Is it your dream to earn your college degree? Online education is one route that could fit your life.
Is it your dream to earn a college degree, but not sure you have the resources to commit to a full-time, traditional on-campus program?
Don't let it get you down; there are other routes you can take to achieve your scholarly dreams. One route that more people are using to their advantage is online education.
But before you dismiss online learning as somehow inferior to traditional, in-classroom learning, there are some things you should know.
"There's loads and loads of research over the past 20 years that shows no significant difference in learning outcomes comparing classroom courses to online courses," says Robert Nash, associate dean of distance learning and professional development at California's Coastline Community College. "In fact, for years the four-year institutions have looked upon the online and classroom courses as equivalent."
According to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey called "The Digital Revolution and Higher Education," more than half of the 1,055 surveyed college and university presidents said online courses offer an equal educational value as courses taken in the classroom.
Keep reading to learn more about a few popular degrees that you could earn online.
If it's your dream to earn a bachelor's in business, consider doing it online.
The Online Advantage: You'll likely be able to stay in business (keep your day job) - while studying business, thanks to the flexibility of online learning.
What You Might Study: This degree could be a good fit if you enjoy leadership roles and have planning, communication, and problem-solving skills, according to the College Board, a century-old organization of colleges and universities that administers tests such as the SAT. Business majors could focus on subjects such as finance, marketing, and international business.
Potential Career: Budget Analyst*
Median Annual Wage: $69,090*
Average Wage for Workers in the 10th Percentile: $45,360*
Average Wage for Workers in the 90th Percentile: $102,280*
Don't give up on that legal degree dream just yet. With an online associate's degree in paralegal studies, you could learn all about the justice system...and do it on your schedule.
The Online Advantage: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, law firms are increasingly using technology for preparing for trial and legal research, so your time "logged in" to class might help more than you know.
What You Might Study: As a paralegal major, you could get your legal fix by studying everything from civil and criminal law and procedure, litigation, legal writing, ethics, and more, according to the College Board. These classes could prepare you to assist lawyers with everything from investigating the facts of a case to helping them during trials, says the Department of Labor.
Potential Career: Paralegal*
Median Annual Wage: $46,730*
Average Wage for Workers in the 10th Percentile: $29,390*
Average Wage for Workers in the 90th Percentile: $75,400*
Is it your dream to earn a degree that could prepare you for a life of working for justice? Sounds like the makings of a potential online criminal justice bachelor's degree student.
The Online Advantage: You could learn about the law from the comfort of your own home and join the reported 73,200 students enrolled in an online bachelor's in criminal justice program in fall 2009, according to Eduventures' "Hot Programs and Hot Markets" report.
What You Might Study: If you are intrigued by crime shows like "CSI," you might enjoy earning this degree. According to the College Board, courses could include such topics as criminology, the U.S. criminal justice system, victimology, and juvenile justice. You could also delve into criminal minds by studying the psychology behind what drives their behavior, as well as studying how law agencies function.
Potential Career: Probation Officer*
Median Annual Wage: $47,840*
Average Wage for Workers in the 10th Percentile: $31,210*
Average Wage for Workers in the 90th Percentile: $82,140*
Is it your dream to earn a degree that teaches you the best ways to communicate with the world around you? Keep your dream alive by working toward your bachelor's in communications online.
The Online Advantage: Just like your Twitter and Facebook account, depending on the school and program, you'll likely be able to log on and study communications any time you want, day or night. And in today's world of online social media and web-page promotion, studying online might make sense in more ways than one.
What You Might Study: According to the College Board, business communications majors could learn what it takes to communicate effectively through classes in advertising, marketing communications, public relations writing, media analysis, and more.
Potential Career: Public Relations Specialist*
Median Annual Wage: $53,190*
Average Wage for Workers in the 10th Percentile: $30,860*
Average Wage for Workers in the 90th Percentile: $96,880*
Did you see yourself clicking and computing your way to that dream degree? Well, it can still happen, and what better way than via computer mouse and screen? Yes, a bachelor's degree in computer science is attainable online.
The Online Advantage: Is there a more fitting degree for online learning? You're literally doing something applicable to your degree every time you log onto your computer.
What You Might Study: And in case you weren't paying attention to all the obvious techie language in this section, here's what computer science students could study. As a computer science major, you could bone up on computer programming and software design to help learn how to create computer programs using computer languages like C ++ and Java, according to the College Board.
Potential Career: Computer Programmer*
Median Annual Wage: $72,630*
Average Wage for Workers in the 10th Percentile: $41,710*
Average Wage for Workers in the 90th Percentile: $115,610*
*Potential career information is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm (visited May 15, 2012). And all median, 90th, and 10th percentile wages are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011 (visited May 15, 2012).
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