Advancing & Continuing Your Education
Many people dream of one day working as an esteemed, highly paid, well respected professional in their chosen career path. For most, this requires the pursuit of advanced degrees and higher education.
Depending on your personal interests, skills and plans for the future, you can advance your education by earning a(n):
- associate's degree
- bachelor's degree
- doctoral degree
- master's degree
Because a number of colleges and universities, both traditional and online, offer various higher education degree programs, finding the right one for you may be challenging or overwhelming.
How to Choose a Degree Program
As you prepare to further your education, the first step is to evaluate your current educational status, as well as your plans for the future. For example, while those who have already earned their bachelor's degree will be on the path to their master's and/or doctoral degree, others with simply a high school education may need to start their pursuit of further education by earning their associate's degrees.
Once you have established the type of degree you are working towards earning, you will then need to choose a field of study. If you aren't currently working in your ideal industry, choose a field of study that suits your career goals.
Other essential questions to ask yourself as you start choosing between higher education degree programs include:
- Do I need to work while attending school?
- How long or short of a program am I looking for?
- How much can I afford to spend on advancing my education? And, do I need to look into alternate methods of funding my education?
- Once I complete my further education, what careers will be available to me?
- Which schools offer accredited programs in exactly what I want to study?
By answering the above questions, you will significantly narrow down your choices of degree programs. Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few programs, consider visiting the schools and talking with students and/or professors to evaluate which is best for you.
Distance and Online Education Programs
One option for advancing your education comes in the form of distance and online education programs. In contrast to traditional degree programs in which students regularly visit campus to attend class, online education programs allow students to complete courses at home, at their own pace.
Although some distance education degree programs may require minimal class time or certain mandatory online hours, for the most part, students are given the freedom to complete coursework at their convenience. Some of the benefits of online education programs include:
- being able to earn your degree faster than programs at traditional colleges allow for
- being able to continue working, taking care of family commitments or attending to other responsibilities
- saving money, as distance education programs typically factor out the cost of using campus facilities
Keep in mind, however, that being able to successfully complete online education programs means that students have to be self-starting, independent workers. Without "official" class times, students will need to plan and follow through with study and homework time. A failure to do so will result in either poor grades or failure of courses.