Rev up your educational engine with an online degree

There was a time when vehicles were easy to repair. The parts and the way they went together were very straightforward. Every vehicle was sold with a manual and repair kit that helped you take care of the simple problems that could arise while out on the road.
But that was then, and this is now. Today’s vehicles are sophisticated machines filled with computer technology and thousands of parts. These modern road rockets require the top-notch skills of a mechanic who has been trained to handle a wide variety of engines and the problems that can happen under an equally wide variety of circumstances.
What it takes to become a mechanic
Working as a mechanic–otherwise known as an automotive service technician–used to require years of training under a seasoned mechanic. Today, the sophisticated engines require a deep knowledge of evolving technologies, computer science and engineering, in addition to the vast knowledge of tools and automotive parts required to understand, pinpoint, and fix the problems with engines of all types.
Vocational training programs for automotive repair can cover a wide range of topics, and can take anywhere from six months to a year to earn a certificate. However, advanced programs can take several years and award a degree. Online degree programs are often helpful to those who want to begin with an entry-level position and work their way up as their knowledge grows. Complex specialities, such as transmission repair, require further schooling to obtain the necessary knowledge.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for mechanics are expected to grow by 5 percent from 2008 to 2018. The mean annual wage of an automobile mechanic in 2009 was $37,880. Those who ranked in the lower ten percent made an average of $19,840, while those in the upper ten percent made an average of $59,920. Those who served in an automotive specialty might make even more.

Accreditation and Online Schools: What Does it Mean to be Accredited?

When you begin your search for online schools, you will probably hear a great deal about accreditation. Understanding what it means to be accredited can help you make the best informed choice about the online degree programs you want to take.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is an assurance that a school or degree program meets the high-quality standards of the accrediting body. In order for a school to earn accreditation, the independent accrediting body will review the school’s courses, curriculum, recruiting practices and admissions procedures, faculty, course content and more. If the school meets the rigorous standards of quality, it will be accredited.
Why Accreditation Matters
There are a few reasons why accreditation matters:

  • Financial aid. Federal grants–and sometimes state grants–are awarded only for enrollment in an accredited college or program. This means that if you choose to go with a school that has not earned accreditation, you might be paying much more out of pocket.
  • Transfer of credits. If you choose to change schools halfway through your degree program, only courses from an accredited school will transfer to another accredited school. If your initial educational choice was not accredited, you might lose all the time and money you put into that education when you choose to transfer.
  • Employment. Finally, many employers look to accreditation as a stamp of approval for your degree. Without a degree from an accredited school, you might not get that new job or big promotion.

Accredited Online Schools: How to Tell
If an online school is accredited, it should clearly state that on its website or hard copy literature. It should also state where the accreditation was awarded. Keep in mind that an online school might offer several online degree programs, but not all of them must be accredited. You might need to check into each degree program that interests you to determine whether the program itself is eligible for accreditation.

Why Becoming a Plumber Should Be More Than Just a Pipe Dream

Jobs that are both stable and well-paid are hard to come by. But becoming a plumber can help you land one of those jobs. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers enjoy one of the highest-paying occupations in the construction industry.
What kind of work can a plumber do?
Working as a plumber involves much more than fixing pipes in houses. In fact, there are a wide variety of career paths plumbers can take. Some examples include working for the government, laying pipe for new infrastructure or replacing the existing materials. A plumber might work with companies to fit new steam heating systems or safety sprinklers, or be asked to completely remodel a residential bathroom. From working with big business to running your own business, numerous possibilities await for those who choose to become a plumber.
Education for a plumber
Plumbers often get their start through both classroom education and on-the-job training. Training through online schools can help you earn the knowledge and experience you need to move into an apprenticeship. Classroom training can teach you everything from math and applied sciences to local building codes and laws. After spending a few years under the direction of an experienced plumber, you can then move into handling jobs of your own. Some states require plumbers to be licensed.
What is the average plumber salary?
According to the BLS, employment for plumbers was expected to experience 16 percent growth from 2008 to 2018. The demand for retrofitting and new construction codes is behind the push for more jobs. In 2009, the mean annual wage for a plumber was $49,870.
Online schools can lead to a plumbing career
Choosing to earn your education through online schools can allow you to juggle work, home and family obligations while earning your diploma, certificate or degree. A plumbing career could be your ticket to job security, and online degree programs can help you get there.

