Online bachelor’s degree programs are increasingly popular among non-traditional students who are seeking a more flexible alternative method for returning to college. According to the Babson Survey Research Group, around 5.8 million students are taking at least one online course. Online programs primarily appeal to individuals with previous college credits who need to finish their degree while maintaining good work-life-school balance. One U.S. News survey found that the average online undergrad is 32 years old. Nearly 85 percent of online bachelor’s students are working at least part-time and 95 percent are transfers. Online learning is touted for being more accessible, convenient, and affordable. But in the following article, we’ll look closer at what it’s like to earn a bachelor’s degree within the virtual walls of online classrooms.
Online instructors typically communicate content via virtual lectures that are either read like a textbook or video recorded in asynchronous courses. At times, synchronous courses will feature online web conferencing like Skype for joining the campus lecture hall from home. Online lectures are accessed by logging onto the school’s eLearning platform, such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle, at least twice a week. From the dashboard, students can easily track their progress through the online course’s modules for scheduling. Online learners will digest lectures by listening to the professor, watching PowerPoint presentations, or reading uploaded content while taking thorough notes like other classes.
Completing an online bachelor’s degree is more flexible but not any easier. There will still be the same amount of course assignments to either upload or email. After reading chapters and listening to lectures, knowledge is tested in various assignments. For instance, online biology courses could include an applied lab with short-answer questions. English courses could ask online learners to create a literary summary or assign an essay prompt. Online bachelor’s programs in business could provide real-world case studies and group projects. These types of course assignments will have due dates listed in the syllabus, so self-discipline is required to stay on track.
One frequent complaint about online bachelor’s degree programs is a lack of engagement with peers and professors. However, advances in technology have made it easier for online students to form lasting connections by Internet. Online colleges generally will require contributing to the course’s discussion boards at least once weekly. Discussion threads usually have a prompt for students to insightfully respond to their colleagues’ comments. Though students could be asked to attend group web chats at a specific time in synchronous courses, most are available 24/7. This may be extra beneficial for shy students who prefer putting time, thought, and research into their online discussion contributions.
Professors teaching online undergraduate courses need to assess what content aspects have been learned just like in traditional classes. Online examinations are usually taken from the comfort of home with access to your textbooks. Therefore, these timed multiple-choice or short-answer tests will ask greater depth of knowledge beyond plain memorization of facts. Tests could have various question pools to avoid students sharing answers. Online courses in the liberal arts like history or philosophy could replace exams with papers. Some online colleges seek to maintain academic rigor by having proctored testing. Online students then must take the exam orally, recorded by webcam, or at external testing centers.
If you’re still undecided on whether an online bachelor’s degree program is right for you, consider taking an online course tour before enrollment. For example, the University of Kansas Medical Center offers this eLearning overview to give insights into how online courses work. Course orientations are common in most online bachelor’s programs to double check that you have the technological and time management skills to succeed. Although they’re ungraded, online orientations familiarize you with the college’s learning platform. Take this opportunity seriously to prepare for an online bachelor’s degree and its average lifetime earnings of $2.27 million.
A bachelor’s degree is a post-secondary diploma awarded to students who complete general and major-specific coursework at undergraduate colleges or universities. C ontinuing your education after high school is highly encouraged in today’s job market. Bachelor’s degree programs are consistently linked with better career opportunities, salary potential, and job satisfaction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median weekly earnings for bachelor’s degree holders is $1,137, which is significantly higher than the $678 for high school grads. Baccalaureate-level unemployment is also lower-than-average at 2.8 percent. Committing time to attaining your bachelor’s can pay off wonderfully. Here are the types of bachelor’s program you may choose depending upon the length of time you would like to spend pursuing a degree:
Traditional Bachelor’s Degrees
Traditionally, bachelor’s programs beginning in the freshman year will require completing about 120 credit hours. Full-time learners can hypothetically finish this coursework in eight semesters or four academic years. Despite popular belief, undergraduates don’t always graduate within the allotted four years. Perhaps students change their major, select an overly rigorous field, take off for an internship, or encounter unexpected interruptions. These can extend bachelor’s programs beyond the four-year timeline. A report from Complete College America found that only 36 percent of students complete their bachelor’s in four years. Most universities allow six to eight years for part-time learners to graduate.
Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs
For individuals already holding an associate degree, bachelor’s degree completion programs are available to shorten your college expedition. This curriculum follows a general 2+2 format with two years at an affordable junior college or trade school before transfer. Universities will accept anywhere from 60 to 75 credits to speed up your bachelor’s degree. Going this route can save you thousands of tuition dollars. Students who complete an associate first often can fulfill general education requirements while discovering their career calling. However, bachelor’s degree completion programs may be problematic. Since some credits might not transfer, you could be left repeating classes and attending beyond the two years.
Accelerated Online Bachelor’s Degrees
More universities are offering accelerated online bachelor’s degrees to place students on the fast track to career success. Depending on its schedule, the accelerated program could be completed in just 18 to 36 months. This becomes possible because students hasten their learning with six-week, eight-week, or 10-week sessions. Rather than follow the traditional semester schedule with summers off, accelerated students attend year-round. Cutting out downtime will likely reduce the cost of attendance. Online classes are accessible 24/7 in interactive virtual classrooms for scheduling flexibility too. Nonetheless, accelerated bachelor’s degrees still require the same number of credits though. Jamming coursework into shorter terms can be overwhelming for some, especially full-time working adults.
Joint Bachelor’s/Master’s Programs
Another learning option for undergraduates is the joint bachelor’s/master’s program. Over five years full-time, joint programs allow students to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s and master’s degree concurrently. These programs are especially popular in engineering, accounting, counseling, and management. High-achieving students can begin taking the master’s-level coursework beginning their senior year. Certain courses overlap to reduce the time normally required to complete a two-year master’s program too. But most universities reserve dual degrees to students with minimum cumulative major GPAs of 3.5. Those who qualify and want to enter fields where a master’s is preferred should consider these degrees.
