Why earn a college degree?

WHY EARN A COLLEGE DEGREE?


#1: HIGHER EARNING
POTENTIAL

Having a college degree is linked to higher pay, according to a 2010 Educations Pays report from the College Board.

“The median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients working full-time year-round in 2008 were $55,700,” reads the report. That’s $21,900 more than what individuals with only a high school diploma earned.

#2: LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE AND STRESS

Don’t want to be stressed? Having a higher education could help.

A high level of education has been linked to lower blood pressure, according to a 30-year longitudinal study published by BMC Health. Similarly, a 2006 study published by the Carnegie Mellon University Psychology department found that college degree holders have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, compared to people with less education.

Males and females who earned a college degree are also at a lower risk of developing colorectal, prostate, lung and breast cancer, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

#3: HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE CHOICES

The health benefits don’t stop at lower blood pressure and stress.

College grads are also less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise compared to high school grads, according to the College Board report, Education Pays 2010.

#4: EMPLOYER-PROVIDED HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, college graduates have been shown – in one study at least – to be more likely to have employer-provided health care coverage.

Nearly 70 percent of college graduates had employer-provided health insurance, while only 50 percent of high school graduates had that benefit, according to a 2008 report by the College Board.

#5: JOB SATISFACTION

Since we spend most of our lives working, it makes sense that how we feel about our work can greatly affect us.

People with a higher level of education are more satisfied in their jobs than people who only have a high school diploma, according to the College Board’s 2010 Education Pays report.

According to one 2007 survey, the top three satisfying occupations are clergy, firefighters and physical therapists. The University of Chicago survey, which asked college graduates how they felt about their occupation, also noted the satisfying nature of these jobs: teachers, psychologists, operating engineers, office supervisors, and education administrators.

#6: JOB STABILITY

Looking for a career that won’t have you packing soon after you’ve been hired?

Consider a career as a registered nurse, air traffic controller, lobbyist, public school teacher, accountant, college professor, or federal judge. These careers were considered to have the best job security during the recession, according to a “U.S. News” 2007 article, “7 Jobs for Job Security in a Recession”.

Additionally, unemployment among college graduates during the recession was consistently lower than the unemployment rates of non-degree holders, according to the College Board.

#7: FUTURE CHILDREN BENEFITS

Studies have also found that there is a correlation between a woman’s education and the health of her children.

According to the medical journal, Lancet, child mortality rates decreased significantly from 1970 to 2009 as the rate of women’s educational attainment levels increased.

Parents who had a higher education held higher expectations for their children to earn a degree, according to a Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey part of the 2007 National Household Education Surveys Program. These parents were also more likely to pay for their children’s education.

Top Online Degrees

Business

Business is largely conducted electronically these days so it makes sense that online business degrees – both undergraduate and graduate – have become increasingly popular among students.

Criminal Justice

When earning your criminal justice degree online, you might take classes on cyber-security and criminal profiling while also studying broader topics like juvenile justice and the legal system.

Health Care

In recent years, the health care industry has embraced technology to help convert its medical records into electronic form while also delivering and managing patient care efficiently. By taking classes like health care administration and data management systems online, students could be using computers and the latest software to analyze how this transformation is taking place.

Computer and IT

It’s not hard to imagine why computer and IT courses work well online. Study IT online and you’ll likely be using the latest tools and technology to design software, practice trouble-shooting, and learn about networking and security issues.

Nursing

If you want to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing, an online education can help make it happen. While it’s important to check with each school for details, it may be possible to earn your BSN online if you’ve already completed enough hours on the job as an RN to have the requisite clinical experience. Any remaining requirements may only involve academic coursework that can be completed online.

 

10 Reasons to Choose Online Education

1. Choice

Online education allows students to choose from a wide variety of schools and programs not available in their area.

2. Flexibility

Online education offers flexibility for students who have other commitments.

3. Networking Opportunities

Students enrolled in online education programs network with peers from all over the nation.

4. Pacing

Many online education programs allow pupils to work at their own pace.

5. Open Scheduling

Online education allows professionals to continue their careers while working towards a degree.

6. Savings

Online education programs often charge less than traditional schools.

7. Lack of Commute

Students who choose online education save on gas and commuting time.

8. Connections

Some online education programs connect students with top-notch professors and guest lecturers from around the world.

9. Teaching & Testing Options

The variety of online education programs available means that students are able to choose a learning and evaluation format that works for them.

10. Effectiveness

Online education is effective. A 2009 meta-study from the Department of Education found that students taking online courses outperformed their peers in traditional classrooms.

