Distance learning: Get your next degree for less money!

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Whenever I find myself on the subway, I'm careful to pack a book. After all, living in the Bronx, I've discovered that staring at people can be a life-threatening mistake; besides, life is short and my reading list is long.

Every so often, though, I make a mistake and forget. After I finish reading all the advertisements in my subway car, I will, occasionally, surreptitiously check out my fellow passengers. While many of them are generally checking out a novel of some sort, an equal number usually have their noses stuck in a school book.

It's cool to see so many people working on their education. Of course, the vast majority of them are studying to become geriatric nurses, which is a great idea given that the Baby Boomer generation is rapidly approaching old age. After all, these are the people who have demanded special attention for most of the last sixty years, and there's no reason to expect that they're going to get any less selfish as they take the slow walk into the great unknown. (For the record, if you're looking for job security and a good wage over the next twenty or thirty years, you might want to learn how to change bedpans and dispense Geritol.)

One of the great things about New York is the sheer number of educational programs that are available. However, even if you live in an area that doesn't have twenty or thirty institutions of higher learning, you can still pursue your next degree. Distance learning, once the purview of correspondence schools and diploma mills, is now available from hundreds of respectable colleges and universities, and a surprisingly large number offer online graduate programs. Peterson's has a handy online database of accredited programs, or you can try contacting the university of your choice; while many don't have distance learning programs as such, they are often willing to work with you to create a program of study that fits your needs.

Many distance learning programs are less expensive than their traditional counterparts. However, even those programs that charge full price can still be a steal. You generally don't have to pay student activities fees, room and board, and many of the other expenses that drive up the cost of a degree, and you also don't have to live in a college area, where rents are often elevated.

So what are you waiting for? The Baby Boomers aren't getting any younger!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He's considering taking classes in carnival freak techniques.

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