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When it comes to college, you are considering an expensive proposition any way you look at it. There are however, ways in which you can greatly reduce your overall expenses when it comes to getting your college degree. The first method, which in many cases is the most preferred, is by attending a community college for the first two years of your college educational experience. Believe it or not you can literally save thousands of dollars over the course of spending two years on the community college level.

You will hear all kinds of arguments on why it is better to attend all four years at a university. The universities almost always make these arguments. Unfortunately, their opinions are a little bit biased in these matters. Most universities offer equivalent courses with community colleges meaning that the first two years of study should transfer with no problems or snags along the rocky road to your degree.

The universities make money each semester you begin class as a student. It is in their best interest financially to have you from the beginning rather than as a transfer. In fact, many universities offer lower level classes as auditorium classes. They pack more students into classes and have fewer professors or graduate students teaching the courses and maximize their money off the first and second year students rather than those in upper level courses. Yet another reason to consider a community college for the first two years of you education.

Getting back to the expenses of a community college, most community colleges are largely commuter campuses. This means you won't face the high housing costs that are associated with universities, particularly if you are attending college close to home. Community colleges also offer far less distractions that cost additional money than most major universities. This doesn't mean that there aren't ample social opportunities; it simply means that there are fewer of them. This also leaves fewer distractions than universities present when it comes to studying.

Community colleges simply cost less all around. While it would be nice if you could receive a full four year education at this level, they are able, for the most part, to keep expenses down by not requiring the level of qualification that universities require of their professors for upper level courses. You will have excellent, if not superior quality of education at lower levels than you would have on the university level, but you will also eventually need to move on to the university level in order to complete your education.

For this reason, you would do well to save half of your savings over university costs for each of the two years you are attending community college and apply it to your university education. This will ease the burden of the additional costs of the university and feel as though you are paying the same amount for tuition throughout your education regardless of the fact that you are literally saving thousands of dollars on your educational expenses.

Some states have educational savings plans that allow parents to save for tuition at current costs by enrolling. These plans cover two years of community college education and two years of university education. By locking in today's prices you are eliminating the inflation. When you consider the fact that college tuition is increasing at an alarming rate this is by far an excellent way to go. You should check with your state and see if they offer a similar plan to parents of younger children and what the requirements are in order to enroll your child today.

If you are looking for a real value in education whether or not you only go for your two year degree of move on to a university in order to finish your four-year degree you should find that a community college education offers a significant value for the money. Most people find that every penny they spent in a community college was a penny well spent.

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This fall, as numerous college rankings hit the bookstores, I was curious to find an answer to the question: “What is an ‘excellent school’?” after a parent, prospective student or college recruiter sifted through all of this material.

There has been debate among admissions officers and college presidents over the value of ranking one school over another based on statistics, and those debates are valid—to a point. The rankings mean little to the best of the best; Harvard, for example, will not lose applicants for being the #2 school. They mean little to quality schools that charge little or no tuition, such as the military service academies, flagship state universities and specialty institutions like Cooper Union and Webb Institute. These schools will always fill their classes with excellent students, regardless of their ranking.

Rankings could however, mean something to families that have to make a choice between similar regional or national schools that appear below the best of the best, for instance a top regional university versus an excellent national university that’s listed in the top 100. They might also help applicants make a choice between the flagship state university in their home state and similar schools in other states that charge low out-of-state tuition and room and board rates. Being a Rutgers graduate from New Jersey, I’m especially sensitive to this; the University of Delaware and West Virginia University have been popular destinations for Garden State residents for decades.

Rankings appear to mean a lot to the presidents of some schools; high rankings can convince trustees to increase their investments in facilities and scholarships to build-up the school’s reputation. A boost from 75th to 50th means more to an up-and-coming national university than it does for a school that has a long-cemented international reputation. These ambitions are not necessarily bad; a nation can never have enough quality schools.