Top Schools in the Midwest – See the Rankings

There are many lists out there that rank colleges and universities. It is important to know the source of this information and what the criteria of the survey. In this article we will list some of the top colleges located in the Midwest region of the US. They are listed alphabetically. We have also listed some of the rankings that they have earned and why they are considered one of the top colleges in the Midwest. This list has been compiled based on information obtained from the Princeton Review.

Top Colleges in the Midwest

These are some of top Midwest schools out of a total of 224 that were reviewed by the Princeton Review.

1. Albion College in Albion, MI

#7 More to do on Campus

2. Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA

#19 Class Discussions Encouraged

#18 Professors Make Themselves Accessible

#9 Students Happy with Financial Aid

3. Gustavus Adolphus University in Saint Peter, MN

#16 Best campus Food

4. Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL

#8 Best College Library

5. Knox College in Galesburg, IL

#8 Best College Radio Station

#3 Students happy with Financial Aid

#12 Professors Get High marks

#20 Class Discussions Encouraged

6. Lawrence University in Appleton, WI

#16 Professors Make Themselves Accessible

#8 Gay Community Accepted

#20 Best College Theatre

7. Northwestern University in Evanston, IL

#7 Town-Student Relations Are Great

#16 Best College Theatre

#12 Best College Newspaper

8. Saint Olaf College in Northfield, MN

#11 Class Discussions Encouraged

#11 Professors make Themselves Available

#14 Dorms Like Palaces

#3 Most Beautiful Campus

#20 Town-Students Relations Are Great

9. Washington University in St. Louis, MO

#16 School Runs Like Butter

#11 Toughest to Get Into

#8 Best Campus Food

#6 Best Quality of Life

#13 Dorms Like Palaces

As you can see there are many different ways to rate and rank colleges. You have to choose the criteria that are most important to you when you are choosing a school. What makes a college or university the best choice for you does not make it the best choice for your friend, cousin, or another student. This is why it is important to research schools that fit into the criteria that you have set for yourself, for your educational goals, and for your career goals.

Once you are able to narrow down your choices based on your own criteria, you will find yourself with a much shorter list of college options to make a more educated decision on which one is best for you, your personal goals, and your professional goals. After you narrow down your choices based on your criteria it is very important to visit the campus for each of your choices. How you feel being on the campus and interacting with the students and faculty is probably one of the most important criteria on your list. Remember, you have to spend the next few years of your life living in this town and attending classes on this campus.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Online Degree Facts

The Evolution of Distance Learning

Distance learning in whatever medium is not a new idea; it has actually been practiced since the turn of the last century. The old correspondence school has gained new life with the advent of the Internet, but with greatly extended “richness” and “reach” (Weigel, 2000). These online degree programs are not an alternative for those who simply cannot make it in class, but rather are designed for adults who have specific goals and limited available time.

Modern Online Degree Programs

Many online degree programs lacked uniformity of quality in past years, but today’s online programs are much more focused and purposeful. Advancement in the quality and scope of learning management systems (LMS) can be credited with much of that shift. A few of the other reasons include greater availability of online courses, an increased need, whether real or perceived, for additional training or degrees for professional advancement and easier access to the Internet.

There is a variety of opinion surrounding the effectiveness of online learning, of course. Clark (1991) writes that he came to regard his 1983 position that “media does not influence students’ learning and motivation” (p. 34) as no longer being true and by 1991 altered his position to acknowledging that “media are now taken along with student perception to be factors in student motivation” (Clark, 1991; p. 34).