As you can see, how many years a bachelor’s degree takes can range from two to six or more depending on various factors. Rising college tuition makes it necessary to finish your education quickly. Consider the above accelerated degree programs available. Maintain the heaviest course load possible while still achieving a high GPA. Minimize the number of non-enrollment periods that can break up your schooling. Also, ask your academic advisor about credits offered for work experience, military service, or standardized tests like the CLEP. Following these tips could help you graduate within the desired four years or less!
Scholarships have become more important than ever before to afford the rising sticker price of college education. According to the College Board, the average yearly undergraduate tuition for 2015-16 was $9,410 at public in-state and $32,405 at private universities. Residential students also have to factor in over $10,000 on average for room and board! Covering these expenses entirely out-of-pocket isn’t feasible for most students. Fortunately, scholarships provide free monetary gifts ranging from $100 to full tuition. Scholarships are typically awarded based on academic merit, special talents, or financial need. There are scholarships available for virtually every student demographic if you know where to look. In this article, we’ll review the best places for finding legitimate scholarship bucks.
Federal/State Government Agencies
The federal government doesn’t only sponsor loans that accumulate interest and today’s $1.2 trillion student loan debt. Students can also turn to federal agencies for scholarships and grants. After filing a FAFSA form, undergraduates are automatically considered for the Federal Pell Grant. This program awards up to $5,815 based on full-time or part-time students’ Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Other federal financial aid options include the FSEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Many government-funded agencies reserve money for scholarship opportunities. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program to pay tuition and a $1,330 monthly stipend to nursing majors.
Where you live could unlock more money-saving scholarship options. Government agencies in all 50 states offer scholarships to reduce tuition burden. For instance, the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation awards the HOPE Scholarship for $2,250 per semester to in-state students achieving a minimum ACT score of 21 or SAT score of 980. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation grants the STEM Incentive Scholarship for full tuition at SUNY schools to residents studying science, technology, engineering, or math majors. The California Student Aid Commission gifts the Middle Class Scholarship to cover 40 percent of in-state tuition for students whose families make under $150,000. Check with your state’s commission for financial help.
Local Community Organizations
Scholarship money could be growing in your own backyard. Many local community foundations raise endowments to send their young neighbors to college. Let’s look at some examples. Located in Oahu, the Hawaii Community Foundation awards 215 scholarships, such as the Esther Kanagawa Memorial Art Scholarship, for Islanders who fulfill certain criteria. The Austin Community Foundation funds over $500,000 in scholarships for Texans, including the Michael Scott Malone Memorial Scholarship. The Community Foundation of Southern Indiana also distributes 99 scholarships like the John C. Gatz Memorial Scholarship for youth residing in Clark and Floyd counties. Ask your guidance counselor about community foundations in your region to benefit.
When looking for local scholarships, don’t forget to evaluate your unique hobbies and activities. It’s common for community groups to reward their members with scholarships. For instance, the Habitat for Humanity of Ohio provides a $2,500 Building Our Future Scholarship to altruistic volunteers pursuing a bachelor’s. American Red Cross initiatives nationwide qualify for the Leaders Save Lives Scholarship Program, which grants $1,000 to $2,500. Religious organizations even offer free college money to their congregations. The Presbyterian Church USA provides the need-based Student Opportunity Scholarship for $2,000. Followers of the Torah can access several scholarships from the Jewish Community Federation, including the $5,000 Marvin Anmuth Scholarship Fund.
Professional Industry Associations
What are your career plans? Professional associations grant scholarships for students declaring virtually every major. Getting industry-related funding can help lower tuition bills and add prestige to your resume. For example, the American Institute of CPAs offers the John L. Carey Scholarship Award for $5,000 annually to students earning a master’s degree in accounting. The Foundation for IT Education gifts the Betty Stevens-Frecknall Scholarship to full-time information technology or computer science majors with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Through the American Psychological Association, psychology majors can access various lucrative scholarships, including the $50,000 Esther Katz Rosen Fund. Research professional associations in your chosen field, and apply for student membership if required.
Current college students who belong to their industry’s honor societies can tap into another big scholarship resource. Take for instance the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, which offers 11 scholarships for $1,000 to $2,000 for pledged members majoring in social sciences. Pi Lambda Theta, the honor society for educators, gifts awards like the $1,000 Tobin Sorenson Physical Education Scholarship. The Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society grants the $2,000 Howard Penniman Scholarships for graduate study in political science. Sigma Alpha Iota also awards three $2,000 undergraduate scholarships for initiated members studying music. Keeping your grades up and getting involved with academic honor societies really pays off here.
College Financial Aid Offices
Once you’re accepted into a college or university, make an appointment at the financial aid office to discuss scholarships with an advisor. Most colleges have large endowed scholarships to reduce their tuition costs. MONEY magazine found that private colleges award scholarships to 89 percent of freshmen on average. For example, MacMurray College in Illinois provides $10,000 Tartan Leadership Scholarships each year. Texas’ Trinity University offers big merit-based scholarships, such as the $23,000 Murchison Scholarship. In Tennessee, Rhodes College celebrates new freshmen with profitable scholarships like the $33,500 Morse Scholarship. Students could also select from the nation’s few tuition-free colleges, including Berea College, College of the Ozarks, and Webb Institute.
Still have unmet financial need? The Internet is an exceptional resource for finding more scholarships based on what makes you unique. Some scholarships are downright weird, such as the $2,000 Asparagus Club Scholarship and $1,000 Tall Clubs International Scholarship. Take advantage of online college scholarship searches where you can find programs that perfectly suit your qualifications. Perhaps one of the largest online databases is Scholarships.com where approximately $19 billion is up for grabs. Remember to always remain cautious by looking out for scholarship scams asking for personal information or money upfront. Earning scholarships shouldn’t cost you a dime, but they will provide plenty of dollars.
Hitting the books and earning good grades is important to your collegiate career. But being an A+ student won’t necessarily prepare you for the working world. Most employers will give more weight to skills and experiences gained than your college GPA. One of the best ways to broaden your horizons outside the classroom is through extra-curricular activities. An extra-curricular can be virtually any voluntary, unpaid group activity that fosters your talents or interests. Spending your valuable spare time on extra-curricular activities can help maximize your college years with meaningful life lessons.
