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by Don Miller - no comments
Continuing Education Programs Opportunities

For the most part, continuing education programs are loaded with incredible benefits but a few potential pitfalls should also be considered if you were interested in furthering your education.  Since the first day online education became a viable opportunity for people, all types of information has circulated – some true, some false, some good, some bad.  In fact, some of the rumors that have floated around in recent years are so ludicrous they are laughable.

Instead of believing everything you hear and read about continuing education programs, we wanted to set a few records straight by providing some of the pros and cons of an educational journey such as this.  Starting with earning a degree, some people still have the misconception that a degree of any level, especially an MBA or PhD does not carry the same level of value as the same degree earned through on a traditional college or university campus.  The truth is that a degree is a degree.  The curriculum and coursework is the same, the number of earned credits the same, and the criteria for graduating the same.

Another misconception is that most people who choose to attend college online are unable to attend a brick and mortar campus because of inconvenient class hours, responsibilities with a job or at home, not having a college campus nearby, responsibilities of caring for a child or elderly relative, or costs of commuting being too great.  While these are certainly reasons that people prefer continuing education programs online, they are not the only reasons.  In fact, many people simply enjoy the convenience, ease, and even affordability that online education offers over traditional learning.

One benefit but also disadvantage is that while most people who choose continuing education programs online find this to be a perfect solution, some struggle with distant learning.  Remember, taking college courses from home requires a significant amount of dedication.  Although this type of education is more flexible regarding hours students need to complete classroom studies, there has to be progress.  Therefore, people who do not have much self-discipline or those who need more personal guidance from an instructor would probably do better with a traditional college or university

Next, some prospective students have been given bad information that continuing education programs are not offered the same type of financial assistance as traditional programs are.  Unfortunately, this results in many people not moving ahead with the decision to earn a college degree because they believe that grants, scholarships, and loans are not available.  In truth, continuing education programs have multiple financial assistance options and sometimes, better than what traditional education offers.

For instance, if you wanted to go to college but needed some type of assistance, you would be able to apply for a Federal Perkins loan, as well as a Federal Stafford loan.  In addition, both subsidized and unsubsidized loans are available for Federal Stafford loans when a student enrolls in an undergraduate or graduate college or university.

However, when it comes to continuing education programs, to qualify for these and other similar scholarships, the federal government typically requires enrollment in two or four year courses.  Then for grant money, this usually comes from a number of state agencies, which means that different rules apply based on the state.  Finally, school loans are also offered but should be used as a last resort after being denied financial aid through a federal government loan or grant.

You will also find an advantage of continuing education programs supported by an employer in that in most cases, all or a good portion of money spent on tuition and in some cases, books would be reimbursed to you after successfully completing each semester.  The only caveat is that most employers require employees to take a certification or degree program that relates to a current position or job within the company or a position or job that perhaps the employee could advance to once the education has been completed.

Most aspects of continuing education programs online are positive but as mentioned, a few downfalls do exist.  For instance, because all courses would be taken from the privacy of home, the fun of college socialization is eliminated.  Many people thrive in college by being around other students.  Having a way of sharing ideas, working through problems, and even building friendships is a trade off when it comes to earning a college degree online.

However, thanks to new technological advancements, interactive classrooms are quickly becoming the norm.  With this, students from the same program would link up online via voice and audio, creating a virtual classroom that in some way makes the social isolation issues less difficult to handle.  Technology has also opened doors whereby students have more effective tools to connect with instructors, almost as if meeting in person.

The bottom line is that when you start looking at the facts surrounding programs offered for continuing education, it quickly becomes evident that far more pros exist than cons.  Even so, to make the right decision for you, it is essential to have all the facts, good or bad.  It is just as important to weed through the nonsense so your decisions are well-informed ones.

Opportunities for continuing education have never been as great as they are today.  Virtually in every state, numerous options wait to explored, some that include the following:

•    University of Phoenix
•    American InterContinental University
•    DeVry University
•    Walden University
•    University of Minnesota
•    Sacramento State College
•    Oklahoma College of Continuing Education
•    National University
•    Georgetown University
•    St. Louis Community College
•    Kaplan University
•    Boston University