A New Kind of College - The Virtual University

A New Kind of College - The Virtual University

You may debate whether graduating from college actually makes you smarter, but there is no doubt that a college degree can make you richer. According to statistics from the Department of Labor, the lifelong earnings of a person with a bachelor's degree are $620,000 more than someone with an associate degree; $810,000 more than those of a high school graduate, and $1.1 million more than a high school dropout.

Simply put, a college degree makes you more competitive in the job market. In fact, many employers, including the U.S. government, require college degrees for certain positions. You may deserve a promotion based on job skills and experience, but will not be considered for advancement due to a lack of formal education.

As our technological society continues to create a demand for individuals with specific skill sets, the earning power of college graduates is expected to keep growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for college graduates will increase by 25% between now and 2014. On the other hand, jobs for high school graduates will grow by only 11%.

However, many find the cost of tuitions, fees, and living on campus for four years is beyond their financial grasp. Others deal with the day-to-day responsibilities of children and full-time jobs that simply do not afford them the time to work towards earning their college degree.

Online universities and colleges are quickly coming to the rescue of people who strive to earn a college degree, but need a flexible schedule and reasonable costs. Over a million people are now enrolled in online colleges. Students are now able to take classes completely online at any hour of the day or night. You can even opt for a combination of online and on-campus. Students chat with other students, work together on projects and confer with professors -- completely online. Convenience is virtually at your fingertips!

Another positive is the flexible admissions policies. Don't be surprised if your work or military experience counts towards college credits. In addition, while most traditional colleges require that you enroll after a semester break, the typical online university allows you to start classes any time you want.

The flexibility offered by online schools means that students often complete their coursework more quickly than if they were in traditional colleges. For example, many students earn bachelor's degrees within two years or less.

And keep in mind that the majority of online schools offer a variety of programs including certifications, associate degrees, bachelors and even masters and doctoral programs.

Certificate programs. Many certificate programs supply training for jobs in call centers or repair shops for cars, televisions, etc. Even if your certification cannot guarantee a job in a particular field, it can help you decide whether or not you enjoy that type of work and are suited for it.

Some employers will pay for certifications in order to have an employee's skills improved in just one small area, such as Six Sigma training for business. Certification programs are not the same as a college degree, but they can often count toward an associate degree. Certificate programs can be as short as one course, while others require several courses and hands-on training.

Associate Degrees. Associate degrees are typically awarded within the first year or so of enrolling in a bachelor degree program. Your associate degree may be in an area such as 'interdisciplinary studies,' which means you have completed coursework in English, Math, Science and other subjects required for your bachelor's degree.

On the other hand, some online colleges offer associate degrees in medical billing and coding, paralegal studies, architectural drafting, computer animation, digital photography fields, etc.

When you consider that high school graduates earn an average of $24,000 annually, and a Medical Coder averages $35,000 a year, the value of an associate degree (that you can earn in eight short months) becomes very clear! Likewise an associate degree in computer networking can open the door for a '$40,000 a year' career.

Bachelor Degrees. Online schools offer bachelor's degrees in every field you can imagine. Even for those in a discipline, such as nursing or teaching, which requires a period of apprenticeship, you can complete your coursework online and schedule your hospital or student teaching through your online college.

Many people complete online bachelor's degrees within a year or two, especially if they already have some transferable college credits

Master Degree Programs. The most popular program offered online is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Today's online universities offer many MBA majors including Healthcare, Non-Profit Organizations or Hotel Administration as well as traditional courses: Accounting, Finance and Management. Another popular major is education. Teachers improve their credentials and receive higher salaries by earning master's degrees in Early Childhood, Curriculum Specialist, Secondary Education, etc.

Online universities emphasize degrees in practical fields, such as technology, journalism, business and education that improve your job credentials. However, a few online schools have associate, bachelor and master's degrees in liberal arts subjects, including philosophy, history, literature and art.

Doctoral Programs. Most online universities do not offer doctoral programs, but a few have made PhD programs available. These programs are primarily in education and business. Programs can last as long as three years and require some residency time on campus.

If you carry a full load at an online college and qualify as a full-time student, you can apply for traditional financial aid as long as your online college is a Title IV participant. Military services and employers often help pay for online degrees. The cost of online degree programs is almost always less than half of what you pay for a campus program. The next step. . . .choosing the right school for you!

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