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Career Transition

3 Ways to Gain Experience That Will Land You a Job After College Graduation

April 1, 2021

If you head to college right after high school graduation, your focus for the next 4+ years probably isn’t going to be climbing the corporate ladder. Granted, you’ll work toward a major and learn how to do a specific job.

But, that doesn’t mean a career will be available to you immediately after graduation. College can offer a degree, but you’ll enter the working world with “entry-level” experience, which many employers don’t want.

So, what can you do to gain experience while you’re in school so you can kick off your career right away?

Immerse Yourself in the Collegiate Experience

One of the best ways to gain experience and get advice is to take advantage of all the services your college has to offer. Develop a close relationship with student services. It’s their job to not only get you through your collegiate career but help you prepare for the “real world.” They can assist you when it comes to things like resume writing so your job applications will pass things like automated applicant tracking systems.

Student services can also help with:

  • Campus life and extra activities
  • Mental and physical wellness
  • Diversity on campus
  • Alumni relations

Those functions can all help you gain more experience for a future job. Getting involved with activities and clubs on campus can help you gain experience in teamwork or leadership without having to work in an actual “job.” Plus, those who work in student services might be able to connect you with alumni in the industry you’re interested in.

Whether you’re getting your degree online or in-person, reach out to student services in an email or give them a call. Student services should be available to the entire student body.

Take a Part-Time Job

Many college students end up working part-time jobs to help pay for tuition, food, or off-campus housing. But, the right part-time job can actually be a great way to network. Having an internship in college is helpful, especially if it’s in the industry you’re interested in. But, internships don’t usually pay, and you may not get the hands-on experience you need if you’re just getting people coffee.

So, while there’s nothing wrong with waiting tables or working retail, try looking for a part-time job that will allow you to hone in on the skills you’ll need for a long-term career. That could include working in an office, or even starting your own freelancing business on the side for writing, graphic design, or any other useful skill you want to grow. You could even start your own online business as a side hustle. 

Even if you haven’t decided on your major, holding down any part-time job will let future employers know that you’re responsible and able to stick to a schedule, so it looks good on a resume.

Get Involved Locally

If you don’t want to work in college, consider volunteering either on campus or in the local community. While it won’t show up as work experience on a resume, sometimes life experience is more appealing to employers. Getting involved with an organization that matters to you will give you hands-on experience.

You’ll grow skills like:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Organization
  • Patience

Adding these skills and your volunteer experience to your resume could be extremely beneficial, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Landing a job after graduation isn’t just about having experience in a particular industry. It’s about having well-rounded skills and knowing how to market them. Keep these tips in mind to get the job you want after graduation, rather than sending out dozens of applications with nothing in return.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Adulting Student Life Transition

6 Common Money Mistakes New College Grads Make

March 25, 2021

College graduation is a time of celebration for students and a jumping-off point for the next chapter of life. It’s a time to make important decisions, whether you’re continuing your education with a higher degree, starting your career, or taking a moment to regroup.

But it’s not the time for making poor financial choices. Here are a few common money mistakes recent grads make and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking retirement is too far off to start saving

Retirement may be years away, but it’s better to start saving for retirement as early as possible. The earlier you start saving, the more time your investments have to grow. As you add money to your retirement fund, interest also starts to accrue. Over time, you start earning interest on the interest you’ve earned. This is called compound interest, and it’s a powerful savings tool. The earlier you start saving and earning compound interest, the better.

2. Missing student loan payments

Right after graduation is the time to focus on your financial future, which includes keeping up with student loan payments. This will help ensure you continue to build a positive credit history and possibly improve your credit score. A positive payment history and healthy credit score could open up more money-saving financial opportunities down the road, such as lower interest rates on an auto or home loan.

3. Overspending that new paycheck

If you have a new job in your chosen career field, you could be making more money than ever. But before you go spending your paycheck on the luxury items you’ve always wanted, consider the impact these purchases will have on your budget.

