Comparing Types of Colleges: The Pros and Cons of Community Colleges

November 29th, 2011 by rebeccac

community-college-students-ts200314321-001Choosing the right college can be a difficult task. In addition to cost, academics and location, students must also decide what type of educational institution they would like to attend: a community college, a four-year college or a university. While many students may be geared toward perusing a degree from a university, they should also stop to consider the benefits of a community college before they commit to an institution.

About Community Colleges
If you are new to the world of higher education, you may not be aware of the major differences between community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. Community colleges, or junior colleges, are two-year schools where students generally earn an associate degree or certificate in their field of study. A college or university, however, is a four-year institution where students earn bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees.

Community colleges have benefited from the recent infusion of government funding made possible by the American Graduation Initiative. This funding program aims to invest $12 billion into community colleges across the United States in order to help more students gain access to higher education.

Advantages of Community Colleges
One of the advantages of a community college is that they can help students develop the basic skills and study habits needed to excel in a university setting. Students may also prefer community colleges because of their smaller class size and greater access to instructors, which encourages better student outcomes. Since many universities have strict admissions standards, community colleges serve as a capstone option for students who have difficulty in school.

Community colleges are the perfect option for students who want to complete their core curriculum and then transfer to a four-year college or university. In many cases, universities have developed core curriculum requirements that work with local community colleges to ensure community college students’ credits transfer and are applicable to their four-year degree programs. Another big advantage of community college is cost. According to a recent ABC News report on the rising cost of higher education, in 2010, the average cost of tuition at a public two-year community college was $2,544, compared to the $7,020 students paid at four-year colleges and universities.

Disadvantages of Community Colleges
There are several disadvantages to community colleges, but many of them don’t rank on the priority lists of most non-traditional students. Many high school graduates forgo community colleges because they don’t want to miss out on the campus experience and activities like Greek life. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind for the non-trads out there before jumping onto the two-year school bandwagon. Compared to a four-year institution, community colleges offer a smaller variety of academic programs and majors. If a student attends a community college with plans to transfer to a four-year college or university, they must be diligent about making sure their courses are transferable between the two intuitions, otherwise they may end up retaking courses they have already completed at the community college level.

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Comparing Types of Colleges: The Pros and Cons of For-Profit Schools

November 22nd, 2011 by rebeccac

adult-student-in-class-tsstk162300rke
There are a lot of different types of colleges and schools out there – probably even more than you realize. Public, private, community, for-profit, technical … which is the best one for you? We present a blog series that focuses on each one in turn and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.

For-Profit Schools

As a non-traditional college student, you have enough things to consider, such as where and how to complete classes, how to apply for financial aid, trying to hold down a job at the same time, and figuring out a major. With all of this swirling around in your brain already, you may not have given thought to whether you want to attend a college that is non-profit or for-profit. You may not even know the difference between them.

Non-Profit Colleges
When you think of a state university, with four-year college degree programs, onsite dormitories, a wide range of student activities and a campus on several acres of land, you are most likely envisioning a non-profit college. Students coming to college straight out of high school generally gravitate toward non-profit colleges, and for many, it is their first experience living apart from their parents so the community experience is almost as important as the learning.

Non-profit colleges receive their funding from the state legislator where the campus is located, as well as from private donors. Tuition from students goes back into the school to pay its operating costs. Generally, non-profit colleges are harder to get into than for-profit colleges because the latter receives its profits directly from student tuition and is less likely to turn down students who want to attend. With non-profit colleges, the goal of their existence is the education itself. With for-profit colleges, the goal is two-fold: the profit created for the organization in addition to the education students receive.

For-Profit Colleges
Since for-profit colleges get their funding from private investors and companies seeking to raise revenue, their structure is more like that of a business. The other major difference between for-profit and non-profit colleges is that for-profit schools are goal-oriented, focusing more on preparing students for specific careers than providing them with a liberal arts education. For-profit colleges also tend to have more flexible course offerings, such as online learning, evening and weekend courses, and part-time programs. This is because for-profit colleges generally attract older students who are already working and are looking for additional training to advance their careers. Non-traditional students need greater flexibility if they’re going to be able to swing going to college, working and raising a family at the same time.

If you’re looking for education that prepares you for a specific career in a shorter amount of time, for-profit colleges may be the way to go. While they do tend to attract non-traditional students, there are always exceptions. New high school graduates who have specific career training in mind may also be attracted to for-profit colleges and skip learning the liberal arts.

How to Decide
It’s your life, and you have to evaluate which type of school works the best for you without worrying about if your money is going back into the college or into a company’s bank account. As long as you are benefiting from the education, whether the college you attend is non-profit or for-profit is really a moot point.

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The pros and cons of day, evening, weekend and online classes

September 23rd, 2011 by rebeccac

nontraditional-students-stk162318rkeTime. It’s our best friend and worst enemy. When you need it, you never have enough of it, but when every minute seems like an hour, it doesn’t go quick enough. It’s something we’ll never have complete control over – something you just have to learn to work around.

