Thursday, February 19, 2009

What You Need To Know About Online Education

By Michael Fleischner

If you are like most adults who never finished college or wish to change jobs, you may be thinking about getting a degree online. Today, online education is the norm as traditional schools offer more and more programs online as proprietary schools have done for nearly a decade.

When exploring online learning options, there are a number of things to think about. One of the most important is to have a clear understanding of what you wish to accomplish. Many individuals look to get their degree online in an effort to acquire the necessary skills for employment.

Give some thought to the type of education you will need to get a job upon graduation. One way to do this is to start calling and speaking with counselors at both traditional universities and online schools. They can give you a good idea about what their programs will do for you as well as provide you with a sense of how many graduates are immediately placed in jobs.

With an ailing economy, job placement may be a challenge. Think about the industries that are doing well even in trying times. Medicine, pharmaceuticals, and other areas will continue to thrive as baby boomers age and the government continues to fund new programs.

After you have narrowed down the type of online program that will work best for you, it is time to think about your chances of completing such program. Some questions to ask yourself are: Do you have the discipline to meet all of the requirements of the program without attending a physical class? Are you organized enough to meet deadlines? Can you work independently?

In addition to entry requirements many schools and programs offer specific programs or customized programs. Make sure that you understand what it takes to meet graduate requirements and complete your degree. You should know exactly how many credits you need to get your degree. You should also understand the value of that degree. What type of job can you get? At what salary? Does the value of the completed degree equal the type of job you can get?

There are many ways to fund your online education. With the help of government programs, schools aid, and private loans, the options are many. Work with your school counselors to determine the most economical way to pay for your online education. Accredited schools and colleges have access to government funding programs that charge a low rate and make school affordable.

Paying down your debt after graduation must be one of your priorities. Although you have many options for reducing debt, the best way is to find a job as quickly as you can. When you begin making payments right away, you illustrate to your lenders that you are willing and capable of paying down your debt.

After graduation and once you begin repayment of your loans, consider consolidating your student loans via loan consolidation. The practice of loan consolidation is where you work with a single lender to aggregate your loans and consolidate them into a single loan. This results in a single payment with one vendor usually at a lower interest rate.

Completing your degree online isn't for everyone. Before enrolling, ask your prospective school about repayment options associated with each funding source. Ask the financial aid counselor if student loan consolidation is an option upon graduation.

Earning a degree online is a great way to make the most of a down economy. Before jumping right in you should ask a lot of questions about what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get your degree. Most importantly, think about how you are going to pay for that treasured education.

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