I did my own “kitchen table exercise” with the most recent U.S. News college guide after sifting through the published rankings. I set my own standard of excellence, based on the reported graduation and student retention rates. My thought was that the best schools are the ones that do the best to attract, retain and graduate their entering classes.

Graduation and retention rates are not perfect, but they’re the results by which admissions and student services are best measured. An excellent school has rigorous academics, but does all it can to help their students succeed; it serves no one to make college an intense “boot camp” experience to whittle a class down to an elite few. High retention and graduation rates are more likely to help attract alumni support and interest from graduate schools and employers than poor ones.

I set my bar high: an 85 percent freshman retention rate and a 65 percent six-year graduation rate. I dislike the idea of using a six-year graduation rate, but there are legitimate reasons: leaves of absence, military or missionary service, cooperative educational opportunities (combine school and work) and interest in multiple degree programs being examples.

In my kitchen table exercise, I found that 265 four-year schools met my standard. Among the nation’s 262 Large Research Universities—these are the large public and private universities--104 schools met or exceeded the 85-65 standard, including all of the top 72 in the rankings. Among 266 National Liberal Arts Colleges, 105 met or exceeded both numbers. There were also 37 regional universities and 8 baccalaureate colleges that met or bested both marks, as well as 11 specialty (fine arts, performing arts, engineering and business) schools.

By my standard, the list of “excellent” schools is larger than some parents might think. It does include the most selective public and private institutions, but also 84 schools that admitted more than 65% of their applicant pool for this year’s entering class. But there is another side to this analysis: the verbal and math SATs. The higher the school ranked in U.S. News, the higher the range of the scores. A combined 1,050 to 1,100 on the verbal and math SATs put most applicants near the bottom quarter of the pool in most of my excellent schools. Excellent grades might offset the test scores at all except the best of the best, but it’s best to prepare for the tests.

What could I conclude from this?

The best of the best schools deserve the accolades they receive, but there are other schools equally deserving of the same attention. Ask me to name names. Some might surprise you.

Are these the only numbers a family should consider?

They’re a start. If financial concerns are paramount, then ask about the average tuition increases and student loan indebtedness for the recent graduating classes. Also ask about the school’s bond rating; it reflects the school’s ability to earn income and cover its costs, while keeping tuition increases as low as possible. Both of these measures are important, because scholarships and grants do not always increase as tuition increases; you might have to make up the difference.

There are plenty of choices among excellent schools, but only you and your financial advisors can determine your ability to pay for college. It might surprise you to find out which school is your best value.

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The strength of the United States is not the gold at Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of the education and the character of our people - Claiborne Pell

Education loan is perhaps the most noble loans of all considering that the loan is going to create and grow a student into a responsible future citizen who can contribute to the society in a big way.

American college graduates have earned $1million more than high school graduates during their entire career. This simple statistic is enough to underline the significance of education. What one must not forget, in the brouhaha of course, is that college education is quite an investment in ones future even after considering the huge expenses involved.

Where and How of Education Loan in America
The Federal Government has various student aid and loan programs, to help pay for both undergraduate and graduate education, which it helps get at low rate of interests. Here are some of them.
1. Federal Perkins Loan: This is a low interest loan (5%) and the school is the lender to which you payback. Maximum amount you can draw as an undergraduate is $4000 per year and $6000 per graduate student per year. The total amounts in each case being $20,000 and $40,000 respectively. Barring late charges there are no other charges.
2. William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program: An FSA program for after high school students where Department of Education is the lender. You have 2 programs, Stafford- for students and PLUS- parents. PLUS loans offered through FFEL have banks and private lenders to provide.
3. Consolidation loans: Direct loans can be consolidated for reduced and easy monthly repayment through this loan.
4. All private banks: Banks have countless schemes which are more or less similar to Federal schemes.

