The way employers value education is changing. Twenty years ago it was possible for job seekers with a high school diploma and job experience to get a good job. Ten years ago, job seekers needed a bachelor's to get a great job with opportunities for advancement. Today, most employers want their upper-level executives and managers to have a master's degree.
What's more, the earning potential for degree-holders is much more than those without a college degree. For example, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau reports that adults (18- to 25-year-old) with bachelors' degrees earn an average of $45,327. Adults, in the same age range, with only a high school diploma earned an average of $30,000. Additionally, adults with advanced degrees earn an average of $53,000 a year compared to those without a high-school diploma that only make $20,241 a year.
Obtaining a degree is vital in order to stay competitive among today's workforce.
Back to School
Most Americans would like to go back to school to get a degree. But, for people with families, young children or full-time jobs, going back to school is a time commitment they just can't afford. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to obtain an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree away from campus.
Online courses and degree programs provide flexible schedules that will accommodate a full-time job or family needs.
Choosing the Right Program for You
Before you begin any online program, you need to research which one is best for you, your education and career goals. Additionally, the program has to fit your schedule. Here five questions you should ask before entering a degree program:
- How is the course delivered? There are many ways that an instructor can lecture: online using text, with accompanying slides, with or without student interaction, video, teleconferencing, etc. Course content is more easily understood if it's presented in a dynamic engaging manner that involves an interaction between the students, the instructor, and the material. When you choose a program you should make sure that your online school utilizes many different methods to convey information.
- How do I interact with the instructor and other students? Some standard options for online student interaction include chat rooms, instant messaging, teleconferencing, and video conferencing. Finding a program that facilitates, and even requires, student interaction is an important aspect of choosing an online program. How the online community functions should be very important to both the instructor and the institution.
- How will I be evaluated? Will you actually be required to work in order to earn your degree. If students aren't evaluated appropriately and degrees are handed out with little or no verification that the students have actually learned anything, the program is not likely worthwhile and even less likely to be accepted by employers.
- What kind of library and research materials are available? Ensure that the school you are interested in has a good system for providing reference materials and texts—they should be accessible from anywhere. The school's online references should be up-to-date and available at any time.
- Is the school Regionally or Nationally accredited? Ask about the school's credentials and the degrees the instructors hold. Many unaccredited online schools will eagerly grant you a degree, however these degrees from unaccredited schools are worthless. A diploma mill or unaccredited school should be avoided.
Once you find the online program that fits your goals and schedule, it's important for you to become disciplined and do the work. An online course gives you the flexibility and time to get a degree.
Learn more about online degree programs.