Grants for School

Grants are distinctly different from both scholarships and student loans in that they are free gift money—so unlike student loans that must be repaid—and primarily need-based, compared to traditionally merit-based scholarships.

Grant Categories

Grants may be divided into the following searchable categories:

  • Student-specific
  • Subject-specific
  • Degree Level
  • Minority

Common sources for grant funding:

  • Federal and state governments
  • Colleges and universities
  • Public and private organizations

Because most grant recipients are financially impaired or otherwise disadvantaged, there are many grants specifically designed for minorities and low-income students.

Federal Grants

The federal government is putting more money into the hands of college students than ever before and much of the impetus behind it is the No Child Left Behind Act. The measures help to assure that more primary and secondary schools are held accountable for making sure kids get the attention and education they deserve without prejudices. Which means a much higher percentage of high school students are earning diplomas. More students stand a chance of attending college when the right financial and social resources are available to them along with educators with the know-how and experience to guide them to the right academic and career choices.

The following federal grant programs offer hundreds of thousands of students the necessary assistance that makes college a financial reality:

  • The Pell Grant, in existence since 1972, remains one of the staples of federal funding for millions of low-income students. This fundamental grant program is somewhat at the mercy of the federal government’s budgetary and political whims, but nevertheless remains a valuable source of funding for impoverished undergraduate students.
  • The Academic Competitiveness (AC) Grant is available to undergraduate freshman and sophomores with outstanding academic records and with demonstrated aptitudes for leadership and service. Qualifying candidates must also be Pell Grant eligible.
  • The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART Grant) picks up where the Academic Competitiveness Grant leaves off – with $4,000 awards to undergraduate juniors or seniors studying computer science, engineering, mathematics, or sciences. Applicants must be eligible for and receiving the Pell Grant.

State Grants

Many states administer grant programs to resident students based on merit, need and even area of study. Here are some examples:

  • Oklahoma offers need-based grants and “specialized” grant programs.
  • Michigan’s grant programs are designed for a cross-section of students, including general undergraduates, academically gifted, low-income and even non-traditional adult students.
  • Florida’s Office of Student Financial Assistance administers a wide array of grants from those for disadvantaged, disabled, loan repayment, Hispanics, and academically talented.

Popular Minority Grants

Over the last decade the percentage of minorities graduating with a four-year degree has risen sharply. More African Americans are in college now than ever before and the 39 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country offer top-notch programs and administer scholarships and grants just like other colleges and universities. Find out from us where to find the richest vein of African American student grants.

African American Students

African American women are perhaps one of the most disadvantaged minorities. In fact, this group of students will find countless sources for grants that target women and minorities, especially those grants rewarding involvement in specialized fields of study. Spelman College is the only college in the United States that is devoted to nurturing the needs of African American women students.

Hispanic Students

Hispanics have recently overtaken African Americans in number, but as far as education is concerned most educators sadly label the group as a whole “under-educated.” This means that most do not pursue education beyond high school and those that do are satisfied with a vocational or two-year degree. Cultural, social and economic problems have held past generations of students back from four-year college programs. Despite the fact that numbers remain small, more Hispanic students are finding the means both socially and financially to attend college, often via Hispanic grants. In Texas, California, Florida and Arizona, Hispanic serving colleges – or those whose student bodies are at least a quarter Hispanic – offer need-based grant and scholarship opportunities.

Native American Students

Native Americans constitute the smallest minority group of all, call this their native land and yet are plagued with some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds of all. Up until recently, Native Americans have been isolated in typically remote and rural environments and in reservation communities. Like Hispanics most Native Americans have no family history of higher education – most consider a high school diploma the final goal; a primary reason that Native American grants are so critical.

Asian American Students

The fastest growing ethnic population in America is Asian American. Grants for Asian American students are commonly sponsored by ethnic organizations or available as general ethnic minority grants through the government or colleges and universities.

Are you a First in Family college student?

  • Both Sallie Mae and Coca Cola provide grants to first generation college students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Grants for Women

For generations women were disregarded on most college campuses. Many educators argue that women are in general not as engaged on a coeducational campus as they are on a women’s campus. Private women’s colleges have continued to thrive thanks to the generosity of corps of alumnae, innovative curricula, and expanded programs such as athletics that round out a more complete educational experience.

Grant programs designed for women promote their participation in underrepresented degree programs such as the sciences, mathematics and business. The American Competitiveness Initiative is designed to introduce and prepare future generations of students at primary and secondary levels to be more assertive in subjects like math and science. But for now big corporations and professional organizations emphasize grants and scholarships that reward those students studying in underrepresented professions. One of the most influential organizations, the American Association of University Women, offers an outstanding array of grants to minority and disadvantaged women looking to return to college, or pursue a degree for the first time.