Necessary expenses — like rent, utilities, and groceries — should come first. Less obvious but important expenses like building an emergency fund or having enough for auto insurance coverage should also be considered before splurging on “wants” versus “needs.”

4. Banking where your parents do

The bank your parents use (and now you probably use) is likely a suitable location for storing money in FDIC-insured accounts. It’s not a bad thing to have access to brick-and-mortar locations, but most traditional bank accounts can’t compete with the benefits of online banking.

Making the switch to an online bank could help you earn more interest, avoid unnecessary fees, and still have FDIC insurance. In addition, your current bank might not offer other perks that come with the best checking accounts, like getting your paycheck early or having easy access to your money through a mobile app.

5. Misusing credit cards

Credit cards can be a helpful tool for building credit and having cash flow when you need it, but using them irresponsibly can offset their benefits.

Keep in mind that building your credit history and improving your credit score means following some accepted best practices. This typically includes making your payments on time, using less than 30% of your available credit line, keeping your oldest credit accounts open, having different types of credit accounts (for example a credit card and an auto loan), and not opening too many credit cards too quickly in a row.

6. Skipping renters insurance

Whether you’re back studying on campus or off to live on your own, renters insurance can offer you essential financial protection. This type of insurance can include coverage for clothing, laptops, bicycles, and other belongings in case of unexpected events like vandalism, theft, or fire.

If you keep these six tips in mind, you could avoid some of the common money mistakes that recent college grads make. This will help you take proactive steps to secure your financial future.

BIO: FinanceBuzz’sVP of Content, Tracy Odell, also held the same position at Student Loan Hero and has expertise in this subject, as well as all things related to college finances.

Transition

Undecided on a College Major? How to Not Waste Your Money

March 12, 2021

So you’re almost ready for college – right? Are you still trying to decide on a major? If you don’t know what to major in yet, how can you be certain the money you invest in your education is well spent?

Find Yourself With a Gap Year

A gap year is a semester or a year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and before starting college or a career. This idea is growing in popularity as more students take this intentional time to learn independent living skills, develop their interests, or experience a new culture.

Why take a gap year? Instead of spending time and money in college while you’re still undecided, you can find out what you’re good at and what work you’d like to pursue while spending a whole lot less (or even earning money.) Gap year students gain skills and experiences that look good on a college application and can help them get more out of their education.

Be OK With Not Knowing What Comes Next

College is a big investment that should not be decided impulsively. The belief that you need to have this all figured out by the time you leave high school can be a source of great stress, which can lead to poorly thought out decisions.

It’s not necessary to know your major when you enter college. However, it isn’t wise to pay expensive tuition or to acquire debt for a path you don’t feel certain about. If you want to explore a particular area of study while you decide on a major, there are lower-cost options such as auditing classes online for free, or taking prerequisite courses in your field at a community college or a state college where tuition is generally lower.

Consider Your Options

While considering a college major, take a realistic look at the time and money you can expect to spend in college before graduating and starting a career. What level of degree will you need to get the type of job you desire? Will you need to complete internships, a residency, or board exams? Is it expected, if not required, for you to get your masters degree? How much can you anticipate being paid, at entry level? These are important considerations that can help you develop a solid plan to avoid leaving college with unpayable debt.

When you understand the investment you will need to pursue your chosen path, you are better positioned to find support, such as scholarships and grants. If you do choose to take on a college loan, you will do so with a realistic plan for how and when you will pay it back.

Be Aware of Your Priorities

Not everyone leaving high school has a clear vision for where they will be in five years. Are you more interested in meeting people and exploring life as a young adult than you are in your studies? If you’re honest about that, you can avoid spending all your money on one priority and all your time on another.

