As the Internet continues to thread its way into every facet of our lives, it's no surprise to note the rocketing popularity of correspondence schools. Busy adults with jobs and families used to have few options for continuing their education. With classes able to be delivered into the privacy of your home by high-speed video and instant communication with instructors available via chat and email, there's nothing to hold back prospective students from pursuing their dreams.

University of Phoenix

Despite the name, the University of Phoenix is widely available all across the United States. Founded in 1976, this school was one of the first to take advantage of distance learning; it began its online division in 1989, and is currently the country's largest distance-learning institution. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the school offers associate's, bachelor's, master's and even doctorate degrees in a wide variety of programs including education, nursing, business and the humanities.

Penn Foster Career Schools

As the largest accredited school of independent study, Penn Foster is worth a look whether you intend to complete a vocational technical program or are interested in college-level classes and, eventually, a degree. This fully accredited institution offers more than 80 programs to choose from, ranging from appliance repair to small-business management. Choose to begin study immediately through the Penn Foster website or wait for materials to be shipped to you.

U.S. Career Institute

This correspondence school has been in business for over 25 years, and, like Penn Foster, caters to the growing demand for career training. A sample of their certificate offerings include massage therapy, legal transcribing, graphic design, home inspections and pharmacy technician. Or choose to complete your associate's degree in accounting, human resources, marketing or a handful of other fields.

Final Tips

A certificate or degree from an unaccredited school will likely do you no good in the job market. A good source for unbiased information about a particular school is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This organization helps prospective students sort the legitimate schools from the flim-flam artists, of which there are a surprising number to be found advertising in the backs of magazines.

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