, flexibility is still the biggest advantage of online schooling and the main reason most people choose to attend.

Cost is another advantage to online schools. While books are still going to run you the same, tuition for most online schools is still quite-a-bit less then what you would pay to attend the school directly. However the cost itself varies from school to school, just like it does for regular enrollment, so if you are planning to enroll online, it is a good idea to do some research on several schools so you can compare the costs and benefits of each.

While you are comparing online schools, it is also good idea to be sure they are accredited through the US Department of Education. This is especially important if you are looking to qualify for federal grants or financial aid. If an online school is not accredited, you will not be able to receive these types of financial help and will be responsible for all of the costs of enrollment. Most of these types of schools are trade schools where you receive a certificate or diploma but if you are looking to get a degree instead, you are better off sticking to an accredited school so your degree will be honored by your future or current employer.

Lastly, another advantage of online schools, especially for people who are professionals or experts in a certain field (but have not obtained a degree), is the opportunity to achieve “life credits” towards a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in their field of expertise. There are many online schools that offer this, and while there are several who are legitimate, there are also those that will take your money and hand you a degree that is not worth the paper it is printed on. So, if you are looking for an online school that offers life credits, you need to be very diligent in your research before you enroll.