How Much Loan Should I Borrow
Here students and parents should sit and plan the amount to be borrowed. You can calculate loan amount in two ways. One: using an online calculator; the other way is compiling it yourself. Compiling the loan amount is not difficult with certain amount of homework. Some tips here.
1. Decide on the course and college. Public colleges charge about 1/4th of private colleges in tuition fees for 4 years degree and half of it for 2 years degree.
2. There is additional Out-of-District State Charges in case of 4 year public colleges which run into about $7000.
3. There are sundry expenses including board, books etc which run into $10,000 in both the cases.

Once you are through with calculation, visit the lender or its website for information on documentation and application.

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There’s really nothing more important in your college application than the strength of your academics. Unlike essays and the SATs which can be polished in several weeks, the transcript is a culmination of four years of academic work you did in high school. There’s little you can do to change your academic record. That is why admissions officers will always turn to the transcript before anything else. After all, to get an idea of how you will perform next time in college, it’s only logical to assess how you’ve been performing so far.

What courses you take in high school and what grades you get will determine where you end up in September. When colleges look at your folder, the first thing they will see is your transcript. “Has this student challenged herself?” “Are his grades showing an upward trend, declining, or stagnant?” Challenged means taking the toughest courses you can handle.

Please bear in mind that when while you are encouraged to go for the most demanding schedule, you must be able to do well. No point taking the toughest courses if it eats into your social and extra curricular activities. Admissions officers can see that you’re trying too hard, and it may instead work against your favor in the college admissions process.

“Is it better to get a B in the Advanced Placement class or an A in the regular class?”

Not surprisingly, this question gets asked a lot of times. Of course, the best thing would be to get an A in the AP class. But seriously, admissions officers would rather you get a B in the AP class. AP classes are much tougher than regular ones, and getting a B – despite the grade itself – shows that you can handle tough workloads.

Just think about it, if A was so important, then every student would try to pad his and her transcript with courses like Getting Slim for the 21st Century just so they could fatten their GPA. That is why grades alone are not enough.

An important thing to note here is that while colleges consider grades, they also consider your performance relative to your classmates. That is where class rank comes in. Class ranks help colleges determine whether the C you got in Calculus is a result of slacking on your part, or a really strict marking system. If your school does not rank, don’t despair. Colleges are adept enough at coming up with a ranking for you based on your school profile and academic trend in your school report.

For example, my school does not rank. But my guidance counselor was able to predict my rank as if there was a ranking system, by looking at the performance of my peers in my class that year. So she will write something like “Top 5% of the class this year” for her students. Even if your school policy forbids ranking – as mine do – your transcript can still tell a great deal about what kind of challenges you went through in high school.

Know Your Goals

You academic preparation should also reflect your goals. What kind of school do you want to go to? If you are eyeing for highly selective colleges, then you should take as many AP classes as you can; again, without harming your grades or extra curricular activities.

At the Ivy Leagues and its cousins, you’d probably need all the As you can get from AP classes to have a shot. These academic behemoths are so competitive that a B might (read: I said might because it will still ultimately depend on your overall application strength) not work in your favor.

On the other hand, large state universities use a different rule. These schools attract tens of thousands of applications each year and so they often rely on grades and test scores to make decisions. Here GPA would be more important than the level of courses. In other words, how tough your course selection is isn’t necessary, as long as they are college preparatory.

“What if my school does not offer AP courses?”

Don’t fret. Designing the curriculum is the responsibility of your school; your job is to take the most challenging ones available. If your school doesn’t offer AP English, and every senior takes regular English classes, then yes, that is the most rigorous one. If you come from a really competitive high school, you will be evaluated based on the school’s curriculum. Even if you rank near the bottom, there are some schools who will love to take you in since you come from a ‘strong’ school.

But if your high school isn’t so tough, then it may be more important for you to rank near the top.

A really good way to stand out in a selective pool is to go beyond what your school has to offer. This means doing things that are otherwise not offered in your school. If you’ve studied all the physics courses in school, try taking up advanced courses at a local college. If you love maths and finished calculus in junior year, work with a professor to do research into multivariable equations. These actions show adcoms that you are intellectually curious and always ready to learn new things – a plus point in the admissions process.

