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graduation

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.

Student Life

How to Graduate Successfully During the Pandemic

October 29, 2020

The pandemic has completely changed the way our daily lives look. Very quickly, we’ve had to readjust many of our habits and daily routines that we once took for granted. So it’s no surprise that for many of us, both the present and the future appear uncertain. The pandemic has presented most people with challenges they may have never had to face before, such as forced distance, or the loss of opportunities. 

Students, in particular those approaching their date of graduation, are more prone to thinking ahead than most, as they seek to plan their next step in life. For students in this position, the uncertainty and challenges of the pandemic add another layer of stress to the prospect of graduation. However, panic is not the answer, and with a cool head and positive attitude, graduation can remains firmly on the horizon. Here are a few tips to help you ensure that the coronavirus doesn’t get in the way of you securing your hard-earned diploma! 

Stay on Top of Your Studies

Just because many campuses have shut their doors and the classroom walls can seem like a distant memory, that doesn’t mean that academic standards should be let slip! It’s important for students to stay focused on upholding the quality of their academic work so as not to lose sight of their educational goals. 

While it may not be possible to sit with teachers or peer groups in person, the internet luckily offers students many tools that allow them to keep their academic standards high even while social distancing. Students can make use of online tools to make sure the quality of their research does not slip by using a referencing site and a plagiarism checker tool. By upholding a strong sense of academic integrity, students can more easily focus their sights on that up-coming graduation date with confident single-mindedness. 

Stay Active

It’s essential to keep the mind and body sharp as ever. Continuing with your hobbies outside of the classroom will make it a lot easier to preserve a sense of normal life and lessen the likelihood that the pandemic will have a negative impact on your academic motivation. 

If the way you practice your pastimes, such as being part of a team sport or meeting with a hobby club, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a great opportunity to try out new things and maybe develop a new passion! Think about hobbies or skills you’ve long been meaning to take up. Seeing your progress in something outside the classroom is a great way to keep up that sense of academic motivation that will keep you plain-sailing towards graduation.

Stay Connected


In these times, when social distancing is a must, it can be easy to feel a little disconnected. To keep grounded in both your social and academic life, it’s important to stay in contact with those you care about. Use social media to reach out to friends and acquaintances, new and old. Staying connected to those around you will help keep you connected to your study goals and smoothen the path to graduation.

Other Transition

5 Perks of Graduating College in the Winter

May 27, 2020
5 Perks of Graduating College in the Winter

Graduating in December means finishing all your classes and requirements mid-school year, and getting your diploma just in time for the holidays. It might not come with wrapping paper and a bow, but it’s a pretty impressive gift. If you’re a winter grad or are thinking about graduating next winter, take a look at this list of perks that can come with finishing college in December.

It can be a money saver.
If you’re graduating early, that’s one less semester’s worth of fees and costs that spring up between classes. Dealing with student loan payments after college is tough, and this can help cut some of those costs you’ll be faced with.

Continue Reading

Career Other

5 Common Mistakes You Can Make at Your First Post-Grad Job

July 30, 2019

Being hired for your first post-grad job is an exciting life event. It’s also one that comes with apprehension, confusion, and a fear of making mistakes. This is all normal. Everyone messes up at least once, and chances are, you will, too. Fortunately, most people are willing to forgive mistakes and help newbies get situated. However, you also can do your part by actively trying to sidestep common blunders. Here are five mistakes people often make at their first post-grad job and ways to avoid them.

1. Not asking for help

It can be intimidating to enter a new workplace, especially one composed of long-time veterans who go about their days like clockwork, automatically knowing what needs to be done. While it’s understandable you’ll want to fit in as quickly as possible, it’s a bad idea to pretend you already know everything. It’s far better to ask for help right away if you don’t understand something or need further clarification. No one expects you to learn by osmosis.

2. Not researching a job before accepting

Many newbies to the workforce are so excited about landing a job that they forget to do their due diligence before saying yes. For instance, if a job offer is in a new city, you’ll want to carefully research the company before you accept it. And if you need to relocate, be sure you are moving to a city you can afford. You don’t want to end up in a circumstance where you’re set up for failure from the get-go.

3. Arriving late in the morning

Late arrivals are generally under your own control, so as “mistakes” go, they’re not as forgivable as some other blunders. While in social settings, being fashionably late can be seen as cool, at work it’s definitely not. Make an effort to be on time every day with these tips:

  • Get in a habit of getting out of bed at the same time every day.
  • Go to bed earlier if you can’t get up in the morning.
  • Avoid hitting the snooze button.
  • Set several alarms if you do tend to snooze or turn alarms off.

Make whatever changes you need to do to be punctual. While occasional lateness is usually forgivable, it’s not acceptable for most workplaces on a regular basis.

