When you’ve reached a plateau in your career – with no sign of upward movement in sight – it might be time to boost your credentials in one way or another.
At this point, many professionals consider returning to school to acquire additional training or degrees, but traditional courses are time-consuming and inconvenient.
Fortunately, there’s online education – but do web-based programs actually do anything to enhance your career?
The answer is unequivocally yes. Despite what you might expect, hiring managers harbor no stigma regarding credentials earned online; on the contrary, many managers look favorably on online MBA graduates and others, who tend to be more motivated, self-directed, and committed than their peers.
Here are a few definite ways online education boosts your career in ways traditional education cannot:
Gain Education and Experience Simultaneously
Traditional degree programs are designed to be taken by full-time students – typically young people who have the financial support and energy to devote themselves to 40-plus hours of learning every week for years on end.
Classes occur throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening, providing little time for anything other than study.
Night programs might limit class schedules to evenings, but they tend to take much longer to complete, placing further demands on students’ energy, time, and money.
Conversely, courses in online degree programs are completed at students’ discretion, allowing plenty of time to fit in responsibilities to work and family as well as advanced study.
As a result, you can remain at your current job, gaining valuable experience in your chosen field and avoiding long breaks in your resume’s chronology while obtaining education and training that will prepare you for superior positions.
No other educational program provides as much work-life-study balance because no other program is as flexible as online school.
Update Work Strategies Immediately
Because you can remain in your existing position, as you gain knowledge and skill from your courses, you can apply them to your career. For example, if you are participating in an online MBA program, you might learn enhanced leadership strategies, which will help you boost the performance of your team, save money, and improve morale – immediately.
Every day, new research provides greater insight into effective practices, and by attending online courses, you can quickly make changes that have positive impacts on your business and the real world.
In traditional degree programs, students must wait months or years before applying their education, by which time cutting-edge strategies might be vastly different. The sooner you can use your advanced education, the better – which makes flexible online programs even more advantageous.
Experiment With Diverse Information Inexpensively
Advanced training in traditional settings can be exceedingly expensive. Even an in-person seminar with an accomplished professional in your field might cost you several hundred dollars.
Traditional systems do little to encourage diverse educations as tuition costs and fees limit students to getting in and out of their programs fast.
Meanwhile, online education is largely affordable – sometimes even free. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) can provide beginner lessons in all sorts of subjects, from biology to finance, and most MOOCs are available at no charge.
Of course, MOOCs typically fail to provide credentials which prove your advanced training to hiring managers, but they do allow you to experiment with different fields of knowledge before you commit to a formal, online degree program. Still, most online university courses are less expensive than in-person alternatives, allowing you to learn more for less.
Become Comfortable With Self-Motivation Compulsorily
Online programs are flexible and affordable – but they aren’t easy. In fact, many students can attest that online courses are more rigorous than in-person courses because there is no capacity for passive learning.
If you want to gain knowledge and skill through an online program, you have to engage – and actively choose to do so over and over until you’ve earned your degree.
Thus, graduates of online programs tend to be self-motivation superstars. Because teachers do not know when and where students complete their lectures and assignments, it is easier for students to intentionally view online lessons – or even just forget about them.
Online program grads have proven abilities to manage their time effectively, accomplish self-imposed goals, and remain driven without outside stimulus. These are rare traits, and they enhance your career more than you might expect.
Boost Your Career Potential Strategically
Ultimately, an online degree is a degree, and employers endlessly reward advanced credentials. Compared to those with only a high school diploma, bachelor degree–holders typically earn about $20,000 per year more; over a 40-year career, that means you would earn upwards of $450,000 more during your lifetime by investing in a degree.
Though tuition might cost a few thousand dollars, it is a paltry investment compared to your earning potential.
Graduate degrees can provide even greater potential, depending on your field. If you are pursuing a career in a field that doesn’t provide much pay to bachelor degree–holders, such as history or political science, you could gain a salary increase of more than $26,000.
Even if you are in business, receiving a relatively healthy salary from your bachelor degree, you could earn a raise of over $22,000 per year by earning an MBA from an online program. The math doesn’t lie: Your income will increase if you obtain an online degree.
Develop a Healthier and Happier Outlook Constructively
Money does buy happiness – but only up to a certain point. Studies on income and contentment have found that those earning about $70,000 and above (in most states) are significantly happier than those living below that income level. Thus, you goal should be to reach this minimum threshold for joy, and a degree is the most direct path to a high salary.
Indeed, college and graduate-level educations will improve your life outlook, anyway. A recent study titled “It’s Not Just the Money” discovered that advanced credentials report better health and greater happiness than their less-educated peers.
For example, college grads are four times less likely to smoke and live an average of seven years longer than those with a high school diploma or less.
Additionally, degree-holders are five times less likely to be jailed or imprisoned, contribute three times as much to charitable causes, and boast volunteerism rates 2.3 times higher.
The result is stronger, safer communities that encourage feelings of well-being and contentment. If you want to be happy – in your career and your life – you should go back to school.