Types of College Extra-Curricular Activities
Extra-curricular activities come in many shapes for college students. Perhaps the most popular kind are professional associations. Students can join industry-related professional chapters based on their academic major. These organizations connect students with field practitioners for networking and added job preparation. Membership fees may be required, but finding skill-building seminars, conferences, and internships will pay off. For instance, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has over 575 affiliated chapters on university campuses. High-achieving students can also join academic honor societies like Psi Chi or Phi Beta Kappa.
Community service organizations offer more resume-building extra-curricular activities. Nearly all colleges bring students together to engage in service learning projects. Students work closely with local, national, or global agencies to meet various community needs. For example, Habitat for Humanity chapters sponsor “build days” to erect affordable housing in poverty-stricken areas. College Red Cross organizations help support campus blood drives that give pints to save lives. Amnesty International groups also get activists involved in human rights campaigns that end social suffering.
Extra-curricular activities in college can also be simply about fun. Students who don’t land a coveted athletic scholarship can still join intramural sports clubs. Intramural athletes meet regularly to practice and organize matches against other teams. This could be a great way to stay physically active and avoid the freshman 15. Campuses offer various intramurals from soccer and badminton to swing dancing and ultimate Frisbee. In fact, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln even has a Rock Climbing Club.
Benefits of Extra-Curricular Activities
Whether you’re participating in spiritual worship groups or student government, extra-curricular activities will help build your community. Student-run clubs will connect you with peers who share common interests and beliefs. Making new friends is essential for a healthy social life, especially when you’re moving away from your family. College students joining extra-curricular activities learn how to interact with others to develop good communication skills. If you’re elected as a club president, you’ll also fine-tune your leadership abilities. Starting a “habit” for community involvement may follow you into adulthood for good citizenship.
Dabbling in different extra-curricular activities could provide eye-opening learning experiences. Perhaps auditioning for a theatre group helps you discover your love for the spotlight. Or signing up for anime club unleashes your artistic side. College clubs are designed to help you identify and foster your unique talents. Having a fun outlet for enjoying your passions can help combat collegiate stress. That’s important because there’s been a 58 percent increase in stress-related mental health issues on college campuses since 1988.
Finding extra-curricular activities can also help position you for future employment. Rich college experiences will develop the skill sets employers seek in new hires. For instance, editing your college newspaper could brighten your future in journalism. Companies want to hire students with well-rounded education both inside and outside lecture halls. Although you may think extra-curricular activities would compromise study time, getting involved may boost your academic achievement. The NCES reported that extra-curricular participants were more likely to have above a 3.0 GPA and less likely to skip classes.
Getting More Involved in Campus Life
Extra-curricular activities are one of the easiest ways for shy, young freshmen to form connections on vast college campuses. Picking from the array of extra-curricular activities offered can be overwhelming though. Most universities list student clubs and blurbs about their missions on the website. Narrow down the options based on your interests, but don’t be afraid to try something new! Consider taking an online quiz to determine which extra-curricular activities suit your personality. Take advantage of any campus fairs to learn more about student-led organizations looking for new recruits. Talk with a counselor at your college’s campus activities office for more guidance.
Remember that permanent positions with student clubs and societies aren’t the only way to find extra-curricular activities. Keep an ear open when professors discuss any temporary research studies, service learning campaigns, or study abroad trips. Meet with faculty during their office hours to get suggestions on industry-related projects. Look for fliers in your school’s student union or social media tweets about upcoming events. Even attending “cheesy” socials organized by your RA can introduce you to cool new people. It’s important for students to take charge and assertively hunt for extra-curricular activitiesfor a complete college experience.
An undergraduate degree is an academic program of study that follows graduation from high school or passing General Educational Development (GED) tests. Sometimes called first degrees, undergraduate degrees build upon secondary education and develop greater depth of professional knowledge. Undergrad programs are conferred by higher learning institutions, such as junior colleges, colleges, universities, and vocational/trade schools. Undergraduate studies typically involve a general education core of subjects like English, math, and biology. However, undergraduate students can declare a major to emphasize their curriculum in one field.
Types of Undergraduate Degrees
An associate degree is a two-year program offered to undergraduate students at community colleges and vocational schools. Associate degrees typically provide 60 to 70 credits of career-focused training. Undergraduate programs may lead to an Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). Popular majors at the associate level include dental hygiene, web design, paralegal studies, and information technology. Graduates with an associate can pursue entry-level, skilled jobs or transfer.
The four-year bachelor’s degree takes students a step beyond the associate. Bachelor’s programs are the most commonly sought after undergraduate degrees. Undergrads can pursue a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). These programs typically range from 120 to 130 credits at colleges and universities. Popular majors at the bachelor’s level are business administration, psychology, engineering, computer science, and communications. After finishing a bachelor’s, individuals can enter professional careers or apply to graduate school.
Undergraduate vs. Graduate Programs
Having a bachelor’s degree is required for entry into graduate programs. Graduate schools award master’s and doctoral programs, which prepare students for advanced or leadership positions in complex fields. Unlike the more generalized undergraduate degree, graduate programs are narrowly specialized in one profession. For instance, students could pursue a Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering. Graduate programs are typically more focused on research and applied practice than classroom instruction. Undergraduate programs also have considerably larger classes than graduate seminars.
Benefits of an Undergraduate Degree
Educating yourself beyond a high school diploma is smart for many reasons. Investing in college tuition for an undergraduate degree boosts salary. The U.S. News and World Report survey found that workers with a bachelor’s degree made average lifetime earnings of $2.27 million. That’s nearly double the $1.3 million for high school graduates. Higher income results from an undergraduate degree unlocking more career opportunities. Bachelor’s degree holders are preferred for job openings and promotions, which means you’ll be more marketable.
