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Online Bachelor Degree: Lower Unemployment and Higher Pay

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment rates fall and earnings rise for people who have more education. Not exactly rocket science but if you're a high school graduate working a 40-hour week, getting a bachelor's degree may seem nearly impossible. Work, family and financial obligations don't leave much time to attend a college or university full time. But a phenomenon called distance learning now makes it possible to pursue an online bachelor degree from the comfort of your own home. In a nutshell, dozens of accredited colleges and universities now offer online bachelor degree programs that require students to spend little or no time on campus. The nation's largest accredited private university, the University of Phoenix, offers online bachelor degree programs in business, technology, health care, education, and social and behavioral science. According to the latest figures (2002) from the Department of Education website, the University of Phoenix had more than 107,000 students enrolled in a variety of classroom and online programs. Getting a degree from an accredited online university can significantly impact your earning profile and reduce your chances of becoming unemployed. When the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Fall 2004) compared the median weekly earnings and unemployment rate for full-time workers aged 25 or over, degree holders clearly fared better. While a high school grad earned $554 weekly and faced a national unemployment rate of 5.5%, the holder of a bachelor degree made $900 a week with an unemployment rate of only 3.3 percent. If figures like these make you eager to explore an online bachelor degree, you'll find links in the resource box at the bottom of this article than can help advance your career. But before you start clicking, here's a three-question checklist that will help you decide if an online bachelor degree is right for you:

1. Do you meet the academic requirements? Online universities have admission requirements that you'll need to meet before you begin your studies. Certificate and online bachelor degree programs require a high school diploma or GED certificate.

2. What are your goals? Write down your goals and then research your options with these goals in mind. List the criteria you're looking for in an online college or university and then determine which school is the best match for your goals. All online universities provide free, detailed information about their degree programs. There's also free online access to enrolment counsellors, so take advantage of these no-cost services.

3. Can you afford an online degree? While the cost of an online bachelor degree is often just half that of attending a brick-and-mortar university, it still pays to make sure you can afford tuition, books and other fees. You may find that you don't have to cover the entire cost of your online education alone. At many online universities, students receive all or part of their tuition from their employer. There are still other financial options available, too, including federal grant and loan programs with low interest rates. Remember, data show that unemployment rates fall and earnings rise for people who have more education. So, get learning to start earning and investigate whether an online bachelor degree is right for you!


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