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Going back to school is a tough decision. It’s expensive and takes a lot of time. It’s also intimidating – but it’s so rewarding. You’ve always wanted that education, that degree hung on your wall. The satisfaction that you did it.

Maybe you’re still choosing between traditional or online schooling. Either route you take, you’re on the right track. In this article, we’ll cover some of the benefits of an online education specifically. This information will help lead you to whatever decision is right for you.

It’s Convenient

One of the main benefits that brings people to online education is the sheer convenience of it. When pursuing further education, some of the main struggles students deal with are:

  • Working your class schedule around work schedules, or vice versa
  • Finding a program that’s available in your location
  • Travelling to and from classes
  • Finding the time to attend class around family responsibilities and personal obligations

Online education eliminates all of these common issues. Sure, schooling of any kind will take a lot of your time. But instead of finding the time to travel to the physical location of your class, spending a few hours in class, and then traveling back to your home or work, you’re simply scheduling a few uninterrupted hours from your couch or kitchen table — whenever it works best for you. But the advantages of online learning go far beyond convenience.

It Provides the Freedom to Gain Work Experience

With online schooling, you can keep working in your profession and won’t have to deal with the stress of clashing schedules. When I was going to school and working, I was always forced to request a different shift than I had been given in order to accommodate classes. Or I was missing out on the classes I really wanted to take because they were only available during regular working hours.

Since online education provides the freedom to be able to work while you pursue your degree, you’re eliminating one common issue students struggle with: lacking work experience after graduation when they’re trying to enter the workforce. Some people say experience can be more beneficial to getting a job offer than education. I think we need a balance of both to be successful. It’s unfortunate that traditional schooling doesn’t provide this flexibility quite like online options do. But that’s just one of the many benefits of online education.

It’s Affordable

Tuition fees for online education can be considerably cheaper than attending a traditional brick and mortar establishment. You will also save money on a few things that might seem miniscule but will add up considerably over the course of a few years in college. Here are a few of the ways you’ll save:

  • Transportation: No more driving back and forth or paying for parking
  • Housing: You don’t have to live on campus to attend online schooling, and you’ll have the ability to live in areas with cheaper rent, or continue living at home
  • Food: No more spending on snacks in between classes or an expensive meal on campus
  • Books: Online courses can sometimes offer digital books cheaper than the same book in print

It’s Just as Good as a Traditional Education

Don’t let the stigmatization of online education deter you from pursuing your dreams. An education is an education, and while there are many benefits to attending classes in a traditional setting, it isn’t the right choice for everyone. As online education becomes more common, the stigma slowly dies, and the learning systems will keep getting better as our technology and tools become more advanced.

Even now, we have the amazing ability to offer simulation learning for jobs like nursing. When entering a field that can be as unpredictable as nursing, students need a way to develop crucial skills before they’re faced with an emergency. This branch of online education can look like a video game, computer program, or computerized mannequin.

If you want to go back to school and earn your degree, but you can’t leave the workforce or you have a family and other obligations to uphold, an online education might be the best idea for you.

This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.

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Many people dream of being a teacher, working with children and helping them to become successful individuals. While majoring in education, there are some key characteristics and tangible things that you will need. Each of these four items and qualities will help you to excel in your career as a teacher.

Communication Skills
As a teacher, you will interact with a wide variety of people. From the school security officer or police officer, to the principal and lunch personnel, knowing the staff in your school is crucial to being a successful teacher. In addition to communicating with your fellow teachers and the school principal, guidance counselor, and other staff members, you will also regularly communicate with the parents and caregivers of school kids. Excellent communication skills will be critical to success.

Required Education
Earning an online master’s degree in education prepares you to be a successful teacher. In many school districts, an online master’s degree in education is required in order to become a tenured teacher. By earning your degree online, you can fit it into your work schedule and still enjoy personal and family time. An online master’s degree in education can also help to boost your salary and job prospects.

Patience and Persistence
Some kids will not learn as quickly as others. A few of the lessons that you prepare may not be as effective as you had hoped. You will face these and other challenging situations in your daily life as a teacher. Patience will be key to working your way through them. You will also need to persist through the difficulties and keep on trying new things until you find what works.

A Passion for Learning
Great teachers have a passion for learning. They delight in watching others learn and seeing someone’s face change as a lesson “clicks”. You should have a lifelong passion for learning and discovering new things. Think outside of the textbook and consider some real-world ways to help kids learn. Your enthusiasm for the learning process will be evident to every child who walks through your classroom’s doors.

