Tag Archives | college

Image by Nick Karvounis, unsplash.com

Image by Nick Karvounis, unsplash.com

The federal government’s decision to increase sanctions on ITT Technical Institute reinforced how choosing the right college can affect a student’s current and future prospects. In the aftermath of the Department of Education’s decision to bar ITT Tech enrolling new students utilizing federal aid, the institute decided to close all campuses and discontinue educational services leaving tens of thousands of students in limbo.

Now former ITT Tech students who have not completed their degree are faced with a tough decision:
• Attempt to find an institution that will transfer their credits.
• Petition for their federal loans to be discharged.

Both choices are not ideal.

Here’s the thing: it’s easier than ever to vet colleges. The internet has made school stats, credentials, and various other factors about the institution easy to discover. College education is too important, time consuming, and expensive to be a blind gamble. And the rise of public college online programs, has eliminated the need to enroll in a risky program due to geographic limits. With a little detective work, you can save yourself a lot of trouble.

Below are four factors to keep in mind when vetting a school:

Graduation Statistics

Not all student dropouts are the fault of the college, but higher than average drop out rates can be a sign of fundamental flaws in the school’s education or student support efforts. Individuals should not walk into a college program without knowing what percentage of students leave the college without a degree.

While it’s a gamble to attend a college with low graduation, at least you know what you’re up against. You can take measures to ensure you don’t leave the program with student loans and no degree.

You can get a sense of college graduation rates utilizing either the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard website or by doing a Google search of the schools graduation rate.

Accreditation

Check accreditation. According to an interview with Dr. RuthAnn Althaus, Ohio University Online MHA program coordinator, accreditation “provides assurance to students, their employers, and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that institutions are meeting rigorous educational standards and are professionally sound.”

Enrolling in a program that is not accredited or has had their accreditation revoked for not meeting standards can have the following consequences:
• College’s ineligibility for federal funds (including federal student aid or tuition reimbursement programs.
• Inability to transfer college credits to other institutions.
• Not accepted as a degree by employers.
• Doesn’t grant entry into careers that require a degree (like nursing or engineering).

You can find accreditation info on the college’s website or utilizing this government database.

You also want to check if the college’s accreditation is in trouble. If a school fails to meet accreditation standards, it will be placed on probation. If the problems are not fixed, they might lose their accreditation.

You can check if a school is on probation by:
• Searching Google for a “Notice of Probation” for the school
• Searching for any articles about the potential loss of accreditation.

Credit Transfer

Switching schools can be a nightmare. The Department of Education analysis of college credit transfer rate revealed that around 40% of college students lost all of their earned credits when they transferred schools.

Students who start at one college and plan to transfer to another school should:
• Figure out if the college has a transfer agreement with any other universities. If they do, ask the college what you need to do to sign onto the transfer agreement.
• If you have a transfer college in mind, check the college website for a list of schools they have a partnership with. (Portland State University’s community college partnership page is a good example of what that page would look like.)
• Call the admissions office or transfer advisors at the school before you sign up for classes to sure your credits will transfer.
• Shop around to other colleges if your first choice won’t accept your credits.
• Check if the college is regionally accredited (most public universities) or nationally accredited (a lot of for-profits). Most regionally accredited universities won’t accept credits from nationally accredited programs.

Students who don’t plan to transfer schools, should still get a general sense of whether the credits will be transferable to a school you would reasonably want to attend just in case.

Financial Stability

If you’re in enrolled in a school that is in financial hot water, you’re placing yourself in a precarious position.

Schools that are not stable financially face:
• The potential to lose accreditation due to not meeting financial standards.
• A loss of quality offerings to students.
• Hikes in tuition in an effort to remain afloat.
• Possible school closure.

The last point, school closure, can be devastating to students if the closure happens in the middle of the semester. Their transcripts will be marred by a semester worth of ‘incomplete’ classes which looks bad and might prevent student athletes from participating in sports.

You can check the financial health of your potential university by searching for the financial information in Google or checking for the school in one of the following articles:
Private College Financial Health Grades 2015: Is Your Alma Mater At Risk?
159 Private Colleges Fail Education Dept.’s Financial-Responsibility Test

The fall of ITT Technical Institute should be a wake-up call that individuals need to expand how potential schools are evaluated before enrolling. The ads, recruiters, and website might market the school as a stellar institution, but colleges are businesses who are reliant on recruiting students to remain lucrative. It’s the individual’s responsibility to do a thorough vetting before enrolling.

