5 mind tricks to boost productivity for today’s college student

February 16th, 2012 by admin

Every college student knows the feeling of fatigue that can set in after writing a few too many papers or reading a few too many chapters for class. The good news is that it doesn’t take major life changes to break out of this funk. Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity – and a little trickery. Here are five ways to dupe your brain into becoming more productive.

Reboot your morning routine to boost productivity

Sometimes a few extra minutes of sleep is the best gift you can give yourself. But if you have things to do in the morning, you’re better off waking up your mind and setting the tone for a productive day. But that doesn’t mean you have to rush in the morning. Author Anne Murphy Paul suggests actually slowing down your morning routine. Set your alarm a few minutes early and lie in bed, letting your thoughts flow. Stand in the shower a little longer and dismiss any task-oriented thoughts such a,s “I need to return all of my emails by 10 a.m.” Instead, continue to let your mind wander. Take deep breaths in between sips of your morning coffee. When you’re ready to sit down and get to work, try checking out a funny Internet video before you get down to the nitty gritty. These exercises will help turn your brain on in the morning – or at least start your day off with a laugh.

Dress the part when studying from home

Whether you’re taking an online class or simply studying for one of your classes, doing schoolwork at home can be a tricky task. It might be tempting to flip on the TV for “just a few minutes,” do a little housework, or maybe even make a batch of cookies. To get in the right state of mind for studying, simply dress as though you’re headed to class or to the office. That means no pajamas or sweatpants. Putting on a button-up shirt and a nice pair of pants could help keep you focused on the task at hand – just imagine how nice it will be to change into your comfortable clothes when you’re finished.

Change your workspace when you switch tasks

Certain places in your life often trigger an emotional response. Stepping into your kitchen might put you in the mood to cook. Plopping down on a comfy couch might help you relax. With this in mind, creativity blog The 99 Percent recommends setting up specific work zones in your house for accomplishing important tasks. For example, if you have an L-shaped desk, you might use one section for studying or doing schoolwork and the other for paying bills or surfing the internet. Even if you have a limited amount of space available, simple physical cues like sliding your chair to a different part of your work surface or standing up to work can send a signal to your brain that it’s time to refocus on a new task.

Train yourself to fall asleep faster

Nothing prepares the mind for learning like a night of solid sleep. Unfortunately, your busy schedule may leave you tossing and turning each night, fretting about tomorrow’s responsibilities. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep after 10 minutes of lying down, get up and go into another room. Stay as long as you wish and then return to your bedroom to sleep. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you fall asleep. By following this tip from psychology website PsyBlog, you can train your mind to associate your bed with sleep, not active thinking.

Plan a reward before you start a project

Can’t seem to motivate yourself to start writing that 10-page paper for class? Try giving yourself an extra incentive to finish by building a reward into your deadline. While you work, imagine how great that new pair of shoes will look on your feet or how sweet that gourmet cupcake will taste. Even the smallest rewards can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep working when you might not feel like it.

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Hurdles Of The Non-Traditional Student

January 18th, 2012 by admin

ts-200288438-001Written by featured guest author .

As an older student, the thought of going back to school, especially to a school where you have to physically attend classes, can be very scary. As the saying goes, “the longer you are out of school, the harder it is to go back.” I have found this to be true for several reasons.

Apprehension related to what other people are going to think of you, the entire process of enrolling and signing up for financial aid and having the energy to work a full day and then attend classes in the evening. Not to mention, this means time away from my family, which understand and encourage this venture, but that doesn’t mean I am not going to miss them any less.

The first thing I had to do was decide where I wanted to get my degree. There aren’t many colleges around my home, so choosing a school wasn’t difficult. Then, I had to take some time off work in order to go to the college, fill out an application and pay the application fee. After acceptance, I called the financial aid office in order to fill out my financial aid forms. After that was done, I had to wait.

While I was waiting for the financial aid forms to go through the system, I took it upon myself to call the school and get assigned to an academic counselor. I met with this counselor and got some information about easing back into school. He suggested I only take one course the first semester, just to get used to studying, and so I can slowly take more time away from the family.