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Teleconferencing had become one of the world’s most valuable tools for business globally. At the touch of a button individuals from the corporate world can be chatting away as if they were merely in an office down the hall. But there is more use to this technology than meets the eye.

One of the most innovative uses for this kind of teleconferencing is being utilized by several institutions across the US.

Colleges and learning centers in Tennessee have set up teleconferencing facilities linked to an animal sanctuary catering for the needs of Asian elephants.

One day a week students from several colleges, can ‘tune-in’ to the sanctuaries which can be anywhere in the world!

Cameras and transmitters are already in situ and the student can study the elephant in its natural habitat without fear of disturbing the animal. Students from different schools can then join in discussion groups to enable them to expand on what they have witnessed first hand.

Tutors are on hand to educate and guide the students through the meetings and answer any questions they may have – one tutor covering several schools at once.

Indeed, teleconferencing in this instance, has become a hugely successful way to teach conservation and ecology to the younger generation.

Who would have thought that the necessity for a fast and cheap method of bringing business people together at a moments notice would also, in turn, be used to educate and excite our children about the wonders of the natural world?

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If you are approaching the end of high school and are ready to begin investigating colleges, there are several factors to consider before deciding what college is right for you. Whether you want to study medicine or painting, accounting or physical education, there are hundreds of colleges to choose from, each with their own specialized programs of study. Narrowing down your options can be a challenging task, but it is important to make an informed choice about where to continue your education.

When you are deciding which schools to which you would like to apply, you should first assess your chances of being accepted. If you are a C student with average test scores and no extra-curricular activities, you might not want to put all of your application eggs in one Ivy League basket. However, if you can afford to, you should always apply to the school of your dreams on the off chance that it just might come through for you. If you don’t try, you will never know whether or not you could have gotten in.

If you have made straight A’s throughout high school, have high SAT and ACT test scores and have participated in a wide variety of activities, you have high chances of getting into any school of your choice. Even if you have very limited finances to work with, you should still apply to your top choices. If you are accepted, you may be able to receive scholarships and financial aid, and you always have the option to take out student loans.

When it comes down to narrowing your choices, size is a very important thing to consider. Some people like extremely large universities with tens of thousands of students. However, others enjoy the comfort of a small campus with as few as several hundred students. There are also a variety of colleges that lie in between these two options. Though it is hard to know before you get there, you probably have a good idea of your general preferences regarding school size, and this will help you focus your search.

You should also consider whether you would like to go to a private or a public school. Private schools are typically more expensive, but some are also more prestigious. Private religiously-based schools are also an option. Virtually every faith runs at least on college in the United States, and most have several to choose from. If you would rather stick to secular schooling, state-supported schools are often your best financial deal. These schools receive support from the government, in addition to private funding, so they are typically less expensive and more able to offer larger financial aid packages.

Location is also an important factor to consider when you are choosing a college. Think about how close or how far away you would like to be from where you grew up. If you want to be within a day’s drive of home, consider local and regional schools. However, if you are looking for a cross-country adventure, you might consider schools in far away states or even consider studying abroad. Some fields of study are better suited to certain geographic locations, as well. For instance, artists can get a real-life education in New York City, whereas actors might consider schooling in California. If marine biology is your chosen field of study, a college with an aquatic location would obviously be the best choice. Geologists often flock to the southwest, and environmentalists often seek education in the northeast. You should consider both personal your climate preferences and your career goals when you are choosing a college location.

Though choosing a college can be stressful, it can also be fun. Remember that college is just the first step on your professional journey, and you will most likely change majors, interests, and possibly even change colleges before you finish your undergraduate degree. So, make a wise and informed choice with the knowledge that you will probably change your mind several times before it is all said and done.