This article was contributed by guest author Samantha Stauf.

Image by Saulo Mohana, unsplash.com

Image by Saulo Mohana, unsplash.com

If you haven’t decided on a major, you’re not alone. At least half of college-bound students are undecided about their majors.

It’s a difficult choice to make, especially when it feels like you’re making a life-long commitment. With hundreds of options to choose from, it’s no wonder that making this decision can feel a little overwhelming.

Selecting a college major is a personal choice dictated by several factors, including your interests, strengths, attraction to a particular subject area, and your individual value system. Taking the time to research your options will make it much easier to make an informed decision that you are much more likely to be happy with.

Undeclared or undecided major

While many students feel stressed about not knowing what they want to study, this is quite a normal feeling. Choosing an undecided major could turn out to be a blessing in disguise since it will give you the opportunity to explore different ideas, discover your interests, and find your strengths before you settle on something.

You will have the chance to explore different classes, and you may even find that the one that peaks your interest is something entirely different than what you would have imagined. You will gain exposure to various teaching styles, some of which may work better for you than others. Be sure to work closely with an academic advisor to get the best out of the experience.

For many students, the added benefit is that they end up meeting and socializing with many different people. Rather than just heading to events focused on a single major, you end up attending various on-campus happenings and get to know more people.

Double major or major/minor programs

When you choose a double major, you receive one degree with two majors that are typically related and integrate with each other. You would need to complete the requirements for both majors, as well as the general education requirements and those of your home school. Concentrating in a secondary area can be extremely valuable and marketable, which many employers look for these days. It also shows you are willing to take on challenging tasks.

Since earning a double major takes more time and commitment, you should carefully weigh your time, finances, interests, and patience when deciding what makes sense for you. Speak with faculty in your major and advisors at the Career Center about the benefits and drawbacks.

Choosing a combination of majors and minors can increase your marketability and better prepare you for the career you want while being less demanding than a double major. Think about minors that would complement your major, such as a subject from the liberal arts if you are studying a major in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). You gain valuable skills that can be of benefit in any career, such as effective communication and problem solving.

This option tends to suit students with a variety of interests, who wish to incorporate these into their studies. Of course, there are other ways to gain experience, such as completing internships, taking part in research opportunities, studying abroad, taking more classes than required, or joining clubs.

Research the prospects

When it comes to making a decision, research is your best friend. Take time to study and analyze your interests, values and skills. Speak to students studying majors you are interested in and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out if they have student organizations and set up a meeting or ask about attending an event.

Also, speak to faculty that teaches in that area – most professors will even allow you to listen in on a class, so make the most of the opportunity. Find out which textbooks are required, visit a bookstore, and give the books a browse.

You may find that an industry professional in your chosen field earns much more in a different country, so it may be worth spending time studying abroad. Especially if your chosen field requires a thorough understanding of local legislation, such as a health and safety manager. The more information you gather, the easier it will be to make an informed decision.

Pursue your passion

Choosing a major in a subject matter you love or feel passionate about can make a big difference to your level of engagement, and ultimately, your grades. If you loved math at school and excelled at it, then why not pick a major in science?

You may think that the wiser choice would be to select a major based on those careers demonstrating the most rapid growth. After all, you want to increase your chances of securing a well-paying job after you graduate.

The reality is that job markets can change very quickly, so while a career may be in high demand today, that might not still be true in four to five years’ time. Furthermore, 65% of students will end up in jobs that haven’t even been created yet. If you choose something you are passionate in, then everything else will fall into place.

Get hands-on experience

If you think you may be interested in pursuing a particular career, but aren’t sure about what it would entail on a daily basis, then why not intern or volunteer? Gaining work experience in your preferred field of study will give you valuable insight that you just wouldn’t get from a textbook.

If you’re thinking of building a career in social work, ask if you can volunteer at the local shelter. You gain hands-on experience and get a real taste of what the job is like – the good and the bad.

