Sunday, March 18, 2012

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Changing Views Towards Associate, Bachelor, and Graduate Programs

In my generation, as a high school student belonging to an average "middle class" family, the philosophy towards higher education was to be accepted to the best rated school you could (Ivy League if possible), to study hard, and to enjoy the college experience.  Back then, graduating from a 4-year university was the minimum expectation (a 2-year associates degree was not good enough) and obtaining a graduate degree was preferred.  Of course, money was an issue and students turned to their parents, scholarships and grants, working part time, and student loans.  Fast forward to the present, when those high school students now have children of their own with dreams of attending college, the situation is quite different.

How can students today make their dream of going to college come true when their parents are losing their jobs, losing their homes, and the price of college tuition has not stopped rising?  Even if these students work part time, they will likely need to contribute those earnings to their family's finances to make ends meet.  In addition to applying for scholarships, working extra hours, and attending a state school, here are two things students can do to achieve their goal of a college degree . . .

1.  Consider taking online courses to earn college credit.  Many students are choosing this route because the tuition is much lower than attending a school with walls.  Yes, the experience would not be the same, but this may be a good choice for students who need to save as much as possible on tuition and decide they can forego the social interaction.

2.  Take several years to work and save up money for tuition before starting college.  This plan throws a kink into the traditional timeline of 4 years of high school, 4 years of college, and 2 years of graduate school with no gaps in between.  People have actually been doing this for decades.  In fact, the average student age of many state schools is much older than at private colleges because of adults who chose to attend school after they have been part of the workforce full time and after they have started their families.

If you have a success story about how you, your children, or someone else you know were able to get their college degree even though the odds were stacked against them, I would love for you to share it with me and your fellow-readers.  Your story might inspire those who feel like college is not meant to be for themselves or their children.

This post and the subsequent discussion were supported by Online College Classes. The site is a resource for those looking to further their education with a nontraditional program.