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With countless online university offers fighting for your attention online, one of your first priorities in finding a university is to verify its credentials. Accreditation can make all the difference in the quality of the education being offered. It isn’t enough that a university is accredited. Find out more details about the accreditation. It should be legitimate and have recognition from the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Accreditation.


What Is Accreditation

The US Department of Education has identified key points in ensuring the accreditation of an online university. Firstly, the institution needs to be able to meet established standards. They should also offer assistance to students in identifying the right colleges and finding out the details of transfer credits. The college should have set goals for self-improvement and increasing educational standards. Faculty and staff needs to be involved in institutional evaluation and planning. Criteria should be in place for availing federal financial assistance.


Accreditation is defined as a voluntary, non-governmental process of peer review by which an institution meets specific standards. However in layman’s language, it is more practical to think of it as the difference between a degree and the job that you’ve been striving for, and a waste of time, energy and money into a course that will eventually prove worthless.


Today’s employers are already pressed for time. This means they can spare very little of it in verifying the qualifications of a potential candidate. Therefore they find it much simpler and more practical to only consider applicants qualifying from an accredited institution whose standards they deem acceptable.


Types of Accreditation

Accreditation of a college can itself be of two types, institutional and specialized accreditation. The former applies to the institution as a whole to ensure that it is able to conform to certain set standards. In specialized accreditation, it is only a particular program that is involved for being able to meet specific industry standards.


Institutional accreditation is again of two types, national and regional. National accreditation transfer credits are not easily accepted by colleges and universities as it implies inability to meet criteria for regional accreditation. National accreditation is primarily limited to institutes that prepare students to join the workforce at the earliest. They include religious schools, technical institutes, vocational and correspondence schools.


On the other hand regional accreditation is recognized not just by the US Department of Education but is also considered the standard for other colleges and universities. Transferring college credits becomes a lot easier as the college meets the necessary standards with a combination of theory and practical experience. In certain cases like engineering, law, medicine, science and teaching, the degree needs to be both institutionalized and specialized in accreditation.

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When you have thousands of options in front of you, it is difficult to pick one. If you have been searching for online degrees the chances are, your search won’t come to an end until you make a decision to enroll in one.

Decision to enroll within a set time period is important because otherwise your search is likely to continue without any objective. But once you have made a decision to enroll in online bachelors or MBA or any other course then you just have to choose one from 1000s of Universities and colleges, which are offering these courses.

The more you search, the more information you are likely to have about the Universities and Colleges and courses. The end result is likely to be in the form of information overload. This would hinder your decision making power and you would find it difficult to pick one.

One of my friends wanted a laptop. He searched on the Internet, asked everyone around about the specifications, costs and brands etc. Loaded with all this information he walked confidently into the computer warehouse. He found so many different types of laptops with so many different specifications that his head started to spin in half an hour or so. Different laptops have different specifications; some have this but lack something else. He went in that computer warehouse 4 or 5 times but still could not make any decision. As soon as he walked in the last time the sales assistants disappear at the back. They realized that he is just wasting their time and not serious about buying, because he was asking the same questions again and again.

Anyway, he had to send his wife for the laptop, she walked in with two criteria, one DVD player/recorder and wireless networking enabled. She wanted a digital camera, so she choose the cheapest laptop and with the money she saved she bought a digital camera for herself. They both are happy with their equipments.

The degree is not like buying a laptop because it has far reaching consequences for your future. But first you need to decide about your criteria. Once this is clear then you just need to make a decision to enroll within a set time period. This time period could be between in the region of one week to 6 months. Whatever time period suits you and whenever you feel you would be ready for the commitment, is for you to decide. This would make your search a lot easier.

Many people would like to have a degree. They even have the complete information about different Universities and colleges but they still find it hard to make a decision to enroll. The problem is they are not sure about what to look for and what are their criteria about online degree.

