Is College Still Worth It?

A question sparking debates as tuition rates spiral out of control and unemployment for college grads hits record levels. Is a college degree worth it? For many the value of a degree is not just the earnings impact over a lifetime but the experiences and personal development that occur during these years. Maturing into a focused, passionate learner can help you find opportunities for career progression.

With work taking up almost half of your waking hours each day, don’t you want to spend your career working at a meaningful, empowering job? We do! Because if you love your job, magical things start to happen that are worth much more than your paycheck. Then the pay is just an added bonus. Our infographic below attempts to work through this important topic and weigh the pros and cons of going to college.

Educated America

Education leads to a better life. But it’s not only our own lives that are impacted, but the lives of those around us change as well. As you continue to work hard to obtain your degree, it’ll be important during those late night cram sessions to know that your efforts are essentially going to make the world a better place for you, your family, and even your neighbors.
With the ability to reach virtually everyone on the entire planet, online education could be the key to everyone’s future and shape the world we live in. Education will change your life for the better. This infographic will show you the difference between those who have a college degree versus those who do not. It’s easy to see that gaining knowledge can make a world of difference.
College Student Reviews educated-america

Online College vs. Traditional College: How Do They Compare?

For most people, online universities are a mystery. What quality of education do they provide? Is an online degree just as valuable as one from a traditional, brick-College Student Reviewsand-mortar school? How do you know if online learning is right for you?

Here is a quick guide to how online universities compare to traditional colleges.

Traditional Colleges

Most people are familiar with the traditional classroom setting of a college or university. Students meet at set times and interact directly with teachers and classmates to complete projects and assignments. The traditional college classroom also creates a structured learning experience for students uncomfortable working alone.

Here are some other aspects unique to traditional colleges:

  • Commute to and from campus
  • Direct contact with instructors and classmates for immediate feedback
  • Textbooks and supplemental materials must be purchased
  • Larger class sizes means limited one-on-one interaction with instructors
  • Class performance partially based on student participation, usually verbal
  • Need to network with other classmates to get notes if you miss a class

Online Colleges

While some online colleges try to simulate traditional learning through “virtual classrooms”, most allow students to customize their own work and study schedules. But because there are no instructors in front of the students to keep them on task, online education also requires self-motivation and self-discipline.

Here are some other aspects unique to online colleges:

  • Written response to assignments and classes helps less outgoing students participate
  • No commute to campus
  • Interact with classmates around the country
  • No set class schedule
  • Lower tuition fees
  • No textbooks needed

Quality of Education

Online schools have changed a lot since they first came on the scene in the 1990s. Back then, programs were new, online technology was limited, and instructors had trouble adapting to the teaching methods required for online learning.

Today, more than 60% of colleges and universities including Harvard, Duke University and Pennsylvania State University offer online degrees. And with the demand for distance learning growing, top online colleges will continue to expand and improve their programs.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing an online university:

  • How much experience do the instructors have teaching online?
  • What training and credentials do the online instructors have?
  • How does the online curriculum compare with what is taught on campus?
  • Are there prerequisites or entrance requirements for the online degree program?
  • Does the online college offer a degree recognized by your profession?

Validity of Online Degrees

With more and more universities offering high-quality online degree programs, online degrees are becoming more recognized and accepted by a wide range of professions. The rise of “degree mills”, however, makes many employers cautious. Your best bet is to choose an online degree program from a well-respected traditional college or university.

Here are some common industries that recognize and accept degrees from online schools:

  • Internet/New Media
  • Technology
  • High Tech
  • Marketing/Media

Accreditation

With many less-than-reputable online degree programs out there, it’s important to find an online college that is accredited. There’s nothing worse than giving away your money to a degree mill and finding out that your degree is worthless. Choosing an online university that is accredited will also allow you to transfer your credits to other schools if you want to continue your education elsewhere.

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Online

In today’s competitive marketplace, employers demand that their workers have a college education. Today, distance learning makes getting an online bachelor degree possible without having to enroll in a college campus program.

Why Get a Bachelor Degree Online?

Advances in technology allow you to get the same quality of education from distance learning as you would from a campus program.