This particularly comes into play when you’re contemplating going back to school. As a busy adult, you already have your fair share of responsibilities – work, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Do you really have time to fit in an education? The answer is yes!

Schools everywhere are offering students flexible scheduling options so that they can go back to school and not worry about having enough time. For those who can’t make the drive, there are online classes. For those that work the night shift, there are day classes. For those that work during the week, there are weekend classes. And for those that work during the day, there are evening classes.

So what are the pros and cons of these flexible class schedules? Read on to find out.

Online Classes

Online Classes: Pros

Learning at your own pace
Online classes are time-friendly because students can learn at their own pace. Some students learn faster than others and, as a result, instructors in larger, more traditional classrooms might overlook those slower paced learners. With online learning, you control how fast or slow you comprehend the material at a pace that’s right for you.

Studying when and where you choose
Just because you have time doesn’t mean that you have the opportunity to learn. Online classes allow those students who are already pressed for time the ability to take tests, study and discuss lectures all online – anywhere and everywhere. Whether you’re traveling for business, on vacation or just don’t feel like getting out of bed, online classes can give you the freedom to learn at a place and time of your choosing.

Online Classes: Cons

No face-to-face interaction
Online classes are flexible and convenient, but sometimes questions are hard to convey via an email or phone call. They’re just not as effective as sitting down one-on-one with the professor and going through the material. Although some online courses offer once-a-week, in-class discussions, not all schools provide this feature or have the means to do so.

No motivational force
Learning at your own pace was a pro, but it can also lead to a con where online learning is concerned. Since you’re following your own time table, sometimes lacking that physical classroom or professor can lead you to put off or not take online classes as seriously. Sometimes an instructor’s push is what we need.

Day Classes

Day Classes: Pros

The traditional route
Day classes have been around since schools were formed, and as a result the pros are simple. You wake up, go to class, do your homework and then have the rest of the evening free to complete any other obligations or responsibilities. It’s the way it’s been done since the beginning.

Evening family time
If your family is like most, then odds are that the time everyone is going to be around the house is the evenings, when the standard work and school hours are over, and day classes allow you to be home when they are.

Day Classes: Cons

The 8-to-5 job
Day classes are the traditional route, but for the nontraditional student, they’re not as time-friendly. Those who have full-time day jobs obviously can’t attend classes during the day and maybe can’t afford to quit said job in order to make the traditional schedule work. It’s just too inconvenient for most adult learners.

Not a morning person
Even if you don’t have a job to contend with, daytime classes may still prove way too much of a scheduling challenge. It could conflict with school drop-off, school pickup, practices and games and lessons, errands, appointments – all of the little things you have to do that add up … and can’t be done after work hours.

Weekend Classes

Weekend Classes: Pros

Avoiding the weekday dilemma
Taking classes on the weekend is an excellent way to avoid having to compromise time and travel if you work a job throughout the week. This way, you still get your education without having to sacrifice your existing weekday responsibilities.

Hit me with your best shot
Instead of stringing out subjects over the course of the week – during which you have to juggle divided attention and a string of distractions – weekend classes allow you to hit a whole cluster of learning all in one go. It might be more like three hours than one hour, but you have the advantage of sitting down and learning in one clean sweep.

Weekend Classes: Cons

The 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 rule
Weekend classes can help you avoid disrupting your normal weekday routine, but they may cause you to prolong your total time span spent in class. Weekday classes may meet 2 to 3 times each week, but the weekend is a much shorter time period. Classes often meet just once – generally on Saturdays – but they still have to cover the necessary information, so you’ll end up sitting at your desk for a longer time period.

Use it – don’t lose it
Since weekend classes only meet one time per week, students may suffer from a decline in comprehending subject material compared to traditional students who would meet 2 to 3 times throughout the week. With such a big gap between classes, students may find it more difficult to build on the material. You know what they say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” In this case, it could be true.

Evening Classes

Evening Classes: Pros

Have your cake and eat it too
Similar to taking weekend courses, evening classes can help you dodge the 8-to-5 dilemma. Got a daytime job or other responsibilities? That’s fine! You can save the classroom for the nighttime – hit the books after the sun sets. This is especially handy if you’re working and can’t afford to quit your job in order to start school.

Scheduling freedom
A lot of times, evening classes run on the longer side, which means they often only meet once or twice a week. What does this mean for you? In addition to having your days available for work, appointments, school events or practices, you also have some wiggle room on your calendar for the later hours as well.

Evening Classes: Cons

Working the graveyard shift
Most of the world may function during the day, but there are those who work graveyard shifts. After all, gas stations, retail stores, and 24-hour convenience stores and restaurants need to have someone operating their stores during the night hours. As a result, evening classes don’t quite fit everyone’s schedule.

Busy and busier
Night classes can allow you to squeeze in that much-needed education on top of your current day job, but chances are that you’re in for a long day. You go from work to class, maybe with errands squeezed in between, and there’s still homework, too. It’s tough – but definitely doable with some juggling, a little organization and a drive to succeed.

