A college degree isn’t just four years attending class on a university campus anymore – in the last decade, new programs have risen around online education, accelerated degrees, and other less-than-traditional paths through higher ed. While these degree programs aren’t entirely new now, they are expanding rapidly and gaining popularity with schools, students, and even employers.
When alternative degrees were newer, they were a bit untested and uncertain. Now that the programs have been established awhile and attracted quality students & professors, many schools are adding to their distance education staff or creating local degree programs that can be completed in just three years. As the modern job market demands more specialization than ever before, some schools are reducing the role of liberal arts pre-requisites for students and focusing in on the specific education of the student’s selected major. Critics argue that this reduces the bredth of perspective college graduates enter the working world with, but advocates of accelerated degrees point to the financial reality of rapidly rising education costs and a quickly shrinking job market.
So, as nice as a four year degree is, it may not be economically feasible. It is in the interest of students to keep their loans as low as possible so they can be available to take any job offered upon graduation. Recent grads with high monthly debt bills may have to pass up otherwise solid jobs because they simply don’t pay enough to cover the costs of the education required.
Another boost to the popularity and credibility of alternative degrees is the prevalence of online university programs. Communications technology has become much more powerful than it was just a few years ago, and the availability of high speed internet connections means more distance classes can be taught in online classrooms with full video and audio links. This is great news for anyone who wants to study a particular subject field that isn’t offered at a local campus. It even means someone without transportation to school can still earn a degree.
The important thing to remember is that there are options available to every potential student. Information is available for free, so there is no excuse for ignoring the chance to stay in-demand in a tough job market. Of course, if you want to browse the programs available or search local & online degrees, College Quest is available to help right now.
While the job market at large is doing poorly, computer programmers are still earning more money and schools & hospitals are adding staff. The jobs in demand require special training and advanced education – so what’s your plan to stay in demand?