Undergraduate degrees build critical thinking, reasoning, and communication skills that can translate into virtually any field, even outside your major. Living on a college campus helps undergraduates more easily mature into adulthood and find their career footing. Completing an associate or bachelor’s degree takes hard work, so doing so will provide a strong sense of pride. Having an undergraduate degree under your belt also opens future doors for attending graduate, medical, or law school.
Having an undergraduate degree was once considered a necessity for individuals who wanted to apply for great job-opportunities, including entry-level positions. Thanks to advances in communications and technology, many employers elect to hire individuals with a master’s degree. Completion of a graduate program shows employers that masters degree holders have the ability to utilize the more sophisticated skills and educational background only a master’s degree can provide. Graduates with master’s degrees are often viewed as potential employees who have expertise in a specific field, which comes in handy when an employee is required to think critically, or complete mid-level projects that are complex.
Types of Master’s Degree Programs
There are various types of master degree programs that you could enroll in, such as Master of Public Health, Master of Social Work, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Library Services, Master of Business Administration, and more. Depending on what college or university you are enrolling in, some will have individual disciplines – such as Master of Chemistry; however, this degree will typically be referred to as a Master of Science.
How Long Does the Master’s Degree Program Last?
The answer to this question will vary; some students can successfully complete their master’s degree programs in one year, while other students may need up to six years to finish their program. Your schedule generally determines when you will complete your program. If you are working full or part-time, you will need to work around your schedule. This could cause you to take classes on a part-time basis; if this is the case, you will need to schedule courses when they are available, and only if you have the time to commit to those courses. Each master’s degree program will vary, but you will typically need to take between 36 and 54 semester credit hours of study before your program is complete.
You are encouraged to take your time when enrolled in a master’s degree program. You want to make sure you get the best education possible, so make sure you find a school and degree program that can accommodate your schedule. Some educational universities offer online master’s degree programs; this gives you more flexibility.
Why Pursue a Master’s Degree?
When you receive an associate degree, you will have a two-year undergraduate degree from an accredited university, college, or vocational school. The general education requirements are what you will typically study while enrolled in an associate degree program. These college credits will be used when you apply for a bachelor’s degree program.
When you enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, you will typically spend four years completing your degree program; two years if you have already completed an associate degree program. In comparison to an associate’s degree program, you can find a bachelor’s program in almost every career field that there is, ranging from fashion design to languages. However, when you want to advance your education, you will need to enroll into a master’s degree program.
In order to enroll into a master’s degree program, the educational institution you are applying to will require that you have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree program first. It is a fact that the more education you have, the more likely you are to find better job opportunities. For an example; the job opportunities for someone with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) are often better than someone who has their Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. The demand for an MBA student is much higher, and there are more global opportunities as well.
When you receive a master’s degree, you become more marketable, especially in these tough economical times. Employers see an applicant with a master’s degree as more qualified for the position because you have taken the time to further your education. Some employers feel that an applicant with a master’s degree is more dedicated, and that they are better qualified than someone with less education – compared to an individual that has an associate or bachelor degree.
A master’s degree is the first level of graduate study. A graduate degree could guarantee you a higher salary, when compared to someone with an associate or bachelor’s degree. Some employers require that you have a master’s degree for the position, especially in higher level positions within a corporation or organization. Many students who have their master’s degree start their own businesses; earning a master’s degree in your career field gives you the knowledge and tools that you need to start your own business, and become a successful entrepreneur.
Obtaining your master’s degree could be difficult to do, but the outcome makes the endeavor well worth the challenge. You will learn more, making you an expert in your career field, which could lead to more career opportunities, promotions, and higher salaries. A master’s degree is sometimes the difference between a lower-level position and a managerial position. You could be hired for the latter with a master’s degree. Advancing your education within a master’s level field of study may not only expand your educational foundation but will also expand your career potential.
There are views by many that to succeed in any professional field that masters or even a doctorate is necessary. This is not correct. In some fields, advanced degrees are absolutely necessary. However, for the majority of people who have the bachelor degrees, there are many specializations and career opportunities available to them. For example, nurses and other health care professionals such as medical technologists, lab assistants and others have a bachelor’s degree. Pharmacists who work in the local drug store have a degree in pharmacy. It usually takes five years to finish the course work, but it still yields Bachelor of Science degree. Additionally, many lawyers do not have bachelor’s degrees, because they spend three years in pre-law at a college or university and then have to be accepted into law school. Accountants, musicians, businessmen, engineers, artists, people in the entertainment industry, and many other professions only acquire a bachelor’s degree to get the proverbial foot in the door. In the field of education, while many elementary and secondary school teachers do have master’s degrees, the majority of teachers have bachelor’s degrees in education. Some may have a specialty that required an extra year of study. Many journalists only have a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. Many newspaper and television reporters begin their careers with a degree in English or history.
How A Bachelor Degree Compares To Other Degrees
While the educational aspect is important in any field, it is also the desire and the natural talents of the person that will determine if advanced degrees are really needed. High schools are expected to help prepare students for college and for careers that do not require college degrees. Some people just have a natural talent and may have chosen o be a plumber, electrician, house painter, mechanic, air conditioning technician or plan to work in some other service field. These people may attend a junior college, a vocational-technical school or learn on-the-job from experienced people.
The bachelor’s degree should not be looked upon as the beginning of a long educational process. It is a four or five-year program where a student gets exposure to many subject areas while concentrating on his career choice. Some will pursue advance degrees while others for economic reasons or just do not have the desire to attend more classes will earn their bachelor degree and embark on what often turns out to be a very successful career. A push began a few years ago for business majors to pursue their MBA or Masters of Business Administration. It was touted as a way of giving a person an advantage in a growing career market.
Thus to answer the questions about whether or not are there any specialization in a bachelor’s degree program, the answer is a resounding yes—there are many specializations and opportunities. Some people never use the degree they earned in college because they develop an interest in another field. However, the general knowledge they gained in college while studying for that first degree, opened the doors to many possibilities.
Undoubtedly, when a person applies for a job and is going up against candidates with advanced degrees, he may believe that he is lagging a step or two behind. This does not have to be the case. It is just necessary to include on the resume and at the interview the knowledge gained and experience gained over the years and how it relates to the job being sought.