This is consistent with Salomon’s (1997) statement that “Media’s symbolic forms shape the way people form meanings, use their mental capacities and view the world” (p. 375). Though mind “and media are allegedly two very different entities” (Salomon, 1997; p. 375), there appears to be a convergence recognized today that often was not recognized in the past, as Clark (1991) notes. That is that mind generally “is taken to encompass the very essence of humanity – intelligence, emotion, compassion, will, and creativity” (Salomon, 1997; p. 375), while technology typically is viewed as being “cold, impersonal, dehumanizing, dull technology of the mass production of information for mass distribution” (Salomon, 1997; p. 375). Despite these broad differences in mind and technology, “history, research, and experience tell us that the two are intertwined in a number of ways” (Salomon, 1997; p. 375).

Media Presence in Daily Life

The current focus on media and media types certainly is justifiable, given the environments in which many children grow up in today’s society. Video games exist as the modern siren call; their effects often can be traced to the types of games children are allowed to play. If children are so drawn to video games, then it follows that the same medium would be beneficial in teaching children knowledge they need and that adults want them to assimilate. Moreno and Duran (2004) investigated the value of this position to find that multimedia games did indeed enhance some children’s learning but cautioned that “multimedia games may not be equally effective for all learners” (p. 492). Even so, Moreno and Mayer (2005) found that multimedia games can be quite effective among those learners who respond well to them.

The Evolution of Learning in America

Learning more often than not was by wrote in most subjects well into the 20th century. Early in the century, progressives believed that public schools also should teach children to be citizens and wives, or to emerge with a viable trade if they were not destined to attend college, which remained an elitist concept in many respects. By mid-century there was little attention given to math and science in public schools. Then the Soviets shocked all of America when they launched Sputnik in 1957. Sputnik’s existence highlighted the need for education reform in America.

It seems that American education tried everything except what would work for all students. We were liberal; we were restrictive; we encouraged high performers and then sought to minimize their accomplishments so not to discourage others. We came to the 21st century spending more than ever, but achieving poor educational results. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is the in-progress solution to underperforming schools. Public schools are required to show meaningful and measurable gains in educational achievement, regardless of demographic characteristics, economic conditions or any other external feature of the local area.

How the No Child Left Behind Act Affects Education

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act “aims to bring all students up to the proficient level on state tests by the 2013-14 school year, and to hold states and schools more accountable for results” (No Child Left Behind, n.d.). It establishes a variety of remedies for the children attending public schools that fail to demonstrate improvement for two to six or more consecutive years, and also receive Title I federal funds.

NCLB is the short-form result of revamping and redesigning the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Title 1 of the act addresses the school performance, student achievement and teacher accountability that gain so much attention.  The act also requires that technology use be enhanced in schools, in addition to teachers being trained in technology through professional development initiatives.

Title II is “Preparing, Training and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals;” Part D specifically addresses enhancing education with the use of technology. Among other things, Title II Part D calls for:

  • “Development of an effective educational technology infrastructure;
  • “Professional development that promotes integration of technology into the curriculum and alignment with state standards;
  • “Use of electronic means for teaching and student learning;
  • “Use of technology to promote family involvement and school-family communication;
  • “Training on emerging technologies;
  • “Professional development to retrieve Internet-based learning resources; [and]
  • “Preparing teachers to be building-based technology leaders” (Graber, 2002; p. 8).

Graber (2002) notes that virtually every program requires “extensive professional development for teachers, principals and support staff, including the dissemination of best-practice models” (p. 8). These requirements span the entire range of public education, including in professional development those who staff early childhood programs.

Professional Development

Specific requirements for professional development are contained in Title IX of the ESEA. Recognizing that many public school systems lack great depth in the area of technology, Title IX states that in those areas where educational service agencies exist, state-level education departments “shall consider providing professional development and technical assistance through such agencies” (Graber, 2002; p. 5).