Popular Student-Specific Grants

There is little limit on the types of students seeking college grant money. However we have created some loose categories that successfully embrace significant populations of students. The most popular student-specific grants are:

  • Non-traditional
  • Low-income and disadvantaged
  • Graduate and doctoral
  • High school and undergraduate
  • Military

Non-traditional Students

A growing population of students is outside the traditional college age – between the ages of 18 and 24, posing unique challenges for post-secondary education and driving new demand for non-traditional student grants. Americans are living longer, many are choosing alternative careers, higher degrees, or finishing a degree for the first time in their lives. Community colleges, as well as many traditional campuses, now offer flexible course schedules that include evening and weekend classes specifically tailored to working adults.

Native American tribal colleges and universities serve a wide array of community individuals, many of their students outside the traditional college age. Since tribal colleges are typically the only educational resources remote communities have, they offer all types of degrees, including two-year and certificate programs, and are popular for all members of a community.

Low Income and Disadvantaged Students

There is no reason a student should be denied a college education because of lack of money. Many federal, state, college or private organizations subsidize need-based aid awards for the most financially disadvantaged students.

The federal Pell Grant can ultimately become a generous gift if you are one of the most financially strapped students. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also offers the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students. This award is need-based and disbursed to students studying in an approved health care profession.

Only in the last few decades have accessibility and mobility issues been clarified and institutions of all kinds made accessible to disabled students. Now grants for disabled students such as those from the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association of the Deaf assist students in achieving their goals of participating in and completing a traditional college education.

Graduate and Doctoral Students

Many types of grant programs for graduate students and doctoral candidates are available from colleges and universities and private organizations. Colleges and universities are quite competitive in offering grant awards to the right candidates. In some instances grants support most of a doctoral student’s research and living expenses.

Grad students who must travel to participate in studies abroad, take part in research, or professional conferences may discover a slew of small grants administered by professional organizations or college travel grants designed to cover such auxiliary expenses.

Undergraduate Grants

Popular undergraduate grants range from general grant programs that provide monetary incentive to low-income and disadvantaged students to specialized grants in science, math, engineering, and technology (SMET subjects). The grant options for undergraduate women or minorities are even more bountiful.

High school students enrolling in college; do not overlook your college’s grant hand-outs. Most smaller, private colleges are quite generous when it comes to kicking in funds to augment financial aid. They are more interested in attracting quality students regardless of financial ability to pay.

Grants for Military Students and Families

Interested in a branch of the military, but still want to attend college? The Army, Air Force and Naval ROTC, among others, offer full tuition to qualified students in the armed forces. For those active in the military, programs such as the Army’s Spouse Education Assistance Program or the Navy equivalent—the Spouse Tuition Aid Program—are available to married active duty personnel. Check the military section for each branch’s opportunities.

Subject-Specific Grants

Considering the fact that scores of professional organizations have active educational funds that help foster their fields of interest, it’s no wonder that it is just as easy to shop for grants based on subject or field of interest. Corporations spend millions of dollars offering internships, fellowships, scholarships and grants intended to attract academically driven and talented students to their corporate folds.

High Need Fields Fuel Grant Giving

There are fields of study that draw considerable funding from sources in large part due to challenging shortages. The fields with the most significant shortages drive the biggest supply of grants:

  • Healthcare, especially nursing
  • Teaching

Student Loans

If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest.

If you decide to take out a loan, make sure you understand who is making the loan and the terms and conditions of the loan. Student loans can come from the federal government or from private sources such as a bank or financial institution. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources.

What types of federal student loans are available?

The U.S. Department of Education has two federal student loan programs:

  • The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program is the largest federal student loan program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. There are four types of Direct Loans available:
    • Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school.
    • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but in this case, the student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.
    • Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.
    • Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer.
  •  The Federal Perkins Loan Program is a school-based loan program for undergraduates and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Under this program, the school is lender.

Why should You take out federal student loans?

Federal student loans offer many benefits compared to other options you may consider when paying for college:

  • The interest rate on federal student loans is almost always lower than that on private loans—and much lower than that on a credit card!
  • You don’t need a credit check or a cosigner to get most federal student loans.
  • You don’t have to begin repaying your federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time.
  • If you demonstrate financial need, you can qualify to have the government pay your interest while you are in school.
  • Federal student loans offer flexible repayment plans and options to postpone your loan payments if you’re having trouble making payments.
  • If you work in certain jobs, you may be eligible to have a portion of your federal student loans forgiven if you meet certain conditions.