Finally, be aware that your priorities may change by the time you leave college. If you imagine a home, a family, travel, or hobbies in your future, consider how these priorities may affect your financial and career choices. Above all, college is an investment in who you are and who you’d like to become. Invest wisely, and enjoy this time.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Transition

The Best States for New College Graduates to Live

March 3, 2021

Graduating from college signals the beginning of a whole new era, and starting your post-graduate life is a big step to take. The extent of this challenge can differ greatly depending on where you live. If you are considering where to base yourself after college, it helps to know what areas offer the most opportunities for finding a job and affording a place to live.

Using data sourced from the United States Census Bureau, we’ve broken down the best states to start your post-grad life. 

Hawaii

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 21.2%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $49,455
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 2.3%
  • Median property value: $635,000
  • Median monthly rent: $2,300

It’s no secret that Hawaii’s allure for the younger population is strong, offering a very unique lifestyle, but it does have one major downside in that it is very expensive. The median price of a home is the highest in the nation, so the dream of ever owning your own property in Hawaii any time soon is probably a lofty one. That said, the average income for graduates is relatively solid and the unemployment rate for the same is comfortably low. 

Photo by Brian Garrity on Unsplash

California

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 20.4%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $59,709
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 4.1%
  • Median property value: $525,000
  • Median monthly rent: $2,750

Another state that requires a mention due to the extent of its attraction is the state of California. Unfortunately, though, it’s the second most expensive place for owning your own home (especially in the state’s largest city of Los Angeles) , as well as suffering a high unemployment rate. If you do still fancy your chances of gaining solid employment in the Golden State, however, the median college graduate salary is one of the highest in the nation.

Indiana

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 16.1%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $47,950
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 2.3%
  • Median property value: $179,900
  • Median monthly rent: $1025

While Indiana lags behind somewhat when it comes to the percentage of people who hold a degree, its housing costs are very attractive for those starting out and hoping to own their own home sooner rather than later. It boasts a pretty healthy unemployment rate for degree holders, too.

New York

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 19.9%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $56,910
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 3.5%
  • Median property value: $411,000
  • Median monthly rent: $3,200

The Empire State might have the highest rent, but it also boasts one of the highest median incomes of any state, so again, if you fancy your chances of landing a great post grad job and you want to go big, then maybe take a bite of the Big Apple!

Colorado

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 24.8%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $51,093
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Median property value: $420,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,900

If snow-covered mountains are more your thing, Colorado is a solid choice for postgraduates. With one of the highest percentages of adults with degrees, a healthy median income and a reasonably affordable property market, it might be time to head to the Centennial State of colorful Colorado.

North Dakota

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 21.1%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $46,945
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 1.1%
  • Median property value: $224,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,300

If job security is your priority, then the Great Plains of the midwest might be calling. North Dakota boasts the nation’s lowest unemployment rate for college graduates. Couple that with a particularly affordable property market and this state is not one to overlook lightly.

Massachusetts

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 23.4%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $60,715
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 3%
  • Median property value: $439,900
  • Median monthly rent: $2,600

With a median income of over $60,000, you could afford more than beans for dinner if you lock down some post grad employment within the Baked Bean State. Rent isn’t the cheapest around though, so perhaps beans on toast once a week would be prudent. 

Seager Trailhead, Massachusetts 3, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Stati Uniti

Photo by Michael Baccin on Unsplash

Maryland

  • Population aged over 25 with a bachelor’s degree: 21%
  • Median income for over 25’s with a bachelor’s degree: $61,631
  • Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree: 2.8%
  • Median property value: $305,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,700

The Free State has the desirable statistics that you just can’t argue with. A high median income, a reasonably healthy unemployment rate for graduates and an affordable property scene makes for a very promising climate from which to launch into post-college life.

Only you can really know what location will make you truly happy, but being armed with some important statistics when it comes to employment opportunities and affordability can help you recognize which state might be best for you to call home after college.

Student Life Transition

Here’s How to Pick a College During Coronavirus

February 10, 2021

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the lives of everyone, but what about the students who are supposed to start their college journey? Because of the shift to online learning, the meaning of the college experience has changed for a lot of people.

