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Published On: Thu, Mar 1st, 2018

The Future of Graduate Education in 2018

The future of graduate education is evolving for several reasons. Those seeking the degrees are often professionals in the field who are already in career positions and seeking to move up in the companies they are with. They often have families and are pressed for both time and money.

At the same time, students are being encouraged to take their education to the next level, simply because a bachelor’s degree is no longer as impressive as it once was. to really get the pay you want and deserve, you need a graduate degree. What does this education look like in 2018?

photo Tulane University Public Relations via wikimedia commons

Companies Covering Costs

Many companies want to retain their current employees, but they also want a more educated workforce. Because of the high cost of graduate education, it is often impractical for employees to afford it on their own.

Often in exchange for a contractual promise to work for their current company for a set amount of time after an employee gets their degree, the employer will pay some or all of the cost of classes. This is because investing in your people and the knowledge they have is much more efficient than hiring a new college graduate and retraining them in a particular business.

Employee retention is increasingly a priority, and providing educational benefits is a sure way to attract and hold on to talent.

Classes are Offered Online

The fact that classes are offered online is not news, but the fact that you can complete a graduate degree with little or no residency at the school of your choice is. Until a few short years ago, you could get some classes toward nearly any degree over the internet in a similar way to how correspondence classes worked before that.

With modern technology and schools looking to save overhead and expand their student bodies beyond their geographic area, there are entire degree programs offered online, from an associate degree to many graduate degrees.

Even when internships or residencies are required, there are times when schools will partner with local businesses to make these possible without the student ever having to set foot on campus.  Arizona State University is a pioneer in this area and has even partnered with companies like Starbucks to offer their employees free online education. Their president, Michael Crow, is one of the greatest proponents of innovation in online education.

Experience Counts

When it comes to graduate education, there are some classes you simply have to take. However, if you are missing some prerequisites in your bachelor’s, but you have equivalent job experience, you can actually get credit for it.

In many cases, you can get this credit without having to CLEP out of courses, although that is an option as well. Using your experience for college credit can speed the process of getting a graduate degree.

Often if you have done volunteer work or been in the military, you may be due even more credits. Checking with the enrollment counselor of each school can help determine what counts toward your degree and what doesn’t.

New Learning Models are Offered

This is perhaps one of the most important advantages of modern graduate education. Even online, you don’t just have to watch videos of lectures, take notes, and pass multiple choice tests. Instead, learning is transformed to meet various learning styles.

This means there is a certain amount of gamification introduced in learning. There are classes offered in different formats with different ways to answer questions. Audio is mixed with video and hands on exercises that challenge students to think and learn more.

Virtual reality can also add the feel of real world situations without the expense of field trips or travel to specific places. Various forms of testing ensure the school that the student is gaining a true understanding of the subject, but at the same time offers the student unique ways to prove their knowledge.

These models mean that students who would have truly struggled with traditional classes have other options, ones that make higher education not only possible but can also allow them to succeed in their own way. Educators have known for a long time that the lecture in a classroom method is a poor way to teach and learn, and new technology allows them to teach differently.

Professors Care

While this may seem like a given, it has not always been the case. Now, professors in graduate programs have often spent time in the industry, and they truly want students to succeed and avoid the mistakes they have made.

Also, modern technology often frees up professor time because things like grading are automated, and presentations and video are less time consuming to create. This means more time dedicated to mentoring students in a more direct way.

The other thing is that professors are more accessible than in traditional settings. Instead of office hours, professors can be reached via email and even scheduled video chat. Online discussion forums let them interact with students in entirely new ways. Even in larger classes, students and professors get to know each other much better than they would otherwise.

The easier we make the teaching process for professors, the more time and effort they can put into student interactions, enabling them to care more about student outcomes overall, and in graduate programs specifically.

The future of graduate education is constantly evolving. For 2018, it will continue to change and grow. More companies will help cover the cost of education to retain employees, and experience will matter nearly as much as the classes you have taken.

Online classes, new learning methods, and caring professors will ensure the quality and applicability of graduate degrees. Are you and your company ready to step into the future.

Author: Clarissa Caouette

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