If you want to pursue higher education but don’t think traditional college is right for you, you might wonder if an online liberal arts degree is worth your time and money. Naturally, many factors play into whether a particular degree program is the right thing for you, but some recent studies and a careful look at available degree programs should help guide you in your decision.

What the Experts Say

A recent study by Dan Schawbel had some interesting things to say about the importance of a degree in getting a job. According to Schawbel, 64 percent of hiring managers indicate that they would consider an applicant with no college credits and fewer than 2 percent indicated actively recruiting graduates of liberal arts programs. However, a more careful look at the information proves that the question of whether or not to pursue higher learning isn’t that straight forward. Surveys of other employers have produced starkly different results than those reported by Schawbel, and Schawbel did report that 83 percent of hiring managers said that communications skills rank high on their lists of important attributes in potential employees. Humanities degrees, both from online and from traditional schools help to hone these skills.

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According to a 2008 article by Diana Gehlhaus of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings for graduates of liberal arts programs have steadily increased over the years. Liberal arts students who are enthusiastic in their studies often do well at job interviews and in a variety of general jobs. Their education helps them become better communicators and work better with others. More recently, experts such as Schawbel indicate that listing a liberal arts degree on a resume is best when accompanied with a section that lists relevant courses as related to a particular job.

The Cost of an Online Liberal Arts Degree

Education in general isn’t cheap. Many individuals choose online education because they can save on the costs of commuting or on room and board. An online bachelor’s program is likely to cost about $50,000 on average, but solid programs can be found for $25,000 to $30,000. Most students qualify for government-sponsored financial aid, and private grant monies or scholarships can also help defray the cost of education.

Before deciding that an online degree is too expensive, consider that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2013, the unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma but no college credit was 7.5 percent as compared to only four percent among those with a bachelor’s degree of any kind. Additionally, employees with no college degree earned well below the national average in 2013 while those with a bachelor’s degree earned well above the national average.

No one can tell you whether or not a specific degree program is truly right for you. However, there are several factors that should be considered as you make a decision about an online liberal arts degree. Since the statistics clearly show that education does matter across the board for employment in the United States, you should consider some type of degree program rather than settle for just a high school diploma.

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