When it comes to picking out a college, the decision can be overwhelming. During these uncertain times, second thoughts about your future might make you question this decision. Nearly every high school student looks forward to the full college experience, but due to the pandemic, the future is unknown.

To deal with such a nerve-wracking task, it’s important to narrow down your choices. There are several things you can keep in mind to make this decision easier for you and help you see what college you want to go to during coronavirus.

Here are some of them:

Plan Out Your Entire College Admission Process

There’s nothing more crucial than creating a whole plan for your entire college process. You can collect all the required materials in hardcopy or soft copy. The process can be very tiring, but if you’re following all the necessary steps, you’ll be fine.

  • Do thorough research about the colleges in your mind and find out what majors and courses they are offering.
  • Get in touch with any current students or alumni to get any insight about the academic offerings.
  • Figure out any goals you have and try to find a path that resonates with your intentions.
  • Make a pro and cons list about the colleges.

Consider All Your Options

The future might seem grim at the moment because of the global pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean you should settle for just any college. You still have a lot of options, so keep all of them in mind. You might think there’s no hope because the times are uncertain, but with online learning, you have more options than you think.

If you’ve recently graduated from high school, you might be considering taking a gap year and delaying starting college in person or altogether. The pandemic turned all our lives around, so it’s okay to take time to make a decision.

Look for Variety

Almost every student has a college of their dreams, but it’s healthy to seek out variety and consider multiple options. The pandemic might be the best time to adapt to openness, as we can never be sure about anything.

You might decide to attend online classes through a local community college or four-year university knowing that when the virus dies down, you can transfer to another school.

Don’t just think about the academic departments; go online and check out campus life, social activities, food, and so much more. Make sure you know what kind of routine you want because you’re going to be spending a lot of time at college.

See How They Handled Covid-19

This might be a huge deciding factor in this entire process, so keep in mind how the college has dealt with the pandemic.

Most colleges have shifted to online learning, but some of them are letting students come back to campus with half the strength, so is the campus safe for you? What are the instructions regarding the virus in the dorm rooms and the classrooms? Will your degree require more in-person classes?

Get a peek inside your future if you choose a particular college and get the answers to all your concerns.

Take a Look around the Campus

If you’ve formulated an entire college plan and have landed on a few options, it’s important to go and take a look for yourself. Your campus is going to be your home for the next four years, so it will be helpful to see where you are going to be living.

Even if they have resorted to online learning, driving to the campus will make you realize how living there might feel. A college is a turning point for most people, so moving to an unknown environment can feel strange.

If virus restrictions allow you to visit the campus, check it out so you can feel comfortable and be prepared. Before making any decision, it’s important to see if your campus will have everything you want.

Research Your Top Choices

So, you have finally landed on a few choices, and now you’re getting closer to your decision. But before settling on a final choice, make sure to do background research about your top colleges. No amount of research can be enough!

If you have a major in your mind, then find out the post-grad and job prospects of your respective field. Do the courses and degree requirements look interesting to you? Does the college have good professors you can count on? Find out everything you can.

Takeaways

Settling on a choice about the college you’re going to be attending can be difficult when you’re surrounded by vulnerable and uncertain times. But, with a lot of exploring and research, you can come down to a few choices that help you achieve the dream you want. You can learn a lot about every university and how they handle a crisis. Therefore, these tips might help you settle down for a college and make a decision considering all your interests.

BIO: Nouman Ali provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. His educational background in the technical field and business studies helps him in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. He occasionally writes articles for Apcelero.

Transition

Transitioning From High School Life to College Life – What You Need to Know

January 13, 2021

As a high school student, thinking about heading into your first year of college can be both exciting and scary all at once. You’re used to living at home with your family. You’ve probably had most things taken care of for you, and you’ve lived a certain way with specific household rules your entire life.

College changes all of that in an instant.

When you transition from a high school senior to a college freshman, you go from being a “kid” to an adult. More responsibilities rest in your lap than ever before, from doing your own laundry to taking care of your own finances. Though dorm life may not be a completely accurate representation of what it’s like to own your own home or apartment, it gives teenagers a taste of what the real world is really like.