There are many opportunities for individuals with a bachelor’s degree, who are really interested in working and accept the fact that their first job will not be their last job. Experience will play a big role in the succeeding years as the working person seeks to keep up with new techniques, while colleges and universities may sometimes be teaching techniques and technology that are in low demand. Persons with bachelor’s degrees, just like those with master’s degrees, have to keep up with the changing conditions if they want to be competitive and successful. A person with a bachelors degree, can also go on to seek his or her masters if it is something he wants to do or believes it may improve his employment opportunities. The demand for different jobs requiring people with particular skills is always changing. Therefore, at some future date, securing an advanced degree may prove to be a good investment.
College is an investment in your future, and it’s an expensive undertaking. Like any big purchase, it’s wise to ensure you’re getting a high quality product or service before you buy. That’s what accrediting agencies do. Technically, these groups are agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as authorities on determining the quality of a college or university’s programs. They are private entities, can be regional or national in scope, and can use whatever standards they wish in order to measure quality of education at a school. Accreditation can be given to a single degree program or to an entire school.
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
Accreditation is extremely important, especially if you are considering an undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). You wouldn’t want to go to a doctor or dentist that didn’t have the right training, or drive across a bridge designed by an engineer who hasn’t learned physics or structural mechanics. Accreditation affects other degree programs, too, including agricultural sciences and even the liberal arts. You wouldn’t buy food from a farmer who didn’t know how to conduct a soil test, and you wouldn’t study philosophy with a professor who didn’t have a full understanding of world history. The stamp of approval from an accreditation agency lets you know you’ll get a well-rounded, thorough education in the field of your choice.
Accreditation is also important to employers, especially when you’re seeking an entry-level job after graduation. Imagine you’re an employer, considering two evenly-matched candidates for a job. Both are smart, motivated, enthusiastic and personable. One went to an accredited school, the other didn’t. Which candidate are you going to pick?
How Do Colleges and Universities Earn Accreditation?
Accreditation agencies develop sets of criteria for judging the quality of a school. Then they conduct a peer evaluation to determine whether or not the criteria are being met. Schools seek out accreditation on a voluntary basis, and usually spend months preparing for application and review. Once the review is complete, most colleges and universities will publish the fact that they’re accredited and feature it prominently in recruiting materials.
Are Some Agencies Better Than Others?
Since accreditation agencies are private, they can determine their own set of standards for judging a school’s programs. Naturally, those standards vary from agency to agency and some of those standards are definitely higher than others. The Department of Education is required to publish a list of accreditation agencies recognized by the government, and though these agencies aren’t required to pursue that recognition, the most prestigious accrediting agencies are linked to the most prestigious programs and academic institutions. It’s also worth mentioning that accreditation can be given to a single degree program or to an entire school.
What Are the Most Recognized Accreditation Agencies?
Some of the most easily recognized and most specialized accreditation agencies on the Department of Education (DOE) list have instantly familiar names. The American Bar Association, the American Dental Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges are only a few such agencies. Others are less well-known to the general public but are highly respected in certain professions, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, among many, many others.
What About Online Universities and Colleges?
As the popularity of distance learning grows by leaps and bounds, online universities have sprung up to meet the demand. Accreditation is just as important to these schools as it is to their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and perhaps more so. Part of the reason for this is because almost anything can be bought or sold on the internet, and that’s always a risk of fraud for the buyer. The DOE has responded by publishing a list of distance education accreditation agencies, which is easy to find on internet search engines. Additionally, many established accreditation agencies now include accreditation for distance learning “annexes” of brick-and-mortar institutions in the application process.
Are There Fake Accrediting Agencies?
There are many fly-by-night accrediting agencies out there, many of them online. Keep in mind that the DOE does not recognize international accreditation agencies, only regional and national agencies in the United States. Beware of schools that tout accreditation from agencies that are not on the DOE list, and don’t be fooled by official-sounding names. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to check it out!
If you want an undergraduate degree, and whether you plan to attend online or on campus, choosing a college or university will determine your educational and financial course for the next four years. It’s a substantial investment of time and money, so keep accreditation high on your list of requirements. As with most things in life, it is best to check the facts before making your choice!
When you are committed to getting an education, you know that you are investing time as well as effort and money. The amount of time you are willing to dedicate to establishing your education is absolutely something that should be considered before embarking upon any kind of degree program. If, like many people, you have decided to get your bachelor’s degree, you must think about how much time is going to go into it. Because every student is different, and because life circumstances are always changing, the amount of time you require might be more or less than what is common for others.
Plan To Invest Four Years
For the most part, a bachelor’s degree is called a four year degree. Just like US high school systems, each year is designated in order as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Like high school, the correct designation has to do with the number of credits earned as well as the year of school you have gone through. For example, if someone has gone through 2 years of school, but their earned credits are short, they might be considered a freshman rather than a sophomore.
To attain your degree, you will need to complete a certain amount of coursework which is measured in credits or hours. These terms denote different things at different colleges and universities, but essentially, you will be informed of how many credits or hours that you need to graduate. Simply think of them as units of study.
Most bachelor’s degree programs assume that you will require four years, or eight semesters, to complete your degree. However, the actual amount of time that you take to finish the degree can vary according to a number of different situations.
For example, most universities put a limit on the number of credits that you can take per year, especially if you are a freshman. A university might state that the maximum number of hours of course work that you can take in a given semester is 18. Often the same school might make 15 be the standard numbers of hours that most students take, while 12 is the bare minimum of required hours. If you are willing to take 18 hours per semester, depending on the number of hours that are required for your program, you may be able to graduate as much as a semester or even a year early. This will mean that your bachelor’s program required three years instead of four.
Reasons A Four Year Degree Could Take More Time
On the other hand, there are many reasons why you might need an extra year. Some people have difficulties with a heavy course load. To maintain their life and their physical and mental health, it is far better for them to take the minimum number of hours and to simply stretch their education to account for this.