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The Facts about Graphic Design School Portfolios

September 15th, 2011 by rebeccac

graphic-design-portfolio-TS_83286948If you’ve started thinking about going to graphic design school, odds are that you have several college possibilities and a lot of pros and cons to weigh. How do you choose which school and which program are going to be right for you?

Here’s one must-have element to move up the priority list: portfolios.

A good graphic design program is going to guide you in the construction of a final portfolio project that you can take out into the world to help you in your job search after graduation, so if you’re looking at a college that doesn’t include portfolio development in some capacity, you might want to look a little deeper before you sign any enrollment papers.

Okay – so what’s the big deal with portfolios?

One word: experience.

Maybe it’s not the same as having real-world, on-the-job experience, but since you’ll be fresh out of graphic design school, you’re just trying to get your foot in the door. A portfolio is a great, visual way to show potential employers what you’ve got to offer – your skills and creativity, what programs and techniques you learned during the course of your education, and how it all can benefit them. It shows you know your way around graphics and you can produce what they need.

It’s not a replacement for a resume.

Write that down, underline it, circle it with little stars because it’s really, really not. You still need to build one of those, too, and don’t short-change it or it won’t matter if your portfolio is a multimedia experience in 3-D. They’ll just toss it. The long and short of it is – when it comes to graphic design careers, it’s not enough to have JUST a list of education and skills or JUST a photo book of your creations. The best way to sell yourself is to present a clean, professional resume and then show them evidence of everything you can do.

The next question then becomes: what’s the best way of putting your portfolio pieces together? There are a few different options:

  • Print book: Something professional-looking and neatly bound, with a nice cover and easy-to-turn pages. Nothing too gaudy, and black background pages are usually your best option to set off the gorgeous visuals you’ve created.
  • Website: Probably best to get a professional domain (your first and last name, if you can swing it) rather than using a free site like Yahoo or Geocities. It’s a small investment for your professional future and lets you keep things ad-free. Display your portfolio pieces as a page of thumbnails so that a potential employer can dictate which images he or she wants to see and what order to see them.
  • DVD: Provides the tangibility of a print book with the digital formatting of a website. Especially handy for potential employers who want to see it digitally but might have a slower Internet connection or older browsers.

If at all possible, put your portfolio in all three of these formats to give yourself flexibility. More traditional print-based companies are going to want to see the book, but interactive and multimedia companies will likely be more dazzled by a DVD or website presentation.

7 important tips for your graphic design portfolio

Almost as soon as you enroll in graphic design school, you’ll probably want to start thinking about the future of your portfolio. It’s not a stagnant project – it’s something that develops and changes over time, so here are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to put one together.

  1. Edit. Just because you worked hard on every piece doesn’t mean that every piece deserves top billing. If something really isn’t the best show of your skills, then chuck it – you should really only have about 10-12 pieces total. Throw a bunch of mediocre stuff in the mix, and odds are a potential employer is more likely to remember the not-so-good fluff than your stand-out creations.
  2. Don’t go overboard. It’s great to have a big, vibrant personality, but when you’re presenting your portfolio, it’s important to keep it professional. Resist the urge to over-embellish it or to buy that fantastic multi-colored presentation book. Black may be boring, but it’s a great background for design. Keep it simple and sleek.
  3. Embrace variety. You may love working with typography best, but odds are that the jobs you will be applying for will require much more than that. Make sure your portfolio shows not only your best, but also your most diverse selection of work.
  4. Label. Probably the simplest part of the portfolio process – label your works. Nothing too big or distracting, just something noting the client or project name, your role in it, what software you used, and a very brief explanation of why this piece is important in your body of work.
  5. Get another opinion. Almost no one is able to look at their own work absolutely objectively, and that makes editing very difficult. A second (and third and fourth) opinion can give you a fresh perspective on your portfolio and help nail down what works and what doesn’t. Find people, like your instructors, who will be honest – not friends and loved ones who already love everything you do.
  6. Keep it current. Design evolves like everything else, and oftentimes, much faster. Make sure your pieces reflect your developing skills and experience. Most likely that piece from one of your first classes two or three years ago isn’t going to age well, so adjust your portfolio to keep things up-to-date.
  7. Stay flexible. Every potential employer is going to be looking for graphic designers who meet their unique needs for the position, so allow yourself the chance to adjust your portfolio accordingly. Do some digging on the company, find out everything you can, and then present the pieces that best match their aesthetic and where they’re headed.

If you’re looking into a future in graphic design, a portfolio is going to be absolutely essential, so make sure in your college search that you’re looking at schools that make it a priority. A great portfolio will not only give you a leg up in the job search, it will also be a visual testament to everything you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come.

