Bad Economy – A Good Time For Online Education

We can all agree that the US economy is hurting right now and for those in the workplace, these uncertain times bring a lot stress and anxiety into their lives. Just in the last month, several of America’s top corporations (Citigroup, Merck, Yahoo, Xerox, Coca Cola, Bank of America, Whirlpool, Goldman Sachs, Alcoa) have begun to announce layoffs and the current 6.5 unemployment rate will increase substantially next year. Like all difficult situations, they also present opportunities for growth and development. Without a doubt, right now is the perfect time to pursue a an degree – whether it’s a bachelor’s or a master’s, whether it’s an online program or a traditional campus based program, a degree from an accredited school will boost your standing at your current job and set you up for future opportunities.

Still not convinced?

According to statistics from the 2004 US Census Bureau, the median annual income earned by college graduates is $50,394. Compare that with the $60,514 garnered by those with a master’s. PhD’s average $77,445, while those holding professional degrees, including lawyers and doctors, earn $97,443 on average. Within each degree level, specializing can increase your return on education investment (ROEI). For example, a bachelor’s degree in nursing, business or information technology will generate a 20%, 18%and 24% ROEI respectively. In these examples, investment in self education provides a significantly higher rate of return compared with investing in the stock the market (especially now!).

So which occupations are growing?

According to the Bureau of Labor, the fastest growing occupations include Networking and Communications, Home Care, Software Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Financial Advisors, Medical Assistants, Forensic Assistants and Family Therapists. These industries are expected to expand rapidly with rates of growth exceeding 30% annually. Many these careers require a minimum of post-secondary education and or advanced degrees as pre-requisites for hiring.

So how do you get started?

Going back to school or pursuing an online degree will require a significant investment of time and money. Similar to other investment, you need to do you homework . Successful graduates research various schools, degrees, and programs. Researching online is easier than ever, there are many quality website that provide free information about both campus-based and online schools, degrees and programs. You can request free information from a few different schools and wait for an enrollment advisor to call you. You should also read school reviews. But ideally, you should travel to the school and check it out for yourself – meet professors and students and ask lots of questions.

Online or campus-based?

Obtaining a higher degree has become more accessible and more flexible via schools that provide online education. Online enrollments are growing at 10% annually, and far exceeding the 1.5% overall growth rates. Many accredited schools are taking their curriculum online and offering both hybrid and online-only programs. Growth in online education has been tremendous due to the obvious benefits. Students can manage their own schedules without giving up their day jobs. The number of schools is huge. Even with the above mentioned benefits, online schools are still not for everyone. Again, do you research and homework and make an educated decision.

Bottom Line

Times like these force everyone to assess their own situation and develop a plan of action. Investing in education will not only benefit you in your current job but will position you better for the future, when the economy turns around. There are several online education portals that provide resources and free information about various campus-based and online degree programs.

The time to start working on your future is now – better schools and better degrees deliver a better future. You can succeed but you need to start now – and believe in yourself.