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Is an Online Education Right for You?

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Your education is one of the most costly and most important investments you’ll ever make. Choosing the right school, the right program, and the right media can make all the difference. With brick and mortar buildings, you have lots of local people to talk to when trying to determine if the school will meet your needs. What about when you are considering an online program? How do you find out if the school and program are right for you?

The School

The most important facet of any college is finding out whether or not they are accredited. Without accreditation, your degree may not be worth the paper it is printed on. Also, if you are planning to pursue graduate school or another degree down the road, the degree and your classes may not transfer. Be sure to select an accredited school to save yourself, time, money and aggravation.

The Program

Go over the program thoroughly. Say for example you are looking at a nursing degree. Does the program the school offers meet the requirements for your state? Does it offer all the classes you want to take? Can you specialize? Are the credits transferable? These and other questions should be explored. The site should offer a way to contact them to speak with a counselor either online or on the phone. Make sure your questions are completely answered before enrolling.

The Media

Online classes come in a variety of offerings. Some are strictly online where all your work and communication is done through cyber space. Others however, have requirements for periodic visits to the school. This may be for lab assignments, tests or face to face meeting with the teacher to go over your progress. If the school you have picked is local, this may be no problem. However, if the school is out of state or simply farther away than you are willing to drive on a semi-periodic basis, this media or school may not be a good match.

You’ll also need to be able to access any software required by the school or the class. Online schools use special software to allow for the transfer of documents and fro communication between teachers and students as well as between the students themselves. Depending on the class you are taking, you may need to have software you buy and install on your home computer. Your system will need to be able to handle all these requirements or else you may have to upgrade your system to do so.

Online Education: The Cons

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There are dozens of benefits to pursuing an online education. Before you plunge right in, take a few moments to consider some of the drawbacks or cons. Unexpected costs and being self-disciplined are the two biggest considerations. These have derailed some of the best-intentioned people and you may fall prey to them as well. If nothing else, you’ll be forewarned and perhaps that will be enough to help you overcome any potential snags in pursuing your online education.

Cost

You probably have Internet service at home, but if you do not, you’ll want to investigate getting it. This can be a considerable cost depending on where you live and the number of Internet service providers available in your area. You can try to fulfill your course requirement using free Internet service such as those provided by the local library. However, if you’ve waited until the last day to submit an assignment and someone else is using the computers, you may be out of luck. Having your own Internet service is highly recommended.

You may be required to purchase special software depending on the course you are taking. Be sure you understand what is required before signing up for the class. Make sure your computer can handle the requirements of any software you need to have.

Self-Discipline

This one can get you in trouble in two different ways. Some people find they have spare time while at work and try to do their assignments online while on the job. Unless you have express permission from your employer, this should be avoided. It can cost you your job as well as the respect of your coworkers and colleagues who may see your pursuit of a higher education as you taking unfair advantage of the company.

You also have to be self-disciplined about getting your work done and submitted on time. It is all too easy to put things off until the last minute because you don’t have to go to a class every day and listen to reminders from the teacher. If you haven’t read over the assignment and resource material until the last day, you may find there is more work involved than you thought. Another problem with waiting too long is Internet service interruption. If your service or power goes out, you have no time padding left in which to submit your work. If you discover you have questions or don’t understand the material, there is no grace period left during which you can seek feedback or assistance from the teacher or classmates.

Online Education: The Pros

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While there are some definite drawbacks to an online education, I’m going to focus on the pros, or the benefits. There are a number of reasons why an online education might be the best option for you so let’s explore them.

Geography

Nothing is more disappointing than trying to pursue a degree and not being able to find a school locally that offers the classes you need. With an online education, you are not limited by the constraints of where you live. If you find a nursing program online at a college three states away, you are able to enroll in it, as long as you meet their enrollment qualifications.

Time Savings

Attending school online eliminates the commute to and from class. Many classes meet two to three times a week in a traditional setting. If you are taking more than one class, you might be driving back and forth to school every day of the week or multiple times a day. With online classes, you can use that saved time for other activities.

Time Management

Brick and mortar classes require you to attend classes on their schedule. Miss more than one or two, for any reason – even sick kids – and your grades are in jeopardy. With an online class, you are free to log in on your own time table, providing you meet any scheduled deadlines for assignments, tests and projects. If you are a morning person or a night owl, you can choose the time that suits your lifestyle. And you don’t have to choose the same time, all the time. Have an emergency or an appointment? Log in later in the day or even the next day. Just don’t miss your due dates.