As an adult, I already knew what I wanted to do, so taking a pre-admission career track test wouldn’t have been accurate. These generalized tests are designed to be helpful to students who are undecided on a major, but offer no help to those who are already decided. If you know what you want to do, don’t waste your time with this test as it is going to tell you what you already know.

As a non-traditional student, I found it was easier to go to a technical college. I could only go as high as an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, but at least I could immediately work in the field. Besides, after you have earned that first degree, taking courses through online schools is acceptable, and it’s what I did to get my Bachelor Degree. I am doing it for my Master’s Degree as well.

Knowing what you want to do and where you want to go to school are the first steps in going back to college. Non-traditional students may have more obstacles to overcome, but with a little determination and help from an academic counselor, easing back into the structure of school can be accomplished with ease. The most important thing to remember is this: you are doing this to better yourself and your family.

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5 Reasons Why We Love the Show Community

November 12th, 2011 by rebeccac

Everyone has their preferences when it comes to television. You’ve got your soap opera drama enthusiasts who still DVR Grey’s Anatomy, your reality TV fans who tune into Real Housewives of Something-Something, your sitcom aficionados who are hooked into every new episode of How I Met Your Mother.

For our money, you should be watching underrated, cult-classic-in-the-making Community, a comedy about a collection of outrageous personalities on a community college campus who form a dysfunctional little family, and we’ve got five reasons why you should watch.

The people
You’ve got to see this first one coming, right? It’s Nontraditional Student Week, and we love Community because it features – say it with us, now – nontraditional students. We’ve pointed out how many people qualify in the nontraditional category, so now we’d just like to thank the creators for actually noticing that and turning it into a TV show.

The diversity
This sort of piggybacks on the last one – Community features people from all walks of life, there for different reasons, in need of different things. Our favorite is Abed, the Palestinian/Polish-American movie fan who’s both highly intelligent and socially awkward to the point of probably having Asperger’s.

The details
This is probably better to show and not tell. But just watch the story unfolding way in the background while the rest of the episode forges on.

The humor
Probably the most common words you could use to describe the show are “quirky” and “snarky,” and the truth is the show embraces both those kinds of humor and more. Awkward humor, pop culture humor, parody

The heart
Okay, here’s the “awwww” moment where we point out that, as silly as Community gets, it grounds itself in moments that can pack a punch. Just watch the third episode of the first season, “Introduction to Film,” and watch how the characters chuck the zaniness aside for just long enough to show some serious development and layers.

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Q & A with a Nontraditional Graduate Who Made it All Work

November 11th, 2011 by rebeccac

Dave Admire is an advertising professional, parent and former non-traditional student who graduated not too long ago. For part 5 of our series celebrating National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week, we asked him to answer our questions from the vantage point of having successfully finished her schooling endeavor.

What degree program did you pursue?
I have a Bachelor’s in Management and Human Relations.

Why did you choose to pursue that degree?
I like that it encompassed business, leading people from a strong relational basis.

What experience had you had with postsecondary education before you went back to school?
I had been back to college several times and always ran into a time crunch.

What did your typical week look like as far as your schedule went?
I had class two nights a week from 6-10. The rest of the week was either reading or preparing individual or group projects. There was always part of my week focused on my thesis that I had to turn in and present.

What did you enjoy most about being back in school?
I enjoyed class conversations with other experienced business professionals.

What did you find most challenging?
Deciding between work and school; however, once you make the decision to go back, you just have to dedicate yourself to the end goal in mind.

How did you make it all work? Any tips/tricks? Any adjustments you found that helped you out?
My wife was so supportive. Like I stated earlier, you just have to commit to the end goal in mind. You always have time; it is just what you choose to do with that time.

What advice do you have for others who are considering taking a big leap and going back to school?
I will steal Nike’s quote. “Just Do It.” Believe me – you will be glad you did.

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Q & A Interview with a Current Nontraditional Student

November 10th, 2011 by rebeccac

Jessica Gronquist is a non-traditional student and parent who’s currently nearing the end of her studies. For part 4 of our series celebrating National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week, we asked her to swing by and talk a little bit about her experiences and how she’s juggling all the aspects of her life.