A degree in education will help to prepare you for what will happen in your classroom. Outside of your bachelor’s and master’s degrees, you will also need to develop or enhance some of your own personality traits. Enthusiasm, passion for your career, patience, persistence and excellent communications skills will take you a long way in your career as a teacher.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.

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It used to be that an online education had a stigma attached to it, as if it wasn’t a valid way to receive a top notch education. Fortunately, that stigma was met head on and disproven by world renowned educational institutions, such as the Berklee College of Music and Boston University, as well as many other colleges and universities that recognize that a quality education should be made available to those who prefer (or need) to learn online.

With online education opportunities, it is now possible to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from a top tier college or university, no matter where it is in the world, without ever having to step foot on campus.

What is Online Music Education?

Online music education combines advancements in technology with the traditional structure of a bricks and mortar music education. By offering complete music degree programs online, colleges and universities have made it possible for those who are performing musicians, private tutors, or otherwise engaged with work or family, to advance their careers with minimal interference.

The options for focus areas within the study of music are abundant and it’s possible to get a degree in any branch of music that is available at a traditional university. Some of these include:

● K-12 Music education
● Music performance
● Music industry such as marketing and promotions
● Mixing and engineering
● Music production, including for television and film
● Music psychology and music therapy
● Many more

The Benefits of Pursuing an Online Music Degree

You can save time. The most obvious benefit of pursuing a music education degree online is the convenience and flexibility of being able to learn from home, where students can literally earn a degree while wearing their pajamas. That’s a bit simplistic, but the convenience of not being tied to specific class times or having to navigate through the logistics of getting to campus is a huge draw for many people who choose to study online.

With online music courses, students log on when they’re able, and complete work at their own pace (though there are deadlines, just as with traditional education settings). Additionally, all class resources are easily accessible online whenever the student needs them.

You can (and will) devote more time to devote to learning. With many online courses and programs there is actually an increase in terms of the accountability one is held to in order to earn grades.

In traditional classes, a large percent of the course grade is weighted on class participation. What this often translates to is that as long as you are in your seat, you will get these points regardless of how much you actually engaged with the subject matter.

With online courses it is not possible to simply give points based on participation or attendance for obvious reasons. Instead, mandatory participation in chat rooms and forums is common. The end result is that more time is spent engaging in course material and increased mastery of the course content.

While this may sound more time consuming, the time saved commuting to and from campus sets this off ultimately increasing the overall time that is devoted to learning.

You can save money. Students can save money on transportation, not having to live on or near the university and pay the typically inflated housing costs associated with campus living and given the nature of the programs, textbooks and materials are often offered in digital format, thus reducing the insane costs of textbooks.

You are not limited by geography when selecting a program. Another advantage of choosing to attend school online is that the student can enroll in whatever school he or she wishes, because they’re not limited by location. For those seeking a quality music education, that’s a big perk, considering the best schools aren’t always nearby. In tandem with this benefit is the reduced cost associated with online education at a major university or college. Because the student isn’t paying for housing or travel, seeking an online education is infinitely more cost-effective, and earning a degree from a previously cost-prohibitive and distant university is now a legitimate possibility.

With online education it’s also easier to get into a quality school. There’s room for more students and less competition for spots, which is especially important for those seeking entry into an historically competitive university or college. With the logistics of a bricks and mortar school, there are only so many seats available per class. Online education, however, is only limited to the number of people a professor can handle.

Increased chance of getting an online career. For many, the notion of working from home or remotely is a necessity or a personal desire. Getting an online degree will better prepare you for this opportunity as you will become accustomed to the various technologies needed to be successful in an online work and collaboration environment. Many positions in the music industry, such as engineering or giving private lessons online are seeing major growth.

The Disadvantages of an Online Music Education

While there are very few disadvantages to pursuing an online music education, they do exist. For example, anyone who wants to take online music education courses must be self-motivated because it’s easy to procrastinate when the professor isn’t there to lead the way. In addition, online courses require good time management skills because there’s no set time or place to be in class. It’s up to the student to organize his or her schedule around making time for the courses. In short, online music education requires the student to be responsible for his or her own education. For those who can’t meet that criteria, online classes may not be the best choice.

The education received by online students is the same as the education received by those who attend school in person. The courses are taught by the same instructors using the same curriculum, and the degree earned is no different. For busy self-starters who are truly passionate about music and motivated to earn a degree, an online music education is a viable option.

This article was contributed by guest author Music Education Partners.

