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How Can You Dust Off Your Back-to-School Dreams?

By Dawn Papandrea, Managing Editor, CollegeSurfing.com, @CollegeSurfing


tagged by ifido....If you're home caring for young children, chained to your office desk, or live in the boondocks far away from the nearest university, going back to school is probably the dustiest item on your massive to-do list. It's been long buried by the piles of family obligations, 60-hour work weeks, and time and space limitations that manifest themselves. Let's face it -- life sometimes gets in the way of your educational goals. But achieving those goals can improve your quality of life and income potential. A vicious Catch 22...

Thanks to technology, though, you can be in two places at once. Really! The proof lies with the millions of online learning graduates out there who've attended classes between diaper changes or conference calls. Today's students are quite lucky to have this quality learning platform that basically didn't exist even 10 years ago. Yes, my friends, online learning has come a long way -- better quality, way more acceptance in the workplace and in academia, and many more reputable colleges and universities offering a wide variety of programs than ever before. In fact, it's estimated that two-thirds of higher education institutions offered distance education courses in 2006-2007, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Before you take the plunge into cyber learning...

  • Be sure you make time to research the programs you're considering. Your first step should be to verify that the school of choice is accredited (you wouldn't want to invest in a "fake" degree).
  • Think about your individual learning style, and whether or not it will be conducive to the way the program of study is designed. Remember, you'll have to motivate yourself to log on and get your assignments done -- there will be no micromanaging teacher over your shoulder. But really, when you think about it, adults are already used to this type of individual accountability since it's not much different than how you're expected to perform at work.
  • Consider the financial perks. There aren't any commuting or child care costs to tack on since your home (or wherever you are) is your classroom. And in most cases, expensive textbooks aren't needed since everything is usually done online via message boards, email, and even real-time class sessions. By the way -- the vast majority of accredited online programs offer the same type of financial aid opportunities as traditional classroom programs do.
  • If you're computer savvy enough to read this blog, you're tech-ready for online learning. Advanced computing skills are not required. However, be prepared to brush up your writing and communication skills, as that will be the primary way for you to interact with your classmates and professors.

What do you think? If going back to school is something you've been wanting to move up on your to-do list, online learning is definitely worth some thought.

109/365: Super Smart

Join us to discuss moms back at school on Twitter.com, March 2nd, from 9 p.m. -11 p.m. EST. RSVP with Mr Linky in sidebar, and use the hashtag #GNO in your Tweets. And, see Moms Back at School right now for specific resources just for you.

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3 comments:

~Jamie said...

This is something I have really been thinking about a lot lately... I know I want to go back, but which programs are good... which one suck, and all that jazz... I can't wait for this GNO!

Jenni Jiggety said...

I earned my Masters degree through distance learning. I highly recommend it!

Cathy Larkin (@CathyWebSavvyPR) said...

I've been thinking on the other side of the question - how to go about teaching social media to those who are curious -via local evening classes, or at a local college. I took my 1st step in that direction and called a small local college to ask about the process!