This section of the law is careful to define what does and does not qualify as professional development. It does “not include 1-day or short-term workshops and conferences” (ESEA quoted in Graber, 2002; p. 5). Addressable topics in this section include methods for teaching reading; methods for assessing English language proficiency; and training in effective instructional strategies based on research-derived best practices for math and science education (Graber, 2002).

Business-Based Training

For their part, businesses have cut costs, laid off employees, looked for internal efficiencies to build on and have taken a host of other steps to increase their opportunities to prosper in the face of ever-increasing competition. The value, development and retention of human capital has become the next aspect of business that organizations seek to define and manage to their benefit. It also links education and business as never before.

Human capital refers to the value residing within the individuals of the organization. Production workers know their jobs well and call attention to problems that arise rather than turning out products of inferior quality. Operational managers treat well those reporting to them and regard their own roles as providing workers with all they need to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. Senior management seeks to enhance the value resident within the human capital of the organization, and training provides a means of achieving this enhancement.

Training existing employees is straightforward. Certainly the organization needs to ensure that its training activities are relevant and transportable to individuals’ specific jobs, but it can regularly assess the value of its training programs and alter those programs where and when necessary.

Contributing to continuing education likely is the easiest approach to building human capital. If the organization helps with tuition costs and ensures that the employee has sufficient free time to make the most of continuing education opportunities, then the organization benefits from the individual’s choice of how to spend hours away from work. Alternatively, organizations developing and conducting their own training programs have greater control over content and can tailor training activities to precisely fit their own needs.

Business organizations must ensure that they become and remain employers of choice. Being an organization where “everyone” wants to work not only helps to retain developing human capital, it also helps the organization to attract valuable sources of human capital in the future. Training has long been recognized as a benefit (Clark, 1992).

Online Degree Programs and Financial Aid: Where Do You Begin?

You’ve looked over all the online degree programs that interest you, and you’ve narrowed it down to a few online schools that suit your needs. Now it’s time to start planning for that education you crave, and that preparation starts with financial aid.
Financial Aid: Where to Begin
The best place to begin when searching for financial assistance is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application determines what assistance you might be eligible for through the U.S. Department of Education: grants, loans, work-study — or all three.
Grants are the most desirable of the three options, because they do not have to be repaid. There are numerous grants available, and while some of them are specialized, many of them are basic grants that any student might be eligible for, regardless of their field of study.
Some grants to consider include:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Academic Competitiveness Grant
  • SMART Grant (National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent)
  • TEACH Grant (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education)
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

You might also be eligible for federal student loans. The most common loans include:

  • Federal Stafford Loan. If you can demonstrate financial need, your Federal Stafford loan can be subsidized, meaning no interest accrues while you are a student.
  • Federal PLUS Loan. Available to parents of dependent undergraduate students, as well as those in graduate programs, the PLUS Loan is not based on financial need.
  • Federal Perkins Loan. The Federal Perkins loan is a very low-interest loan with a cap on how much a student can borrow during their education.

But that’s not the end of your opportunities for financial aid. Federal Work-Study provides jobs to students while they pursue their education, while campus-based programs might offer incentives to those who attend certain online schools.
Other Sources of Funding
Don’t discount other sources of funding. Scholarships, private loans, financial aid through your state, and grant opportunities through your school or civic organizations are all great ways to help finance your degree.

Online Degrees – What To Look For When Choosing An Online Degree Program

Online educations are becoming more popular each and every year. More people continue to go back to finish a degree program that they started, and more people also continue to start programs from the beginning. These days, many of the best universities around the world offer an online degree program. This means that you have plenty of options to turn to when you’re ready to continue your education. Learn what you should look for from a high quality program and you’ll be able to make a smart choice.

At the forefront of everyone’s mind has to be accreditation. People are concerned that online schools do not have full accreditation. While it’s true that some don’t, the vast majority are now fully accredited. Just remember to double check before you get started, because you don’t want to waste any time or money with an institution that can’t provide you with a top tier degree.