On top of that, life simply happens! Students are as prone to life disruptions as everyone else, and because of this, a semester might need to be spent outside of the academic setting, or the student may have had to withdraw from class due to health or personal reasons. This can also stretch the length of a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, switching programs can also add some time to your bachelor’s program as you need to take other general education courses.
Transferring schools can make a bachelor’s degree take longer than the typical four years. If you end up making a move from one school to another, some of the credits that you had previously taken might not count. Similarly, you may find that the new school has different requirements than your old one did. You may spend some time reestablishing yourself at the new school before progressing with your education.
The question of how long you can take with your bachelor’s degree is a specific one that can only be handled by your college or university. If you have a lengthy break during your pursuit of a degree, you may return to find that your credits have expired. For example, many schools will not accept science credits that are between 5 and 7 years out of date. The only way to know for sure if your credits are still good is to ask and to make arrangements with an admissions counselor. When you are planning your bachelor’s degree, take a few moments to consider your investment in time as well as money!
When many students think of earning a degree, the bachelor’s degree is typically the degree level that comes to mind, or at least it used to be that way. Today more and more students are pursuing an associate’s degree because it’s a faster and less expensive way to attain their career goals than bachelor and master degree programs. Surprisingly an associate degree offers degree holders a unique versatility in comparison to other degree programs. The advantages this degree offers are numerous to those willing to dedicate themselves to their studies and work hard to attain their goals.
Overview of the Associate Degree
An associate degree is a degree that takes two years to complete and is found at community colleges, technical schools and private career colleges. Most colleges require that the student complete at least 60 semester credits to earn the associate degree. Today many 4-year colleges are offering 2+2 programs that enable the student to earn an associate degree after completing the first two years of a bachelor degree program.
The three most common types of associate degrees are:
• Associate of Arts (AA) – The AA degree requires students to complete 60 hours of coursework, which includes major-related courses and general education courses. Approximately, seventy-five percent of the curriculum of AA programs is based on the liberal arts. Students who earn this degree usually plan to earn a bachelor’s degree.
• Associate of Science (AS) – The AS degree also requires 60 hours of coursework, which is both core courses and general education courses. Students in the AS program can focus on a specific area of specialization. This degree has few liberal arts courses and more courses geared towards the specialization or major.
• Associate of Applied Science (AAS) – The AAS degree is usually chosen by students who wish to pursue their chosen career immediately upon graduation. This degree has few liberal arts and general education courses and more courses that focus on a particular set of career-related skills.
What Careers Are Available with an Associate’s Degree?
One of the best features of the associate degree is the wide variety of career choices it offers. Regardless of what field a student may wish to enter, chances are there are positions requiring only an associate degree. Associate degrees can lead to careers in technology, healthcare and skilled labor. Here is a list of some excellent careers that can be obtained with an associate degree. Some of these jobs may even be later mentioned below in the best-paying jobs section.
• Air traffic controller
• Radiation therapist
• Dental hygienist
• Nuclear medicine technologist
• First-line supervisor of non-retail sales people
• Nuclear technician
• Funeral service director
• Diagnostic medical sonographers
• Registered nurse
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologist
• Web developer
• Aerospace engineering and operations technician
• Engineering technician
• Computer network support specialist
• Electrical and electronics engineering technician
• Electrical and electronics drafters
• Avionics technician
• Radiologic technologist
• Occupational therapy assistants
• Geological and petroleum technician
Advantages of an Associate Degree
Earning an associate degree offers several advantages over bachelor and master degree programs or not earning a degree at all. Students only need to complete two years of college as opposed to four, six or eight years of school. Associate degree programs are generally offered at public community colleges and technical schools, which are much more affordable than universities.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), students who have an associate degree generally earn at least twenty three percent more than high school graduates without a degree. Associate degree holders who hold licenses or certifications can earn about twenty seven percent more than an individual who holds just a bachelor degree.
The AACC also reported that 770,797 associate degrees were awarded in the 2011-2012 year. The other benefits of earning an associate degree at community colleges are location, flexibility, variety in programs and excellent preparation for students who wish to advance their education at universities.
Best Paying Careers with an Associate Degree
Students don’t have to attend college for four or more years to have a lucrative career while working jobs they enjoy. Below is a list of the ten best-paying jobs that require only an associate degree as well as the average annual 2012 earnings for those qualified for the best-paying jobs according to a
This entry was posted in Frequently Asked Questions on by rebecca.
An associate’s degree is awarded, usually by a community college or a junior college, after a two-year course of study has been completed. In recent times, however, four-year colleges and universities have been offering the opportunity for students to earn this type of degree while pursuing and eventually attaining a bachelor’s degree.
An Overview of an Associate’s Degree
At many schools, if an individual has completed some college courses but does not have a formal degree, they may be able to consolidate these credits into an associate’s degree. The degree may be granted if the student’s total amount of credits adds up to 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits. This is equivalent to the student taking approximately 20 classes in a designated curriculum drafted by the institution that is awarding the degree. These credits are earned during the freshman and sophomore years of college.
What is the difference between an Associate’s and a Bachelor’s Degree?
A two-year program, oftentimes referred to as a vocational associate’s degree, prepares students to go directly into the workforce for which they have been trained. Many well-paying technical jobs and trades will accept an associate’s degree as a minimum requirement for an entry-level position. Another type of associate’s degree, known as a transfer degree, prepares students to transfer into a university bachelor’s degree program for a more advanced study of a particular major. At some institutions, an associates degree is simply made up of the general education courses required to successfully complete a bachelor’s degree. This type of career pathway is known as a 2+2 program.
An A.A.S. or Associate’s of Applied Science degree, is usually granted to a graduate of a two-year vocational degree program. Degree level programs classified as A.A., A.S. and A.F.A. are transfer degrees entitled Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Fine Arts, respectively.
Fields of study for both an associate’s as well as a bachelor’s degree may be identical. However, it is the depth of concentration and advancement combined with the time it takes to complete a field of study that sets these types of degrees apart. Therefore, the amount of money it takes to earn an associate’s degree is usually half the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree in the same field.