If you find it’s not the job for you, then give something else a go. Exploring a variety of pursuits will help you discover which career path is right for you. It also offers you the chance to connect with professionals in your field, which can help with employment opportunities down the line.

This article was contributed by guest author Mackenzie Fox.

Image by Aaron Burden, unsplash.com

Image by Aaron Burden, unsplash.com

Applying to college is many things—emotional, stressful, time-consuming—but it is definitely not easy. Your college application isn’t just an application, but a reflection of your work ethic, dreams, and ambitions. The pressure of summarizing your entire existence in a 1000 word paper is a lot to deal with, especially when the return (of accepted applicants) is so low. Each college requires something different in their application process, making the entire process quite lengthy. Instead of wasting that time and energy only to receive a refusal, invest it wisely and make an effort to stand out on your college application.

Know What Each College Is Looking For

College recruiters, be it for undergraduate or graduate programs, want students that will embody the spirit of the university. They want participants that will succeed in their particular academic environment. Show that you have done your research on the program you have applied to and cater to their individualized mission statements. Make it known that you are a good fit for the school and the program. If it is possible, mention faculty that you would be excited to work with.

Write (and Speak) from the Heart

Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, showing a genuine and honest interest is much more valuable than fabricating or embellishing information to sound interesting. Instead, write and speak in detail about the truth. Show that you notice small things. Liven-up your written work by elaborating on the exact feeling you had when you completed your first art exhibition or the squeak of your shoes as you walked up to the podium for an amazing speech you gave. The things you notice and mention in your writing have a lot of personality. If you are doing an interview, the same concept of authenticity applies.

Indicate Genuine Interest

While researching the college beforehand and writing honestly aid this endeavor, backing up your claims of interest with evidence is a sure way to stand out from the rest. Applying for one of the best health law schools? Include your award from the Pre-Law Society and mention the number of hours you’ve spent volunteering at the local hospital. Make sure your extracurricular activities are relevant and can help you demonstrate your passion for the field.

Showing that you are a real person with true interest in the university and field is a great way to stand out in your application. Show the office of admissions that you are hard-working, capable, and worthy of the program. Beyond that, you want to show them that you will learn from their program and use it to be a true asset to society.

This article was contributed by guest author Marlena Stoddard.

Image by UNE Photos, Flickr

Image by UNE Photos, Flickr

Choosing a college major is a big decision that will affect the course you take in life, and many students experience serious stress when faced with the decision. With looming debt and increased competition, it’s perhaps more important than ever to make an informed, careful decision on your college major so you won’t regret your choice after graduation.

Don’t Panic
Remember that whatever major you choose, it will not be the end-all of your career and life. You can always change careers later or go back to school, and many employers won’t care what your college major was once you have several years of work experience to draw upon.

Know Where Your Passions Lie
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when selecting a college major you won’t regret is whether or not it will enable you to follow your passion. Even if the numbers are against you, if you choose that more practical engineering degree over that fine art major, you might find yourself miserable in a poorly matched career. If you don’t know where your passions lie, take different courses and experiment while in college to see what resonates with you.

Research What Fields Pay Well And What Degrees Are In Demand
Yes, which majors are in demand and what careers pay well should be a factor in your decision. After all, it is likely that you will graduate with debt, as many college students do, and will need some way of paying that off. But it’s also important to remember that hiring trends and in-demand majors change, so take that into account when deciding. A bachelor’s degree in health information management, for example, can quickly lead to a rewarding career. Choosing a major that leads to in demand jobs and growing fields can make your post-college life much more enjoyable.

Other Things To Consider
Talking to or shadowing professionals currently working in the field or career(s) in which you’re interested is a great way to see whether or not a particular major is what you should be pursuing. You can also talk to recent graduates. Not only will connecting with people in various fields help you decide on a college major, but those contacts might be able to help you find or get a job later. Also consider things like whether it is in your best interests to pursue a graduate degree. For some bachelor’s, it is impractical, while for others it is necessary to get all the educational benefits and the best positions in the field.

Choose a major based on your passions, what degrees are in demand, and what careers offer the best growth and pay. Be sure to do research, either by speaking with professionals or recent graduates and looking at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You’ll be sure to find the best match for you.

This article was contributed by guest author Anita Ginsburg.

