My Graduate Program Search: Why I Chose an Online Education
Two years ago, my friends and I finished our undergraduate studies. We all chose different post-grad paths, some working full-time and others continuing on to grad school. Out of all of my friends, I was the only one who decided to do both. Many of my friends were surprised when I told them that I was going to work a full-time job while returning to school. Especially among my age group, it’s more common for students to be a full-time graduate student and only begin their careers after graduation. In fact, it has remained a consistent trend for more graduate students to enroll in full-time studies than to take part-time classes while maintaining a full-time job. I knew that it would be difficult to balance, but I believed that I could benefit from both experiences.
Deciding to pursue graduate school while working a full-time job was not something I jumped into right away. I spent time deliberating the pros and cons and whether this was something that I would be able to handle. I began working soon after I graduated and, after a year, I felt confident enough to start applying to grad school.
Once I began searching for the best graduate programs, I knew that one important factor to consider was flexibility. I wanted to pursue a quality education, but I also didn’t want it to detriment my current responsibilities. As a person who works during the day, I knew that my options were limited to weekend, evening, or online classes.
I began to narrow down my choices. I knew that I wanted to stay local and attend a college in Texas, because in-state tuition was a more affordable option. I wanted to strengthen my current career path, so I made sure to search for colleges that offered MBA programs with a specialization in marketing. Surprisingly, that shrank my options to a small list of schools.
Next, I looked at accessibility. A majority of the schools that offered the program I wanted were located outside of my city. This meant that I had three options: Drive out of town to take on-campus courses, move to another city, or take online classes. Choosing to work full-time and study part-time meant that I wanted to keep my job while going back to school. Out of the three options, there was only one that gave me the flexibility to do so. As a result, I decided to apply to online programs.
My final step was looking at schools that offered affordability and advancement. Which colleges offer a price that worked with my budget, all while giving me the quality education that I wanted? When it came to my college search, I knew that these two factors came hand-in-hand. The net price of school is the combined price of tuition, books, and other college expenses minus the amount offered through FAFSA and other means of financial aid. The breadth of academic offerings include all of a school’s programs, classroom experiences, and resources. And when you combine both the net price and academic offerings, you discover value.
It was essential for me to understand what I was getting in return for the money that I was putting in. Simply judging a college based off of its price is a common mistake that many potential students make. If you mark out schools that may seem too expensive, you may miss out on a few quality programs. Likewise, choosing a school with cheap tuition doesn’t always promise you the academic experience that you want. It’s important to find a balance, one that fits within your price range while giving you everything you need to excel in your career. One easy way to understand whether a college can offer you a quality education is by looking at its accreditation. The schools verified to help students excel are those recognized through regional and/or national accreditations.
After much time and deliberation, I narrowed down my college list to a handful of schools and began applying. In the end, I chose to study at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. I’m now about to finish my first semester of college courses, and I do not regret my decision at all. All of the faculty and staff I’ve talked to during my application process and courses were very friendly and helpful. I have loved learning the course material, and I even find myself more immersed in my studies than in my undergraduate years. Although it can be stressful at times to have a lot of things on my plate, I know that it’ll all be worth it in the end.
More About Abound: We’re here to help. Abound: Grad School can help get you in touch with schools that we can confirm are Accessible, Affordable, Accelerated, and Advanced. Take a look at the schools we trust and find the program that works for you.