Common bachelor degree designations include, Bachelor of Fine Art’s (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.), Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). A bachelor’s degree is awarded after the successful completion of 4 years of full time study.
A Popular Educational Trend
Time conscience career-changers are increasingly pursuing associate’s degrees instead of the traditional 4-year bachelor’s as a catalyst to acquiring a well paying job. In harmony with this time (and money) saving trend, countless online schools offer associate’s degrees. In the year 2009 it was estimated that about half of all online degree programs being offered were specifically for the purpose of earning an associate’s degree. That translates to hundreds of thousands of individuals of diverse backgrounds gaining the educational background and refined skills needed to launch or advance their careers while maintaining work and family commitments. The more recent technological advancements made in online education have enabled many students to achieve success in their preferred career fields.
There is no question that the world is more competitive today than it was 50 years ago when few people had college degrees and having one was almost a sure ticket to a well paying job. In spite of this, a bachelor degree in a number of fields can be very helpful to a student looking for more than just a job but a career.
And while for a long period of time a degree didn’t get students as much as it used to, we have come into an age referred to as “credential creep” where many jobs that at one time didn’t require a degree, now do. This has in turn opened up a world of opportunity for many college graduates.
These jobs that now require college degrees are referred to as “middle skills” jobs. They are, for the most part, jobs that are above entry level but below the most skilled and/or upper management jobs for the particular field.
For example, a student graduating with a degree in computer science can now get a position that is beyond the entry level data entry (for programmers) or plugging in PCs (for network technicians) that they used to have to start at without a degree. Now they can start out as mid level programmers or network technicians. In short, those with degrees now skip a step up the food chain. This also means higher starting salaries.
A computer programmer starting out today, even at the bottom 10% of the salary bracket, is earning over $42,000. And the salary ranges for entry level positions across the computer related fields are quite wide with the lowest being $30,060 for a webmaster and the highest being $62,040 for a software engineer on average.
But computer related positions aren’t the only ones with a high demand for students with a bachelor degree. There are still many fields that almost always required one that are in huge demand today more than ever.
In fact, according to Forbes, the most in demand fields for college degrees in 2014 are financial analyst and petroleum engineer.
For many employers, to get a job as a financial analyst, they prefer a bachelor degree in business but will consider other degrees for the right candidate. The starting salary for a financial analyst is about $46,300 a year according to the Houston Chronicle.
Petroleum engineers are required to hold a bachelor degree in their engineering specialty. This will get their foot in the door for an entry level position where they’ll essentially be searching for gas and oil and designing new ways to extract these materials so that they are able to be used by customers.
Now, hold onto your hat. The average starting salary for somebody with a bachelor degree in petroleum engineering in 2013 was $93,500. No, that is not a typo.
And the above positions are just the tip of the iceberg. With credential creep taking over the workforce, a bachelor degree is probably more important and helpful now than at any time in our history.
There are a myriad of scholarships available to students that are pursuing their bachelor’s degree. Whether you look locally, at the state-level, or nationally, you are sure to find plenty of great scholarships which can help make a college education more affordable for you. The best thing you can do to find as many scholarships as possible to pay for your bachelor’s degree is to be proactive. The more research you can do and the more people you can ask, the better your chances will be in finding scholarships for which you can qualify. Don’t be deterred if a scholarship application requires an essay or some other work in addition to the application. While it may take a little bit of time, the scholarships which take a bit more time to apply for probably have fewer applicants due to the amount of effort necessary. Researching and applying for scholarships is, in many ways, a job because you will be putting in a certain number of hours of work and, in response to this work, you can potentially receive significant amounts of scholarship money.
When applying to different colleges and universities, make sure to investigate if those specific institutions provide any academic, athletic, or other talent-based scholarships to their students. Often times, just by applying to an institution you will be considered for merit-based scholarships which are evaluated by your high school GPA and standardized test scores (typically from the SAT or ACT).
There are also numerous “weirdly obscure” scholarships which are offered at the national level. Because these scholarships often have very unique requirements, you could have a great chance of being chosen simply by qualifying. Examples of these types of scholarships include the Asparagus Club Scholarship, the Duct Tape Prom Dress Scholarship, the Left Handed Applicant Scholarship, and many more.
You should explore local scholarships, as well, since the number of applicants is sure to be far less in a smaller radius. Check with a high school guidance counselor, local clubs like the VFW or Kiwanas, and ask local business such as groceries and hardware stores to see if they offer any sort of scholarship opportunities. Don’t think any amount is too small, even lower-level scholarships can add-up to some great savings for your education.
If you are an athlete, you may already be aware of student athlete scholarships. Be sure to inquire with coaches or athletic directors about what kinds of scholarships are available. It is also important to be aware of the athletic division your institution is in. NCAA – Division III teams, for example, are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships to their students. Knowing the rules in these regards can be very important in finding an affordable education.
If you are not the athlete type but still love sports, you should still inquire about scholarship opportunities. Many schools offer manager scholarships to students that assist athletic teams. If you don’t mind doing a bit of laundry, filling water bottles, carrying equipment, or other “grunt” work, you could find a great way to secure some additional scholarship money.
If you are more of the artistic or creative type, there are some great potential scholarships based on talent for you, as well. Many institutions have artistic departments that are able to award talent-based scholarship money to students who excel in theatre, music, art, creative writing, and more. In fact, many schools offer these talent-based scholarships in addition to merit-based scholarships you may secure based on your GPA and test scores.
As you begin to accumulate scholarships, whether local, state-wide, or nation-wide, be sure to inquire with the schools you are interested in attending to see if there are any limitations to how your outside scholarships are accounted for. Sometimes you may be awarded a scholarship which can only be used at an institution in the provider’s state or some other specific requirement. Ask how your scholarships are allocated (and what regulations are attached to them) when you are awarded.
