The country’s unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent, meaning that more than 11 million Americans are now without jobs. However, while the employment rate among high school graduates with no college education hovers at eight percent, those with bachelor’s degrees or higher are seeing the unemployment rate drop by more than half, to 3.8 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Additionally, the average annual salary for individuals with graduate or doctoral degrees is $75,000, while bachelor’s degrees command an average salary of $51,000. For those relying on a high school diploma alone, their average salary drops significantly to $28,000.
Therefore, for anyone seeking increased career stability in this shaky economy, higher education is the answer. Now is the best time to pursue an advanced degree to further a career, as demonstrated in a newly released video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDfew0YcDTo) by EducationDynamics.
Fortunately, finding the best program to match a prospective student’s interests and goals has become much easier due to recent technological innovations and expanded access. With 4,146 colleges and universities in the United States, both on-campus and online, never have there been more educational options from which to choose.
Expanded Educational Options
Interest in online education has surged as a result of the convenience and flexibility it affords. Online learners can complete their coursework when it is most convenient―after the kids go to bed at night or even during a lunch break at work. Web-based courses also allow students to take classes at home, in effect eliminating time and money spent driving to class.
For others, a traditional campus setting is the preferred environment. Traditional classes allow students to interact face-to-face with professors and fellow students alike, and generally offer more structure than their online counterparts.
The choice between online learning and traditional on-campus programs is simply a matter of personal preference, and there are comprehensive resources, including eLearners.com and EarnMyDegree.com, that help prospective students find their ideal degree program.
Additionally, the eLearners Advisor (http://www.elearners.com/advisor/) is designed to help prospective students determine whether online learning or a traditional educational format best suits their needs and preferences. For those unsure about which academic program to pursue, eLearners.com offers the Career Interest Test (http://www.livecareer.com/default.asp?lp=TG6A&cobrand=ELRN) to help people determine the career that best matches their personality.
Important Questions to Ask
In addition to deciding which format and degree to pursue, it is also important to note that returning to school will affect a student’s personal life. Some important questions to consider when determining whether now is the best time to enroll in a higher education program include:
1. Do you have support from loved ones? To reach optimal academic performance, it is helpful to have the support of close friends and family.
2. Do you have employer “buy-in”? Ask your boss whether he or she supports you completing coursework during lunch hour and whether it is appropriate for you to use a work computer for such activities.
3. What is your plan or timeline? A three credit college course will require, on average, 10 to 12 hours per week.
4. Do you have a home classroom or study area? A separate space for studying will help you concentrate and stay organized.
5. Do you plan to seek financial assistance? Research scholarship and grant opportunities, and tax credits and deductions to help offset costs. The Debt-Free College Guide (http://debtfree-elearners.com/) is a comprehensive resource providing a state-by-state listing of options to help make college more affordable.
Knowledge opens new doors and changes things for the better. Among the millions of people who will enroll in higher education this year, several will be the first in their families to receive a college diploma. Millions more will finish their degrees online. Many single parents will pursue continuing education to improve their earning potential. A newly-released EducationDynamics video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDfew0YcDTo) provides fresh inspiration to positively change lives and the world through a commitment to life-long learning.