4. Including too many people on emails

Email is still a primary method of communication for most workplaces. People often start a chain of emails that includes dozens of recipients, sometimes more. Before joining the conversation, consider these rules of thumb:

  • Read messages carefully and determine if a response from you is warranted, or if the email is purely informational.
  • If a response is warranted, be brief and discriminating about your reply.
  • NEVER hit “reply all” — unless your response provides value to everyone, offers more information, or asks a relevant question.

Hitting “reply all” is a common mistake, sometimes even for seasoned professionals. But try to avoid this one because it’s an annoying time-waster that can earn you some ill will. No one wants their inboxes filled up with “OK, got it” or “thanks for the information” types of responses.

5. Losing your work

It’s upsetting to discover your work has gone *poof!* after spending hours on a project or document. Don’t make the rookie mistake of losing your work. Instead, make the use of cloud computing software a routine part of your day. Navigating cloud technology is also a good skill set to add to your professional toolbox.

At the end of the workday, it’s a given that everyone makes mistakes. The best thing to do is own them and do whatever you can to rectify them. If you hide your mistakes or fail to own up to them — rather than fix them — people eventually catch on and lose respect for you. It’s wiser to accept that it’s OK to screw up sometimes rather than beat yourself up. Try to learn from your slip-ups and discover ways to avoid mishaps in the future. 

Other Transition

Why You Should Relocate After Graduation

June 13, 2019

Changing locations after you graduate might be the best move for your career, your social life, and your wallet. There are some benefits to staying in the network you built while you were in school, but the benefits of starting fresh in a new area can make it well worth the move. With your degree in hand, you’ll be ready for the challenge.

Relocating Jump-Starts Your Career

Relocating before starting your first post-college job offers several advantages over settling for something nearby. For starters, launching your career is much easier when you’re not tied to one location. Shopping your skills around to companies across the country, or across the globe, broadens your prospects for that critical first job.

If you’re currently in a rural or suburban area, a move to a big city can significantly increase your lifetime earnings. One study looked at the short- and long-term benefits of an urban relocation and found a significant boost to valuable job experience. That experience resulted in higher lifetime pay, even when the subjects of the study left their city later in life. The cost of rent in cities may be high, but the financial advantages down the road can make it worth the investment.

Relocating Lets You Experience a New Culture

Every place on the planet has its own unique cultural fingerprint. Joining a new community can broaden your perspective of the world, even if you’re only moving to a different town in the same state. If you’ve been living in your college town for a while, a change in atmosphere can be very rewarding.

When you’re looking to make new connections in a new place, start by joining clubs, organizations, or associations that interest you. It’s ok to be a tourist in your new home—get out there and experience the people, history, or attractions your new town has to offer. A move is an opportunity to see the world from a fresh new perspective, and this eye-opening experience can help you see yourself in a new light as well.

Relocating Saves You Money

A change in location can have a big impact on your bottom line. Depending on where you currently live, you could significantly lower your cost of living or significantly increase your potential earnings by moving to a more favorable location.

A relocation can also help you cut other costs. For instance, you can shorten your commute by choosing an apartment that is closer to your next job. You can also save a lot of money on rent by sharing a place with roommates or downsizing your current living situation. There are even ways to make the move itself as cost-effective as possible, like comparing moving truck companies before committing to one.

In the end, a relocation might be stressful, but the years after your graduation can be a time of incredible opportunities for growth and positive change. Don’t miss out on what the world has to offer with the perfect opportunity to discover your potential and your path in life.

Check out more of our posts on life after graduation and follow @GradGuard to stay informed on any future advice.

Career Other

6 Tips For Nailing a Skype Interview

May 21, 2019

Job interviews are nerve-wracking enough, but having to sit in front of your webcam can make them even scarier.

Job interviewers are increasingly relying on Skype interviews as an intermediary step between a phone interview and an in-person interview. If your college semesters are coming to an end and you’re prepping for a video interview, these tips will help you make the perfect impression.

1. Perform Some Background Research

Preparing for a Skype interview should be no different than preparing for any interview. You can easily stand out from other applicants by learning as much as you can about the organization you’re applying to. Research the position through the organization’s website or through tools like Career Search, Vault.com, or Glassdoor.

2. Curate Your Space

Pick a clean, well-lit space with simple furniture or decorations, and angle your camera parallel to the wall behind you. If you live with roommates or pets, make arrangements before your interview to keep them out of the background.

3. Dress to Impress

First impressions matter—and this might be the truest in an interview. Dress professionally from head to toe. By dressing up for your interview, you’ll also be mentally preparing yourself to present your most professional side. Caring about the details will stand out and help you feel more confident.