Additionally, if you find yourself in the advantageous place of securing enough scholarships to cover the entire cost of your first year of education, check with your scholarship providers to see if you can defer any of your scholarship amounts to following years. While you may have enough scholarship money for your first-year to be fully-financed, most institutions’ tuition, room, and board increase each year to match inflation. If you can defer some of your smaller scholarships you may be able to use these amounts to offset that inflation.
Obtaining a bachelor degree has many advantages and benefits. A bachelor degree is a worthwhile investment that can assist you with fulfilling your lifelong educational and career goals. In the economy of today, it pays to take advantage of any opportunity to improve your prospects for long-term employment. Additionally, a bachelor degree can be the key to opening opportunities for people who may not otherwise have them. Since many companies require candidates to possess a college degree in order to be eligible to even be considered for employment, a bachelor degree helps distinguish graduates from those competing for positions within companies. Though it is possible that management will consider an individual without a degree if they have job experience and knowledge comparable to a bachelor degree program, having a bachelor degree is still preferable because it is easier to verify one’s qualifications and educational background.
Plus a bachelor degree also helps people who have little work experience and is often a factor in hiring younger people who are just beginning their careers. Younger people without a bachelor degree often cannot rely on their experience or years in a field, and because of this their opportunities may be limited.
In addition, people who pursue and finish a bachelor degree have demonstrated to their professors a passion for learning, and an ability to adhere to deadlines and produce work that is of satisfactory quality. Employers often look favorably upon potential job candidates who have proven that they are capable of committing to such tasks and responsible enough to fulfill them.
Bachelor degrees are also beneficial because individuals who hold these degrees are more likely to have easier entry into higher-paid positions, and also tend to be paid more than their colleagues who do not have degrees.
People who have earned bachelor degrees are also in better positions to take on jobs with higher levels of responsibility, in particular those that require professional licensing. Individuals who wish to become doctors, lawyers, or teachers, for instance, must have a college degree. A bachelor degree is also necessary for those who wish to pursue graduate studies and obtain higher levels of qualifications.
A bachelor degree is also an indicator of a higher quality of life for many people, in part because attending college often exposes people to individuals of different backgrounds and religions, helps them establish beneficial social contacts and provides them a general educational base, which can expand their appreciation and understanding of art, history, and philosophy.
On the path to educational, professional, and personal success, college is considered ny many to be an essential investment. College offers unique opportunities for academic achievement and today’s degrees are more career and goal specific than those in the past. Since a college education provides the opportunity to attain several different types of academic degrees, it is a student’s responsibility to choose the program which best suits his or her financial situation, long term aspirations, and future employment options
Many students elect to pursue a bachelor degree to do just that. A bachelor degree typically is a 4-year degree within an area of academic study. Some academic studies in the United States, like certain engineering degrees, may take up to five years to complete. However, for most bachelor degree holders, they attained their degree within eight semesters, the equivalent of four academic years.
Colleges that provide a bachelor degree (alongside other degree programs) are called baccalaureate colleges. These colleges house different academic majors within departments that hire professors and graduate assistants to teach bachelor degree students a particular field. Most contemporary colleges will include academic programs in departments focused in business, the social sciences, the humanities, the fine and performing arts, engineering, the natural sciences, computer and information technology, nursing, and many other departments. Bachelor degree students declare the major they want to study, for example English, and are then asked to take a specific number of classes in English defined by the English department.
At the same time, the college itself will require the student to take classes in other fields. This is known as general education requirements. General education requirements help the student attain knowledge and proficiency in different disciplines outside their major. Baccalaureate colleges try to create a well-rounded student who is knowledgeable about general information while being proficient in their discipline. Taking the English major example, a student would not be intellectually benefited if they only took English courses for eight semesters. They will be required by their college to take classes in mathematics, history, the natural sciences, computer science, and others so the student can be professionally and intellectually competitive and proficient in the contemporary world.
Its important to recognize that the bachelor degree is one of many different types of academic degrees that a student can achieve at the undergraduate level. The undergraduate level of U.S. education typically consists of academic programs that accept students who apply with only their high school education or equivalent as their educational background. This is in contrast with graduate school, which requires the applicant have an undergraduate education. However, not all students who are in an undergraduate program are in a bachelor program. One such example are associate programs. Associate programs are typically 2-year programs in an academic field. Like a bachelor degree program, an associate degree program will have major and general education requirements. However, the student only has a four semester or two academic year time table to complete these programs. Another type of undergraduate program are certificate programs. Certificate programs are less than two academic years, mainly because they are almost entirely focused on their specific program with no general education requirements. Certificate programs are usually pre-professional in nature, meaning they only provide the specific training for a particular skill, like medical coding. Attaining a medical coding certificate would mean the student is proficient in medical coding. Most associate degree and certificate programs are offered at public community colleges and technical or career schools.
Although certificates themselves are immense benefits and help many students elevate to professional status, certificates are within a very limited number of fields. Associate degrees are found in numerous academic disciplines and can help students attain some professional skills. In addition, baccalaureate colleges will accept associate degree holders as transfer students. This is because the associate degree to a baccalaureate consists of relevant credits that equals half of the credits necessary for a bachelor degree. Although not every associate degree holder decides to go onto a baccalaureate college, many students do transfer from local community colleges to a baccalaureate college to supplement their associate degree by attaining a bachelor degree.
After a student attains their bachelor degree, they may enter the professional world or seek further academic achievement through graduate school. Graduate school is split between master degrees and 6-year programs, like doctorates, a law degree, and a medical school graduate degree. Master’s degrees are typically two year programs that supplement a bachelor degree with specific research and professional skills that are needed in a specific job sector. A 6-year degree is a highly specialized degree where the student can become fully licensed to work in a particular profession. Some professions require a 6-year degree, like doctors and lawyers, while other professions find people with a master degree highly employable, like a professional with the business administration master degree.
For many people, a bachelor degree is the highest level of academic achievement. For others, a bachelor degree is a step toward a higher professional level, like a doctor or lawyer. Nevertheless, a bachelor degree is a coveted piece of academic achievement for students across the United States. It stands as the highest level of undergraduate education attainment and a key stepping stone toward professional success.