In addition to accreditation, when you go to school most people are interested in going to an institution that has a strong reputation. When a prospective employer or a job interviewer sees that university on your resume, or hears you mention it, you’ll instantly gain more respect and help yourself stand out from the crowd. Today, some of the oldest and most respected colleges around the world offer great online classes, so even online students can enjoy this respect and credibility with the right program.

When people think about an online degree program, they also tend to consider accelerated online degree programs. When taking an accelerated program you can complete your whole Bachelors degree in less than 2 years. You can do this by keeping a busy schedule and by avoiding long breaks in between classes. If you’re interested in this you should know that this is available with many online programs, but not with all of them.

Of course, one of the key reasons people turn to online schools is the flexibility and convenience that they provide. You can work from home and you can complete your work at anytime, making your education fit into your life. Therefore, be sure that your potential school offers these flexible and convenient qualities before beginning.

Finally, you will find that an online education will be significantly cheaper than an education from an on-campus university. This is generally because the expenses are so much less. However, you’ll find that from program to program costs will be different. So be sure to look into your program and find how much your degree will cost you totally, as well as on a per credit basis.

Students today have more options than ever for where they are going to school, what they want to study and how they want to accomplish their program. An online degree comes with many different benefits and advantages, just be sure to find one that satisfies your individual needs and preferences.

Forming an Online Study Group

Online learning is an excellent way to further your education. It can be done from anywhere: you can connect at any time you feel like connecting. You don’t have to schlep books across campus; you don’t have to put up with drafty lecture halls, or professors who turn up late. Just about the only thing you might miss out on is collaboration with other students. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to work, or if your online degree requires you to assimilate a lot of information, consider forming an online study group with other students.

Working with a well-organized study group offers many benefits. You can compare notes with your study partners to ensure you’ve covered all aspects of your material. You can collaborate on projects, get help with drafts of papers, and discuss difficult material productively. Study groups can keep you accountable if you’re procrastinating—knowing that you’re going to talk about chapters 9-10 in your economics text on Monday will help motivate you to read it by Sunday. Finally, study groups offer you the chance to practice working in teams and networking, both of which are skills that can be profitable in your day job. And you may just make friends or valuable business contacts, too.

Here are some guidelines for forming an online study group.

1. Limit the group’s size.:

To ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute, and to keep logistical headaches to a minimum, try to restrict your group to no more than four or six people. Big virtual groups can be just as unwieldy as big site-based groups. It will be easier to coordinate schedules and conduct discussions with a smaller group.

2. Set an agenda and a schedule for every session:

One of the major pitfalls of study groups is that they can become chat sessions (even online) that don’t actually get around to becoming study sessions. Head this off at the pass by setting a specific start and end time for your group meetings, and follow an agenda with time limits.

For example, you might agree to ten minutes at the beginning of your meeting to recap the last session, followed by forty-five minutes to discuss a reading, giving everyone time to contribute thoughts. Finish up with ten minutes to plan the next agenda and discuss whether or not you thought the session was productive, and what to do next time.

3. Assign roles to study group members:

While you’re all equals as students, setting up roles within your group can save a lot of time and headaches. A group of four students might include a leader, a recorder, a moderator, and a spokesperson. The leader sets the agenda, the recorder saves chat transcripts and distributes meeting minutes, the moderator keeps the group on-topic, and the spokesperson approaches professors with questions from the group.

4. Find a comfortable online meeting place:

One of the problems with online learning is where you can “meet”. Many instant messenger programs (Google Chat, AOL Instant Messenger, etc.) will let small groups chat simultaneously, although this can be confusing. There are some web-conferencing tools, such as Skype, DimDim, and Yugma, that are free for groups of less than 10 people, and offer more than chat—video chat and desktop sharing are available in some cases. If you’re lucky, your online university will provide you with a “virtual campus”: dedicated web space to discuss your work in real-time with other students, as well as message boards to post files to. Make sure that all your group’s members are comfortable with whatever setting you choose for your virtual meetings.

