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Article about Education:
Higher Learning Key to Career Advancement
(ARA) - After her marriage of 19 years ended, it became apparent to Sherry Jones that she needed to start a career. "My GED wasn't getting me anywhere," she says. "I had hobby experience with computers but couldn't get hired without an education." So Jones began taking classes at Florence-Darlington Technical College, in Florence, S.C.
Jones' predicament was not unusual. Millions of Americans struggle to find work or get promotions without a degree. In 2001, the unemployment rate for high school graduates who did not attend college was 10.7 percent versus 4.6 percent for those with an associate's degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
There's good news if you've been considering advancing your education. Today's educational landscape offers enough options to make some form of postsecondary education accessible to everyone, and there are plenty of resources available to help you plot a course.
Find the Program
Whether you're exploring postsecondary education for the first time, or looking to finish a bachelor's degree you started years ago, you can find a program to match your needs. You can locate schools and courses in your own neighborhood using the Internet. Web sites like Monster Learning (http://learning.monster.com) let you research a variety of educational opportunities by location, degree and subject matter.
If you're worried about balancing a job, family responsibilities and classes, distance learning might be right for you. According to the NCES, 2.2 million students are currently enrolled in distance education courses. That includes increasingly popular online learning programs, which can be completed from home through a school's Web site.
Online learning providers offer everything from certificate programs to doctorate degrees. They're a great option for those looking to fit education into a tight schedule. "If you want to do work at 2 o'clock in the morning online, you can," says Mark Robbins, vice president for membership and development at the Career College Association.
After Jones earned her associate's of computer technology degree, she went on to earn her bachelor's of science degree, online, from Capella University's School of Technology while working part-time. "I was able to fit school into my schedule," she says. "I could do it anytime, day or night, whatever time I had available."
Find the Money
The excitement of identifying a school that offers a program that meets your interests, needs and schedule can fade once the price tag is revealed. Don't let sticker shock dissuade you from pursuing education.
Web sites like FinAid.org (http://www.finaid.org) provide information on the full range of methods for financing higher education from loans to grants. The site also offers a variety of online calculators that can help you assess the cost of a degree.
Jones paid for her associate's degree with money she received through the Workforce Reinvestment Act. Because Capella is an accredited university, she was able to take advantage of federal financial aid programs like Pell Grants and low interest Stafford Loans to finance her bachelor's degree.
Scholarships are another excellent way to meet the cost of an education. Free online scholarship search services like FastWeb connect users to a wide range of scholarships. FastWeb creates a customized list of scholarships users are eligible for based on a profile they complete. Money is available for all types of students, including nontraditional students.
The Pay Off
A post secondary degree can give you more marketable skills and help to advance your career. A survey of graduates from one of the top business schools showed that 90 percent of the graduates who received a promotion attributed it to their education.
Jones now works full time in a field that was once her hobby. She works with computers, supporting and creating databases for the Assurant Group in Florence. "When I started thinking about careers I couldn't dream of doing anything else," she says.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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