Image by PublicDomainPictures, pixabay.com

Image by PublicDomainPictures, pixabay.com

It’s graduation season – which means it’s a good time to start thinking about college life. College is a time of unbridled opportunity and freedom, but it’s also a time of unprecedented challenge and work. Done right though, college can open doors for self-discovery, connections previously unknown and can leave you ready to take on the workforce in a blaze.

Here are 6 ways get through your college years grinning:

Mind Your Finances
Student debt is a trending word right now for good reason. With the idea that a degree equals a lucrative job, many college graduates have taken out thousands in student loans. Unfortunately, grads often find themselves saddled with loan payments and no immediate job prospects.

To get your college life started right, avoid the added burden of loan payments. Look for ways to pay tuition without putting yourself in the red. Apply for scholarships, grants, and work-study positions. There are scholarships for just about everything nowadays. It is a good idea to start looking for scholarships now so that you can be ahead of the game.

Explore
College years are for experimentation. Take classes in a subject you’ve never heard of, or study abroad for a semester! Your new experiences will teach you invaluable life skills that will serve you well throughout your life. Especially when you’re just starting out, you want to make sure to sign up for a wide range of classes so that you can figure out what you are interested in early on.

Challenge Yourself
If you don’t challenge yourself, it’s hard to gain the confidence needed to accomplish anything. Do things that scare you. Take a hard course. Raise your hand during group discussions. Launch into a challenging field like nursing and push your degree even further with programs like an RN to BSN nursing program. You’ll likely find that you have the ability to do far more than you think you do.

Don’t Forget to Play
Constant classes and deadlines can be exhausting. Luckily, most college campuses are buzzing with student activities and organizations. Take some nights off to soak it in. By taking some time to relax you can actually learn a lot more and work a lot more efficiently. This is definitely an essential part of being a college student.

Network
Colleges are dense with experts in a variety of fields. Take advantage of this! Maintaining relationships with your professors and classmates will make your college experience more enriching and may help you in unexpected way after graduation. Networking is a great thing to do as soon as you start college. That way you can have solid relationships built for right when you graduate college. That can really help give you a foot in the door for your career.

Maintain Balance
Take care of yourself. Don’t let the challenges of college life keep you from being healthy. Take time to refresh yourself, mentally and physically. Learning to have a work-life balance in college will do wonders for you.

College is teeming both with new responsibility and new opportunity. Take full advantage of your college experience, and you’ll be sure to end your collegiate career with a smile!

This article was contributed by guest author Kara Masterson.

Image by NEC Corporation of America, Flickr

Image by NEC Corporation of America, Flickr

Getting into a college of your choice can be difficult. Even more difficult is staying in college and achieving great scores. The trials and tribulations of today’s students are evident in every aspect of schooling. Students think about a lot of things, such as student debt, the difficulty of classes, socialization, etc. Due to these issues, students may choose to skip college, thus making their lives more difficult in the long term. Here are some solutions and tips on how to choose a great college where you will feel relaxed.

Inclusiveness: Feel Comfortable on Campus

Not all people are the same. Therefore, some students might be more laid back than others. These students cannot control how they act around other people, even if they want to be included in groups or friend circles. Unfortunately, issues like social anxiety may present a difficult task to overcome on their own. Because of this, make sure you choose a college where you will feel relaxed and accepted, no matter who you are. It will be easier for you to make friends and you’ll also feel excited about going to college and classes!

Quality and Support: How to succeed at school academically

When you’re choosing a college, you need to think about the quality of the classes and the academic support professors and teachers offer. You don’t want to end up in a college where you won’t be able to learn because the quality of classes is low. Be thoughtful about this!

Affordability: Net Cost

Can you afford the college you want? If there’s one thing killing student morale for studying – it’s debt. Constantly thinking about the huge amount of money you’ll need to pay back is not healthy. Make sure you choose a college you can afford, even if at the cost of loans. If you are unable to pay back the loan, it might be better to choose a college that is cheaper, but where you’ll be able to finish with less worry about loans.