It’s your first step into adulthood, and it’s okay to be nervous. But, the transition doesn’t have to scare you. By preparing ahead of time for college and knowing what to expect, you will have an easier time “leaving the nest” at home and moving forward into the next chapter of your life. Let’s look at some lessons that can help you along the way.

Managing Your Finances

One of the biggest hurdles college students have to face is managing their money. And in many cases, they’re having to do this for the first time. While some students continue to get money from their parents, about 75% of students have jobs while they’re in school, and the average yearly income for a college student is about $13,000. Finding a successful balance between work and attending classes isn’t always easy, especially as a freshman.

If you need to get a job while you’re in school, make sure you:

  • Set your priorities
  • Have goals in mind
  • Handle your free time safely and wisely
  • Don’t let yourself burn out

Talk to your professors about your job, even if it’s only part-time. You don’t want to end up missing a class for work, especially if your teachers don’t know that you’re employed. Most professors are willing to be a bit flexible and understanding if you’re upfront with them about your job and why you need to work. If you end up with too many unexcused absences and they don’t know why, it could reflect poorly on your grade, or you may not even pass the class.

Even if you do find work while you’re at school, it’s important to maintain a budget. You can do this ahead of time, before you find a job, to determine how much you will need to earn to pay for things like food, or even rent if you’re living in an apartment. The cost of living is different depending on which part of the country you’re in, and so is the minimum wage. Be sure to do your research on the state where you’re attending college as you build your budget to determine your monthly financial needs.

Staying Connected

One of the best things you can do to make your high school to college transition easier is to stay connected with the people you’re closest to. Now, more than ever, it’s important to feel a connection with loved ones. You might be attending a school that is doing distance learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a new college student, that can increase feelings of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

Thankfully, technology makes it easier than ever to remain in contact with the people you care about. Work out a schedule that fits your needs when it comes to talking to the people that are important in your life. That might include a weekly Zoom call with your friends from home, or calling your parents each night.

If you’re traveling abroad for a semester, make sure you have the right phone plan set up before you go, and instant messaging apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home. Staying connected with the people you’re used to can help you to not feel so alone in a new place, especially during these times of uncertainty.

With that said, it’s also important not to depend on those people to manage your stress or keep you happy. If you spend all of your time connecting with people back home, you could be missing out on new friendships that could last a lifetime. So, while you might spend your first few weeks of school staying in touch with friends and family, eventually you should work to strike a healthy balance between communicating with those at home and spending time with new friends and roommates.

Making the Transition Easier

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You don’t need to. About 20 million families send their kids off to college every year, and everyone has to work through that initial transition period. While it can be a nerve-wracking time, it’s also the first step on your journey to the next chapter of your life.

While it’s important to be organized and fully-prepared, there are other things you can do to make the transition from high school to college easier on yourself, including:

  • Having realistic expectations about the college experience
  • Taking care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Finding groups/clubs you’re interested in
  • Being assertive when necessary
  • Learning to problem-solve

One of the biggest roadblocks many new college students face is procrastination. When everything is new and exciting, things like homework and studying can quickly be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude will eventually lead to excess stress. Make sure your dorm space is set up for productivity by eliminating distractions, having good lighting, and keeping it neat and organized.

College can end up being one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. You’ll be able to share stories about your time there for years to come. While the initial transition might be scary, you will learn to ease into it quickly, and make lasting memories along the way.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Career Transition

How to Get the Most Out of an Internship for a Future Career

November 30, 2020

Every student faces a hard reality after graduating — you have to have some kind of work experience to get a decent job. But how can students who’re spending most of their time studying get this experience?

The answer, often times, is through an internship.

This is a great way for students to practice their knowledge and gain new skills. Some students even manage to land a job at the same place they worked as interns.