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Your checklist for choosing an online college

September 9th, 2011 by Brendon

Finding an Online School ss_13703017Considering online college? That’s a good thing. Online learning is becoming more common as more and more schools are getting onboard, and the stigma of an online degree is fading fast. But, you want to be sure that you’re getting more than a piece of paper. While there’s no perfect method for choosing an online college, here are some important factors that you should take into consideration before making a decision:

Class size – You might not think it matters how many people are in your class because you’re sitting in your living room. But, class size definitely makes a difference. Some universities already cram 200 students into large lecture halls, so why wouldn’t they do the same with their online courses? Make sure that you will have a teacher you can get in touch with and the level of attention you need in order to succeed.

Cost – This seems like a no-brainer, but many students don’t do their due diligence by comparing school costs. The price of online learning can be very affordable, but some schools charge much more than others and some have hidden fees, like activity fees to support on-campus events. Make sure you’re also comparing the price of any books you might have to get.

Accreditation – Investigate whether the schools you’re interested in are accredited by agencies approved by the Department of Education (DOE). That’s the simplest way to check the validity of your education as accredited online schools will have met certain standards in their education and training. Not all training requires the DOE’s stamp of approval – but some employers require their workers to have an education that is accredited by the DOE. Schools generally list accreditation information right on their website, so if you can’t find it, you might want to contact the school or check the websites of the agencies themselves.

Transfering credits – If you plan on going to another school after you complete your online degree, make sure that your credits will transfer. You don’t want to earn your Associate degree online and then realize that you can’t transfer your credits to the school where you want to earn your Bachelor’s. It never hurts to think ahead.

Flexible doesn’t always equal convenience – Just because you can attend class from your couch, doesn’t mean you can choose the time that you attend class. Some courses require that you chime in on instant message conversations at specific times. If you have to work from 9-5 but your professor expects you to participate at 2 o’clock, then online learning won’t work to your advantage in that scenario. Make sure you check the class schedule and find out your professor’s expectations.

Find out who hires their graduates – The bottom line is that you should never be afraid to ask lots of questions before you enroll. If an admissions rep gets annoyed with you, then they probably care more about your money than your future. One question you should definitely ask is: “What companies have hired your graduates recently?” If this question is hard for them to answer, then it’s safe to assume that they don’t spend a lot of time following up on their graduates’ success or fostering strong relationships with reputable employers.

So now that you have a solid approach to finding a good online school, nothing should stop you from getting a good online education. If you are still wary of learning online, then first seek out a reputable school that offers online programs in addition to their campus-based programs. Set up a meeting with an admissions representative and ask them lots of questions. You’ll probably find out what a lot of other students are quickly learning: that you can find a good online education that can help you pursue a great career!

Interested in finding an online college? Ready to begin your college search? Start at US College Search or find us on Facebook and Twitter as well as searching by zip code.

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Top 5 fears non-traditional students have about going back to school

August 29th, 2011 by admin

Nontraditional Student Worries ts_ AA018431There are a lot of people considering going back to school right now for various reasons – maybe they’ve been laid-off recently because of economic cutbacks, or they’re stuck in a job with bad pay or bad hours or bad responsibilities, or they’re just finally ready to start doing something they love instead of just something they get paid for.

There are also a lot of people who keep putting off going back to school because of fears or self-doubt – they’re not necessarily happy with where they are, but don’t feel ready to take on a big life change. You might be one of these people. If you are, you’re not alone – a lot of non-traditional students share the same types of concerns about furthering their education after time out of the classroom. What are some of them? Let’s find out.

1.) Putting a burden on your family
Once you’re settled into a routine – however dissatisfying it may be – it can be really difficult to change things up, especially when you have other people to consider. You begin to wonder if you’re being selfish or if you’ll end up making things worse somehow – financially, professionally or personally. You don’t want to miss things happening at home – if you have younger children, you don’t want them to feel abandoned; you don’t want to get too far behind on housework and home responsibilities; you don’t want to make the rest of your family pick up all of your slack.

Mothers especially struggle with this and how their decisions will affect their children. And it’s true that, while you’re taking classes, you will have less free time and there will have to be some compromises made with your routine. The nice thing is that a lot of schools offer evening and weekend schedules, and more and more are offering online programs that mean you won’t have to commute or rearrange your family’s schedule. But the bottom line is, if you get your family on board with your decision to change your life, they’ll understand and be willing to accommodate your needs. After all, it’s only temporary and the benefits afterward should be worth it!

2. Not fitting in with other students
As you get older and the generation gaps widen, it’s easy to think that going back to an environment you haven’t been in for a long time will leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of place. Things change so rapidly nowadays that even just a couple years removed from school can seem like a lifetime. You may worry that you won’t understand basic assignments because of technological deficiencies or that the younger students will think you’re strange and too old to be in school. Your instructors and the faculty members may be younger than you, and you may just feel like you’re out of touch with the entire school system.

However, adults everywhere are choosing to go back to school later in life to begin a new career or continue their education, so there’s a chance you won’t be the only adult learner in your program! Also, if you choose a non-traditional education at a career college or technical school, many of your classmates, regardless of age, are probably dealing with a lot of the same obstacles you are. Because of this, these schools also typically have very supportive faculty and staff who are willing and able to help you with any concerns you may have and guide you through your studies.

