According to the U.S. Department of Labor, individuals who are 25 and over earn nearly twice as much as individuals with a high school diploma.4 In the year 2000, students who earned a baccalaureate degree earned $400 more per week (at the median) in comparison to students who did not pursue a college education.1 The BLS also confirms that this comparison hasn’t changed much since 2000, and the reports of 2012 still provide around a $400 difference in weekly earnings between a college graduate and those who are solely high school graduates.2 Individuals who pursue and earn a Doctorate degree are shown to earn nearly $600 more per week, then students who earned a Bachelor’s degree.
Were these statistical facts surprising to you? Simply by earning a Bachelor’s degree, individuals are more likely to earn $400 more per week than by solely obtaining a high school diploma. Universities Online believes that going to college is a worthwhile endeavor and worthy of some sacrifice. This is why we have dedicated our website to helping students connect with online colleges and accredited online universities. The pursuit of an online education can be an ideal option for anyone who has the desire to earn a college degree, but finds it hard to believe that they can find the time to fit school into an already busy schedule.
Why Choose an Online College
With the advancement of technology, and many dedicated individuals working to improve the quality and availability of education, online schools have found a solid foothold in the world of higher education. Online educational courses, also referred to as “distance learning,” provide an alternative option for families and individuals who have rigid schedules or live in rural areas to earn a degree and increase their knowledge and skills within their chosen specialty, or to change professions.
In December 2011, President Obama met with 11 college and university presidents to discuss the future of education. One of the major topics discussed during the meeting was the ability of online courses to help make higher education more affordable for the general public. Robert W. Mendenhall, president of of the nonprofit online school Western Governors University, spoke up in the defense of online education during the meeting by saying, “Mostly in higher education, technology is an add-on cost that doesn’t change the model at all. We need to fundamentally change the faculty role, and use technology to do the teaching.” Larry D. Shinn from Berea College also added his voice to second this idea by saying, “We’re structured in a 19th-century model, but I think we all know now that blended learning, combining technology and classroom learning, can let us educate for less cost.”
Online colleges also provide a unique situation that otherwise students would not have access to when considering brick and mortar colleges/universities. When a student eventually decides on a traditional college to enroll in they have two choices: either pick a school relatively close to home, or pick up and move to the geographic location of the university. When students are deciding upon distant learning colleges, the options they have now have broadened. If they live in California, and would like to remain living in California, they do not need to only look at schools now in California to attend (if they want to remain home). They are able to look at any school now that offers distant learning courses, or degrees.
The Bonus of Flexibility
According to Matthew Mariani5 “many people choose distant learning out of necessity” as a result of irregular hours at work, family commitments and other personal lifestyle choices. Individuals who find themselves in this situation may conflate regular classroom attendance with difficulty and hardship potentially discouraging them from pursuing a higher education. Online educational courses provide an adequate atmosphere for these individuals to achieve their educational pursuits, while maintaining their jobs and honoring family commitments.
This flexible atmosphere enables individuals to watch and learn from their course lectures and assignments at a convenient time without the inconvenience of overlapping responsibilities. They manage their own schedules every day, every week, and every month.
Evaluating Institutions Providing Online Courses
There are hundreds of online colleges and online educational programs available to potential students. As a result, anybody considering attending a distant learning course (at traditional colleges or virtual institutions) faces the task of discovering which college or institution will ultimately help them achieve their educational objectives. When evaluating an online college, Matthew Mariani,5 offers three important elements for and individual to review: type of institution, accreditation, and location.
Types of Institutions. There are two types of institutions a person may attend. The first is your traditional college or university with a location based campus. These colleges may provide online distant learning courses that will allow a person with more flexibility while attending school. The other type of institution is considered a virtual institution that does not have a campus anywhere. They will probably have a corporate headquarters, not a campus which provides classes to attend. As a person begins to evaluate possible schools, one factor they will not want to miss is whether or not the school has received accreditation.
Accreditation. The first aspect to remember is that in order for a school to be considered an accredited school, they must have met specific standards (high levels of quality) as required by these accrediting agencies (Remember, some careers specify by whom the institution should have received accreditation from). According to Matthew Mariani there are eight regional accrediting bodies within the United States. The U.S. Secretary of Education is responsible, by law, for providing U.S. citizens with a published list of nationally recognized accredited agencies, and the institutions and programs these agencies accredit. He further mentions if an online school is not accredited through one of these bodies then a person would be wise to check the following:
- Contact the State Department of Education and ask about the school’s reputation.