Alumni Success

Ask former students about their lives after college. Did the college they went to pay off? If not, maybe you want to expand your search. Of course, you shouldn’t give up instantly – some students simply don’t want to work after college, so make sure you look into the reasoning behind their disappointment. With a big enough sample size and the right questions, you’ll be sure about your choice. If students can easily find jobs that pay well after they finish the college – it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

Aim For Variety

Find a college with a wide variety of courses and callings so you have options every year. The more, the merrier!

Read Faculty Evaluations

When searching for a decent college, read up on faculty evaluations. These offer insight on the quality of classes and the effectiveness of transferring knowledge to the students. Try to find as much information as possible and if you are happy with what you found, it’s a good sign about the quality of the college.

Consider Auditing Colleges

Before you make a decision regarding which college to go to, it might be a smart idea to consider auditing them before your final decision. Get as much information as you can so you know what’s up!

Conclusion

There are numerous ways you can help yourself reach a decision regarding choosing a college. These are just some tips and steps you can take on your journey to a great college, so be sure to follow them; they will help!

This article was contributed by guest author Andy Bell.

Image by Jirka Matousek, Flickr

Image by Jirka Matousek, Flickr

College opens doors. For some it grants the credentials to achieve highly technical professional career, and for others it equips them with the skills and knowledge they can use to eliminate what could have been years trudging their way up the corporate ladder.

Entering, remaining in, and succeeding at college can be extremely difficult. Nightmares about student loan debt, an inability to balance life, work and school, as well as the very real reality that you might not be in the right mindset to succeed, has convinced many students to put off college just one more semester. If you fall into one of these categories, don’t give up yet – here are a few methods to ease yourself into college.

Take College Classes in High School
Some high schools do not prepare students for the rigors of college. Many high school curriculums are so easy that students can sleep through them. Get a taste of college and a jump start on your college degree with dual (also known as concurrent or advanced placement) college classes. Students in dual enrollment classes earn high school and college credit for courses at the same time.

Depending on the school district, these courses either take place online, in class, or at a college campus. They are usually significantly cheaper than the traditional college course, and some states and school districts will cover the cost of students enrolling in dual enrollment programs.

Community College
Community college is a solid way to ease yourself into college. The low cost of tuition for community college (students can expect to pay around $3,400 a year in some states) makes pursuing higher education a more viable option. If you’re curious how much in-state or private colleges will cost you this year, check out this article. Due to the steep price of college, many students knock out many of their generic courses through a local community college and then transfer to an in-state school for their junior and senior years.

Community college can also offer a low stress, minimal commitment education. Individuals who aren’t sure if they have the time or mental capacity to pursue a college degree can sign up for a course and just see how it goes. Dropping the course mid-semester if life takes a sudden twist won’t be such a punch to the gut due to the lower tuition fees.

Audit Classes
Some potential students are more concerned with their ability (either mentally or temporally) to handle their classes. The thought of dishing out tuition when the course might be beyond your ability to complete successfully can be daunting. Auditing might be the answer to circumvent that issue.

Auditing occurs when the school and the professor grant a student permission to sit in on a class. Often students don’t pay and they’re not required by the professor to take the tests. Many colleges offer the ability to audit classes to students who aren’t enrolled (but these may come with a cost). Other colleges don’t require students to pay. And others just require auditors to pay the attached class fees.

Arizona State University recently created a program that could change the face of education called the Global Freshman Academy. The academy offers the ability to audit while still giving students the ability to earn credits at the end of the course. The only up-front fee is $45 dollars for each course students enroll in to verify the student’s identity.

At the end of the course, if the student passes and wishes to earn credit for the course, then they can pay for the credits. It’s a fairly innovative process that offers all of the rigors and time commitment without any of the academic or financial stress. Failing or dropping the course won’t leave a messy trail on your college transcript.

Perusing Videos or Podcasts
If all of the above options are too much of a time, money, and brain suck, individuals can dip their toes into higher education by listening or watching professor or guest speaker lectures. For those who don’t live near a college campus, many colleges, departments, and professors upload their lectures online on a variety of platforms. When you have some free time, check out iTunes, school websites, or YouTube for free educational lectures.

College courses can grant the skills, knowledge, and credentials to succeed professionally. Not all students can afford to dive into college, due to personal, professional or monetary constraints. Starting college while in secondary school, enrolling in community college, auditing classes, and listening to educational lectures online is a solid way for individuals to ease their way into college.

