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Furthering Your Education as a Mother

By: Liz Smith, Editor-in-chief of www.careereducationadvisor.com

Many mothers are waiting for their children to grow up before they will go back to school or return to work. Balancing a career, an education, or even both with the demands of family life can be extremely difficult if not impossible. No doubt your children have a plethora of daily activities: soccer practice, band rehearsal, girl/boy scouts, etc. Or maybe they're still too young for school so you're home with them all day. Although Baby Einstein stimulates the mind, you're probably looking for something a slightly more substantial for yourself. Either way, it's hard to find time for yourself, let alone time to earn that degree you've always wanted. However, there is a solution that could be perfect for your circumstances: gain your degree online.

With most institutions for online learning you, the student, are able to decide when and where you "attend" class, so you can set your own pace and ensure that you won't miss important moments with your children. Since distance learning is still a relatively new phenomenon, many people have questions about what the classroom experience is like and how you can tell if the degree program you are interested in is appropriately accredited. This article will delve into these areas in an attempt to increase your understanding about online education and thus help you to make an educated decision about earning your degree.

Earning an online degree is still that, an earned degree-which means that you will have to work hard. You may have the option of taking your time with classes, and setting your own pace, but you will still need to "attend" all the lectures and complete all the assignments. You're able to do this because even though class typically "begins" at a certain time, you won't necessarily have to be there. You can communicate with your instructor by e-mail, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and instant messenger. Your classroom will reside in a special software program that utilizes text, chat, and bulletin boards, as well as streaming audio or recorded lectures. This contact with other students and the instructor is useful and oftentimes essential to your education.

Most instructors will respond to e-mail on a regular basis (within 24 to 48 hours) and can offer either synchronous (live) or asynchronous (non-live) class sessions. Transcripts and notes from these lectures are archived for your convenience. You will always be able to access previous discussions, live or not. Assignments can be completed using these archives and turned in to your professor via e-mail. Since instructors usually team up with web designers and instructional designers to create this high tech classroom, the result is an interactive and highly effective learning environment. Not only will you receive an excellent education utilizing the latest technology, but, if your child's occasional dance recital or big baseball game falls on the same day that you've scheduled yourself to work, you can miss a day of class without missing a thing.

But which degree program will you enroll in? There are a variety of aspects to consider depending upon the field you are looking to enter. For example, you may be aware that IT/computer programs offer online degrees, but perhaps you didn't know that you can attend medical school, interior decorating school, fine art school and fashion school online as well. Even law school is an online option for those who are that ambitious. You can earn a more general liberal arts degree that can prepare you for a number of different fields, or you can specialize in the field that you know will be entering someday. Whatever road you take, make sure that it leads you to an accredited institution.

It is vital that the program you choose is accredited. There are many non-accredited institutions that essentially sell degrees and, although it is a quick and easy way to get a degree, the degree will be completely worthless and no employer will take it seriously. Students who enroll in these types of institutions end up wasting a lot of time, money, and effort on a meaningless diploma. However, there is a simple way to determine whether an institution is accredited. The U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov) maintains a list of accreditation agencies that it considers acceptable. First, check with the institution that you're considering to determine which agency accredited it, and then look at the DOE list to guarantee that the agency is suitable. It's an easy but essential step to the online degree process.

Online colleges are a great option for parents with very little time on their hands. They make balancing family and school obligations easy because you will never miss a lecture or a discussion-you'll be able to access class information at any time. Enhancing your education is an important step towards securing your future, and now you can accomplish your goals without sacrificing your most important commitment: your family. However, online education is not for everyone, so don't forget to consider studying part-time at your local trade schools or community colleges if online college doesn't sound right for you. Regardless of the route you choose, your education is not something you should put off if you can help it. Seriously consider your options, learn as much as you can about different programs, and make an educated decision about your education soon.

Please check out these links:

Institutions for online learning - http://www.top-online-colleges.com
IT/computer programs- http://www.computer-schools.us
Medical school- http://www.medical-careers.org
Fine art school- http://www.best-art-schools.com
Law school- http://www.legal-degrees.org
Trade schools- http://www.best-technical-schools.com
Community colleges- http://www.vocational-schools.info

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