Where to start
Making the decision going to college, pursuing an advanced degree or obtaining an industry recognized certificate is one of the most important decisions an individual will make in their lifetime. When considering an educational institution there are numerous factors that need to be taken into account before an education decision can be made.
Here are the main factors to consider when looking at pursuing an advanced degree or completing a certificate program:
Online VS In Person: This is the first fundamental question that prospective students need to ask themselves. If you are the kind of person that is self driven, has a tight schedule or is not in a commutable distance to an in person institution, then pursuing an online degree could be a good fit. However, if you find yourself needing to be in a physical classroom environment and learn better that way, then you should seek out in person programs that can better suite your needs. People learn in all different kinds of ways. Some are visual learners, some experiential and some need to hear things to have the information really sink in. No one knows himself or herself better than you, so listen to your gut and first determine what kind of learner you are before embarking on the next steps. Rasmssen College goes into greater depth about the plusses and minuses of online v.s. traditional educational settings.
Career Opportunities: When exploring areas of study that you are interested in, one recommendation is to first explore the types of jobs and careers in that industry. Often times people find that after obtaining a degree that has set them back a significant amount of money, that the career field that they have their degree in is either not growing or is underpaid in relation to the cost of the degree. We suggest exploring a variety of careers and use the information contained here in conjunction with The Bureau of Labor and Statistics Data to determine if you are making a wise investment in your degree. All of the statistics we have assembled on career and degree data come from the BLS website and are intended to help students make wise decisions about their studies and career options with a degree or certificate.
Time Commitment: The amount of time that you have available to apply to your studies is going to be one of the most important factors in your decision. If you are working a full time job, you will have to figure out a way of balancing your personal life, with your schoolwork. This article from US News and World Report will help you come up with a game plan for managing your time
Financial Aid, Scholarships and Student Loans: Once you have decided that you want to go to college and have a career path planned out once you obtain your degree, then it’s time to figure out how to pay for the degree. Most institutions have different financing options that you will have to do your homework on, but all usually have some form of financial aid or scholarships available. When looking for information on student aid and the resources available to students, we recommend starting at the Federal Student Aid website. This is an office of the U.S. Department of Education and here, students will find a wealth of resources and information that will help them better determine what kind of aid or grants are available to them.