Five things you must know about college degrees

Are you getting ready to begin college, head back to school after a few years off, or maybe just exploring your options? If so, it's important to know a few of the basic facts about modern day degrees.

Things have changed a lot in the past few years. Here's a quick overview of five key facts that will serve you well as you aim for an education credential.

Online study can save you big bucks

In the modern technical society, it's becoming easier to attend school online. If you choose a school's online program, it's possible to save as much as 50 percent over in-person options. So, unless you have some special reason for attending in person, check out all your choices. Be aware that institutions that offer telecommuting and online study sometimes have a more limited range of courses and majors for those e-degree programs. Spend time seeing if your desired subjects are part of the e-curriculum wherever you decide to apply.

Arrange financing first

Getting your degree and paying for it are two completely different challenges. That's why it's essential to get financing arranged before you choose your college or pick your major. If you don't have the money situation taken care of, schools simply won't let you begin the coursework. The good news is that you can take out a student loan from a private lender and get the entire payment issue resolved quickly. Plus, you can arrange to cover major and minor expenses, including tuition, campus activity fees, board, room/dorm rent, textbook purchases, and more.  Using private student loans is a simple, fast, and smart way to get from square one to the classroom and begin earning your diploma.

Do career research before choosing a major

It's important to choose a major that has realistic job prospects for graduates. You might love art history or linguistic philosophy, but unless you intend to restrict your career to teaching, check out some majors that are more practical, like accounting, IT, advertising, engineering, and more. Ask the school reps what their most popular majors are, what job placement rates are, and whether they offer internships for seniors in their fields of study.

Spend time on application essays

When you fill out applications for the schools that interest you, don't just rush through the paperwork. Some of it is standard, fill-in-the-blank information. But most apps usually contain at least one essay-type question. You'll need to be careful when filling out these kinds of items. Admissions offices tend to focus on your essay, scores on standardized tests, grades, and job history. Don't worry if you have scant work experience or if it's been several years since you attended high school. But take at least one hour per 300 words on each essay. Most applications ask you to write at least 1,200 words, so expect to spend a full four hours planning, outlining, composing, and editing.

It's possible to work while earning a degree

Be careful about working and attending school at the same time. Try to keep job hours to part-time or less. If you're attending classes on a part time basis, then it's easier to work more than part-time.

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