Here are some additional advantages of earning a bachelor degree online:

  • Work full-time while completing an online bachelor degree
  • Learn organization, research, and time management for today’s fast-paced industries
  • Become proficient in internet technologies and web-based research
  • Communicate and collaborate with peers and professors around the world
  • No travel or commuting expenses

Earning Potential

There’s no doubt that having a bachelor degree will help you earn more in your profession. On average, people with a bachelor degree earn between $10,000 to $20,000 more a year than people who have had some college education. A person with a bachelor’s degree will earn almost twice as much over their lifetime as someone with only a high school education ($2.1 million compared to $1.2 million).

Types of Bachelor Degrees

There are two types of bachelor degrees available from online degree programs. The bachelor degree in the arts (B.A.) is designed to provide a broad liberal arts and science background. The bachelor degree in science (B.S.) covers the same areas of study for a B.A., but is geared towards education for a particular profession.

The most common bachelor degree programs include:

  • Business Management
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Information Technology Management
  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Computer Science
  • Software Engineering
  • International Business Administration
  • Human Resource Management
  • Safety Engineering
  • Computer Network Management
  • Visual Communications
  • Marketing

Top Careers for Bachelor Degree Earners

With the median wage increasing for workers with higher education degrees, the advantage of having a bachelor degree is obvious. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the following occupations, which require bachelor degrees, will grow faster through 2016 than other occupations requiring the same education:

  • Network Systems and Data Communications Analyst
  • Computer Applications Software Engineer
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Forensic Science Technician
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Computer Systems Software Engineer
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Choosing an Online Bachelor Degree Program

There are many factors that go into choosing the right online bachelor degree program. First you need to decide what degree you want to pursue. If you are changing careers or just trying to increase your marketability in your current profession, find out which degree will serve you best.

Next, search for distance learning programs which are fully accredited. A degree from a school which is not accredited may not be recognized or accepted by your employers. You will also be unable to transfer credits to other schools if your degree comes for an online school which is unaccredited.

Finally, research the admission requirements and expenses for the online school to which you are applying. You will need to get your finances in order, apply for financial aid, and make sure that you meet all of the prerequisites for admission

Is your Scholarship Taxable?

Tax-free Scholarships and Fellowships

A scholarship is tax-free if:College Student Reviews Tax

• You are a full-time or part-time candidate for a degree at a primary, secondary or accredited post-secondary institution.
• The award covers tuition and fees to enroll in or attend an educational institution.
• The award covers fees, books, supplies and equipment required for your courses.

The award is tax-free only as long as you use it for the purposes outlined above.

Your scholarship is taxed if it is used to cover:

  • Room and board
  • Travel
  • Research
  • Clerical help
  • Equipment

 

If your award, for example, covers both tuition and room and board, the amount you use for tuition is tax-free, while the amount you use for room and board is taxable. If you need to make this adjustment, you may have to adjust other parts of your return as well. For example, if you are filing a deduction for educational expenses, you must reduce the amount of your deduction by the tax-free amount of the award.

 

What you use your scholarship money for may determine whether you pay taxes on it.

Making It Legal: Reporting Taxable Awards

If your only income is a tax-free scholarship or fellowship, you’re in the clear. You don’t have to file a tax return or report the award. On the other hand, if all or part of your scholarship is taxable and if that money is not recorded on your W2 form, you must report it:

If you are filing a 1040EZ form, print “SCH” and the taxable amount to the right of the words “W-2 form(s)” on line 1.

For the 1040 or 1040A forms, write “SCH” and the taxable amount on the dotted line next to line 7 on the 1040 or in the space to the left of line 7 on the 1040A.

Any Questions?

If you’re not sure if your award is taxable, ask the organization that sponsored the award. They may have information from the IRS regarding your award’s tax status.

You can also seek information directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Check the IRS Web site, call the IRS help line at 1-800-829-1040, or download IRS Publication 970, which covers the tax benefits of education. If you have questions, ask as soon as possible to get your answers before tax time.

Being informed about the tax procedures for scholarships will make your life easier come April 15. Find out what’s taxable and report it correctly. You want to stay on your Uncle Sam’s good side.