3. Balancing your job, family and homework
Adults are busy and getting busier – between a job that may or may not have a set schedule, a family that needs things from you and that you want to spend time with, and basic life upkeep like car repairs and bill payments and grocery shopping and … well, you know how it goes, it can feel like there’s no room for anything else, especially something as major as school. Not only will you have to spend time in a classroom each week, but you’ll also have to complete assignments at home.

Sounds exhausting, right? It doesn’t have to be as inconvenient as you might think – as mentioned above, get your family to help you out if they can so you aren’t spreading yourself so thin. You can also opt to enroll in an accelerated program that will allow you to complete your studies more quickly, an online program that will allow you to fit class and homework in when it’s most convenient, or a program that allows you to take just one course at a time so you’re not trying to learn too much at once. When it comes down to it, career colleges understand the difficulties their students sometimes have and will work with you to make sure you’re successful.

4. Worrying the material will be too difficult
Starting something new is often a lot more scary in your head than it is in practice – it’s people’s nature to anticipate the worst and blow unfamiliar situations out of proportion, only afterwards realizing that whatever it was really wasn’t that bad. The same is true with any educational program you choose – it’s going to be something new, and even though you’ll have a course list and descriptions of what you’ll learn and how, until you’re actually there, doing it, there will probably be fear that you’re getting in over your head.

The important thing is to realize the difference between being challenged and being overwhelmed. Easy, throwaway coursework probably means you’re not getting a quality education and learning what you really need to know to be prepared. Plus, many career colleges provide a laboratory environment where you can practice classroom theory in a simulated – or real, in the case of internships and externships – work setting. Many students find that this is what really prepares them for what they’ll do after graduation and what gives them confidence in themselves.

5. Wondering if getting more education late in life is worth it
Let’s begin by saying, “It’s never too late to go back to school!” And it’s not – if you’re in a place where you’re unhappy or unemployed and need a change or a different career path with opportunities, it doesn’t matter your age. Of course, there’s the argument of the costs vs. the payoff to run through to determine if any loan amounts you have to pay off are going to be manageable.

But in the end, it’s the quality of your life that’s at stake – if beginning a new career doing something you’re passionate about will have a positive impact on your professional point of view, then it will also overflow into your personal point of view and allow you to enjoy life in general all that much more.

Basically what this all comes down to is deciding whether school is the right thing for you right now, and knowing that there are others out there going through what you are. A good way to get support before you decide what school to choose is to post on back-to-school forums or message boards so you can communicate with others who are in your situation or who have been there and can offer advice. And once you enroll, use the resources your school offers to their highest advantage – whether it’s the financial aid or admissions office, your instructor or fellow students, the support system you create can help you get through anything.

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Top 10 most popular career education programs

August 11th, 2011 by rebeccac

If there’s one thing the government always seems to have in spades, it’s statistics. In fact, they’ve got a whole department dedicated to coming up with facts, figures and highly complicated tables just for education: the National Center for Education Statistics. Nifty, right?

Handy, too, if you’re like me and interested in the topics surrounding adult education. Say – for example – what the growing number of non-traditional students are choosing to study and how it stacks up against the most popular majors of the traditional collegiate populace.

NCES to the rescue. They’ve got data for every day of the week, broken down in dozens of different ways – including which kinds of students are studying what and what kind of outcomes they are achieving.* So how did the top 10 pan out?

Distribution of Career Education Programs

Business and marketing

Includes: Management, administration, accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, real estate, sales and merchandising, hospitality

Total number of students enrolled: 3,349,000
Percentage of the total: 28%
Most common outcome: Bachelor’s degree

Business nearly always seems to land at the top of the pile – mainly because it’s such a diverse field and ridiculously applicable. A degree in business administration may sound fairly basic and general, but you can leverage it on your resume for thousands of different jobs.

No. 1 with traditional students: Business

This is one place where all students seem to agree: Business degrees are a good way to make yourself valuable and employable.

Health sciences

Includes: Healthcare, dental, health administration, medical records, physical therapy, veterinary care, medical technology, pharmacy, medical research

Total number of students enrolled: 2,970,000
Percentage of the total: 25%
Most common outcome: Associate degree

Healthcare-based fields are hard on business’ heels and probably will be for the foreseeable future. There’s just so much demand out there for health services and so many people needing treatment and care that it’s no surprise that students see it as a job security haven. People will always get sick, after all, so it’s not like that’s going away.

No. 2 with traditional students: Social sciences and history

In general, a lot of traditional college students are still trying to figure out the world and themselves, so there’s a tendency to go for broader liberal arts/humanities types of degrees that allow them to just explore subjects.

