Guest Post from Veronica Mason
Working from home has many benefits: no commute, working on your own time, feeling accomplished, being able to raise a family without as much time away, etc. These reasons all apply to online education as well. For example, you can complete assignments when it is convenient for you and skip the drive to a college campus. So whatever your reason for working from home, you should also consider earning a degree from home.
Even with the benefits of taking online classes, balancing an online education with work and a personal life can be a challenge. Here are some tips of how to handle all of those tasks in addition to going back to school online.
Benefits to Online Education
Let’s begin with why you would want to get a degree from an online college or university when you are already working. Statistics show that, on average, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree will make $25,000 a year more than high school graduates. The numbers go up for masters and doctorate degrees. Many employers will even increase your salary if you obtain a higher degree.
Having a degree also increases the amount of jobs you can do from home. A degree in accounting or finance can give you the option of bookkeeping for a company. Website design is becoming more popular as a career, and many schools offer courses in graphic design and web design.
The most important reason to take classes online is for your own satisfaction. As online education becomes more popular—even top universities like Harvard and Cornell offer courses online—there will be more options available, which means that your chances of finding a subject that’s interesting to you are pretty good. The classes won’t be a hassle to complete if you enjoy them!
How to Get through School While Working
1. Find ways to save money.
While online colleges and universities can save you money through digital textbooks and the lack of a commute, the tuition is not always cheaper. There are grants and scholarships available for working adults who are returning to school, especially mothers. You just have to be willing to search for them. You can also receive tax breaks that will keep the cost of school from cutting too much into your income.
If you would rather take a few classes instead of obtaining a degree, several universities offer free courses in everything from American poetry to nutrition. Resources like Coursera.org have compiled classes available from 33 universities to choose from. There are also a lot of resources where you can find computer science courses, which could be extremely helpful if you’re working virtually from home.
2. Transfer credits that you already have.
If you have an unfinished degree, make sure to contact your past college or university and have the credits transferred. You’ll save both money and time.
3. Talk to counselors and advisers.
Though not located on an actual campus, online schools offer a great support system. They generally have advisers for every step of your education, including admission, financial services, and degree planning. Take advantage of that resource. If you explain what your goals are and what your schedule is like, the counselors and advisers can help you form the best plan for completing your education.
4. Study when you have the time, but still keep a schedule.
One of the biggest challenges of working and studying from home is finding ways to manage your time so that you can do both. Online classes are flexible because you can “attend” lectures and complete assignments when it’s most convenient for you. However, it can be easy to say that you are feeling too tired to finish your studies at the end of the day. Schedule your time so that you know which hours of the day you will work and which hours you will complete your coursework. Once you’ve decided on your plan, commit to it.
5. Make your education directly beneficial to you.
As stated before, there are many good reasons to get an online education. Find your motivation, and let that be your guide when deciding which courses to take and which degree to obtain. Whether you want to develop a hobby or improve your work skills, keeping your end goal in mind will motivate you to finish.
Veronica Mason has worked as an academic adviser since graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in education. She enjoys learning about innovations in education, particularly online education.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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