 

Financial Aid for Online Education

Although online education is typically more affordable than traditional campus programs, you may still need some help to get started. Lets take a look at what student Online College Reviews Scholarshipsfinancial aid is available, who is eligible, and how your online college can help you.

Aid from Online Colleges

The first step to getting financial aid for your online education is to talk to your online college. For most students, loans are a big source of their financial aid package, so it’s important to only borrow what you need. Fortunately, if you’re getting your degrees online, you will only need to pay for tuition, fees and books. Living expenses and other campus fees normally part of the cost of college do not apply. Your online college can tell you what financial aid they offer.

Are You Eligible?

Most adults pursuing an online education assume that they will not be eligible for financial aid. That’s simply not true. There are many grants and low-interest loans available regardless of your GPA, financial need, or credit history.

Most federal and state aid programs don’t have age limits. Federal and state governments are typically the largest source of student financial aid with colleges and universities next, and private sources including community and professional organizations last. Many large companies offer tuition assistance programs, so it also pays to check with your employer.

Applying for Financial Aid

After you’ve checked with your school and employer for financial aid, you will want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. In most cases this one application will determine the amount of federal and state financial aid you will receive.

Once you complete your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). This report will list your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is basically what the government expects you pay for your education. The EFC is based on the information you reported on your FAFSA including income, savings, the size of your family, and what other family members are also in school.
Your school will also receive the information on your FAFSA. They will then send you a Financial Aid Letter which will detail the total amount of aid including grants, scholarships, loans and work study, for which you are eligible.

Scholarships

Scholarships are forms of financial aid which don’t need to be paid back. They can be used to pay any online education expenses such as tuition, fees, textbooks and supplies. Eligibility for scholarships are based on qualities such as academic merit, financial need, or your affiliation with a particular group or organization.

Keep in mind that if your parent or spouse is a veteran or part of an organization such as the Elks Club or Rotary, you may be able to get a scholarship based on your connection.

Grants

Grants are similar to scholarships in that they offer student financial aid which does not need to be paid back. Grants are awarded for study in a particular field, conducting certain types of research, or completion of work in the arts or letters. They are often issued by public or private institutions or corporations. You may also qualify for a grant through the state in which you reside.

The most common grant in the Federal Pell Grant which is awarded based solely on your financial need. In order to be eligible for a Pell Grant you must:

  • Be an undergraduate
  • Be working on your undergraduate degree
  • Attend a federally-approved school
  • Not be incarcerated in a state or federal prison

Optimizing Online Education

Is Online Learning Right for You?

Although online learning is a convenient way to get an education, it’s not for everyone. Review your financial situation before you do anything else. Financial aid may help College Student Reviews Onlinewith university classes, but do you have enough to cover textbooks?  Also consider your schedule.  Will you need to get childcare in order to take night classes?

If you agree with at least half of the following statements, pursuing an online degree may be the right option for you:

  • I am comfortable with computers.
  • I am disciplined and self-motivated.
  • I don’t have the time to commute to a campus.
  • I can’t get the degree or training I need from local schools.
  • I learn just as well from reading as from a lecture.
  • My online degree is recognized and accepted by my profession.

What You Will Need

Most distance learning is done online, so you’ll need to have consistent access to a computer with a reliable internet connection.  The technologies used in online learning are pretty basic and familiar and include email, PDFs, forums and message boards.  You may want to familiarize yourself with any of these applications if you haven’t used them in awhile.

Online learning is also reading-intensive, so make sure you’re the kind of person who can absorb written information well.  Many online education programs also use technologies like streaming audio, video, podcasts, and chatrooms.  Some also use other types of online programs, but these systems are easy to learn, and don’t require advanced computer skills.

Choosing Your Classes

Many online degree programs offer both asynchronous and synchronous classes.  With asynchronous classes, students don’t have to interact at the same time and can post information of messages at their convenience.  This is good if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like speaking in front of others or prefer to take more time with your responses.

Synchronous classes occur at scheduled times, and communication is usually done through video conferencing, chat rooms, and conference calls.  In addition to being less convenient, synchronous classes may require additional resources such as a web cam, computer microphone, and a high-speed internet connection.