Education

Includes: Elementary, middle and secondary education; educational administration; higher education; curriculum and instruction; special education; continuing education

Total number of students enrolled: 1,197,000
Percentage of the total: 10%
Most common outcome: Bachelor’s degree

With business and healthcare eating up over 50% of students, it’s no surprise that there’s a big drop to number three, nor is it a surprise that it’s education. U.S. education at all levels has been struggling, but the need will always be there for teachers who feel passionately about it.

No. 3 with traditional students: Health professions

Not too long ago, this spot would’ve gone to education in the traditional market, but like I said, healthcare is HUGE and people are wanting in on the game.

Engineering and architecture

Includes: Architecture, city and community planning, engineering, engineering technologies, CADD/design technology

Total number of students enrolled: 1,123,000
Percentage of the total: 9%
Most common outcome: Bachelor’s degree

It was surprising to see this one rank above the computer technology field, but it makes sense from a certain point of view. After all, they are interesting fields with both good salaries and opportunities, and there are a lot of technical careers included as part of these industries that offer the benefits without the need for years and years of school.

No. 4 with traditional students: Education

It’s still holding strong in the top five, although it may be interesting to see if the appeal of education diminishes if the current budget slashes and salary cuts continue.

Computer and information sciences

Includes: Computer programming, data processing, systems analysis, networking administration, software applications

Total number of students enrolled: 694,000
Percentage of the total: 6%
Most common outcome: Associate degree (over Bachelor’s by a mere 2%)

Computers are so vital now that it’s difficult to remember our society before them – and before jobs surrounding them were even an option to study for in school. As they get more complicated, more and more specialized jobs spring up to keep them running and developing, dealing with hardware and software alike.

No. 5 with traditional students: Psychology

A huge difference here between a very tech-y, hands-on career and a “soft science” undergraduate degree to practically requires postgraduate work in order to be applicable to a job.

Protective services

Includes: Criminal justice, corrections, law enforcement, forensic science, fire protection, security

Total number of students enrolled: 670,000
Percentage of the total: 6%
Most common outcome: Associate degree

Essentially encompassing all programs related to criminology, this includes a lot of police officers and firefighters – some of them going back to get their degree in order to advance. It holds a lot of appeal for those with a strong sense of justice and a real drive to make a difference in their communities.

No. 6 with traditional students: Visual and performing arts

Like with social sciences and history, the relatively high ranking of the arts field exemplifies the priority of traditional students to explore and discover themselves through their major.

Consumer services

Includes: Culinary arts, nutrition, fitness training, cosmetology, esthetics, counseling, child care

Total number of students enrolled: 658,000
Percentage of the total: 5%
Most common outcome: Bachelor’s degree (but it’s close to an even 33/33/33 split)

A sort of “miscellaneous” section according to the NCES, this covers a lot of the daily jobs and industries that deal with personal wellness – keeping yourself healthy and feeling good about yourself inside and out. The most random career in this section? Mortuary science. From the cradle to the grave, indeed.

No. 7 with traditional students: Engineering and engineering technologies

This one gets a muddled ranking on the traditional side – I think because the appeal of the industry is negated by the sometimes 5+ years of schooling that are often required for engineering at the university level.

Communications and design

Includes: Advertising, communications, journalism, public relations, visual arts, dance, graphic/fashion/web/game design, photography, film

Total number of students enrolled: 454,000
Percentage of the total: 4%
Most common outcome: Bachelor’s degree

There’s a lot of variety in this group – including technology-based art programs like web design and game design that offer a lot of opportunities and good salary potential. It tends to be an area, though, where people are less apt to enroll if they don’t feel they already have a strong talent at it.

No. 8 with traditional students: Communications and journalism

A kind of half-match-up here toward the bottom, since visual arts are separate and actually rank higher. Communications majors are often broad enough to be geared toward either journalism or marketing.

Manufacturing, construction, repair and transportation

Includes: Carpentry, electrical, construction, mechanic, aviation technology, trucking, transportation, repair

Total number of students enrolled: 423,000
Percentage of the total: 4%
Most common outcome: Associate degree (followed closely by certificates)

Very few of these programs really require a Bachelor’s-level outcome, and nearly all of them lead to practical, hands-on, trade-based careers that are vital to society’s comings and goings. Check out trucking for major job opportunities – a lot of veterans are retiring and leaving vacancies that will need to be filled.

No. 9 with traditional students: Biology and biomedical sciences

In direct contrast, the biology field tends to be another major that lends itself to necessary postgrad work – medical school, forensics, etc. Not always – but very often.

Public, legal and social services

Includes: Law, pre-law, paralegal/legal assisting, library sciences, public administration, theology

Total number of students enrolled: 369,000
Percentage of the total: 3%
Most common outcome: Bachelor’s degree

It’s got a few random ones in there – library sciences? theology? – but the majority of this deals with the legal system, and it’s not all just students going pre-law. Legal assisting, court reporting and other legal support services are a big deal in this field.

No. 10 with traditional students: Computer and information sciences

Compared to its much higher ranking in the career education listing, computer sciences comes in last here – conceivably because you don’t have to have a traditional Bachelor’s degree in order to get a foot in the door and succeed.

