Online Education: Why and Where to Begin
The conversation around college education is vast and varied in the US and around the world. It's common knowledge that while a degree doesn't guarantee you'll land your dream job, statistics show that it greatly improves your odds of earning more money. It also gives you more options when it comes to building a career based on your own interests and personal needs. And while it can be intimidating to sacrifice time and acquire debt, a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that around 90% of college graduates in their twenties and thirties confirmed that the investment was indeed worth it.
The Money Problem
Even though it's money well spent, adults of virtually every age are struggling with the reality of costly tuition rates. And this issue is becoming a hot button topic in the upcoming presidential primary elections, prompting candidates to include more tuition assistance from the federal government in their policy plans. Many are recognizing the need to take action on the state level, including Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham who recently announced a plan to make college education tuition-free at all state schools in New Mexico. While it's evident that change is needed to make higher education available to all, a clear timeline is hard to create.
The Online Answer
This is where online education presents a practical solution is for college students of all ages and walks of life. Adults have the opportunity to work towards their degree on their own schedule from any location. This flexibility creates the space needed to maintain a full-time job to pay rent, provide for a family or simply build up savings. Online courses mean students can study and submit work anywhere, from the couch at home to the break room at work. And the approach works for everyone, from recent high school graduates to adults looking for a career change.
Before You Enroll
For those who have engaged in the work force for a period of time, choosing a degree program or career path may be a simple decision, with the foreknowledge of expectations, skills and interests to help guide their choices. Others may feel at a loss when selecting from the vast list of degrees and certifications offered by most online schools. No matter what your plans are for your future, it's a good idea to get some guidance on career selection and insight into your own personal strengths and passions before taking the plunge.
Personality Assessment Tests
Used by a variety of specialists and organizations, personality assessment tests can help you identify and understand your strengths and weaknesses for an increase in personal awareness. Knowing the results of a psychology-based test can also help you have a more conscious and purposeful approach to your life, from major decisions to everyday details. The assessments can be especially helpful for college students by offering guidance towards an ideal career type as well as an understanding of how one learns best.
Career Workshops and Seminars
In addition to personality testing, attending a variety of classes and workshops on career choice can be particularly insightful for future online college students. Even those who have a good idea of what they would like to pursue should investigate related alternatives that may help them pinpoint a specific concentration or role in the workforce. Career workshops and seminars can be an eye-opening experience, offering paths and ideas that had not previously been considered.
One-on-One Time With a Professional
Before making a final decision, make sure you spend some time with a professional who can help you weigh your options. A college counselor can help you balance the pros and cons of your top choices based on degree and course requirements. For even more insight, interview or shadow a professional in your top two career choices to get a feel for the job and candid answers to your most important questions.
Online education is a modern solution for today's college student. Flexible scheduling and faster degree programs help adults reach their goals while maintaining their current jobs and balancing life's responsibilities. But before embarking on any type of higher education journey, it's important to make an informed decision about a career path. To make the best use of your time and resources, take the time to learn about yourself and the future you're planning.