In other scenarios, students get several internships at once. According to a report by Chegg, out of the average 60% of students who usually do internships in their class, 27% get two internships, and 13% do three.

With that said, internships are usually quite competitive, and it takes a lot of effort and even luck to land one. It means that you can’t afford to waste such an opportunity, and you need to make the most out of your internship.

So, here are a few practical tips on how you can take away as many benefits from your internship as possible to pave the way for a successful career.

Develop Connections

Building the network of connections is probably one of the most important parts of the internship because you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits from it in the long run.

In fact, getting useful connections is one of the things students want from an internship because if they form successful relationships within a company or an organization, their chances to stay and work there after graduation will be higher.

However, it’s not just about getting a job. Developing solid connections will also help you get the knowledge that no college could give you.

What can you do to build such connections?

  • Be friendly. Don’t shy away from conversations, participate in organizing events, and corporate parties. Even something as small as joining your co-workers for lunch can help develop a meaningful relationship with them.
  • Have a one-on-one meeting with your boss. At the beginning of your internship, ask your boss for a meeting, during which you could ask about their career path and the knowledge they had to get to be where they are. Such a conversation will help establish rapport and lay a solid foundation for a good relationship.
  • Always keep in touch. Even after your internship is done, make an effort to maintain the relationships that you formed because they can benefit you at any time when building your career.

In general, when applying for an internship, say that your goal is not just to learn, but also to build connections. Everybody in the business world understands the importance of that, and they will appreciate your openness.

Find a Mentor

An internship cannot be successful if you don’t get a mentor. This is the only way to get solid knowledge and start developing skills as you learn from someone who’s been in the industry for quite some time.

It doesn’t matter which internship you’re doing, getting a mentor is essential for your success. Even if you’re an intern in a foreign language school helping students learn Italian, try to spend as much time with a teacher assigned to you. Observe them, see which teaching methods they use, and then apply that knowledge.

So, before your internship, discuss the possibility of getting a mentor and explain why you need to have one. After all, you will need someone who will dedicate their time to guide you through all the processes, so this person needs to be prepared for that as well.

Ask for Feedback

If you want to get the most out of your internship and make this experience benefit your future career, you shouldn’t shy away from feedback, no matter whether it is good or bad.

Feedback can help you evaluate your achievements and see what else you can do and learn to improve your knowledge and skills. Whether it’s coming from your mentor or an average colleague, this feedback will help you grow as a professional.

Here’s how you can as for feedback in a correct and appropriate way:

  • Ask for regular meetings. Make sure that you discuss your achievements with your mentor on a daily basis and document every comment that you receive to see what you need to work on.
  • Make weekly feedback requests. Ask your mentor to give you weekly evaluations with both positive and negative feedback to objectively evaluate your work.
  • Ask for feedback from different sources. From time to time, ask for feedback from the company executives as well as other employees who could also give you some tips on how you can improve yourself.

Don’t be afraid of feedback because it’s also a valuable source of knowledge. Don’t outright reject it and try to look at it as a learning opportunity if you want to get the most out of your internship.

Takeaways

Everybody has different goals when getting an internship. Some obtain one just for connections, others want to learn something valuable. However, there’s always a common goal for everybody – to get everything they can from an internship.

Hopefully, these tips will help you do exactly that and lay the foundation for a successful future career.

BIO: Kate Khom is a passionate writer and blogger who likes sharing her thoughts and experience. Currently, she is working as a digital marketing specialist and develops online business branding, you can check her site. Feel free to contact her on LinkedIn.

Student Life Transition

Common Barriers to Returning to Education and How to Overcome Them

November 10, 2020
Common Barriers to Returning to Education and How to Overcome Them

An increasing number of adults are returning to college, either to complete degrees that they already started or to further their education within a professional field.

While this is an admirable endeavor, it should never be taken lightly. Attending classes — especially as a parent or while still working — is a big commitment that comes with a variety of challenges. Here are a few of the most common barriers to returning to school as well as suggestions for ways to overcome them.