 

 

*Figures for career education from here: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/P43.asp. Figures for the traditional studies from here: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/figures/fig_15.asp

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Balancing Studying and Fun: 5 Tips for College Students

June 24th, 2011 by megana

A few of the most memorable tips from a college student to a college student

1. Don’t Slack

Time management is one of the hardest things to do when transitioning from non-college life to that of a part-time or full-time student. When transitioning into college, there are a million and one more things to do. From going shopping after a class with your roommate to going out on a Tuesday night, the ultimate test to a collegiate is how to manage time correctly. The average student, traditional and non-traditional, has a job outside of their schooling. The lack of balance between work and study has been one of the leading causes of reduction in the college retention rates across the U.S. Make sure to know what exams or projects and assignments with due dates are approaching, so you can schedule in a planner or phone of designated times to buckle down and get it done. Trust me; you’ll thank your responsible self when you graduate.

2. Take Notes

Take notes! Take notes! Take notes! Get the idea? With all the extracurricular activities there is do take part in, it’s expected that you won’t retain everything your 60 year old professor has to say about Accounting 101. But when exam time approaches sooner rather than later, notes either by laptop or notebook will become your best friend. Plus, many professors will test over material from your notes—not just the textbook. This is a good way to show that you’re paying attention and stand out to your professors.

3. Office Hours

Take advantage of your professors’ office hours. Many professors are required to set a certain amount of time aside for students who may need extra help and/or advice on career development. However, many students do not take advantage of this opportunity. By attending office hours, you are making your face known to your professor, and you might even get some helpful hints on class assignments just for taking the time to ask. Don’t forget, he/she may just be a great reference or candidate for a letter of recommendation in the near future.

4. Network

If one thing is remembered from this article. It’s all about WHO you know. Some say your connections are almost more important than your resume. In some cases this is true, but do not go and drop out of college—your connections wouldn’t like that. Building a network of people to seek life advice from, study with, or to become life-long friends, all of these are intangible benefits of a college career. Calculus derivatives may or may not be remembered in upcoming years, but connections last a lifetime. So get involved. Make friends with at least one or two people in class. Campus will seem much smaller and confidence for tests will be noticed with increased test scores from late night study sessions. Plus, this will help with communication and social skills. That’s definitely a go-to skill for employers!

5. 3 Letters—F.U.N.

Forty years from now what are you going to remember about college? “Oh I remember that Accounting 101 exam. It really kicked my butt with debits and credits.” Maybe. But you’re more likely to remember all the fun times you had with friends when you shouldn’t have stayed up so late on a weeknight going to Taco Bell. You’re going to remember the semester when you met your best friend in the dorms or nearby apartment or even the small, random events that have shaped you into the well seasoned adult you are today. Memories like these are lessons learned outside of the classroom that will be stories to tell for years to come when someone asks “What tips can you give me before heading off to college?”

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What has Social Networking done for Colleges?

March 8th, 2011 by admin

Remember when the social networking pioneers were early Facebook (you know back when it was only available to college students) and that one site called myspace? Well, several sites have come and gone and after about 6 years there’s a new group of cool kids on the block – Twitter and Youtube and one keeper – Facebook.

There’s no denying the impact that these sites have had upon our society and now schools are jumping on the band wagon. Schools are now using these sites for recruitment and to boost admissions – pretty dang smart if you think about it.social-networking-for-college ts_82557772

Now when you visit the website of your select college of choice, you can see links to its specific social networking sites. If you become a friend of a college on Facebook or decide you want to follow it on Twitter, you can and here’s the kicker. When the admissions rep receives a request, they’ll direct them to recruitment in their area. Forming a relationship from that moment really helps resonate with the student and could be a contributing factor in their overall decision of where they want to go. Maintaining this connection allows a school to keep an open professional and personal line of communication.

Updates via Facebook and Twitter are also beneficial to schools because they allow potential students to read posts and find the most current news on their schools of choice. Reading a long list of positive student comments on Facebook wall posts can help sway potentials to enroll. A long list of negative comments and…well, you can guess the outcome.

Youtube, on the other hand is the perfect site for getting your school some buzz. You’ve heard of viral videos, heck, you’ve probably seen your fair share of them. These types of videos really help propel a school into the spotlight. And, in most cases, if a schools video is deemed cool by potential students, then almost automatically the school is dubbed cool as well.

Or, if the viral buzz caused by a school’s youtube videos isn’t enough incentive, then how about asking the student to create their own youtube video as part of their college application? Well, that’s exactly what Tufts University in Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts has been doing for its incoming students. It’s another clever way for schools to allow their potential students to express themselves and establish a relationship by putting a face with a name.

The possibilities of social networking are new, effective and endless for colleges anywhere and everywhere across the world.

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For-Profit Technical Colleges- Pick a side!