Source: http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/loans

 

Scholarships

Scholarships are awards given to students based on academic excellence and/or talent. Additionally, students may receive scholarships based on other factors, such as ethnic background, field of study, or financial need. Scholarships vary in their amounts and the number of years given aid. For example, they can be awarded a one time payment or receive aid annually for a certain number of years (Ex/ $1000 scholarship vs. $5000 per year for four years). Like a grant, students do not need to payback the money awarded in a scholarship.

Scholarships can be awarded through your school or through private sources. Institutions offer various scholarships based on merit, talent, and/or need. Contact your school for a list of scholarships being offered to students. Private scholarships are offered through organizations or companies. Some organizations make students compete for awards through performance or essay writing, whereas some look for students that fit specific requirements and standards. You can search for private scholarships on the internet, through online scholarship search engines, scholarship books, or by contacting your school.

Apply for Financial Aid

You should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 of the year you are requesting aid. Check with the schools you’re interested in attending and your state department of higher education for specific deadlines.

  1. If possible, complete your income taxes (and/or have your parents complete their income taxes) before you complete the FAFSA.
  2. Plan to complete the FAFSA online, as it reduces errors. If you are unable to apply online, the FAFSA is available in paper form or as a PDF document (English, Spanish).
  3. To submit the FAFSA online, you and your parent need to apply for a PIN (Personal Identification Number). The PIN allows you to sign the FAFSA electronically.
  4. Have the following items [for you and your parent(s), if applicable] on hand when you prepare to complete the FAFSA:
    • Income tax return, or solidly estimated tax information
    • W-2 forms and other records of money earned
    • Records of untaxed income (e.g., unemployment benefits in some states)
    • Current bank statements
    • Business and farm records
    • Records of investments
    • Drivers’ licenses and Social Security cards
    • Dates of birth
  5. Answer all questions (even if you need to estimate).
  6. List the colleges you’re considering attending. You may list up to 10 if filing the FAFSA online.
  7. Remember to sign the FAFSA electronically with a PIN if you complete the FAFSA online.
    • If you complete the FAFSA online without a PIN, you’ll need to sign and mail the signature pages.
    • If you complete a paper form, sign the completed form and mail it.
  8. Watch for your Student Aid Report (SAR) to arrive a few weeks after submitting your completed and signed FAFSA.
  9. Review the financial aid award letter you receive from each college listed on your FAFSA. The colleges you list on the FAFSA automatically receive your results and use them to prepare your financial aid package. The award letter lists the financial aid you are eligible to receive at that college.

Keep in mind:

  • If you filed a FAFSA in the previous academic year and provided your e-mail address, you will receive a Renewal FAFSA notification in February from the U.S. Department of Education. When you file your FAFSA online for the current year, the majority of your data will be pre-filled – all you’ll need to do is make the necessary corrections/revisions before electronically signing and submitting.
  • If you do not receive your SAR within four weeks after the date you submit your FAFSA, check the status of your application by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4 FED-AID.

Source: http://mappingyourfuture.org/paying/fafsa.htm

Career and Vocational Programs

While obtaining an education past high-school is known to improve job opportunities and income, pursuing the traditional four years of academic college education doesn’t make sense for everyone. For some people, obtaining a bachelor’s degree may not be financially feasible, is not well suited to their strengths or does not support their career goals. A smart alternative for these individuals may be to enroll in a career or vocational program. They can gain the specific skills they need to enter the workforce more quickly and earn a living in an interesting career.

Career and Vocational Program Coursework

Various types of career programs exist including professional, vocational, technical and trade programs. All of these programs teach students the skills they need for a specific job. These programs include limited or no general academic courses and focus instead of coursework that pertains concretely to a specific career. Students may earn a certificate, associate’s degree, or in some cases, a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These programs can be found at a variety of schools including for-profit career, vocational and technical schools, community colleges and at academic colleges and universities.

Benefits

Employers look for graduates of career programs to fill specific positions that they would otherwise have to provide training for internally. Instead, they are able to hire individuals ready to be productive as soon as they start the job. Career program graduates are more marketable and can demand a higher salary than someone who needs on-the-job training.

Another benefit is that students will be spending their effort and money on courses that are specific to their intended career. Students in a traditional academic college program will spend a good deal of time and money on courses for which the benefit to their future profession may be unclear.

Medical, Nursing, Health

Health care is one of the largest occupations in the world–in 2008, there were 14.3 million health care jobs in the United States alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the health care industry is projected to add 3.2 million jobs between 2008 and 2018, making it the largest growth industry in the country. What’s more, 10 of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. are related to health care. Business is definitely booming in the world of medicine.

