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Once you choose to become a teacher, there are several different education paths you can take depending on the focus and type of your teaching interests. When deciding on the best route for earning a teaching degree, keep in mind, variety may be to your advantage. Take a good assortment of pre-requisites in subjects like math, English, language, science, and liberal arts. This will come in handy when teaching in the elementary levels, and can also help you learn different perspectives of teaching and thought that you may have to drawn from when deciding the best way to teach your students. The variety of classes can also help you be more of an asset when talking to a potential employer when they find out you have a background in more than one subject.
Those who wish to teach in the secondary or higher levels will have to obtain a bachelors degree in the field of study in which they wish to teach, along with the required education courses.
All states are different in what degrees and certifications they require their teachers to earn, so make sure you verify your state's needs and qualification requirements.
Traditional education degree programs can take four to five years to complete. Many people who are returning to school, or attending school for the first time but as an older adult, don't have the ability to attend school for this length of time. This is where the online accelerated teaching degree programs can work extremely well with a busy life schedule.
Accelerated teaching degrees can take two years or less, depending on the student's drive and determination as well as the availability of the classes. The classes are designed for older adults instead of younger, fresh-out-of-college minds. The Higher Learning Commission found that flexible class schedules and shorter class lengths (instead of traditional quarters or semesters) helped adults complete their degrees within two years of beginning the program. Additionally, life experience may also play into your degree plan. Colleges and university, both online and traditional, are granting college credit for life experiences. This helps adults complete their degree plan quicker and gets them into the workforce faster.
Be sure when investigating an accelerated program, ask about course load for finishing in two years or less and make sure the institution is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DECT.org) and if completing your degree to advance yourself at work, be sure your employer recognizes online degrees and classwork.
Before signing up for any program, talk to a counselor about your academic goals. If special education teacher is what you wish to be, make sure the school you're interested in offers the classes you need to complete the special education degree. There are few things that are more frustrating than getting to your last semester, only to find the classes you need aren't available. Although, many colleges have degree tracks, outlining what semesters you take certain classes, this may not always work with your schedule. If you are a part-time student, this may prove a bit of a juggle to make sure you get all your classes in when they are only offered certain semesters.
The cost of education are on the rise. It's good to know the collective cost of an online education's can average out to less than a traditional university degree.
Per college hour, the cost of an online education and a traditional degree is about the same ($700-900/per 3hr course--can be less with community colleges or more with private colleges) but there are other costs involved with going to school.
The cost of driving to campus or living on campus can be expensive. Lost revenue occurs if you are unable to work full-time or part-time and the incalculable loss of time when trying to schedule set classes. There are advantages to working on your degree from home, especially when juggling home, work, and life commitments.
If you are hoping to obtain financial aid, understand there are strict guidelines for applying for grants and loans through the federal government. Such financial aid is available to cyber-space students who attend a college/university who hold 50% of their classes in a traditional format. If the school has only online/telecommute classes, the financial aid is available directly through the school.
Some employers have tuition reimbursement, but again, you have to ask if they cover online classes. Many employers will encourage their employees to attend school and increase their job skills, especially when it doesn't require the employee miss work or rearrange their schedule to conform to traditional classroom time.
It would seem like a silly question: Is location important when earning an online degree? It could be if you don't have the necessary tools to get online. If you live in an area that doesn't have Internet or high speed Internet access, obtaining an online degree will be difficult. Some people do attempt their online degrees by using the computers at a public library. This is not impossible (and quite honestly shows an incredible amount of dedication to furthering their education) but ideally, having your own access is the best route. It allows you more flexibility (time, place) without the hassle of having to wait for a computer or having to worry about distractions around you.
What about the location of the school? Is this important when earning an online degree? It can be if you are more of a need-to-see-a-face person. If the college is located within easy driving distance, it can be beneficial to go in, sit down, and talk to counselors, staff, and instructors. This face-to-face time can certainly help you stand out in a cyber-classroom full of students and could work to your advantage. A student who takes more of an initiative to meet and greet those authority figures who are helping the student to earn that degree, will be noticed and may have more of an appeal to those who are simply an email address.