There was a time when you could get a job in a good industry, work for a company for a few decades and retire with a pension, savings and a paid off home. This reality is largely gone and the career landscape has not only changed, it continues to change at breakneck speeds. In order to keep up with the pace of the economy, more education becomes a hedge against our own obsolescence. But furthering education takes time and money, and who has that? Fortunately, the internet is creating new opportunities to study, pay for your studies and advance your career path.
The internet has become ubiquitous and allows people from everywhere and every income status to access higher learning. The programs are diverse and students are not restricted to what local campuses offer, or required to relocate in order to pursue a particular subject. It has also lowered the overhead involved in delivering education which decreases the cost, while provided new access to funding.
There is still cost, but some clever methods of reducing the financial impact of college are available. And this goes beyond typical grants and loans. For example, Starbucks, the fourth largest coffee retailer worldwide, has created a joint venture with Arizona State University so that workers of the Starbucks receive free tuition through their ASUonline program to cover their first two years.
A clever way that some ‘non-traditional’ or older students are financing their continuing education is by leveraging their homes. Often, when we’ve been in the workforce for decades, we have simultaneously built equity into our houses. The internet can make this simple by providing access to programs online. You can shop at home before you make a choice, allowing you to to examine the various low cost ways to borrow (essentially from yourself) against the equity of your home, with a HELOC-home equity line of credit, or a simple cash out refinance.
This can allow you to pay for college and pay yourself back instead of borrowing unsecured student loans. Then, when you sell your home, the loan is absorbed. And if you don’t sell your home, the cost of college becomes a small addition to a mortgage that is amortized out over a long period of time (typically 30 years). So a small loan to yourself to pay for school would add little to your monthly payments.
And the internet is not only a helpful tool in allowing you to attend colleges from around the world without having to relocate. The internet can help you research the program that is right for you and even the perfect fit for the degree you choose. For example, you can get help sorting through programs that offer specific degrees, like online Masters in Public Administration, where you can compare programs of various colleges. These are powerful resources to help you narrow down a field of study and choose the best program to meet your needs.
The internet has also made studying easier. Instead of having to check out heavy books, and pour over glossaries, indexes and tables of contents, the internet allows you to search for information around the world and uncover knowledge instantly. This is a powerful way to expedite learning and research, allowing you to be efficient in your studies, which can be necessary if you are studying while holding down a job.
Ultimately, the working world has become more competitive and continuously requires more education. The good news is that the same world has provided opportunities to succeed in our career advancement endeavours.