Finding the Right College Program for You
There are all kinds of college programs that are available today for those seeking higher education and degrees in a wide variety of fields. The problem often lies in finding the type of education that is appropriate for your specific needs. We all learn best through different methods and identifying your learning method is a great way to understand what learning environment will work best for you.
The common learning environments for college level studies are the following: community colleges, universities, and online or distance learning opportunities. Community colleges tend to offer smaller classrooms with more discussion-oriented styles of learning and discourse. Universities tend to be more lecture oriented while distance and online learning opportunities are quite often self-directed learning opportunities that require a great deal of discipline in order to be successful.
When trying to identify the college that will work best for you, you should keep in mind your personal learning style. Beyond that you should also consider the type of environment you expect from your college education and the amount of time you wish to devote to the pursuit of your education and degree. Some people find that university life is far too distracting while others find that the solitude of online and distance learning is a distraction in and of itself.
You will find all kinds of cultural opportunities at a university that you will not find through home studies or on the community college level. For some students, these opportunities are icing on the cake and an important part of the learning experience as you delve into other cultures, art, music, and history. Others find these opportunities to be far too plentiful and far too distracting for their study needs. Whichever student you tend to be will make a huge difference in the best situation for your learning needs.
Another important consideration is housing. Most universities have ample on campus housing for their students while a few campuses experience on campus housing shortages and rely on housing that is located in and around the college area in order to fill in the gaps. Some universities will even offer limiting housing opportunities to students who have spouses and children. While housing on community college is seen, particularly in rural areas where there is limited housing available in and around the schools, these are more often the exception rather than the rule. Most community colleges are largely commuter campuses with very limited if any housing opportunities. Online and distance learning programs offer no housing to students.
Another concern that most also be considered carefully is the distance between classes and any special needs you may have. Universities tend to be large and spread out. It is quite possible to need to get from one end of campus to another (a mile or more in some cases) with a 10-minute window in which to get it done. For students with special needs or physical disabilities this can be quite problematic, especially on days of inclimate weather. Community colleges tend to have smaller campuses, which mean less real estate to cover in between classes. Online and distance learning classes go with you wherever you have access to a computer. This means that they are as portable as you need them to be if you have your own laptop and wireless Internet access.
You must consider all these things and so much more when narrowing down your college choices. Do you really want to take the personal responsibility required in order to succeed in online and distant learning courses? Do you want to be limited by the meager offerings of coursework available at the community college level? Is it worth it to you to pay the high price involved in a university education? These are all questions that you need to consider carefully before making the decision as to which college environment is the most desirable for you.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
For any student hoping to attend college in the coming year, the first place you need to start is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid that is commonly referred to as FAFSA. The earlier you fill out this form the better as far as your chances of receiving the full amount of financial aid that is available to you as well as to clear up and fix any potential problems that may arise well ahead of the deadline for aid being awarded.
The final date for application changes from year to year and is generally somewhere near the beginning of summer. Earlier is much better than later as far too many students wait until closer to deadline in order to fill out their forms and if you have any questions you are likely to find yourself standing in or calling into longer lines for your answers.
There are a few things you need to know about the FAFSA. Most schools require this form to have been filled out before they will award any financial aid, not just federal financial aid. In other words you should check with your school but you may need to fill out this form even if you are only applying for departmental scholarships and not federal financial aid. It is a good idea to begin at the financial aid office of the institution you plan to attend at any rate to make sure they do not have additional forms that they require you fill out in order to apply with financial aid through the university or college as well as the federal government.
Another thing you need to be well aware of is that you will need to fill out one of these forms for each year that you hope to receive financial aid of any kind. This is not something that is automatically renewed or guaranteed. There are many changes that could affect the amount of money you are eligible to receive as well as whether or not you are eligible to receive federal funds at all on any given academic year. For this reason you must apply for aid for each year that you attend.
Another thing that you must remember is that while a subsidized student loan doesn't been to accrue interest until you graduate or cease to be enrolled for the required hours, an unsubsidized student loan begin accruing interest from day one. This means that you will owe a substantial amount of money in interest upon graduation if you take out an unsubsidized student loan in order to pay for educational expenses.
Student loans make college educations possible for many people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college. At the same time there are many people, who neglect to use these loans responsibly, which is the beginning of irresponsible spending habits that can plague people for the remainder of their lives. Take great caution that you use your student loans for their intended purpose and use them wisely.
The FAFSA also enables you to apply for Federal Pell Grants and Federal Work Study programs in addition to student loans. Of the three mentioned above, student loans should be a last resort rather than a first. The amount of money available can prove to be quite tempting so be very careful and read all the terms before signing up for any and all financial aid. Your high school, college financial aid office, and the Internet are all excellent sources for information on scholarships, grants, loans, and work study programs for which you may qualify.