Finding the Right Online Degree

Taking charge of your education is a big step, so it’s crucial that you choose the program and degree best suited to your needs.  You’ll have to weigh many practical considerations such as your schedule and personal finances.  Do you need a full- or part-time program?  Also, what do you plan to do with your online degree?

Here are some other important factors to consider when choosing an online learning institute:

  • What training or credentials do the instructors have?
  • What experience to the instructors have with online learning?
  • How many students will be in the course?
  • How is your work evaluated?
  • What is the pace of the course?

Social Media Engaging Students

Two words: social media. How many times have each one of us heard those words in the past few years? Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Digg, StumpleUpon and the list can go on and on. These sites have become to many– a part of everyday life and language and no one can deny the truth that social media sites are everywhere and millions of people are using them more and more every day.

The number of active social media users has skyrocketed. Just five years ago, researchers at the Pew Research Institute conducted a survey asking adults who use the Internet: if they use social media and if so, how. Surprisingly, only 5 percent claimed to be using social media. However results from the same survey conducted last year showed that number was up to an alarming 65 percent.

With Facebook and Twitter being the two giants for new media connection; one particular  group is using social media more than ever — students and professors at online universities and traditional four year colleges. Students are drawn to social media accounts and fan pages because they act as blank canvases for student-faculty and student-student interaction. A student can post a message on a professor’s or student’s Facebook page or Twitter account and receive a quick response. In some instances it’s faster than picking up the phone or typing an email.

Reasearch shows just how engaged students are becoming using these social sites.The National Survey of Student Engagement polled freshmen and seniors at participating colleges using five different benchmarks: academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experience and supportive campus environment. The research gained from the 17,000 students from 40 different colleges, proved when students are actively engaged on their college campuses beyond the classroom, they “ learn more, think more critically, and gain an appreciation for diverse perspectives.” The study also showed students were most engaged in learning with each other when they were preparing assignments, working on projects and directly after exams.

Professors and students aren’t the only ones banking on the effectiveness of educational engagement; colleges also use social media sites as a means of communication in order to tell prospective, current and former students what’s going on with the institution. The primary use of these pages is to help students learn about the university and keep in touch with current and past students. These university pages help prove that over the years companies have learned that social media is where there customers are, and that is where they need to be too.

It would be silly for students not to relish in the joys of no longer having to deal with late night desperate attempts for one of your classmates or professors to answer their email or phone call to get help with a assignment or a study question. Social media breaks down barriers for students. It allows the professor to be available in a less formal environment and fosters communication as students can ask questions and receive answers to questions in and outside of class. Thanks to social media, colleges no longer need to wonder what it is their students are doing, or what they are thinking– all they have to do is go online.

Source Engaged Learning

College Student Reviews Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:Traditional vs. Online

You have many options in your education now-a-days. In addition to a degree choice, you have the decision between a ground campus and online degree College Student Reviews-Pro-Conprograms. There are pros and cons to each. Take some time to carefully prioritize what’s most important at this stage in your life. Here’s a general list designed to get you started. Of course, you should cater this list to your personal circumstances to decide what’s best for you. Whatever choice you make, Grantham University wishes you every success in meeting your educational goals.

ONLINE EDUCATION

Pros:

  • Convenience: Do you have a full-time job? Are you an active member in the military? Do you have family members, including children, at home who you care for? Whatever the reason, not everyone can make time to sit in a lecture hall at 11 a.m. five days a week. If this sounds familiar, an online education would be ideal because of the flexible nature of classes offered. You complete your degree while balancing your work and family responsibilities.
  • Ability to Set Your Own Pace: Some online degree programs have frequent start dates – some even weekly. This allows you the opportunity to complete courses quickly.
  • Affordability: Not all online degrees are more affordable than traditional or community college rates, but some are. Enrolling in an online degree program ensures you don’t have to spend money on gas, parking or child care.
  • Cultural Diversity: Online students are in class with faculty members and students from around the globe.
  • Technology Benefits: Taking classes online and becoming familiar with modern technology will help you in your career. Been on a job interview lately? Employers will naturally like your professional demeanor and upbeat attitude, but a wide range of practical experience with computer software could set you apart from the competition.