- If your personal goals, career choice, require certification contact the agencies and ask them questions regarding their acceptance of the schools certification and licensing programs.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau and inquire about the school’s reputation.
- Visit the school if applicable, if not, contact graduating class students and currently enrolled students.
- Similar to certifications, contact employers and discover their analysis of the schools, and whether or not they would hire someone from this school.
- Contact the school and ask these questions. When was the school established? How many students are enrolled in class currently? How many graduated? How many have successfully obtained a job upon graduation?
There may be other important questions that will arise as you thoroughly research the best online school to help you achieve economic success.
Location. All public institutions should be conforming to the standards established for in-State and out-of-State tuition fees. When researching your options, remember, in-State tuition is normally less expensive than out-of-State tuition fees. This is an important decision individuals must consider when determining which school they will enroll in.
How to Use this Website
All of the tools and information found here on the Universities Online website are designed to help you connect with online schools that have degree programs in whatever field of interest you are seeking. The featured tool is the Find Your School search box. To use the tool, simply select the subject area that interests you from the following options:
1. Arts & Humanities
2. Business & MBA
3. Computers & IT
4. Criminal Justice/Social Sciences
5. Education & Teaching
6. Health & Medicine/Nursing
7. Science & Technology
After choosing an area of interest, you will be given a list of different fields within that area to select from. Click “Find a School” and you will then be matched with a school that offers degrees in that field. The levels of degrees offered will depend on the school. Most schools offer degrees of certification (for technical fields), associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and even accredited online Ph.D programs. Not all online degrees will be available at each level. To find out more, you’ll need to fill out the request for information form from the individual school to know which specific degrees they offer in your area of interest.
Prospective students will also be able to find out more information regarding specific careers by browsing under the Best Online Colleges, Online Degree Programs, Online College Courses and Best Careers categories.
Prioritizing your Daily School Schedule with your Busy Life
One of the efforts every student will have to face, to achieve economic success, is prioritizing their daily school schedule around work, relationships, weekend getaways, and recreational sports or hobbies. In order to stay on task here are insightful ways to keep your focus:
Review your Syllabus
At the beginning of class, your professor should have provided students with a syllabus. Syllabuses provide students with a detailed course objective highlighting assignments, homework, and when tests will be offered (and how many). With this information students are able to properly organize their schedule around homework assignments, readings, and when to begin preparing for tests. Break down homework assignments by date, and determine which assignments need to be done today, this week, and which ones can be put off until next week. Repeat at the beginning of each week to verify which assignments are due, which assignments are coming up, and when you should be having the resolve to study for your tests.
Evaluate Free and Captive Times
Free time are slots each day by which the student controls what they do during that time (e.g. reading, playing video games, hanging out with friends). Captive times are periods of time by which someone else determines when you arrive, what you do, and when you leave (e.g. work hours). Students who have signed up for online and campus classes need to recognize your class time on campus is captive time. What do you do when an assignment is due during your captive times? Sherlock Holmes would then say, “Elementary my dear Watson… elementary,” you prepare and prioritize your schedule so assignments are handed in the day before the assignments are due.
Handle Conflicts of Interest Appropriately
Due to our multifaceted natures, and the opportunities available in our societies, students will undoubtedly experience conflicts of interest. These conflicts of interest arise when our priorities are faced with an appealing counter offer. One of these counter offers may be going on a weekend getaway with friends, spouse, significant other, or family instead of studying for the test on Monday. In order to be successful in your studies at school, students must learn to deal with conflicts of interest, and appropriately determine the cost of choosing one over the other.
Resolve and Determination
Our personal resolve and determination will impact our ability to prioritize our school schedule. The firmer your decision to be successful in school the less likely a weekend getaway will interfere with studying for test on Monday. The less determined students are the less likely school projects will come first, ultimately interfering with their chances of success in their educational pursuits.
Universities Online is dedicated to helping students find the means to earn an online college degree, whether it’s seeking an accredited online school to attend or getting advice about how to fit school into an already busy schedule. Universities Online is pleased to report that they have already helped many students connect with online schools where they were able to complete their education and start a successful career.
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Editor’s Desk, Education pays on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2001/june/wk4/art03.htm (visited February 14, 2013).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Projections, Education pays on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm (visited February 14, 2013).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Education pays on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm (visited February 14, 2013).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Working in the 21st Century, Education pays on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/working/page6b.htm (visited February 14, 2013).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Quarterly * Summer 2001, http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2001/summer/art01.pdf (visited February 14, 2013).
- U.S. Department of Education, The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/ (visited February 15, 2013).
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