Online Learning

Online Degree

Online Degree Programs Open Up a World of Possibilities

It is a shame that we have to make so many important decisions when we really are too young to know what we want out of life. Often, we find that we are approaching 30, 40, 50 or older before we find something that we are truly passionate about pursuing. Fortunately, there are options available to us now that previous generations were not able to take advantage of. It is possible for almost anyone to get an online degree in the field that they currently work in or in an entirely different field of study.

Almost any degree that you can achieve in a traditional classroom setting can now be earned online. The New York Times reports that 7% of all new college graduates got their degrees completely over the Internet. This is 1.2 million people. Even most graduate degrees are offered online. The current most popular online degrees are in the fields of business, healthcare, education and engineering.

In order to select a degree that will be more flexible in the job market, choose a more general, comprehensive study. For example, an MBA can open up job possibilities in a number of positions, including financial analysts, accountants, investments and others. A degree in psychology can open up job opportunities for you in administration of a clinic, case management, community relations, counseling or a mental health facility. However, your prospective employers may wish to see some degree of focus within your studies. You can accomplish this while still maintaining a general overall approach to your studies by looking into your options for pursuing a minor under your major.

You can also earn a complementary teaching certificate alongside many degree programs if you are interested in teaching that same subject at some point. Most of the online degree programs offer classes that can be taken at the student's own pace. About 64% of respondents in a recent survey believed that an online education required more self-discipline than a traditional educational environment. Some online classes still require attendance at specific times of the week.

Most of the textbooks and classroom materials for your online classes are in electronic form and are accessible through the school's website. Some classes may require the purchase of textbooks or other materials to be used in the class. In a traditional classroom setting, the average student spends about $1,100 per year on textbooks, which means Internet classes can offer significant savings.

The most important things to consider when choosing an online school are the quality of the curriculum, the reputation of the institution, expenses related to the online education, the technical support each school offers and other services the school offers their students. Look for an institution that is accredited by the National Education Association (NEA).

Financial aid is available for many students. Sixty percent of all undergraduate students received some type of financial aid assistance in the 2007-08 school years. Pell Grants and work assistance programs are available for students with the lowest income levels. 52% of all undergraduate students got a grant during the 2007-08 school years. 7% participated in some type of work assistance program. These do not have to be repaid, but they are limited, and not all students qualify, especially if they are currently employed.

Pell Grants are not offered to students who already have a degree, even if they would qualify financially. Work assistance programs allow students to perform community service type activities as partial payment for their education. The problem for most adult students is that they do not have time to do this service while going to school, working and usually raising a family.

Almost all students are eligible for student loans. Thirty-eight percent of undergraduate students took out student loans for the 2007-08 school years, and 4% of their parents took out loans in addition to what their children borrowed. The money has to be repaid, but the payments are deferred until a few months after graduation, and most students are making more money by then. The federal government offers student loans, but many other private financial institutions offer their own student loans. The interest rate on these loans is usually very low, far lower than is available for personal loans and other types of loans.

If you receive student loans and you quit school or drop out, your loan payments will become due soon after you fail to register for classes. If you are receiving student loans, it is especially important that you continue to enroll each semester. Summer mini semesters offered by your school are not usually required to continue deferring student loan payments.

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