Finances Can Be Tight

Often a return to school is precipitated by bad finances, a languishing work situation, or both. This can make money feel very tight while you’re attending school.

While tight finances are a common challenge, you can address this barrier by:

Work Remains a Priority

If you attend school as an adult, there’s a good chance that you’re also going to work part-time, at the least. You may even have to maintain a full-time work schedule, especially if you don’t want to sacrifice your career momentum.

The need to attend school while still working can feel impossible. However, you can address the barrier of work and school by:

  • Tightening up your expenses and dropping to part-time as a temporary measure.
  • Accepting a longer educational timeline by attending school part-time.
  • Maintaining close communication with bosses and professors as you navigate your work- and class-loads.
  • Using a loan, if absolutely necessary, to help make ends meet — although you should have a plan in place on how you’ll repay the money.

Family Responsibilities Don’t Go Away

As if work and school weren’t already a lot, many adult students also have personal lives — especially families — that require their attention. A spouse may be a support during school, but children, while a blessing, do present an additional sense of responsibility.

If you’re attempting to care for your family while returning to school, you can address this barrier by:

  • Keeping a cloud-based calendar that collects all of your family’s schedules, classes, work hours, and extracurricular events in one place for all to see.
  • Setting distinct boundaries, such as times to work, do homework, and tend to family concerns — and then communicating these clearly to your boss, professors, and dependents.
  • Finding good healthcare for your family, even if you’re in a lower income bracket.
  • Scheduling in time to unplug and focus on family to prevent strained relationships and unwelcome distancing.

Self-Esteem Can Go Out the Window

Finally, with a boss looking over one shoulder and a string of professors peeking over the other, it’s easy to feel a bit over-analyzed at times. This constant flow of feedback, letter grading, and judgment, in general, can do a number on your self-esteem.

It’s important to maintain faith in yourself while you’re juggling so many responsibilities. You can take steps to overcome this barrier by:

  • Taking time to meditate and pray each morning.
  • Staying focused on long-term goals rather than short-term problems.
  • Resisting the need to become overly-involved in the full “college experience.”
  • Setting up lifelines to friends and family members when you need to talk.

Owning Your Return to School

Returning to school can feel daunting. However, if you take steps to maintain healthy finances, properly prioritize work, school, and family, and keep up your self-esteem, you can dominate your time on campus.

The important thing is that you proactively invest yourself in a good adult learning experience. Try to see your return as a good step in the right direction, rather than a challenge or problem that must be overcome. This lays the foundation for a successful, productive, and positive return to school.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Career Student Life Transition

Is Community College the Right Choice?

November 6, 2020

Growing up, many students and their families are led to believe that attending a four year college or university right after high school is the best decision. They hear that the quality of education will be better, the college experience will be more fun, and that it will look better on their resumes when it is time to make a career choice. But community college shouldn’t be overlooked simply based on the benefits of attending a four-year university.

Here’s why community college may be the right choice for you:

The Cost

Most families and students know that community college does tend to be less costly than a four year college or university. This is often one of the biggest reasons students begin their higher education career at a community college. Classes are a fraction of the cost compared to a four-year university, and it’s a good time to get the general education studies out of the way, or even take classes that simply sound interesting to you, since tuition won’t break the bank.

Credits Earned Can Be Transferred to a Four Year College or University

The classes you take at community college can be applied to your bachelors degree. Many students don’t realize general education classes, like your English and science requirements, are the same at both the community college and university level. Just make sure you’re passing your classes and meeting with your counselor to make sure you are on the right track to transfer your credits. It would also help to begin contacting the university you plan on attending to make sure your junior college credits will transfer and that you are taking classes that are equivalent to what is offered at their institution. 

Associate’s Degree May Be Enough for You

You can earn a degree at community college and be done with higher education, if you want. It’s totally up to you! Lots of students make the decision to pursue career options with just their associate’s degree under their belt. Other options include joining the military or attending a trade school.

