Seven out of 10 Americans start their undergraduate studies, according to College Atlas. Still, only two-thirds of them graduate, and the cost of dropping out is substantial: A college degree can increase a person's lifetime earnings by anywhere from $630,000 to $900,000.
Working students with some college credits but no degree can stand out in the job market by completing their education online to complement the expertise they have learned on the job.
Employers place a premium on a combination of formal learning and real-world experience, making college graduates less prone to layoffs in times of economic uncertainty. Moreover, online learners can often earn their degrees much faster than students in traditional academic settings.
What Skills Do People Learn by Completing a Degree Online?
Increased lifetime earnings, better career opportunities, advantage in competition for jobs and other factors are driving an increase in enrollment in online bachelor's degree programs such as the Bachelor of General Studies online from Arkansas State University.
A study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that business executives and hiring managers value the specialized technical knowledge gained through degree study. However, they placed higher importance on soft skills acquired through a liberal studies education, including "oral communication, critical thinking, ethical judgment, working effectively in teams, working independently, self-motivation [and] written communication."
Completing a degree online shows employers that candidates for jobs and advancement have developed valuable characteristics such as:
- Perseverance: Students who return to enroll in an advanced degree program or return to complete a program have an added measure of credibility in the eye of employers; hiring managers know these individuals can manage the demands and pressures of the workplace.
- Analytical mindset: Critical thinking is a powerful asset in the workplace, and a bachelor's degree helps students develop the ability to identify problems, analyze them and deploy creative solutions.
- Team-building skills: Participating in an online liberal and applied studies degree program is an excellent way to start building a professional network of colleagues in diverse fields as well as professors and mentors; these networking and collaboration abilities build on students' expertise and soft skills.
- Lifelong learning attitude: Students of all ages earn degrees online to stay competitive in their fields and advance or change careers. Moreover, as Forbes notes, many students in degree programs are over 50 years old, showing that "what was once the exception is now the norm."
What Careers Are Open to Graduates in General Studies?
Nearly 42% of Americans aged 25 and older have a college degree of some type, and this is no surprise given the personal and professional benefits that a degree can provide.
Arkansas State University's online program enables students to customize their course studies through a comprehensive curriculum that can lead to careers in management, sales, communications and more. Returning students can transfer up to 90 hours of previous college credit to the program — almost 75% of the total needed for graduation. The critical and reflective thinking skills learned through their studies provide graduates with an advantage in competitive job markets in several industries.
Learn more about Arkansas State University's Bachelor of General Studies online program.