Whether you’re still in high school or you’re currently exploring majors in college, deciding on any career path can be an intimidating task. It can be even more difficult to choose when careers seem so similar and require years of education and training, like career options in therapy. Find out what your passion is, and discover the paths of success for careers in physical therapy and occupational therapy with the following infographic, Becoming A Therapist:

Becoming A Therapist was created by Progressus Therapy

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According to a study by MarketWatch, 80% of US students have part-time jobs while they’re in school. Many of those jobs are in retail. Students are attracted to retail jobs for a whole slew of reasons – flexible scheduling and demand, for starters. But one of the things that makes many students fall in love with the work and pursue a future in small business is that there’s no formula for success. They have to learn to listen to their customers, observe their behaviors, anticipate their desires, and then buy, sell, and market accordingly. It’s not a multiple choice test; the work is delightfully nuanced. Small business success is all about instinct, education, and hard work. A little bit of good luck doesn’t hurt either.

There are two camps of students and/or prospective students who consider retail degrees as a part of their formal education: the novices and the seasoned business owners. Retail novices are those recently bitten by the retail bug and interested in pursuing it as a first career. The more seasoned variety are business managers and owners who are already actively involved in retail and want to improve the big-picture aspects of their work. People in both of these categories have unique needs and goals, and tend to be drawn to different area of study.

Retail Novices
These are the high school and college students who take a part-time job at a small business to help ease the burden of tuition, and fall in love with retail in the process. They are the indigo children of the retail world, the ones store owners secretly hope might want to take over someday in the distant future. They’re the ones who are innately skilled with Facebook marketing, selfie tickets, and naturally take cues from global tech trends like Pokemon Go.

An all-around retail business management degree can be extremely informative for early-career students like these men and women. A business degree helps train those who are inexperienced or less-experienced in a retail setting about things like how to manage a staff, decision-making, and merchandising.

While the coursework for a retail management degree might feel redundant for a seasoned retail employee, for a newbie it’s a fast-track to understanding the inner workings of a business and culture.

Seasoned Retailers
It goes without saying that in retail, experience goes a long, long way. If a lifetime shop owner attended a class about retail management, they’d likely spend most of it nodding their head, rolling their eyes, and silently muttering, “Yup, yup, true” and “Got it.”

For a person already succeeding as a retailer, an entry-level college course wouldn’t be much more than positive affirmation and a few new tips. Most small business associations can offer as much, often for free.

But that’s the thing about education: there’s always more to learn. One just has to get creative about the avenues.

Big retailers like REI and Whole Foods are known for hiring people with MPAs, Masters in Public Administration, because they have excellent minds for policy and managing the various aspects that keep a business running smoothly. Online MPA degrees are a popular choice among nontraditional students — like store managers who want to become owners but can’t stop working in the interim — because it’s an online degree offered by some of the most reputable higher education institutions around. Traditionally, MPAs were thought to be exclusive to those who wanted to work for the government or nonprofits, but the retail world has already benefited greatly from the expertise that comes from an MPA degree.

It makes perfect sense really. No matter the size of a shop, it’s always a bit of a microcosm of social wellbeing. If the public is thriving, more people spend money. If the public is stressed-out and riddled with anxiety, retailers will encounter more difficult customers than usual.

When it comes down to it, any form of education is a good thing. A degree in the arts, while not generally considered one of the top money making degrees, will greatly benefit a student by refining the way he or she sees and expresses him or herself in the world. And a unique voice is a huge asset to small business. Business degrees have modernized. Students, whether they’re traditional students or online students, now have more freedom than ever before. And small businesses around the nation are reaping the rewards.

This article was contributed by guest author Katie Kapro.

Deciding on a career path or college major is one of the most important decisions a person can make in his or her lifetime and can become overwhelming very quickly. One field that is often overlooked is engineering. Engineering today not only presents benefits such as high average compensation and financial security, but also offers a wide variety of roles that cater to various interests.

RevPart has created an infographic that highlights the different types of engineering career paths including job outlooks, what these engineers do, salary information and more!

Image by Kevin Gutowsky

This article was contributed by guest author Matt Davis.

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Civil engineering is a competitive field. If you want to stand out from other applicants, you might think about obtaining a minor or double major in addition to your regular civil engineering degree. Here are just four other areas of study that will complement your current curriculum.

Civil engineers rarely work alone. They coordinate with builders, architects, surveyors, accountants, insurers, risk assessment managers and many other professionals to ensure the safe and speedy completion of their projects. A business background will help you understand all of these areas instead of just one, and you’ll be better equipped to make the “big picture” decisions of your engineering endeavors. Consider a degree in business to make yourself a jack of all trades.