March 8th, 2011 by LindseyO

PRO- For-Profit Technical Colleges Should Stay!

opinion of LindseyO

I know graduates from an information technology program at a for profit technical school have some advantages over those with similar degrees from traditional two-year or four-year colleges. The instructors at schools such as ITT Tech and DeVry are still actively working in their respective fields. This tells me they are much more up to speed on the latest software, hardware, coding techniques, and business practices. A programming course at a public community college will only teach languages that were fashionable two years ago but are quickly becoming obsolete. Graduates from these schofor-profit-technical-colleges  ts_87529027ols are usually surprised when they enter the field and discover how out-of-date the material they learned has become. For profit colleges do a much better job at getting their students quickly through their degree programs with the skills that can actually be used on the job.

Another strong point in for profit tech colleges is the format of the degree programs. Unlike in public colleges, classes conveniently do not fill up; they are always available for any student who wishes to enroll. For profit technical schools also have a better grasp of how to structure their online programs to fit the schedules of busy working adults. Because of this many for profit schools offer a superior level of guidance through each step towards a degree. Their students are not left to blindly navigate which classes might give them the skills that employers may possibly be seeking. When it comes to graduates from for profit tech colleges, employers can have the confidence to hire from a talented group that is equipped with the needed skill level.

I believe students who attend these colleges are the best and are the ones that have weighed the decision carefully. They have examined their current skill levels and planned where they would like to be within their careers. Particularly those who hold bachelor’s degrees in an IT field are the students with the dedication to keep learning and to gain the skills needed to advance into managerial or other high level positions. Counselors at for profit technical colleges are better equipped to address these students’ concerns and to map out concise degree paths for them. Unlike counselors at public colleges, for profit school counselors can focus specifically on the IT field and what it will take for their advisees to succeed within it.

More than in other fields, I think that successful students in an IT program at a for profit college understand that time is of the essence. Technology is rapidly and constantly changing; what is considered advanced today will be out of date within a few years or even months. The sooner IT graduates complete their new degrees, the better they will be able to keep up with the latest developments in their fields. Industry professionals have designed degree programs with this fact in mind, which translates into better chances of advancement for dedicated IT students.

CON- For-Profit Technical Colleges- Watch Yourself!

opinion of DavidR

While many professionals flock to for-profit online universities as a way to bolster resumes and make themselves more attractive to potential employers, the usage of these colleges can come at considerable risk for often undefined or exaggerated results. Alumni of leading online for-profit colleges are finding themselves unemployed and in thousands of dollars in debt, all resulting in the aggressive sales tactics and exorbitant cost that is associated with the supposed convenience of online college courses. All too often, students find themselves burdened by tremendous debt with few job prospects. Many of these colleges employ deceptive marketing practices, oversell the demand for specific degree holders within key employment fields, and make prospective graduates become overwhelmed with the cost of their convenient classes.

Among the chief complaints against for-profit tech colleges is that many of them take advantage of uninformed students. Promising high-salary occupations for degree recipients, these colleges boast of high employment figures for fields which, in actuality, have few job prospects. Additionally, many students are persuaded to enroll after the promise of large amounts of financial aid made available to them. In many cases, the amount of financial aid available covers less than a third of the average tuition, leaving some students to be saddled with nearly $100,000 worth of debt by the end of a full bachelor’s degree. Students at for-profit, online colleges do not often receive the same financial aid seminars as their peers at conventional public and private universities, leaving them in the dark as far as repayment options are concerned. What begins as an easy alternative to conventional college credit Technical-colleges ts_Technical-colleges.jpgbecomes a less than spectacular degree with an Ivy League price tag: job seekers are left with tremendous debts and an education which, while often satisfactory, is not outstanding when compared to the cost at which it was obtained?

Another great concern within the world of for-profit online tech colleges is the failure rate of students. While roughly 55% of students at public colleges and 65% of private college students earn full bachelor’s degrees, students enrolled at online, for-profit universities have a success rate of only 22%. The fast-paced course load and rate at which many students take classes does not allow for knowledge to sink in, leading to burnout and confusion. As a result, many students are left with heavy debts and no degree to show for their expenses. Many students also become disenfranchised with their online coursework close to graduation, realizing that their chosen study may not be the lucrative career field that they were led to believe before enrolling.

Among all other concerns regarding the credibility of for-profit online universities is the credibility and difficulty of course work. While some provide their students with a rigorous course load and challenging assignments, others provide exorbitant credit for “life experience” and allow students to obtain advanced degrees after only months of study. Providing opportunities for students to obtain masters degrees in doctorates despite taking as few as half a year’s coursework is not only damaging for the reputation of all online universities, but damaging for the integrity of higher education itself. The diploma mills of years past, in some cases, have merely moved online behind the veil of internet anonymity; less scrupulous online universities can award degrees that require little work at tremendous costs.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and the author alone, and do not reflect in any way the opinion of the web site USCollegeSearch.org or any of its affiliations or partnerships.  Lindsey and David are contributors for USCollegeSearch.org in the Legal Entertainment category.  This debate spawned from the article posted on www.infoworld.com.

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