Women and the Power of a Higher Education part 2

Taking the First Step toward your College Degree

When you are in the midst of a transitional period of life, it can feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. Which mom hasn’t, at one time or another, felt like they are moving through life wearing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility -- contributing to society, but not noticed? Which returning female veteran who, when considering a return to home, school, and family, hasn’t, at one time or another, felt like a square peg in a homecoming of round holes? Keep in mind, you aren’t alone, women now account for 1.8 million of the approximately 23 million U.S. veterans.3 You don’t need to fit in, you just need a plan as you learn to adjust to your new role in your old world.

Whether you need a flexible schedule or are switching careers as you continue to work, consider the convenience of online education. Obtaining a higher education these days is less about where and more about when and how. Traditional or non-traditional? Full-time or part-time? On-campus or online? During the last couple of years, over 20 percent of all undergraduates have taken at least one distance education course.4 In other words, online education is becoming mainstream.

Online education is so widespread that 4 out of the 20 largest degree-granting colleges and universities (in terms of enrollment) are online degree granting programs. These online universities include: the University of Phoenix Online Campus, Kaplan University, Strayer University and Ashford University. In fact, the postsecondary institution in the U.S. with the highest enrollment in the fall of 2009 was at the University of Phoenix Online Campus with over 380,000 students enrolled.5

You may even be surprised to know that traditional colleges also offer online courses at high rates. 89% of four-year public colleges and universities offer online classes and 60% of four-year private schools offer them.6

In other words, if you choose to pursue your college education through online ventures, you won’t be alone.

Busy Begets Busy; Credits Beget Credits

There is the old adage, “if you need to get something done, ask a busy person.” A recent study on women returning to school indicated that the “women most likely to return are those with the heaviest combination of work and family demands, namely women with young children who are also working more than 45 hours per week.”7

It comes as no surprise that women who work hard understand the payoffs of that hard work, and the rewards that can come to those who invest in themselves. Women with such high demands on their time understand the need for managing school time around their schedule rather than managing their schedule around school time -- online education provides just that opportunity.

Busy women also understand the need to maximize use of college credits already earned. There is no need to pay for and repeat taking a course you’ve already taken at a previous job or institution. Many courses can transfer to accredited institutions of higher education. Here’s where previous experience can give you a leg up as you pursue your degree.

3 USA Today, Female Veterans Struggle in Jobs Market, by Meena Thiruvengadam, 2/17/2011 http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2011-02-17-womenvets17_ST_N.htm

4 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2011). The Condition of Education 2011 (NCES 2011-033), Indicator 43 http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80

5 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2011). Digest of Education Statistics (NCES 2011-015), Chapter 3 http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=74

6 Pew Research Center, The Digital Revolution and Higher Education: College Presidents, Public Differ on Value of Online Learning, August 28, 2011 http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2011/08/online-learning.pdf

7 Sloan Work and Family Research Network, Educational Careers, Returning to School and Work-Family Concerns, Hostetler, Andrew, March 2008 http://wfnetwork.bc.edu/encyclopedia_entry.php?id=13171&area=All