Graduate Degree Options
Many people find that in the courses of their careers they wish they had the ability to go back to school for even further education. Unfortunately, not everyone has the good fortune to live in the vicinity of a university that offers graduate level studies in the career they have chosen. Chances are that a good percentage of the population does not and if they do chances are even better that they have very busy personal and professional lives that make intensive graduate studies difficult to pursue at best.
If you are one of the many people that feel you have made your choice and are stuck with your undergraduate degree or that a post graduate degree is simply out of your reach, I hope you will read this article with great interest and learn that there options available to you no matter how far away from a university you live or how little time you have to devote to your graduate studies.
A graduate education is a very intensive course of study that is very narrow and specific. In other words, many students find that their graduate coursework is their favorite by far as it gets into the meat of the subject matter of their interest rather than merely hitting the highlights. Only a small percentage of the population at this point in time has a graduate education. Though this does not necessarily guarantee you any employability it can provide you with very specialized knowledge or skills that will help you perform your job better and qualify you for more interesting and specialized positions in your field of study.
If you would like to pursue a graduate education but feel you are too far from the nearest university that offers a comprehensive graduate education in your field, you might be surprised to find that the nearest graduate level curriculum is as far away as your living room or your favorite Internet café. Online courses give new hope to potential graduate students. Many of them will actually allow you to work around your work schedule and at your own pace while trying to achieve your dreams of higher education and life long learning.
Online courses are becoming more widely accepted across the nation and around the world. We live in the information age and it only makes sense that we are taking control of our educations by using services and demanding services like online courses in order to further our educational goals. At the moment there are only limited offerings for graduate studies, most of them centering on educational fields with only a few graduate degrees offered in other fields such as the medical industry. As demand grows so will the availability of graduate courses and degrees that are being offered online.
If you happen to be fortunate enough to live relatively close to a university that offers graduate studies in your field you might want to check with the university and see if they offer weekend graduate classes. This is a new trend that seems to be growing in popularity as a valid option for those who hope to return to college but can't afford to give up precious work or family time during the week. These courses are much more intense than your average once or twice a week night course but they allow you to pursue your graduate degree in a much quicker manner than traditional programs have allowed and are much more employer and family friendly. Of course you also have the option of taking one or two classes at a time at night in order to achieve your graduate degree as well. Masters degree students only need to take 9 hours a semester in order to be considered full time students and qualify for financial aid.
All in all, you do not need to sacrifice your goals of graduate studies in order to maintain your career or achieve some sort of balance between work, education, and family. Whether you choose online courses, night courses, or weekend courses for your studies you have many opportunities to achieve the degree you desire without sacrificing heavily in order to do so.
Great Reasons to Complete your Degree
A university education is one of the best possible ways to insure your earning power upon graduation. There are all kinds of fields and all kinds of majors, some paying higher than others but as a rule, college graduates will earn more money over the course of their lifetimes than those who do not have a college education or degree.
We live in a world that increasingly demands more of its citizens. We need to have the ability to hold academic conversations on the corporate level that go well beyond the score in last nights basketball games. Companies' want well-rounded employees that epitomize all the great things that a four-year degree has to offer. For this reason, even those who have labored in order to gain an associate's degree are getting left behind in favor of those who have a more 'complete' education.
If you have already entered the work force there is still the time to increase your earning potential by seeking higher education. Colleges and universities today are offering more options for students wishing to return to college than ever before. In fact we are seeing an increasing number of college students that are classified as non-traditional students. We are seeing many more adults returning for the education they didn't receive the first time around, which is good news. It also means that more and more options are becoming available at night and on the weekends for those adults.
Even better is the fact that more and more often we are seeing courses being offered online for those who are seeking to complete their education. This allows even more options for those students who are desperately trying to balance careers, family, and education. As more and more opportunities such as these arise we will also see a growing number of graduate studies opportunities being offered in a similar fashion.
If you are thinking of returning to school after years of absence or perhaps attending for the very first time while managing an existing career there is no time like the present in order to do so. Not only will a college education give you greater earning potential in your lifetime it can also qualify you for promotions within the company for which you currently are employed.
The truth of the matter is that you really can't go wrong when it comes to going back to college and getting or finishing your degree. You can increase your earning potential, your promotion potential, and most importantly your self-image. There is something about having a degree that makes you feel better about yourself and your ability to provide for your family. Even if you never actually use your degree for anything other than a plaque on the wall, you will have the knowledge that you accomplished something that only a small percentage of the population ever gets around to completing.
If nothing else, your college education is worth every penny you will pay in order to have it for the wonderful sense of accomplishment that goes along with getting it. Your college degree won't make you a better person; just give you a better opinion of yourself as a person in many instances. If you need a confidence booster in your professional and your personal life, getting your college degree is often just the bump of confidence you need in order to accomplish many great things.