What degree program are you pursuing?
A Bachelor of Science in Business with a Concentration in Human Resource Management

Why did you choose to pursue that degree?
I decided to pursue this degree because I wanted a degree in an area that would give me multiple options for different career paths I may choose down the road. Having a business degree will allow me to use my degree in numerous different fields.

What experience had you had with postsecondary education before you enrolled in this program?
I had little experience in postsecondary education before enrolling with my online courses. I attended a community college for a short period of time before dropping out for four years. Once I was ready to go back to school, I chose the first one that I had heard a lot about at the time. If I could go back and do things differently, I would have researched more online classes.

What does your typical week look like as far as your schedule goes?
My typical week consists of classes Tuesday through Sunday. I have assignments due each week on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The online university I attend also has what they call “participation,” which consists of posting to online discussions twice a day on at least four days of the week.

What are you enjoying most about being back in school?
I love being back in school, knowing that I am setting a good example for my daughter. I want her to realize that education is important and a necessity instead of an option.

What do you find most challenging about this experience?
The most challenging part of doing online courses is finding time to fit studying and homework into my already busy lifestyle. There are many evenings where my daughter has something going on with her school or my family would like to go out and spend time together. School can interfere with doing these extra fun activities due to lack of time.

How do you make it all work? Any tips/tricks? Any adjustments you’ve found have helped you out?
Making it work is the only option. I have found that making a schedule for doing homework and finding time to study each day is the best way to go about it. I know that as soon as I get off of work, I have a routine that must be followed. Studying is part of that routine. Procrastinating is the absolute worst possible thing you can do when doing online schooling. It is so easy to say, “I’ll do it later” when you don’t have a teacher telling you that it needs to be done right then. However, this will cause you to fall behind, and once you are behind, it is nearly impossible to catch up. Stay on top of assignments and stay a few days ahead of the curriculum.

What advice do you have for others who are considering taking a big leap and going back to school?
Do it! Don’t wait … do it now. When you first start it will seem like the end date is never going to come. Take it from me; it will fly by and be done before you know it. I have 6 months left before I receive my degree, and it feels like I just began. Though it may make life more difficult and your schedule a little hectic for a few years, it is so rewarding when you are finished.

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5 Celebrities You Never Knew Were Non-traditional Students

November 9th, 2011 by rebeccac

A bit of a switch up in our National Nontraditional Student Week blog series line up. We will be featuring our interview in tomorrow’s post.

You want to know how trendy it is to be a nontraditional student these days? Even Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan and Natalie Portman have a long history of going back to school to finish or expand on a college education. In part three of our National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week series, we are profiling a few of our favorite celebrities who have both “student” and “star” on their resumes.

Courtesy lwpkommunikacio via Flickr

Steven Spielberg
Like many nontraditional students, Steven Spielberg wanted to give college a try but did not have the time to finish an academic program. Spielberg was turned down – twice – by the University of Southern California’s Cinema School before he was officially enrolled in and then dropped out of the school’s film program. After working in the industry, somewhat successfully we might add, Spielberg returned 35 years later to complete his degree and graduated with the Class of 2002.

Bill Cosby
Though a high school dropout himself, Bill Cosby has always been an advocate for education and has endorsed higher education in many of his television programs. After leaving high school, Cosby earned a GED and joined the Navy. After the Navy, Cosby was admitted to Temple University but did not complete his studies due to his blossoming acting career. Later in life, Cosby re-enrolled at Temple where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. Cosby went on to earn a Master’s degree and Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts at the age of 39.

Courtesy Troileh via Flickr

Christy Turlington
Known as one of the world’s most famous supermodels, Christy Turlington has proven she has both beauty and brains. After a successful modeling career, Turlington earned a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy from New York University. At age 40, Turlington added another degree to her belt with a Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia.

Michael Jordan
While Michael Jordan gained nationwide attention as a star basketball player at the College of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, he left the college a year before he was expected to graduate to pursue a successful career in the NBA. In 1986, Jordan returned to his alma mater to complete his degree in Geography.