Top 5 Health Care Degrees:

 

Degree #1 – Nursing

Want to pursue an in-demand registered nursing (RN) career that lets you help others? An associate’s degree in nursing could help.

As a nursing student, you might take courses like anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and health assessment, says the College Board, an organization that administers academic aptitude tests like the SAT. Most associate’s degree programs help students gain clinical experience with patients to help prepare you for the national nursing certification exam, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Projected growth for RNs: The Department of Labor projects a 22 percent increase in job opportunities for registered nurses between 2008 and 2018. “As the demand for preventative care increases, so does the demand for primary care givers such as nurses. As it stands now, the demand currently exceeds the supply,” says Santiago.

Degree #2 – Dental Assisting

Want to play a role in helping people improve their dental care? An associate’s degree in dental assisting could help you prepare to pursue a career as a dental assistant. Programs might offer courses in clinical practice, oral anatomy, and office management, says the College Board.

Projected growth for dental assistants: “There are a growing number of people who are keeping their natural teeth longer,” says Santiago. “This translates into more patients who need regular dental care.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of dental assistants, who generally spend their work days removing sutures or prepping instruments for dental procedures, is projected to grow by 36 percent between 2008 and 2018.

Degree #3 – Medical Assisting

Think a more administrative role in health care might be for you? Look into associate’s degree programs in medical assisting. In this type of program, you might get hands-on instruction and take courses in clinical and diagnostic procedures, administration of medications, and medical office administration and insurance, says the College Board.

Projected growth for medical assistants: Medical assistants, who generally schedule appointments, take patient vitals, and bill insurance companies, are projected to experience 34 percent job growth between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“As medical technology advances and more people become insured, patient loads are increasing all over,” says Santiago. “Because of this, there’s an increased need for support personnel, especially in primary care.”

Degree #4 – Physical Therapy Assisting

Want to help disabled or injured patients increase their mobility? Look into associate’s degree programs in physical therapy assisting that are accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. Curriculum generally combines coursework in motor development, rehabilitation procedures, and kinesiology with hands-on experience, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Projected growth for physical therapist assistants and aides: “Facilities that utilize physical therapy assistants are able to reduce the cost of their services,” says Santiago. “This, along with the general increase in patients who need physical therapy, makes this a growing career field.” In fact, the Department of Labor projects 33 percent job growth for physical therapist assistants and aides from 2008 to 2018.

Degree #5 – Health Information Technology

If you prefer a more behind-the-scenes role, consider earning an associate’s degree that includes coursework in health information technology, which could help you prepare to pursue opportunities on the technological side as a health information technician. According to the College Board, courses in health care law, statistics, and coding are typical for health information technology majors.

Projected growth for medical records and health information technicians: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, job opportunities are projected to grow by 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. Santiago says this type of growth is probably due to the enforcement of stricter laws. “As the health care field is forced to update its technology,” she explains, “the need for people who can create and maintain these systems increases.”

Source:  http://education.yahoo.net/articles/valuable_health_care_degrees.htm

Liberal Arts & Humanities

A liberal arts and humanities degree teaches you how to think critically about the world around you. Instead of focusing narrowly on specific technical or occupational skills, you work on building your general knowledge and overall intellectual abilities. A good liberal arts school helps you cultivate your ability to communicate effectively, to articulate informed opinions, to evaluate information around you, and to explore the richness of various languages and cultures.

Careers

Liberal arts graduates can be found in government, businesses, academics, and nearly every other occupation across the globe. In fact, the 21st century has seen an increase in employers seeking out graduates of liberal arts schools. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that employers favor job candidates with skills in areas such as problem-solving, communication, and teamwork. Often college graduates who possess the right skills, such as critical thinking, have an edge over those with the right major. While employers can teach you new job-specific skills or offer instruction on how to perform a certain task, they can’t teach you how to think or learn.  In particular, employers tend to hire job seekers with analytical ability, initiative, a strong work ethic, and excellent verbal and written communication skills. A degree in the liberal arts and humanities gives you a solid foundation in all of those.

Salary

Since liberal arts and humanities majors can go into such a wide variety of careers, the amount they can earn varies just as considerably. Here are the median annual salaries for some liberal arts and humanities careers, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Anthropologist and archaeologist: $53,910
  • Archivist: $45,020
  • Chief executive: $158,560
  • Economist: $83,590
  • Interpreter: $38,850
  • Market research analysts: $61,070
  • Museum curator: $47,220
  • Political scientists: $104,130
  • Writers and authors: $53,070