Cons:

  • Time management required: Sure, completing homework at your convenience and on your schedule is a nice perk of enrolling in an online course. But you still have to have the discipline to finish assignments with a deadline in place. If you work 40 hours a week, budgeting time for homework could present challenges.
  • Limited face-to-face interaction: You’ll still get to meet other students in an online setting, but it will typically be via chat rooms or class discussion threads. If you don’t mind independent learning (conversely, built-in support systems through discussion boards exist in many online settings) with limited live interaction, this won’t be a problem.
  • Natural technology problems: Sometimes, you don’t have any control over the situation, but a computer might experience an operation failure. A huge storm may knock out your Internet connection. Without the Internet, you cannot complete your online course work. Make sure you have a backup plan in the event of a power issue. It always seems to happen during the most inopportune time.

TRADITIONAL EDUCATION

Pros:

  • Networking opportunities: Naturally, you meet more people face-to-face while attending a traditional university. As a result, your contacts will grow, and your networking opportunities will increase. (Of course, for employers paying for tuition reimbursement, this may mean that your employees are networking with future employers.)
  • Experience new places: This holds greater significance for out-of-state students who are not familiar with their university’s town. For some students, experiencing a different part of the country (or the world) is a valuable part of going to school that assists in areas of maturity, diversity and social opportunity.
  • On-site facilities: Students who enroll in a traditional university have the opportunity to take advantage of the institution’s many facilities, including the student union, gym, and athletic stadium.

Cons:

  • Strict scheduling: Sometimes enrolling in a specific course at a traditional university can present scheduling challenges, particularly for non-traditional students. If a desired course is only offered during the day, it’s difficult for working adults to set aside their full-time job just to sign up.
  • Affordability: Cost will vary, but admission into a traditional university, especially if it’s out of state, won’t come cheap.
  • Limited personal attention: This is particularly true in bigger state universities, where undergraduate lecture halls packed to the brim with 400-500 students is commonplace. One-on-one instruction doesn’t exist as much in these types of settings.

How Financial Aid Works

When going through the financial aid process, many students and parents often ask themselves, ‘How does financial aid work?’ The process depends on a number of factors, and its complexity can be overwhelming for families. The reality is that financial aid is a multi-dimensional process that uses different types of aid to put together a complete financial aid package. By understanding how this process works, students can give themselves an advantage when seeking financial assistance for college.

Everything Starts with the FAFSA

The main component of the financial aid process is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA. This is the form that both the government and the selected school use to determine a student’s level of need. It is through this level of need that the government and schools decide how much they should award each student.

The FAFSA form usually consists of about 130 questions in total, asking questions about parent income and assets, as well as the student’s financial dependence on their parents. Parent income and assets are used to determine the expected parent contribution towards cost of attendance. Depending on how much the parents make, the expected contribution could range from nothing all the way to over half the cost of tuition. The factors determining these price ranges changes yearly as the standard of living fluctuates.

The student’s information from the FAFSA form is used in calculating the student’s contribution towards their education. This usually ranges between $2,800 and $5,000 judging from summer employment and previous savings.

Students who cannot meet this contribution will qualify for the federal work-study program, which provides students a job on campus to give them the money to meet their contribution.

The Types of Aid Available to Students

The different types of financial aid offered are federal grants, loans, and outside scholarships. The Pell Grant is an example of a federal grant that allows students to receive $5,500 that does not have to be paid back. The Perkins and Stafford Loans College Student Reviews paying-for-collegeoffer students loans at the fixed interest rates of 5% and 6.8% , respectively. These are much lower compared to the double digit adjustable interest rates offered on private loans.

In additional to federal aid options, students can receive financial aid from their selected institution. Schools also use the FAFSA form to determine a student’s level of need and award need-based scholarships accordingly. Most schools have scholarships sponsored by alumni specifically for extreme financial circumstances.

Schools also offered merit-based scholarships for athletics and academics. Students who are extremely intelligent or extremely talented in a sport often have most of their expenses paid for by schools in which their talent is in high demand.

Whilst the financial aid process can be complicated at first glance, it is important to know how it works in order to minimize the costs of college. Through the FAFSA form, students can qualify for the grants, loans, and scholarships that make attending college a reality.