Staying Closer to Home for a Bit Longer

Some students are hesitant about leaving the nest so soon after high school that they make the decision to attend a community college that’s close to home. This gives first year college students the opportunity to spend more time with their family and childhood friends, save money on school, and maybe even get a part time job. Attending community college and living at home can be an easier transition for students who are paying for school themselves or aren’t yet sure what they want to study at a four-year university.

If you and your family are trying to decide whether or not community college is a good decision, take these considerations to heart.

Adulting Student Life Transition

7 Tips For Living in Your First Off Campus Apartment

November 4, 2020

Making the transition from living on-campus to a nearby apartment brings many responsibilities. While it comes with more independence, it’s worth knowing if your complex is catered to students like yourself, or not. You can have friends over without worrying about dorm hours, or have the freedom to stay in your college town during the holidays or summer when the dorms are closed. However, you need to make sure you take proper responsibilities like paying your bills on time and sticking to your budget so you can enjoy your new apartment lifestyle.

Here are some tips for living in your first off campus apartment:

Have Everything in a Written Contract

When you live in your first off-campus apartment, it’ll most likely be your first opportunity to understand the importance of having everything in a written contract, and before signing it, you should read it through entirely. It also doesn’t hurt to have a parent or another adult read it through too since they most likely have more experience with renting. If you were promised something when you toured the facility or saw something in an advertisement, like a rent adjustment, you need to be certain that it is well-documented in the rent contract. And of course, don’t forget renters insurance.

Keep a Consistent Cleaning Schedule

Living in your first off-campus apartment means that you’re in charge of cleaning it. Whether you live alone or have roommates, you need to make a cleaning schedule and be consistent about making it happen. You don’t have to vacuum every day, but you should make a habit of wiping the kitchen and bathroom counters, taking out the trash, cleaning out the fridge regularly.

Pay All of Your Bills On Time

It might not seem like much, but paying your bills late will affect your credit score and result in late fees. To avoid having late bills, you can set auto-draft payments or simply write bill due dates on a calendar. If you’re collecting money from your roommates to pay the bills, you should start collecting at least a week before the money is due to make sure you have it on time.

Always Lock Your Doors

It’s easy to think that nothing will ever happen especially in your college town, but you should always lock your apartment door even if you’ll just be gone a few minutes. This includes running to your car really quickly or taking out the trash. If you’re uncomfortable with someone in your apartment, such as roommates or guests, you should lock your bedroom door when you aren’t home.

Think Carefully About Your Roommates

If you have roommates, you need to think long and hard about who you choose to live with. Will they be respectful of the complex’s rules? Will they be quiet if you need to study? Will they help clean up in the kitchen? Will they pay their part on time? These are all just a few of the questions you need to think about before agreeing to be roommates with someone. Just because they’re your close friend doesn’t mean they would make an ideal roommate. If you’re going the random roommate route, make sure to vet them thoroughly. Your complex may also have a roommate matching program to find you someone with similar qualities. Make sure you and your roommates each have your own renters insurance policy.

Create a Budget

Now that you’re living off-campus, you’ll be responsible for more expenses, and they can add up quickly. On top of rent and utilities, you need to create a budget for items such as groceries, entertainment, transportation (gas, bus card, subway pass, etc.), and clothing, and stick to it! You need to budget for the entire semester so you aren’t stuck eating sandwiches for the last 3 months of the semester because you spent all of your money the first month. Look into using a budgeting app to simplify the process.

Feel Free to Decorate

The apartment won’t feel like yours without a few personal decorations. Simple decorations like a team banner, throw pillows, picture frames, or movie posters will go a long way in making the place feel like your very own. Since this is your first off-campus apartment, you probably want make sure it feels like your own place, and bringing in decor items that show your personality will help.

Living in your first off-campus apartment is an exciting time full of new adventures! But don’t let the new found freedom get in the way of staying on top of the responsibilities that come along with it. Stick to these tips and you’ll be sure to be successful.