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Online Universities Help Adults Balance Career, Family and Education

(ARA) - It doesn't take a college degree to figure out that the world has changed significantly since your parents graduated from high school and began careers. The necessity of having an education to make the kind of living youíd like, in a career of your choosing, is greater than ever before.

According to labor statistics, 60 percent of all jobs in 1950 could be filled with unskilled labor. By 2005, it is estimated that 85 percent of all the new jobs created will require skilled labor.

And, while education is increasingly pivotal to oneís success, the cost of education continues to rise. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average cost of college tuition and room and board for the 1998-1999 school year at four-year colleges and universities was $8,629 -- a 60 percent increase from 1989-1990. The same costs for private colleges rose nearly 70 percent.

In addition to rising costs, there are other factors making education less accessible, such as the conflicting obligations of a job, children and/or personal activities. Although these issues can present additional challenges for all adult learners pursuing degrees, research has defined some of the barriers common to women.

According to the Commonwealth of Online Learning, significant barriers to women continuing their educations include the fixed hours of institutional learning, the substantial attendance requirement, the "lockstep" approach to curriculum, lack of child-care facilities, and unfriendly course information.

Kim Johnson, a mother of two young boys and a full-time human resources manager, is earning a masterís degree online. "No one warned us how hard it is to juggle it all: kids, career and other obligations," she says. "But earning a degree online has exposed me not only to the convenience of the Internet, but also to relevant course information and the insights and experiences of the other students in the classes I'm taking."

Johnson's experience with online education reflects a major shift in the adult learning paradigm. In an era when education has never been more important, online learning enables anyone to earn a degree without neglecting work, family or other personal obligations, and without any geographic or time barriers. Without such flexibility, many adult learners could not continue their educations.

Several "traditional" universities have online course offerings, but those are often limited and may not be broad enough to constitute entire degree programs. Other universities have been developed solely to provide online courses and degrees, but many are of them not accredited, which can affect the value of their graduatesí degrees in the job market. With careful research, adult students can find accredited educational programs offered entirely online to advance their careers.

One example is Jones International University (JIU), a pioneer in online higher education and the first fully online, accredited university. JIU offers 27 undergraduate and graduate degrees and 55 executive and professional certificate programs. Leveraging the power of the Internet, JIU is able to deliver courses developed by faculty from leading universities around the world, including Georgetown, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and the London School of Economics.

JIU students can earn bachelorís and masterís degrees, including a Master of Arts in Business Communication; seven Master of Business Administration degrees; six Master of Education in e-Learning degrees; a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication; five Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degrees; and seven Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.

"Actually, I find I interact more with the professor and other students than I ever did in a traditional university setting," says Johnson, a JIU student. "Some courses even require two or three comments to fellow students on specific projects."

"And class sizes are often small enough to gain a lot of insight and information based on the backgrounds and experience of the others in the class," she says. "I find that I'm more vocal and uninhibited in my interactions than I ever was in a classroom."

Johnson says online course work requires self-discipline and motivation, but the courses are structured to make sure students keep pace. "Every week we are given a deadline for a project or other course work," she explains. "The instructors make sure everyone is on track and give assignments that force us to apply what we're learning to everyday, real-life situations."

JIU is an international institution, bringing together renowned instructors and students from more than 100 countries, which lends a global perspective to each course. Students work at their own pace, logging on to their courses when and from where it is most convenient for them. JIU provides around-the-clock technical support via telephone or e-mail, academic counseling, mentoring and other guidance programs, as well as an online library. In addition, courses begin each month, which gives students the flexibility to schedule their degree or certificate work around the demands of work or home. Class sizes do not exceed 25 students, so students are assured of maximum interaction with instructors and fellow students.

Earning a college degree, or keeping up with technological changes to enhance an existing degree, is essential for anyone who wants to thrive and grow in the global economy. The right online institution makes either of these goals feasible for the busy adult learners, while still providing the comprehensive, in-depth educational experience associated with traditional college degrees.

For additional information about Jones International University, visit


Courtesy of ARA Content,  e-mail: 

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