Juggle Work and School

If you are a working mom, finding classes available after work can be challenging. Online classes allow you to keep working, even if you have a schedule that varies from week to week. You can still support your family while taking the classes you need.

Student Interactions

Many online courses have forums where the class, materials and even the assignments are shared and discussed with one another. You can meet others interested in the same field you are studying. This can even lead to some initial networking opportunities. All students are required to interact, often to comment on one another’s work. Outgoing students do not get to monopolize discussions outside of a classroom setting.

Extra Benefits

Just from participating in the online classes, you will gain better computer skills. You will be required to utilize the college’s software and system to submit assignments and correspond with the instructor and others in the class. For those with physical disabilities that make getting to a local school challenging, online school provides the comfort and convenience of learning in your own environment.

The Best Online Grants for Single Moms

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Just a few years ago, going to school online seemed like little more than a gimmick. You would pay an outrageous fee, get a certificate that meant nothing, and have nothing but a pile of expensive books to show for the “education” you paid to get. For a while, online education had earned a terrible reputation.

But today, the situation is very different and can be very beneficial for single moms. Online education has opened up a whole new world of learning opportunities for those who might not be able to attend a traditional college setting. Colleges have taken to the internet to offer their classes, and they aren’t fly-by-night universities that promise a great job in only six months. Places like University of Kentucky, Notre Dame, and University of Illinois are just a few examples of reputable schools that offer their courses online.

Traditional college grants are available for online courses. There are a few caveats to obtaining them, however:

Accreditation. The school you choose to attend online must be accredited before you can receive grants or loans of any kind. To find out more about accreditation, visit the website of the school you want to attend, give the admissions counselors a call, or visit the Department of Education website for more information on which schools are accredited, and what it means.

Credits. Do you have credits from another school that will transfer to your new one? Have you gone to college in the past but for whatever reason, you didn’t graduate? The more schooling you have already had, the lower your chances of getting a grant. Why? Grants are money give to those who need it for education, and if you have already used up several years of grants, it is unlikely you will be eligible for much more. Check with the admissions office of the school you want to attend to find out what their policies are.

Finances. Some grants are based on income. To know if you qualify, get together all your financial information, including your tax returns and paycheck stubs. When it’s time to fill out the applications for Federal Student Aid, you will be ready.

Special Grants. Many schools will offer special incentives for those who need to go back to school but might not have the finances to make it happen. These special grants are awarded by colleges and universities based on financial need, community service, intentions after graduation, and many other factors. Check into the school of your choice and ask about special grants or scholarships that are tailored for busy single moms.

As single moms it’s important to help get the financing you need in order to get your education. With these opportunities for online grants you can get the education you deserve.

Online Education Ideas For Single Mothers

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As the need for a more technical work force increases, employers are now finding the need for their employees to become more educated. The employer has come to the realization that the best way for an employee to gain that education is online. It is not unusual for a company to support the idea of online education. Some employers will even pay for the online education and also provide the necessary tools for this education. It may be in the form of supplies or it may be the space needed to study.

With the increasing knowledge that an employer has helped the employee gain with online education, come many benefits. Benefits that are not only good for the employee but also for the employer. The employer gains the benefit of choosing a program that will be tailored to fit their company’s needs and also not having to spend their time and money searching for the person that meets their job requirements. The employee gains the benefits of the education, doesn’t have to worry about a lay off because the job is advancing beyond the employee’s knowledge and is able to have the potential of higher wages. The online education process is a win-win situation for both employer and employee.

Knowing that the employer is willing to invest in the employee, by providing a higher education experience for the employee, is a great incentive for the employee to study online. The online education helps the employee become more aware of their job responsibilities and helps the employee feel a part of the company. When an employee feels a part of the company, they are less likely to steal from the company, less likely to waste the company’s time and less likely to bad mouth the establishment.

The company will not have a high employee turnover and the employee camaraderie will be outstanding. Employer supported education programs bring the whole company together and working for the same goals.

An education is a very important part of a person’s life. Whether you are working and trying to gain a better position, just starting into the job market and find the job that you are hired into does not fit with your educational schedule or whether you are a working parent trying to make all ends meet, parenting, family, work and school, online education may be for you. With online education, there is time for everything.

With online education you work more or less at your own pace. Not being tied down to an in class structure leaves you the freedom to study after work, during children’s nap time or the ability to study whenever there are a few extra minutes or so. Not having the rigid structure of having to meet in class start times or in class assignments, makes life more enjoyable.

So when you make that decision to go back to school either because its work related or simply because you feel the need to expand your knowledge, think first about online education. Online education is in itself an educational benefit all its own.