Category: Adult Education


L.L. Plante January 20, 2012

You have seen all the ads on TV, in emails directed to you, and through phone calls that you receive urging you to consider going back to school.  Each school will explain to you that you probably would qualify for a student loan and most will help you complete the necessary forms.  Most schools also offer some type of help towards finding employment once you have graduated.

Stop and think before you sign up.  What are your personal goals for going back to school?  Are you thinking of taking up a new profession?  If so, there are a few things that you seriously need to consider before taking that initial step.  There is a saying that most individuals will have had at least three different career paths during their life time; however what they do not tell you is how difficult it is to obtain a position within that new career field.  For example, if you are thinking of becoming a paralegal, you should be aware that most paralegal jobs listed require two years’ experience.  If you have no previous experience in this field, obtaining your bachelor’s degree in the Paralegal field will not get your foot in the door to a successful new career at what you expect as an annual salary.  However, if you are already working within a law firm in some type of legal position, say perhaps, a legal secretary, then by all means go for it and increase your education!

For those who may be thinking of going back to school to enter a new profession, there are a few things that you need to contemplate first.  The first issue you need to consider is that without experience in your new field the education that you have just completed is almost useless.  The only way around this is to start off working in a lower position within a firm and work your way up the ladder at less income or to offer a firm your free services for the privilege of hands on learning. While this may be something younger adults who still live at home can accomplish, older adults cannot.

The second thing that you should be aware of is that the educational cost of that new profession starts very soon after you have graduated and this cost alone will require that you bring home a good salary (something you cannot accomplish at a low level paying position).  Paying back student loans are a large expense and do not ever go away until fully paid.  The only way that you can get out of paying back student loans is to die; the student loans are forgiven when an individual is deceased.

You really need to strategize and think before being tempted by the big push on today to go back to school.  Look at all your angles and think strongly about what you will be able to accomplish with that new degree; do not take the word of schools or ads who are pushing you to go back to school.

False advertising, or the way things are worded can be confusing.  You must remember that the employees who are trying to convince you to return to school are performing their duties in obtaining as many students as they can; some receive bonuses for how many new students they can attract.   Ads that tell you how much a person can make in a certain profession do not tell you how much experience, besides education, is required before you make those big bucks!

Seal of the United States Department of Education

L. L. Plante – January 10, 2012

      There is a big push on these days to either go back to school to learn a new profession or to brush up or increase your current profession.  This push towards higher education takes on numerous forms such as ads, emails, and phone calls; all trying to compete for your admission to their online school.  I am an avid believer in continuous education but there are steps that you should be aware of before choosing what you may think is the perfect online school for you.

      One would assume that the curriculum offered would be most important in choosing your school.  And it certainly is.  Other considerations would include how one school over other schools shows its importance to your personal needs.  And this is also very important as it can be a very personal judgment on your part.  What most perspective students do not consider is the school’s accreditation.  This is more important than most people think.

      Accreditation of a school can be either regional or national.  Now you’re asking, what is the difference?  Most schools will go into a discussion on the relevance or non-relevance of being national or regional and this information, at the time, will go over your head as they try to convince you that it really does not matter.  Remember, you are being bombarded by many different educational institutions and trying to make up your mind which ones to consider.  Stop, and take notes because whether a school is nationally or regionally accredited can affect your continued education and sometimes even what types of jobs you may qualify once you graduate.

     Here is a short definition of what accreditation means and the two different types of accreditation. Accreditation means that a school has been evaluated by education authorities; evaluation ensures that a particular school is offering high quality learning opportunities.   However, accreditation is a process and a very expensive process for the school which colleges and universities voluntarily apply to receive.  In the United States there are six regional accrediting agencies covering different sections of the country.  Therefore, if an online college chooses to apply for a regional accreditation it will be evaluated by a regional agency governing over its home state.  These accrediting agencies are all recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.  On the other hand, national accreditation is not based on geography and was designed to evaluate specific types of schools and colleges; for example, the Distance Education and Training Council accredits colleges that offer distance education.  Colleges and schools often apply for national accreditation when their model of instruction or their course content is different from most traditional degree programs.  How does this affect your decision?  Well, regional accrediting agencies may not be able to compare a career school with a liberal arts college, for example, because the methods of study are so dissimilar.

      At this point, you are asking yourself, so how does this affect me?  The answer is quite simple.  If you attend a nationally accredited online school and decide either part way through your studies or even after you have graduated to attend another school, you may not be able to attend the school of your choice because the school you attended was nationally accredited and not regionally accredited.  This can be disheartening after spending some time advancing your education to find out that it may have been for nothing.  Now, if you are certain, that say for example, all you want is your bachelor’s degree, then it may not be of much concern to you.  Just remember, as time goes by, choices you make can affect future choices you have not even considered today.  Have a good understanding of the different classifications and how a school’s accreditation may limit future choices before making a wise choice to which school you want to attend today.

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