Online school programs aren’t what they used to be. Not only is there a significant rise in the number of accredited and respected online learning institutions, but many prestigious universities are now building their own online curricula. This is all due to the demand from students who prefer to learn independently or for those who have busy schedules. Here are just a few benefits of looking into online education for your master’s degree.
Setting your own schedule
Many people pursuing their master’s degree have spent upwards of 16 years in a classroom. A master’s program will just add a few years on top of this seemingly life-long classroom sentence. If you are looking for a change of pace or if you have other obligations to take care of while earning your master’s, online programs will allow you to work on your own schedule. Gone will be the days of having long, inconvenient gaps between classes due to scheduling conflicts or full classes. You will never again have to take a class at 7:30 in the morning if you are a naturally late-riser. Lectures, materials and support can be at your fingertips 24 hours a day.
Transportation and parking
Remember how much of a hassle it was to get to classes when you lived off campus? Not only was parking expensive, your permit didn’t even guarantee you’re a spot in the crowded garages. While public transportation solved your parking problems, it was slow, sometimes unreliable, crowded and also pretty expensive. The beauty of online master’s degree classes is that they can be completed in the comfort of your own home. You also won’t have to worry about what to wear to class (unless you were like many college kids who went to class in their PJs anyway).
Too often do students find the perfect school with the perfect program, reputation, and hiring rate, only to find that it is too far away and they cannot afford to relocate. With an online master’s program, you can be as selective as you want without having to worry about moving. Not to mention, you can also be more selective about price since there are many similar online programs that have different tuition rates.
If you have decided to pursue a master’s degree and are in need of financial aid, you may have noticed that it is not as readily available as when you were an undergraduate student. This is primarily because there just aren’t as many types of financial aid available for graduate school. While there are absolutely ways to get money for a master’s program, it requires more research, time, and effort than was necessary for your undergraduate degree.
As it is, less than 4% of graduate students receive federal or state grants. Less than 20% get any kind of scholarship from their school, and 60% get no free money of any kind and have to borrow. Fortunately, things are slowly starting to change for financially strapped individuals in pursuit of a master’s degree. The federal government is starting to offer a new and potentially lower cost loans. These come in several packages: one scenario is that they will repay loans for individuals who agree to spend several years in lower paying public service jobs; the other is that many employers offer loan subsidizing as a joint effort with the federal government to reduce the financial burden.
Additionally, depending on your area of study, there are different financial aid opportunities. Three categories of students that tend to have an easier time at getting aid for graduate school are:
- Math, science, and technology students; there are numerous foundations and government agencies from which to receive funding.
- Very low-income students hold priority when it comes to available loans.
- Top students are often pursued by the schools themselves and offered attractive financial aid packages as incentive to attend a particular graduate school.
There are also work-study scenarios in which graduate school students can work as a teacher assistant, or research assistant in exchange for reduced or even free tuition. They also may get paid for their time. These types of positions are fairly plentiful in the master’s program environment.
Graduate school fellowships are also a great resource, and can be very generous; some cover all expenses including the cost of living. Getting a fellowship can be very competitive, and it is very much worth doing research to discover just as beneficial, but not as well known opportunities for them to increase your chances.
Applying for federal student loans is always an option, but it is much better to pursue other forms of free money first. Loans take out the cost of tuition factor for the present, but many graduate school students accrue an average of $40,000 in debt or more; and it is quite often more. In order to be eligible for financial student aid, you must fill out a FAFSA application, and the sooner you do it, the better your chances.
Whether you are planning to travel or take an extended vacation after graduate school, your life will ultimately become centered on finding what would perhaps be your first real job as an adult. This is, after all, the goal of graduate school—to set yourself up for success in the working world. Even if you are still a grad student, you can start preparing now for your job hunt and interviews. Here are some helpful tips that can apply to all students looking to start their careers.
Since both a bachelor’s and a master’s program usually require internships, externships or on-campus field work, you will probably leave your graduate school with a wealth of work experience with which to build an impressive resume. However, if you feel that your experience is at all lacking, look for an extra internship or volunteer work to fill in the holes. Bottom line: Make sure you have enough experience out of the gate to make employers feel less of a need to train you.
One of the most important things to understand about applying for any job is that you are one candidate of maybe hundreds. While your graduate school degree and experience may be impressive, it is likely that at least one person will have just as many assets as you. You can make yourself stand out by taking some initiative. Track down the direct supervisor of the position to which you are applying and call him or her to request a meeting. Also, be sure to use any networking connections you may have. Many people land wonderful jobs from being connected to friends, colleagues and professors, so use your network to get ahead.
Applying to graduate school is a time consuming process no matter your country of origin. But if you are a foreign student it can be much more arduous. In addition to the standard application process, foreign students must also apply for a legal student visa, take the necessary standardized tests within their country, and file all the proper materials on time from overseas. Since master’s programs tend to have specific start times it can be difficult to stay on top of the dates and deadlines, especially if you are living in a different time zone. Thankfully there are a few things that you can do as a foreign graduate school applicant that can make the process easier.