This article is presented by AIU Online. See how convenient online learning can be at

AIU does not guarantee employment or salary.

Characteristics of top online colleges

What should be the characteristics of Top online colleges? A top online college must be accredited. Accreditation is a certificated provided by state governments to online colleges running in their territory. This certificate states that the respective online college meets all the conditions put forth by the state government for online educational institutions. The recognition by the authority reveals that the online college is imparting quality education. But the accreditation is not granted for ever rather it is to be reviewed after a stipulated time period. A top online college will never delay in getting its accreditation renewed at any circumstance.

There are instances when accreditation of online colleges is revoked by authorities for want of certain features. Such colleges certainly not come under our list of top online colleges. A top online college will never entertain any activity that will undermine its accreditation status and push its students’ future into dark. When searching for top online educational institutions dig their history and see if they had been punished with cancellation of their accreditation. If yes then dig further to unearth the reasons behind such incident. Also search why and under which circumstances they are again recognized by the authorities.

Top online colleges offer almost every course that is offered by the traditional colleges. There is business management, accounts and finance, arts and humanities, health and medical, engineering and science, computer and IT, education and teaching, trades and careers and much more. You can choose to pursue a certificate program or an associate degree whichever is allowed by the online college. Also there are bachelors and masters degree programs. Learned students can even apply for doctorate degree and become a professor in an an online university. Prior to applying for enrollment in an online course, its better to go through the coursework so that you have a better understanding.

A peek into the hood of Top online colleges reveals that top colleges are able to confer degrees in any course in less than four year standard time period provided the student possesses immense learning ability. By completing your online degree program in two or three years, you not only save time but money too. In addition, you enter the workforce earlier than those studying in traditional colleges. Also you can transfer online courses. If you don’t feel comfortable with your present online college then you are free to transfer your degree program to another online college of your choice.

Five Steps to Select an Online Degree Program

If you have decided to pursue an online education, then choosing an online degree program that meets your goals will be the next priority. Although there are many universities and colleges offering online degree programs, choosing a right one that meets you requirements may not be an easy task as you will need to consider some important factors. Here are the five key steps that people who are interested in pursuing an online degree will go through in the process of selecting a degree online:

1. Choose A School

There are many online and traditional schools that offer the online degree program you are interested in applying. However, not all schools are offering recognized degrees. The schools that are not received accreditation may not stand up to serious scrutiny. If you pursue their online degree program, you may face problem in using the degree to start your career or making career advancement after the graduation. At that time, you may find that you have wasted your time, effort and money to exchange with a fancy piece of paper that is useless. Therefore, in order to be sure you are getting a degree that is worth the value and is widely accepted in the job market, you should drop off schools that are not received accreditation from your list.

2. Apply & Get Accepted

Don’t waste your time and efforts to apply the schools that have admission requirements beyond your qualifications. You should narrow down your list of schools you are qualified to apply for, and short-listed further top two or three that interest you the most. Then, you make a request to ask the schools to send you further information on the courses offered in the degree program you are interested in, compare & review them to ensure they fit into your goal. Once you have sent out your application, while waiting for the schools’ replies, take the initiative to follow up with the schools if you don’t hear from them after some times.

3. Get Financial Aid, If Needed

Online education at an accredited school can be paid in various ways. If you choose not to pay it with your money or you have financial difficulties to fund your study, then getting financial aids in term of scholarship, private loan or grants will help to resolve the financial needs.

4. Plan Your Study

Although online education has flexible study schedule, you need to plan your own schedule that helps you progress through and complete the degree program according to your goal.

5. Get the Books and Start Studying

Once you enrolled into an online degree program, you will be instructed as to which book(s) you will need in the courses. Although most of learning materials can be downloaded online, you may need to buy some recommended printed books or references. Get the books from online bookstores such as and be ready to get started the life as an online student.


Following the above five steps in choosing an online degree program. The steps will guide smoothly into the world of online education with little fuss.