The world is changing rapidly; the information revolution has altered our day-to-day experience. We now bank with ATMs and date using social networking sites. All manner of knowledge is available at our fingertips with the help of search engines that return results in split seconds. Even the article you are reading right now would have been hard to conceive of for anyone pondering the future just a few short decades ago — an article on a very specific topic, easily accessible over a global information network.
Other massive Information Age changes may not be as obvious to all of us. Telecommuting has radically altered the experience of "going to work" for millions around the world. Not too long ago, the arrival of the fax machine changed how people looked at the mail. Just a few years later, the rise of email made fax machines seem positively quaint.
Another severe shift has occurred in education. The traditional model of the on-site university has undergone a sea change. Online universities are enrolling a larger number of students every day. Online education is increasingly becoming an ordinary part of the university landscape.
But not all online educations are created equal. Just as with brick-and-mortar communities, there are some worth your time, money, and effort and others worth avoiding. One simple way to tell the difference is to look at which schools are accredited. But accreditation does not tell the whole story. Try to talk to students who have graduated from each of the schools you are considering. There is no campus to visit to get a sense of what an online school is like, so extra effort is required.
The best online universities are often the ones that have been at it the longest. Some, associated with traditional universities, may not yet have mastered the intricacies of the online classroom, and should be given a careful look before enrolling. Generally, the quality of online education has consistently been improving. This trend is expected to continue, as software grows more sophisticated and students and faculty bring greater prestige to the medium.
The following are ten of the very best online degree programs out there right now, ranked according to quality of course work and quality of online experience:
1. DeVry University
2. University of Phoenix
3. George Washington University
4. Strayer University
5. Walden University
6. Villanova University
7. Kaplan University
8. Ashford University
9. Axia College Online
10. Ellis College Online
Each of these online educators earned their way onto this list by delivering consistent, high quality academics with a minimum of fuss and bother. Different online schools offer different courses, and your decision about which to attend may be determined more by your chosen course of study than by the school's ranking on this list.
Online education first caught fire with people above traditional college age, returning to school to improve their job marketability. Today, online schools are becoming a standard avenue for people of all ages to get the degrees essential for a rewarding and remunerative professional life.
The savings of time and expense with online education have long been obvious. The time has come where sacrificing quality for convenience and budget is no longer necessary. For dedicated students, the schools on this list can and will provide a rich and valuable experience and a top-notch education.