Step back and take a look at the bigger picture. It is in your best interest to take some time and consider all that you are up against; create a firm understanding of what will be required of you throughout the whole graduate school journey. Once you have narrowed down your list of prospective master’s programs, research the specific requirements of each so that you know what to do and can get an idea of how long it will take before your application is ready; the more you know before you begin, the better off you’ll be.
Be sure that you have everything done and submitted no less than a week before the deadline. As a foreign student you need to leave extra time for unexpected loose ends and challenges. It is best to think of the graduate school application process as a job. Make a checklist with specific weekly goals for each master’s degree program and don’t allow yourself to fall behind. This will only serve to help you.
A smart list is a great list. Graduate school requires exceptional organizational skills, so you might as well start the whole process by organizing your time and making a list. Making a chronological checklist of all the things that need to be done is a simple, but extremely helpful step to take. Prioritize all the things that you need to do by what will take you the longest; start with these things first. Sign up for any standardized tests early so that you can reserve a spot (some tests only happen a few times a year). Give yourself plenty of time for essays along with a cushion of time at the end for any other unexpected obstacles that may arise.
If you make a point to follow these guidelines, applying to graduate school as a foreign student will be a smooth process.
It is admiral to pursue any form of post secondary education. How far you decide to go is up to you whether you aspire to complete an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some of the most notable differences are in potential salary and level of authority in a given profession.
Undergraduate education is essentially designed to prepare you for life; you are given a broad education, become socially aware, learn to think critically, and are prepared to be a contributing member of society. In terms of your major, you are given an introduction to your potential career path that includes a history of it and a basic understanding of the importance of its function in society.
Graduate school is a labor of love; it is much harder than an undergraduate degree and you pursue it because it inspires you. More is expected of you in graduate school. Master’s programs are designed to give you a mastery of the skills acquired in undergraduate studies so that you can be an authority in your profession. It requires a more comprehensive understanding of your field in a way that is on track for you to become a leader.
The individuals that go after a professional degree usually have a specific goal in sight and are more highly prepared to do extensive research in addition to participate in in-depth conversations on the material.
Aside from the academic differences, there are also differences in earning potential. In general, individuals that have obtained a master’s degree have a greater earning potential. So if money is a factor in your post secondary pursuits, it is likely that attending graduate school will place you in a higher wage bracket than undergraduate school alone.
A fellowship for graduate school can be a big help to those looking for ways to fund their continued education. Fellowships are just like scholarships and do not have to be paid back. There are many different types of fellowships and each has their own criteria as to how to qualify. The two main types of fellowships you will encounter before starting your masters program are portable and institutional.
A portable fellowship can be applied to any area of study in graduate school. These allow the student a little more freedom as any portable fellowship can help pay for any masters program and any grad student can apply for any portable fellowship. You can find portable fellowships that are either federally funded or awarded by an independent organization.
These fellowships are awarded by either the graduate school you are attending or an outside party that requires you to attend a specific school. Examples of institutional fellowships include the Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, the Tufts University Graduate Fellowship for Masters Degree Candidates in Child Development, and the University of New Mexico Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Electromagnetics. Notice that these are all very specific fellowships and it may be hard to find an institutional fellowship that fits both your school and masters program.
Deciding to pursue a master’s degree is a life changing decision. If you have decided that this is the path for you, then you are only beginning the journey to a series of many important life decisions. At the commencement of this journey you must decide which graduate school to attend. Master’s programs are offered in graduate schools across the country, so getting to know some basic personal preferences will help you to make the best decision for your master’s degree aspirations.
The first step is to know yourself enough to know what works for you and what doesn’t. If you are eager to return to school, without much clear though as to what you would like to study then you will need to start by picking a subject. Do this by thinking of at least five different careers that you would be happy to have. Based on this list you can research necessary degrees and topics that correspond with these jobs. Once you get that far, try to figure out which is most appealing, and being to research programs based on these results.
If you already know what you want to do (or you have completed the first step), then you you’ll need to consider these questions:
- Where do you want to go/where are you comfortable going to school? Are you comfortable moving away to attend school?
- How long of a program are you willing to commit to? What can you afford to commit to?
- What field of study are you interested in for your particular topic?
- Do you want a master’s or would you prefer to go for a doctorate?
These are all questions that can significantly help to narrow down your school selections. In the case of a doctorate vs. a master’s, one is often more practical than the other depending on what your ambitions are for a career. Master’s degrees tend to be most practical most often; doctorate degrees are more intellectual with a specific focus, and a greater opportunity for original research. Again, knowing what you want is the most important piece of this puzzle- it will guide the rest of your decisions.
While this may seem like a lot of hard work to just make the first decision, putting all the work in at the beginning will make it easier in the end. Think of it like you are front-loading a lot of hard work to have a smoother ride later on in graduate school.