Environmental Engineering
You’ll deal with a lot of environmental issues as you build bridges and dams. From soil tests to geological impact surveys, you’ll need to speak the language and understand the risks before you move forward with your civil projects. A minor in environmental engineering can help you with this. Not only will it broaden your knowledge of engineering in general, but it will also give you a strong foundation in subjects that are bound to come up in your everyday career.

Civil Engineering
An advanced degree in civil engineering will look better to hiring managers than a simple bachelor’s degree. The good news is that you can obtain an online civil engineering master’s degree with nothing but a web connection and a willingness to work hard, so even if you don’t have access to a brick-and-mortar school, you can still further your education and career prospects. Some programs will even accelerate your degree schedule so that you can join the workforce sooner.

Computer Science
As the world becomes increasingly digital, it pays to understand things like programming languages and database management. You might be asked to use a variety of software as you create, plan, alter, design and implement civil structures, and if you have a technical background in computers, you’ll find them a lot easier to utilize than the next person. A degree in computer science will also look attractive to hiring managers when paired with your already-intensive civil engineering studies.

These are just four potential degrees for civil engineers. There are many more, of course, but these ideas should be enough to get you started. Use them to obtain a well-rounded education that will open doors for you in the future.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.

Image by Wokandapix,

Image by Wokandapix,

If you just graduated high school, you’ve probably got no shortage of people trying to give you advice for your future. “The world’s your oyster! You can be anything you set your mind to be.” However, you have to realize that some of the professions you are interested in are either highly competitive, or don’t pay very well. If you want to move on to a high-paying career instead of moving back in with mom and dad once you graduate, here are six career choices you should consider.

1. Medical Careers

There is a worldwide shortage of nurses and trained medical professionals. This practically guarantees that you can find a job with a degree in the medical field. And, with most programs lasting only two years, you can get to work much faster than people chasing a four-year degree.

For example, ultrasound technicians with a two-year diagnostic medical sonography degree, made median salary of over $66,000 in 2015.

2. Welding

The average welder is 55 years old. That means that many are soon to retire, and the world needs welders for everything from construction to the fine arts. With a standard hourly rate of more than $17, welders have job security and command an excellent salary.

3. Paralegal

If you have an interest in law, you should consider being a legal assistant. You’ll work under a lawyer in a fast-paced, exciting environment. What’s more, the median salary for a paralegal last year was nearly $47,000.

4. Marketing

As long as people have companies, they will need to communicate with potential customers. That’s where marketers come in. If you are looking for a job that allows you to be creative but also has a median salary of more than $60,000, you should consider becoming a marketing specialist.

5. Plumbing

It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it! And the people who choose plumbing as a career seldom regret it when they bring home an average yearly salary of $49,000.

6. Auto Repair

As cars get more advanced, fewer people are able to fix their vehicles themselves. This, combined with a lack of mechanics, has contributed to a career with a median salary of $36,610.

These are by no means the only careers available to you, but they do offer great pay and job security. Whatever career path you choose, we wish you the best of luck for your future!

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakley.

Image by kshelton,

Image by kshelton,

Up until recently, my ideas about the stigma of online education were admittedly vague.

I earned my Master’s degree in an untraditional program. While I was in school I often found myself subtly defending the valuable aspects of online and low-residency education. I would tell new acquaintances about my studies and notice their unimpressed micro-expressions. A furrow here, a twitch there. It made them uncomfortable.

If their reactions seem unusual, perhaps it will help to place these interactions in the highly competitive academic city of Cambridge, MA just blocks away from the top Ivy League university in the world. This is my best attempt at making sense of the odd reactions I encountered then and continue to encounter to this day.

During my online graduate program, I generally met students from other universities who were in the midst of dedicating their lives to their studies, immersed in an academic reality where competition reigns supreme. Their words, not mine. A student in a highly competitive traditional academic setting has to climb the social ladder to make the best connections and get the best job after graduation. It might sound arcane, but it’s how the system works. If you put twenty highly ambitious people in a room together, things will get competitive. There are both benefits and drawbacks to this sort of competitive academic environment for sure, and every student must decide whether the benefits or the drawbacks carry more weight for them.

One negative aspect of this sort of academic sphere is that it so often fosters barriers between people – a sort of elitism that can’t be easily understood or untangled. When I’d go out to dinner with my roommate’s Ivy League friends, I’d find myself having to explain the value of my program before I could even be recognized as a fellow student, worthy of sharing in the discourse.