Natalie Portman
In addition to being a successful actress and star of the recent blockbuster Black Swan, Natalie Portman also has the distinction of being a Harvard University graduate. Taking time off from acting, Portman earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2003.

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Fun Facts to Know and Tell about Non-traditional Students in the U.S.

November 8th, 2011 by rebeccac


When people think of college students, they probably envision teenagers fresh out of high school. They should think again. More and more often, the face of today’s college student is a single parent, a military veteran, a retired person or someone who got a job straight out of high school.

In part two of our series celebrating National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week, here are some fun facts for all those hard-working people out there who are returning to school later in life:

  • Women make up the majority of nontraditional students. They account for 58 percent of all adults returning to school. In fact, when considering only students over the age of 35, two out of every three of them are women.
  • While women make up the largest percentage of re-entry students (as they are sometimes called), men are returning to school in record numbers, too. Career advancement is often cited as the main reason, as is the need to update professional skills. Other reasons include finishing a degree started years ago, changing careers or simply fulfilling a lifelong dream.
  • Many educators believe that having nontraditional students in their classes, especially veterans, enhances the classroom experience for everyone. Nontraditional students, they say, bring real-world understanding to classes like history and political science.
  • Using the criteria of part-time attendance, full-time employment, parenthood or having earned a GED to define nontraditional student status, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates that 73 percent of all undergraduate college students in the 1999-2000 academic year were considered nontraditional. That makes nontraditional students the absolute majority of all college students in the U.S. Maybe nontraditional will soon be the new traditional!
  • Even when separated into individual groups, nontraditional students still present in impressive numbers. Figures from 2008 show that at that time 47 percent of students were financially independent, 46 percent were only enrolled part-time, 32 percent had full-time jobs and a whopping 13 percent were single parents.
  • Present employment seems to play a role in whether or not a person returns to school. According to an NCES study, participation in adult education was highest for those employed in professional and managerial positions. People who worked in sales, service or support jobs were the next most likely to return to school, while those who worked in trades returned to school in the smallest numbers. Someone who already had one degree was also more likely to return to college than someone who did not.
  • The 10 most popular degree programs for nontraditional students are, in descending order, business, education, engineering, computer science, protective services, communications, manufacturing and social services.

For whatever personal reasons people choose to return to college as nontraditional students, they are in good company. Adults are returning to school in swarms and proving that nontraditional is the new-traditional.

Ready to start your college search? Get started at US College Search or find us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also start searching by zip code.

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Happy National Non-traditional Student Recognition Week!

November 7th, 2011 by rebeccac

High five! It’s National Nontraditional Student Week.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year. No, we’re not referring to that post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving calm before the holiday storm – instead, we’re talking about National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week. A full week of celebrating the efforts, triumphs and go get ‘em attitudes of the millions of students in our nation who are pursuing higher education later in life, while also balancing jobs, lives and families.

The annual event is sponsored by the Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education and is held during the first full week of November. Every year, ANTSHE encourages colleges and universities to celebrate their nontraditional student populace with events and recognitions and to continue their efforts to improve the adult student environments on their campuses. More and more schools are taking part each year, too, which makes sense considering that the percentage of their student populations that falls under the umbrella of “nontraditional” is growing rapidly.

Celebrations at schools run the gambit. Some campuses have extensive schedules, and some only host a few events, but they often include:

  • Discussions and panels
  • Charity drives
  • Family events
  • Open houses
  • Breakfast, lunch or dinner receptions and social gatherings

We at US College Search may not have a campus or alumni center where we can host a brunch, but we do recognize and support nontraditional students everywhere and feel strongly about celebrating National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week, so we’re hosting a week-long series on our blog covering all things nontraditional.

TUESDAY: Fun Facts to Know and Tell about Nontraditional Students in the U.S.

WEDNESDAY: Q & A Interview with a Current Nontraditional Student 

THURSDAY: 5 Celebrities You Never Knew Were Nontraditional Students

FRIDAY: Q & A with a Nontraditional Graduate Who Made it All Work

SATURDAY: Why We Love the Show Community

So tune in all week – or follow us on Twitter or Facebook – for our blog events embracing nontraditionals for what they are: the future of higher education.

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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.

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 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.


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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