Students interested in earning their education have a number of choices to make. Cost, time to complete and online, hybrid or campus based courses are all important issues that have a huge impact when it comes to choosing the right school. Other issues, such as accreditation, community outreach and technological advancement in online programs are also important to students. A number of these issues will be discussed throughout this article to help you better choose the right school for you. First, a few hard numbers about the career you are pursuing.
Medical Assisting is growing at an alarming rate of 31% according to BLS.gov. That growth is much faster than average and has a moderate term on the job training expectation. Averaging just under $14,000 an hour, with plenty of advancement opportunities also ensures that it is a well-paid entry level position. You will find a number of ways to increase your pay, the most important is the type of degree you earn. Certificate programs are the quickest way to enter the field, they are generally the cheapest as far as tuition is concerned and they rarely demand higher than average income. Diploma programs will prepare you in a more in depth way and let you command a higher rate of pay than those with a certificate, but won’t be viewed with the same level of respect of higher level degrees. An associate degree is one of your best options and will generally give you a significant pay increase. The program will take the longest of the three, and generally cost more than the rest, but the results may be worth it.
Cost vs. Time
Not all schools are going to cost a great deal for longer programs. For example, the Associate Degree Program in Medical Assisting at Penn Foster Online is one of the cheapest educations you will find. With a total tuition of $1,500 dollars, you will be able to enter the field with an associate’s degree and no debt. Generally, programs such as this will have some pre requisites that you must meet, so speak with the individual admissions advisors to learn what those are. In most cases those will be general education programs that prepare you more completely for your career.
The U.S. Career Institute offers a Medical Assistant Certificate Program that can help you enter the field in as little as four months. You also save a significant amount of money with this type of program. The total tuition comes to under $1,600 in total, and there are no pre requisites. You are earning a certificate which will put you at the bottom rung of the industry, but it is a great (and affordable) way to start your career.
Schools such as Herzing University offer multiple degree programs. An Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting and a Diploma in Medical Assisting are both on offer and will vary in price from $22,000- $27,000 in total. The education will generally take longer and you pay a higher price for a more robust college. Because many students continue their education after their career, schools like Herzing make it easy to continue moving down the path you choose without having to worry about what credits will and will not transfer. They also have campus locations throughout the country which will be perfect if you decide to go with a hybrid type of program.
Online, Hybrid and Campus Based Educations
Many students feel overwhelmed when it comes to all the information they need to understand when choosing a school. Then things like “What type of education would you like to pursue?” come up and that leads to even more confusion. In reality, choosing an online, hybrid or campus based education is a personal, and very easy, choice. Understanding the differences will make it a bit easier when you need to make that decision.
Campus based courses are what is traditionally followed by students. You show up at campus first thing in the morning, carry around books, notebooks, laptops and all of the materials you need, scramble from class to class and then rush home for work and try to find time to study. It can be hectic, but it can also hold advantages as many students learn more effectively with a team and an instructor standing in front of them.
Online campuses are still fairly new. Twenty years ago these were known as correspondence courses and allowed students to study a small number of programs at their own pace. Now, with the speed on proliferation of the internet, more school are able to offer their studies online. You generally learn at your pace, or have to meet a few deadlines throughout the semester. Each program varies a bit as there are no standardized forms of online learning yet. You will find that there are just a few types of programs out there that most schools use, and as long as you can surf the web you will understand how to use an online program. Penn Foster Online, mentioned above, is an online-only campus and a perfect example of how many educational institutions are moving forward.
The real question is if a hybrid based course is right for you. Many students are starting to explore this option, at least if they are pursuing their general associate’s at a local community college. A hybrid program combines online courses with campus based learning. This can be done in two ways. One may hold classes online with lab work on campus. The other lets you choose purely online classes and purely campus based classes and combine them in one semester. This can be advantageous for courses that you want to take on campus for any reason, but there are few benefits, outside of personal preference, in choosing to learn on campus. As previously mentioned, Herzing University is a perfect example of a school that offers these options.
Online courses do offer all of the same experiences you expect from a traditional education. Full discussions are handled through message boards and video or audio files are used for lectures delivered to students. You may even find that many schools are starting to offer streaming of their classrooms. While the percentage is small, expect that to grow in the coming years and be more common in schools.
While one of the most common programs to use for online learning is Blackboard, but some colleges, such as Anthem College Online built a unique learning format. You can watch a demo video to learn more about how the program works. Web cams and live streaming and participatory learning are a focus of the program. All books are included in your tuition to make it easier for students to get started. You will also find that a library is provided online. For students not able to attend the streaming lectures, the lecture will be archived for later viewing. While the demo is an advertisement for Anthem College, it is an honest look at how they are innovating the online learning environment.
One of the things you should focus on from the start, is what type of online program is offered. Many top online programs will offer interactive demos for you to explore before you enroll. Kaplan University takes it a step farther and offers students a three week trial, with no tuition required. This lets you experience the online learning environment before committing. This can be a great way to ensure you have what it takes to succeed in an online course.
Online degree programs will train you with the same information that a campus based course will (that is why hybrid courses are becoming popular). You will need to be focused and organized as an online class has no way of watching over you and ensuring you are staying on top of your studies. It is a great way for students with busy lives to learn at their own pace, but go in with the understanding that you will need to focus and stay organized if you want to succeed. Any student can do it, just ensure you are prepared to dedicate your time to your studies and you will be in your new career in no time at all.