Of course most of us have to do this in our own ways everyday — whether in work, school, or social situations — it simply hadn’t occurred to me that my choice of program would add to the effect. And yes, I recognize the inherent privilege in all this.

It’s the awareness of that privilege that really inspires frustration when people expose their ingrained prejudices against online programs. I hadn’t fully butted heads with this attitude until I wrote an article entitled “How I Learned to Flourish in an Online Grad Program” on a higher education blog.

The article was benign at best, a simple description of why I chose an online program, the benefits as I experienced them, and a handful of practical practices to help online students thrive in their programs.

But, oh boy, did it ever piss people off.

While the article was far from perfect, I was surprised that the general idea of online education being competitive, and in some ways superior, to traditional academic institutions was so irksome.

One commenter, who taught in higher education for a period, took offense at my assertion that I chose an online program so that I could continue working to pay the bills. He took it (and the whole article, really) as an inherent slam against traditional universities, saying the need to pay one’s bills, which for me meant working full-time, was a weak argument that straw-manned online universities. Um, ok? I’d like to visit the worry-free reality he lives in.

In fact, the ability for a student to continue working while enrolled in an online or low-residency program is one of its most valuable assets. My dear commenter made a point to share his distaste for Arizona State University, which I’d mentioned as the forerunner for taking creative measures to bring online programs to the traditional university. Yeah, I guess partnering with Starbucks to cover their employees’ college tuition really is a crummy, “hack”ish thing to do.

The fact that he couldn’t understand the idea of utilizing one’s education as career training speaks volumes to the mindset. The degree that I earned was a Masters of Fine Arts in writing, and this gentleman supposed that if I really wanted a career, shouldn’t I have chosen a professional degree rather than a humanities degree?

One of the greatest gifts of my program was that it served as intensive training for balancing my daily work life with my creative work life. During the two-year period of my program, I worked two and a half jobs and learned how to prioritize my writing, every day, no exceptions. If that’s not career training for a writer, I don’t know what is. And that’s just my personal experience in my particular field of choice. There are endless similar stories out there.

I am hopeful that the voice of insecurity I’ve recently encountered is far from the voice of academia as a whole. There are academics in positions of authority who are working diligently to make education accessible to all people – even the ones who couldn’t historically afford the financial aspect or time commitment. What is the benefit of seeing an attack in every expression of someone else’s success?

The era of academic posturing is over.

Education that reaches across barriers has many different manifestations — from online ed to low rez to corporate partnership — and those who solely cling to familiarity will fall to the wayside as the nation’s collective level of education, awareness, and life experience surpasses anything any of us have ever known.

This article was contributed by guest author Katie Kapro.

Image by Ilya Pavlov,

Image by Ilya Pavlov,

In recent years, online education has been a popular subject in the industry. Both teachers and students have used the internet to fuel an online education industry that is booming globally. It has eased the learning process for many, as it is no longer restricted by location and time factors. Below are some reasons why online education could be a great idea for you.

Online education and learning involves a process wherein courses are broadcasted live by proficient instructors. A skilled support team is always on hand during the live sessions to ensure that all questions raised by learners are answered appropriately. This helps many students understand complicated coursework and lectures at a pace that works for them.

Online education enables you to have total control on what you want to study. It offers a wider range of information as compared to traditional forms of learning. This is because it is open to a wider range of instructors.

Convenience is considered by many to be one of the greatest benefits of an online education. Conventionally, education has been constrained to physical places—grade schools, colleges, academies, and universities. If, for any reason, you are not in a position to get education from these locations at a required time, you might end up giving up on your academic dreams. This, in most cases, applies especially if you are a working professional and are limited by factors such as time and distance. Online programs remove this obstacle, allowing for working professionals to pursue their education on their own time. A business student, for example, can earn their MBA degree online while holding a job and gaining real-world experience. This can prove invaluable for busy adults, especially those working full-time jobs.

The overall cost of online education is lower when compared to traditional modes of higher learning. The cost factor has been a major hindrance for many students who want to advance their education. The average college education can cost a student tens of thousands of dollars. This is a huge amount for many families to afford unless it is funded by education loans, which still end up in debts. However, online education provides an alternative which is both affordable and convenient.

Through online education, you can plan your time and space and select your preferred subjects. This is an advantage that attracts many students and will allow you to manage your time amidst several commitments.

There are several benefits of receiving an online education as compared to the traditional way of learning, making it a great option for those who may otherwise be prevented from pursuing their academic dreams.

This article was contributed by guest author Kara Masterson.