Learn to Earn Checklist: Are Your Ready for an Online Bachelor Degree?

Getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree may seem an insurmountable obstacle when you’re working a 40-hour week. But many Americans who have work, family and financial obligations that keep them from quitting their jobs to attend a traditional college or university full time have succeeded in finding a new way to meet their education goals and advance their careers.

Called distance learning, it’s an approach that’s taking the country — and especially the Internet — by storm. Dozens of accredited colleges and universities now offer online bachelor degree programs that require students to spend little or no time on campus. In most cases, you can learn to earn from the comfort of your own home.

The nation’s largest accredited private university, the University of Phoenix, is a good example of the trend toward distance learning. It offers online bachelor degree programs in business, technology, health care, education, and social and behavioural science. At the beginning of 2002, the last year for which figures are available on the Department of Education website, the University of Phoenix had more than 107,000 students enrolled in programs offered in classrooms and via the Internet through the school’s online campus.

While getting a degree from an accredited online university like the University of Phoenix can substantially boost your lifetime earning profile, online learning isn’t for everyone. Online learners do best when they’re highly motivated, are able to learn outside a traditional classroom environment, and have good computer skills and their own home computer.

If you fit this profile, here’s a basic checklist you’ll need to review before choosing an online degree program:

• Do you meet the academic requirements?
Like a traditional brick-and-mortar college, online universities have admission requirements that may vary according to your course of study. Certificate and online bachelor degree programs will require a high school diploma or GED certificate. Entrance requirements for graduate degrees will vary with the online degree program. At the University of Phoenix, for example, most graduate degree programs require a minimum of three years of related work experience and a bachelor’s degree with a 2.5 GPA or higher.

• Is the online university accredited?
Accreditation is a process that colleges and universities submit to voluntarily in order to receive their credentials. Because there are no national accrediting standards, you should research your school’s credentials and accrediting association. The U.S. Department of Education or the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation recognizes six regional and about 80 professional accrediting associations in the United States. The University of Phoenix, for example, is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

• Have you put your own goals first?
Take some time to research your options from the point of view of your own goals. To determine which school best fits your academic profile and educational goals, first list your criteria. Then, evaluate online degree programs based on their accreditation, features, and expenses. Once you have chosen several schools that interest you, visit their websites for more information. All online universities provide free, detailed information about their degree programs and free online access to enrollment counsellors. Ask school officials questions about such things as enrollment numbers, graduation rate, faculty qualifications, and any confusing details about the application process or academic policies.

• Can you afford it?
If you’re considering an online bachelor degree, make sure you can afford the costs for tuition, books (if any), and other admin or online fees. Remember, too, that you may not have to cover the entire cost of your online education alone. At the University of Phoenix, 59% of the University’s students receive all or part of their tuition from their employer. Even if your employer won’t spring for the cost of making you a better employee through continuing education, there are still other financial options available, including federal grant and loan programs with low interest rates.

Distance learning, especially in the form of an online university, is a great way to advance your career through an online bachelor degree or even a graduate degree in your chosen field. Following these guidelines will help make your search for the right online degree a pleasant and fruitful one.

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7 Key Tactics For The Small Business Owner

For most folks, owning your own business is a dream come true. As an economics BA, i’ve learned a lot about making it as an entrpreneur. There i’ve realized what does mba stand for. The freedom of being your own boss and succeeding to the best of your ability are facts of life for the small business owner. Sure, there’s more stress than what you probably imagined when you were creating your grand plans, but with a little strategy and planning you can overcome any tough spot you get in. There are 7 tactics developed by successful marketers that are sure to make your business as successful as theirs.

1. Create A One of a Kind Selling Point
If you want to stand out from the crowd, create a unique selling proposition that stresses the benefits the customers will receive from doing business with you. Will they get faster service? Go ahead and dramatize it, but keep the customer at the focus…Get free overnight delivery! Hey, it tells the customer…you get quick service and a discount on shipping. Two definite benefits in one statement.

Why should someone buy from you and not your competitor? I hate to deal a blow to your ego, but it really has nothing to do with you , your product, or your service. Yeah, its a little self-centered, but customers are attracted by offers that point out the things that benefit THEM.

Don’t go out on a limb to create new products and services to get attention. Just, add a special benefit to the ones you already have… maybe it’s quicker service. The most effective things to emphasize are benefits that your competition cannot or is not willing to give.

2. Use Testimonials
Hey, we all know that business owners think their product or services are the best thing going, but it’s what the current customers think about it that really matters to your prospective customers. They’re the ones who see things from their point of view… what they have to say about the business has an impact.

Testimonials play an important part in advertising – especially for small businesses. Yeah, big businesses with well-known names don’t have to worry about it, but small companies can use testimonials as marketing tools to build credibility.

Think about it…how else can we gain credibility than by creating a group of satisfied customers and shouting what they have to say? Let’s look at some ways we can make testimonials an effective part of our marketing campaigns.

3. Upsell
Upselling is one of the most successful marketing trends today. Everywhere you go, someone is trying to get you to buy more. From McDonalds with its supersize options to clothing stores that try to sell you shoes to match your outfit, everyone’s jumping on the band wagon. Why? It works!

Your customers already know that you have great products and provide satisfactory service. They trust you to come through for them. Think about it… it’s much easier to make sales to someone you already have a relationship with.

Use every opportunity to increase your sales volume within the customer audience you already have. Do you have a product that goes with the one they are purchasing? Offer it to them at the register. It’s a proven and effective method for increasing sales. You may be shocked at the additional sales you can generate from those who are already buying from you.

4. Make Your Price Seem Smaller
Divide and conquer… The old war tactic works in marketing too! When the price seems too steep, break it down into buyable size bites. An $120 item is only 12 low monthly payments of $10. A $365 purchase would only cost $1 per day. Now that sounds affordable!

5. Paint The Benefits Pretty
Customers buy because they want to enjoy the benefits of the purchase. A lady might buy a dress because she wants to feel sexy, or a man will buy a book because he finds pleasure in reading. Emotions are the key element that drives purchases.

Use word pictures to stir up the emotions that will instigate the sale. Let them feel the benefits, and they’ll be more apt to head for the cash register. Put them where you want them.

6. Create Attention Getting Headlines
Are you ready to capture your reader’s attention with great copy? The headline is the place to start. How often do you scan the newspaper’s headlines before you decide whether or not to read the article? Yeah, that’s where we lose or gain the reader’s interest, so it’s a pretty important part of the advertisement.

A good headline should telegraph its message in twelve words or less. Double check those headlines. Do they make a promise of a positive benefit, or ask a provocative question? Don’t settle for less than attention grabbing statements.

7. Provide An Offer They Can’t Resist
Is your deal too good to pass up? If not, you need to improve it. Hey, I’m not talking about cutting prices even more…you’ve still got to make a profit. You can make the deal sweeter just by increasing the readers knowledge of the value of the product, or adding bonuses that are perceived as valuable, but cost you little.

Motivate buyers with expirations. Yeah, an open ended offer encourages procrastination…which leads …yep, nowhere. When the customer knows he has until Saturday to purchase an item he’ll pay more for on Sunday, he’ll make it a priority to head for your shop.

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