Do you want to go to college to obtain a college or graduate degree, but that dreams seem impossible due to money or time constraints? Perhaps you need to fulfill your professional development credits but traveling for work is in the way. Consider going to school online. In addition to furthering your career, you would reduce your educational carbon footprint as suggested in the WorldWideLearning article, “Nine Ways to Save the Earth with Your College Degree.” The author Dr. Clare Kaufman states,
“[e]ducation, whether online or via more traditional classroom methods, continues to grow in scale and in importance. An estimated 2.35 million students took at least one online course during the Fall 2004 term, according to the Sloan Consortium, a foundation that tracks and supports online education,” according to the WorldWideLearn, a comprehensive world-wide online directory of e-learning and classroom education resources for adults.
The directory contains accredited degree programs from an associate to graduate degrees as well as professional continuing education, professional development, and career training programs. In fact, it has learning resources in 360 subject areas.
Online degrees can be obtained in the United States, Canada, and international universities programs. The benefits of an online education are you can virtually learn anywhere or at anytime. Learners are no longer constrained by location or time.
Some of the institutions listed in the directory are brick and mortar institutions with online courses such as Boston University and George Washington University. In addition, the directory provides learning tools links to help you with your studies such as Memorypower (interactive memory improvement course) and EssayEdge (application editing service).
Additional sections in the directory are devoted to career pathways for career planning tools, and articles on various educational topics. The WorldWideLearn has a course for everyone, who wishes to either further their careers, change careers or just enjoys learning.
What are the Green Benefits of Attending an Online School?
Dr. Kaufman’s article cites the following compelling reasons why going to college online helps the Earth:
- Driving less will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
- Using fewer campus resources will reduce campus consumption of energy.
- Sitting at your desk will not marginally increase your everyday living consumption.
- Using less paper will save more trees because textbooks will be online and teaching will be via presentations, videos, and downloaded notes. Exams will be online versus on paper.
- Promotes economy of scales. One lecture can be used for several thousand classes rather than for a singular lecture hall presentation.
- Takes on more civic responsibility since more students can be reached that would ordinarily be unable to learn due to money or time constraints.
- Explores more options because it allows students to take advantage of nationwide specialty courses, which ordinarily would be inaccessible.
- Creates a global network by bring together share ideas of many different nationalities together through a virtual classroom.
- Supporting sustainability in higher education by being able to attend a college of your choice based upon their sustainability rating. (The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has developed a rating system for colleges.)
- Take action by bridging the gap between academia and real life experience.Many of the online students are professionals, who can contribute real experiences to what they are learning.
Perhaps before you forge ahead to go back to school, there are still some other concerns to think about. First, are you going back to school for the right reasons or right career for your personality? Secondly, how will your future employer feel about your online degree?
Are you Headed Down the Right Career Path?
Before you decide to start college or consider a career change, it behooves you to consider career counseling. According to Mitch Baskin, a principal in Baskin Business and Career Services, specializing in career counseling for individuals and businesses in NJ, the cost of career counseling is negligible compared to the cost of paying for a year or two of college for a career path you dislike.
Baskin explains, in his firm’s case, for a fee of $600, a client receives an assessment test then three sessions with the counselor to determine the best career choices for that particular client. Surprisingly, many clients may find during the career counseling that they are best suited for their present work; however, the actual job may be the cause of their unhappiness.
So, the counselor and the client work together to identify the source of unhappiness. This enables the client to find another job in the right environment.
Some career counseling firms such as BBCS also have mental health counselors on staff. As Baskin explained, sometimes clients are so stressed out or have other emotional issues that proper career counseling cannot proceed until these psychological issues are sorted out.
So how do you know which career counselor to go to? Baskin advised to make sure that the counselor is at least certified as either a National Certified Career Counselor (NCCC) or Master Career Counselor (MCC). See The National Board of Certified Counselors, The Career Counseling Consortium (a tri-state and assorted other US states), or The National Career Development Association.
The Career Counseling Consortium has bios on the counselors and their specialties. Most importantly, Baskin advised you should meet with the counselor to see if you feel comfortable with him/her.
For additional services, some career centers offer resume writing services. They help to tailor your resume to the job you are seeking. A properly written resume is worth its weight in gold.
How will a Prospective Employer View Your Degree?
Despite lauding the benefits of going green by attending an online school, how will future employers feel about your degree? I called three different industries to see their gut feelings about this situation. I have only heard from one industry (health care).
A spokeswoman from the PR and Marketing Department of Atlantic Heath indicated that the Company would accept a degree from an online accredited university.
I also posed this question to Chaney Rankin, content editor and educational expert for WorldWideLearn.
“The way to distinguish real online schools from false ones is accreditation. The U.S. Dept. of Education recognizes six regional accrediting bodies, charged with ensuring that educational institutions within their region meet a certain set of academic standards. These accrediting bodies oversee every institution from Harvard to Joe Bob Community College—and any online college that wants to establish real credibility.
Most of the major online universities are regionally accredited (all of the ones listed on WorldWideLearn are; it’s a requirement for participation on our site). The Distance Education and Training Council has also been recognized as a reputable accrediting body by the Dept. of Education. A DETC-accredited school is good, but a regionally accredited school is even better.
Every college and university, online or otherwise, is required to state its accreditation, if any. If a university lists one of these organizations as its accrediting body that means it meets federal academic standards for a quality education.”
What Did Others Have to Say?
Jamie Littlefield, a credentialed teacher with a Masters in Education, shares her experiences as having taken courses in high school and college long distance in her column, Distance Learning, on About.com. Her article, “Get an Online Degree Employers Take Seriously,” suggests certain guidelines to follow when choosing an online school.
- Make sure the school has proper regional accreditation as previously mentioned by Raney.
- Choose a school that does not have the words, “online” or “distance learning” in their proper name. With those words in the name, it just makes it more obvious that you received your degree from an online school. (Note, that schools listed in the WorldWideLearn directory using the words, “online” in their name in may not use that terminology in their diplomas. Check first before discounting the school. See comment below.)
- Investigate the school’s track record. Research articles about the school and contact future and past students. My suggestion is to find out from the school’s career placement office where they have placed their graduates. In addition, read Littlefield’s article, “Do Your Homework,” which gives helpful suggestions on finding out about an online school.
- Try and find a brick and mortar campus with an online degree.
- Ask the school for a sample transcripts to make sure that your degree will be viewed positively.
- Make sure the school has a regular office with competent staff in the case an employer may want to investigate the type of school you attended.
If time, money, and environmental concerns are an issue for your continued learning, then online courses may be the source that you have been looking for.The WorldWideLearn directory is a comprehensive listing of all type of programs that will meet your needs. So, go green and help make a smarter Planet!
Join the Conversation:
- Have you received an online degree and what was its impact in the market place?
- Are you considering going back to school? Would you consider an online degree. Why or why not?
- Have you ever received any career advice from a counselor? Would you reccommend it?
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