Not only is graduate school usually more expensive than undergraduate, but scholarships are also harder to find. Most graduate school scholarships will come straight from the schools themselves, but there are a few other ways to find them.
Many master’s programs offer scholarships based on the field of study. Careers in high demand tend to have more funding available to students in pursuit of that particular degree. For example, The Federal Cyber Service offers scholarships to individuals earning degrees for Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. The most common types of graduate school scholarships offered today are in teaching, healthcare, and especially nursing.
Women and minorities are often eligible for specific types of scholarships in industries that are dominated by white males. White males actually make up the largest population of individuals with master’s degrees. They are especially prevalent in the fields of physical science and engineering; thus The National Physical Science Consortium offers scholarships to women and individuals of minorities to help increase the numbers practicing in the field.
Additionally, master’s programs will offer scholarships to students based on merit, vocation, and even background and gender. In several cases they will award money to students in need with outstanding academic histories. Some schools will even waive out of state tuition costs for high performing students in a master’s program. While they are much harder to find, graduate school scholarships are available, you just need to know where to look and what you qualify for.
Graduate school is a time consuming and intense commitment. Staying organized can seem challenging, but in reality, the more organized you are, the more effortless your time will feel. It just takes a little bit of discipline and a few important tricks. Staying organized can be simple if you follow these basic guidelines.
Time management is an important skill to have in a master’s program, but even more significant are your organizational abilities. Disorganization is often the sign of a cluttered mind. To start, set up a filing system to organize your academic and personal life. The different types of file slots should include spaces for the following:
- Research/thesis ideas.
- Thesis references (with sub files for different subjects).
- Exam materials. As you prepare for comps, this will have copies of old exams and study materials
- Professional credentials – vita, sample cover letter, research statement etc.
- Reprints and professional articles, organized by topic.
- Life (bills, taxes, etc.).
- Teaching materials (organized by topic).
Organize your study space. Your desk and work environment should be free of distractions, well lit, and stocked with all the necessary supplies and files for your study needs. This is the hub of where most of your work will be done for your master’s degree, and having it clutter free can be soothing and make the long nights a touch more cozy than stressful.
Acquiring the necessary supplies may seem pricey, but in the end having the right tools will make your life easier and will be more than worth the financial investment. this includes having things like a stapler, paper clips, binder clips, stick on notes/post-its, and sticky flags. I would suggest buying these items in bulk to maximize your savings. Graduate school can be expensive, so it is good to save whenever and however you can.
Organize your master’s program class materials- have designated areas for certain topics and their corresponding materials. This way if you need to find something, there is only one place that it should be.
Removing the clutter from your home will provide you with the needed dose of zen for when you are not busy studying at your desk. Have a command center near your entry way; this means having special places for things like keys, wallet, coats, shoes, bills, mail, etc. Organization in the rest of your life will help you to keep graduate school organized too.
Schedule your household chores so that there is a set time for everything. Do your best to keep up with cleaning, because just like having less clutter, staying clean will help you to relax. In the midst of doing all of this, be sure to recognize that you are only human and are therefore fallible. When you fall off the organizational band wagon, just be calm and kind to yourself, and climb back up on it. Making a list can help with all of these things, including recognizing when you have fallen out of order. Graduate school can be overwhelming at times, and having a solid organizational structure will help keep the stress to a minimum.
A major barrier for people considering going to graduate school is lack of time due to family and work obligations. Accelerated programs are a great option for those that want to earn a master’s degree, but don’t have the luxury of time. This is also often cheaper due to the shorter enrollment period. These programs are becoming more and more popular as colleges and universities are trying to adapt to the needs of their students.
According to the Center For Accelerated Learning, scientific research has shown that the brain takes in information immediately and automatically. It has been found that people tend to learn better when the information is abstract; when the verbal is translated into concrete activities and images. In other words, once someone has the information, they are more likely to retain it if given the opportunity to apply it in the real world. This is essentially what an accelerated graduate school program provides- the information is learned and then in a short time frame the individuals are eligible to join the work force and apply it to the real world.
So what is accelerated learning like in a graduate school setting? It is much more hands-on than a traditional course of study. This is because there are more activities and less materials, lectures, and presentations. The focus is on creation and retention for the students, and the professors are invested in teaching the material in a way that is suited to the needs of each student. In addition, accelerated learning is designed to be in tune with human emotion and to provide a learning environment that is emotionally, physically, and socially stimulating. All of these factors make for a far less competitive graduate school environment. The students instead are more interested in each other and in helping each other to succeed.
If you are interested in earning your master’s degree through an accelerated graduate school learning program, you can expect to experience an intense commitment without winter or summer breaks. Due to the nature of the program though, this would only be for a short time. You will need to arrange your life around classes, but there are a variety of class lengths and options. You can do online courses or on campus courses, and at varying times and for varying lengths. In other words, accelerated learning environments are geared to work with the students to provide them with the means to complete a master’s degree comfortably.