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This week we tackle questions about online degrees and money. We all know that higher education is a great way to improve your financial standing — but you have to pay dearly for the upgrade. Is it worth the time? Also, how do you deal with a partner who makes more money than you? Check out the questions, and be sure to comment.

Dear Tia,

I already have a full-time job and I really want to go back to school, but I don’t feel like I have the time. I’m considering an online program. Do you think they’re a good investment? I’ve heard that the degrees aren’t as well respected. — Ready for More


Dear  Ready for More,

I won’t mince words: Some people do turn up their noses at online schools. However, historically Black colleges, community colleges and trade schools also get snubbed in various circles. Only you can decide what school and program best suits your needs. There’s only one consistent standard: You must pick a school that is accredited (which means the degree is universally recognized as meeting state and/federal standards). If not, it’s worthless. Going online may work best with your schedule and general program desires. If so, pick the best of the best. You can check out to make sure the schools you’re interested in meet the proper standards. Best of luck.

Tia’s Tips: Picking an Online School:

Take an aptitude test. It will help you determine what areas you are strong in and pick a major.

Research schools. Select schools that have a proven record in job placement in your field and a high graduation rate.

Make sure it’s an accredited program. Check to guarantee your degree is worth the investment.



Dear Tia,

My partner and I work in the same field, but our careers have taken totally different paths. In the past few years I’ve gotten three promotions and she’s had zero (we’re a same sex couple). How do I help her without being offensive? — Promo Bound


Dear Promo Bound,

I have one question: Has she asked for your help? While climbing up the corporate ladder is great, it isn’t something everyone aspires to do. Some people are content with their job duties, office environment and are genuinely fulfilled.  However, if she is ready to make a move you must ask her whether she wants your advice — don’t just give it to her. You want to avoid making her feel uncomfortable or competitive. Next, ask her what she would like to know, or how can you be helpful. Don’t assume she wants hours of lecture time, or to be tracked daily. Let her set the pace. Hopefully you’ll both end up exactly where you want to be.

Tia’s Tips: Career Advice:

Offer first, don’t give. Make sure the person you want to help is ready to receive it — from you.

Ask how you can help. Long-winded lectures aren’t always best. Let the person determine what kind of support they need.

Remember each office is different. What works for you may not fit another person, or be successful in another office climate. Be flexible and talk about specific issues. Don’t generalize.

Got questions about your career path? Need life coaching or advice? Send your questions and comments to Be sure to include Life Advice With S. Tia Brown in the subject line.
S. Tia Brown, CSW, is a journalist and life skills coach whose work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Teen People, In Touch Weekly, Essence, Heart & Soul and a host of other magazines. In addition, Brown’s witty commentary style has made her a familiar face on VH1, MSNBC, CNN and TV One. Follow S. Stia Brown on Twitter: @tiabrowntalks

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