Opportunities Abound With Online Degrees

For years, many people had to choose between being students or being full-time employees; but now, thanks to the wide array of online educational options, online degrees make it possible for people to have both.

Why people return to school

The reasons for returning to school include receiving grant funding; being able to earn a degree in as little as two hours per day; having improved earning potential and being less likely to be unemployed, and being able to remotely log in to class and do the work at your own pace.

"I got my degree online because it was more convenient than attending classroom classes," said Jill Frank, an SEO specialist working for a poker company in Las Vegas. "At the time I was overseas but I wanted to further my education. This allowed me flexibility -- no problem with different time zones because you can log in when it is comfortable for you."

Technology fosters access

With the explosion of the technology industry in the past 15 years, online education has really helped people from all walks of life capitalize on furthering their education, while still being able to work, pay their bills and have families. Adding the online factor into the educational arena has granted greater access to education, made it easier than ever to get a degree based on your own personal schedule, and helps with the financial aspect of school because it allows people to remain employed while they are pursuing their course of study.

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Stories of success

A change in careers: Chris Cook, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy instructor pilot, felt his career as a Naval officer was at a crossroads after several years. Not sure if he wanted to remain in the military and make it a lifelong career path, Cook wanted to explore different career options. He had an interest in business as well and knew that earning an MBA would help him no matter what path he chose. The Kelley Direct online program appealed to Cook because he was able to stay in the Navy while earning his MBA. He even spent his last semester onboard the USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Gulf. Cook graduated with his MBA in 2005, left the Navy and pursued a career in global investment banking. He is now the associate director of Institutional Structured Investments at UBS Investment Bank in Stamford, Conn.

A career boost: "As a full-time student, wife and working mom, pursuing my degrees online was one of the best things I could have done to help advance my career," said Deanna McCray James, who completed both her undergraduate (Bachelor of Management Studies, 2005) and graduate (Master of Science in Management and PR, 2008) degrees online through the University of Maryland University College. James is currently getting her second graduate degree online, an MBA, because she has had such a positive experience learning and studying online.

"I chose to return to school online as it was simply easier. I could work at my own pace and not deal with traffic rushing from work to class. Additionally, I found online lectures and required resources a larger benefit than attending a traditional brick-and-mortar university because everything was centralized in one place. Finally, in keeping in line with online resources, I had and still have access to a virtual library to retrieve a myriad of resources for research."

James also liked that all of the other students were in the same situation -- working, going to school and having families etc.-- because she felt like she fit in with them. James received a scholarship, and financial-aid advisers worked with her to ensure that she had the best package available to complete her course of study.

The hard work paid off: "Prior to completing my undergraduate degree, I was a manager for a trade association and had difficulty moving beyond mid-level manager. Since completing my degree, I have served as a director of marketing," James said.

A better-informed employee: Cheryl Foster wanted to learn more about the industry she was working in, but the closest university was two-plus hours away. So, she chose to take classes at American Military University, an online university designed specifically for military people so they can get their degrees from wherever they happen to be posted. "I was a computer programmer/developer working for terrorist analysts. I believed I needed to know more about what they were doing, so I could do my job better," Foster said.

Online education gave Foster the opportunity to pursue a master's degree in National Security Studies, a very specialized course of study, and it allowed her to continue working while studying for her degree. She did not have to be burdened with driving to class, and she was able to further her career as a result of her online education. "Completing my master's gave me confidence and satisfaction. Completing my master's in terrorism made me more informed, and a better-educated citizen."

Opportunities abound with online degrees

Regardless of the program or course of study that interests you, and regardless of your current job or life circumstances, online education can help you reach whatever goal it is that you have in mind. Whether you started a family early and never got your degree or want to advance your career or completely change workplace industries, an online education makes it easy and convenient to seize the opportunities that abound today.

Next: Online Education Offers Opportunities for Stay-at-Home Moms >>

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I agree with what many people have pointed out here in their comments, that the most important thing in selecting a program is to do your research. Understand the logistics of a program and check for regional accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education – that’s critical.

At many colleges, your transcript does not indicate the manner in which you take your classes, so remember that you are pursuing a degree, not a delivery system. I always advise students to find a college and a program that fits their needs and learning styles. Many schools will allow students to take a combination of online and on-campus courses, but make sure to research tuition policies so you’re not surprised. At some schools, professors, textbooks and learning outcomes are the same, regardless of delivery. If that is important to you, ask. As long as you do your research and keep your goals in mind, online education can offer abundant opportunities to those who might not be able to access them otherwise. So do your research and take the time to make an informed decision!

Jon Lenrow
Associate Dean, Academic Operations for Peirce College

October 06 2010 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am in the process of enrolling in Strayer University for online classes. Can anyone tell me the ratings of that school?

October 05 2010 at 8:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wonder if any of these young college students even know what a 'book' is? The article says students with jobs can also get an 'online degree.' Hmmmm...they probably also have online jobs and work at home, and don't know a damn thing about 'hard physical work.'

October 05 2010 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, this post is saturated with ignorance. Yes there are some scams out there and not all online education is the same. You have to do some research before jumping in. You must first check to see if the school is an accredited school. If it has accreditation, make sure it is one of the major accreditations. I believe there are three or four that are recognized by most employers. Many of these posts are referring to "For Profit" schools. These schools are very pushy for sales but some are still accredited like University of Phoenix.
If you are worried about the reputation of a school, many schools are now offering online education including Harvard. Penn State's online programs offer you the same degree that you would receive on campus, no difference between the two. They have been offering correspondence courses for around 100 years, so this is not something new. If you think that online classes through schools like Penn State are easy, you would be mistaken. Classes are taught by State College professors, the same professors on campus. Online classes actually take a lot of discipline and often have more requirements then some campus classes that give you credit for sleeping through class. Many classes require participation from everyone and exams often require a proctor.

October 04 2010 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I earned my MBA online, and likewise....I double challenge most indiviuals to try that independently!

October 04 2010 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the post about University of Phoenix. I have two good friends who paid a fortune in student loans to get MBAs from University of Phoenix. They are doing the same jobs at the same rate of pay as I am. I earned my degrees years ago at University of Arizona, in class, not on line. University of Phoenix has ling been known as the "buy your degree" university.

October 04 2010 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a BS and MS degree and earned them in the traditional university way. Has anyone gone to an online law school for a JD???? Would you mind telling me the school, and what your experience has been? I would really appreciate honest replies. Thanks.

October 04 2010 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I finished my first masters online several years ago. Anyone who thinks online degrees are jokes obviously never attempted one themselves. Some of the programs do rob you, but any school can do that. Do your homework. Most programs allow you to test drive them first before you apply. I'm starting another degree now, since my job will pay for it. Different school and not as well set up. Price wise most of the programs are the same as if you went to a regular classroom. A "name" will only get you so far. You need a brain behind the degree.

October 04 2010 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gwen, are you out of your mind? Sure, these companies that are offering education are probably paying your salary, but come on.... you and I both know that the cost of taking them up on their offer is way out of control and can cost upwards of ten times the amount of going to conventional schools. Way to screw people, girl! Keep bending over their desks.

October 04 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I finished my last two years online with Troy University. It was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone. TROY is SACS accredited and many of their individual programs are nationally accredited. Troy University is a traditional school in Troy, AL, so they have the history and reputation to back their diplomas. If you want or need a degree other than through the traditional classroom setting please check out their eCampus. It's tops!

October 04 2010 at 11:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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