I read somewhere that food is hardly a criterion in life. For some people it might not be but I love it and it is one of the best criterions of my life. So it depends upon your criteria, it could be cost, accreditation, reputation of the University/ College, how many students are enrolled, how many students have actually completed, time commitment they are asking for, their lecturers, the support they provide, frequency of the online lectures etc.

Decision to enroll in a set time period is one of the most important one, when you are searching. Let me explain, distance-learning courses and degrees have been around for a long time and most Universities and colleges offer these courses. Online degrees are comparatively new and are an extension of distance learning courses. If you had made up your mind to enroll in one, you could have found a university offering distance-learning degrees long time ago. But since you are still searching, your search is likely to continue until you decide to enroll within a set time period.

It’s now your call either to make up your mind or continue with your never-ending search. You can find some good information on the following website addresses.

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Accelerated bachelors degree programs are designed to accommodate busy adults who have not earned their bachelor’s degree. An accelerated bachelor’s degree course may last one to two years. Many colleges and universities are offering this option to working people who are too busy to attend regular classes.

The cost of an accelerated bachelor degree program can range from $15,000 to $25,000. You can browse the Internet for colleges or universities that offer this program in order to find out the specific fees, courses, subjects, duration, etc. You can e-mail or call these institutions for more information, or request a catalog through the mail.

Most programs entail compulsory attendance of classes and study groups periodically, which may be one night for each per week. Since attendance for classes and study groups is not optional, you’ll need to have a prescribed percentage of attendance, somewhere between 60%-70%, to be able to take your final tests.

Entrance requirements for an accelerated bachelor degree program may include proof of high school graduation or a GED (general educational development) certificate, a minimum of 60 college credits with a GPA (grade point average) of 2.0 or higher, and a minimum of two years of practical work experience.

Business administration, technology management and human relations are some of the most common courses offered by programs like this but there are a host of other courses too, including health care, education, social and behavioral science, and e-Commerce. So it’s best to do a little research while keeping in mind your interests, line of work and career before making any decisions.

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You graduate high school and look forward to continuing your education at a college or university. Your first sixty credits help you earn an associates degree. This degree can help you get a better job or transfer to a better university. If you need to work or raise a family, but still want to work towards an associates degree, enroll in an online associates degree program. With a little research, you can find associates degree programs that are easily transferable to other schools.

Community colleges are popular for students who want to get their associates degree before working or attending a large school. Community colleges are also cheaper than larger schools. Community colleges offer distance education for associate degrees and certificates. Certain career development schools also offer associates degrees and certificates online. Depending on your future goals, this option is becoming more popular for students who wish to obtain a degree.

Associate degree programs are available online from an abundant number of schools. Associate degrees do not usually require too much field experience, so they are easier to offer online than degrees that require more in depth field experience. You can get an associate of arts degree or an associate of science degree online. The AA gives you credits worthy of transferring and the AS gives you a degree worthy of taking into the workforce. Online programs for both degrees include: criminal justice, education, accounting, psychology, sociology, business, automotive technology, computer technology and more.

Once you have done a little research and decided on your major, contact the schools you are interested in to find out if they offer your degree online. You can also research schools online to find schools out of your general area that may offer your major. Just make sure that any school you choose is accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education. You will have trouble transferring college credit from any online associates degree from an unaccredited school. Once you find a school, the application process is the same as if you were registering at the regular school. You will need to send in test scores and high school transcripts.

Once you are registered, begin enrolling in classes. Most classes will still require that you buy the same textbook that campus classes are using. Your professor will most likely assign reading sections from the textbook along with any work assignments. The great thing is that the due date will not be two days away. Online classes offer much more scheduling freedom than on campus classes.

If you are taking distance education classes at a local community college, you might consider taking a few night classes on campus along with your distance education classes. Once you have completed sixty or more credits, your school will grant you the associates degree. Most schools will allow online degree graduates to get their diploma with the other graduates at the graduation ceremony. If you work diligently, you can earn an online associates degree in two years or less.

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