This article was contributed by guest author Samantha Stauf.

Infographic by Yokoland. Answers "What qualities were very or somewhat important when you were deciding which undergraduate college to attend?" in survey by the NewYork Times (click to view).

Infographic by Yokoland. Answers “What qualities were very or somewhat important when you were deciding which undergraduate college to attend?” in survey by the New York Times (click to view).

Big decisions often come down to the smallest details. As you grew from a baby to a toddler to a pre-teen, your parents increasingly gave you more freedom to make your own choices. While you may not have noticed it, you’ve been gaining valuable experience in making tough decisions. Now it’s time to make an essential lifetime decision – what post-secondary school to attend. You’re numb from the multitude of choices available. Some of them have sent current students to showcase (through creative, sometimes quirky presentations) how cool it is to go their school; others have sent you beautifully-designed catalogues with pictures of architecturally sound and well-preserved buildings older than both your parents combined, boasting pictures of perfect college students sitting on the greenest grass you’ve ever seen (Photoshop?), happily working on assignments with expensive laptops, soaking up the summer sun.

You try to block out the persuasion techniques and consider all angles as you solve this choice paralysis and make a well-rounded decision. Unlike that car or cool phone, your college degree has no return policy upon completion. It’s important to step back and take a calm look before jumping in. When you do, make sure you’re covering aspects that matter to you too, not just what you’ve been told to look for in a school (brochures aren’t everything). Here are two Ds you should consider:

Your Desire

You love clothes, flashing lights and the runaway. For as long as you can remember, you’ve always wanted to work in the fashion industry. Or maybe you see yourself as a life saver; always looking to help people, you’ve seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and you’re convinced that the life of a medical professional is your calling. As the saying goes, “if you do what you love you’ll never work another day in your life.” This doesn’t simply mean that you should sit around pondering how to turn your NASCAR obsession into a money-making idea; it’s important to be realistic as well. Remember, once you do something for a living, it changes everything; you’re no longer doing it for pleasure, you’re now doing it to put food on the table. You’ll probably still enjoy it, possibly even love it, but it will likely be more demanding because of the responsibilities that go with it. You’ll have to meet the expectations of clients, bosses and coworkers, and slowly but surely, your obsession may start taking on the features of hard work. Look at Mark Zuckerberg for an extreme example. He started Facebook as a hobby; soon after, it became his job (and certainly pays well), but now, after taking the company public, he’s responsible for keeping multitudes of shareholders, the great majority of whom he doesn’t know personally, happy. Find the balance that works for you.

Industry Demand

20 years ago, there were no job postings for Social Media Manager, Application Developer, or Cloud Computing expert, but head to LinkedIn today. They’re EVERYWHERE. At the current speed of technological advancement, the jobs that will become available in the next 20 years will certainly be something most current students are not prepared for.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the demand for jobs such as Insurance Underwriter, Reporter, Database Administrator, Farmer, and Postal Service Clerk is decreasing. However, regional demand is a great way to gauge the potential return on your educational investment. According to the Globe and Mail, in Canada today, there is a shortage of skilled workers in particular regions for jobs including Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanics, Biologists, Plumbers, Physiotherapists and Welders. These occupations command higher than average income levels, which makes them quite attractive when you’re preparing to save money by skimping on shoelaces for the next four years.

If you have a strong sense of knowledge of your own desire as well as the demand levels in your desired industry, it should not be a challenge to decide who offers the required courses. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous when making such a big decision, but before settling into a certain degree option, make sure you fully understand the importance of the first two Ds.

 

In an effort to provide students with the invaluable content they want to know for the next step of their educational careers, Students.org has been surveying high school and post-secondary students on what exactly they’re looking for online when it comes to this aspect of their lives. After poring over the results received so far, we knew we had to share them with you.

Our goal is to ensure the next generation of students is completely armed with the knowledge that will allow them to make informed decisions; not only about attending the post-secondary institution that’s right for them, but also in regards to their personal lives and future careers. With this in mind, check out the infographic below displaying our current survey results, and keep checking in with us as we begin to delve into these topics, day in and day out.
 
Want to provide your feedback? We’re still collecting data in our survey. Fill it out here.

From the Students Themselves: What They Want to Know

What students want to know about college