4. Prepare Your Equipment

At least an hour before your interview, take some time to set up your computer so you’re ready to go before the interviewer calls. Test your internet speed to make sure your video call won’t drop or have to buffer. And ask a friend or family member to help you test your sound and video before the day of your interview.

You can also place the Skype chat window directly below your computer’s webcam so that it’s easier to look into the camera while still seeing your interviewer’s face. This will help the conversation feel natural on both sides.

5. Use Confident Body Language

Body language can make or break a remote interview. Avoid looking stiff by sitting up straight while relaxing your shoulders. Leaning in slightly when your interviewer is speaking shows your interest and engagement. And finally, focus on keeping your arms relaxed at your sides.

6. Send a Follow-Up Email

Once your interview is over, it’s important to follow up. A good follow-up email is polite, direct, and brief enough to leave another positive impression. Confirm that you’re ready to take the job by gently requesting an offer, or simply state outright that you hope to be hired for the position. Finally, make sure to include any follow-up materials promised during the interview.

Skype interviews may not be your favorite activity, but they’re quickly becoming a fact of life, especially if your degree means you’re applying for jobs across the country. Make the best of the opportunity by leveraging these tips from GradGuard, and you’ll soon be a video conferencing expert.

BIO: Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the “everyday” person. She is a specialist in online business marketing and consumer technology. She has a background in broadcast journalism.

Health Other

The Importance of Self-Reflection for the College Grad

May 8, 2019

The years that follow college graduation are unlike any other in your life.  For the first time, you’re not following a course of action and structure set out by others— parents, teachers, and coaches.  Now it really is up to you.

The way you show up for work, treat coworkers, your supervisor and how you navigate being self-sufficient will be governed by you.  However, the workplace alone is not where your success is defined or determined. Your achievements and ultimate happiness are reliant on the CEO known as your mind.

Being in charge of your thoughts through reflection, as opposed to reacting to the world around you, will bring greater awareness, joy and even longevity to your life.  

One way to start the journey of self-reflection is to ask yourself a series of questions, think about them, write down answers and talk about them with people who are close to you.

  • What do you tell yourself about your future, your relationships and your requirements for happiness?  
  • Do you know your strengths and talents?  
  • What are your needs for rest, relaxation, recharging and having fun?
  • Are you surrounding yourself with people who are a support system for the life you want? Or are they pulling you away from your ideals?
  • Do you find it easy to forgive?  Are you holding on to anger?
  • For what things and people are you most grateful?   Do you openly express gratitude and how often?

This is the time to go deep building the most important relationship you will ever have—the one with yourself.  While you may have left school, peer pressure can show up anywhere. There will be situations in your personal and professional life that will test your commitment to your ideals of honesty, faith, and being a good listener with an open heart and mind.

How many times do we see people in all walks abandoning basic truths of what it means to be a good person?  The question is did the decision to cheat, for example, happen overnight? Or was it a slippery slope of little lies that escalated over time?

Technology has made many things so much faster and easier.  And it has driven a wedge between human connection and true self-reflection.  Before you once again stare into your screen mindlessly liking and sharing, close your eyes to tap into your curiosity and imagination.  Meditate and breathe deeply to quiet external stimulation.

The CEO known as your mind will promote you to the life you want when you have command of your options and choose the road of good character, humility, optimism, and concern for others.  This time in your life will form and forecast your future. It’s all up to you and the CEO known as your mind.

As your graduation day approaches, be sure to welcome the changes that are coming and embrace this new part of your life. Remember to continue to follow GradGuard even after you graduate for all the insights and advice a recent grad needs.

BIO: Lisa Shumate is General Manager of Houston Public Media, Associate Vice President at the University of Houston, and also Executive Director of the Houston Public Media Foundation. She is a mentor in the University of Houston PropPel Leadership Development Program for high potential staff.  She serves as Advisor to Public Media Women in Leadership and also is a mentor to the group’s founder. Lisa is also the author of Always and Never: 20 Truths for a Happy Heart and Always and Never: The Companion Journal.

Career Other

Stepping into the Professional World on the Right Foot

October 22, 2018

Planning for the future can be confusing at times, but who says it has to be a struggle? From standing out at your internship to planning your post-grad plans, there are plenty of easy changes you can make to look and feel your best in order to succeed. Having the confidence to thrive in the professional world will position you to excel in whatever you do. Here’s what you should be doing to ensure you start off on the right foot:

Update Your Resume Frequently

It never hurts to get a second, or even a third, opinion on your resume. Rather than talking about your day-to-day duties on your resume, it’s best to demonstrate the skill set and benefit that you personally brought to a company/organization, and to have your desired company in mind while doing so. This can and should be, a process that it is completed regularly before applying to any job. Also as you engage in volunteer events, clubs, internships, and other extracurricular activities.

Utilizing the knowledge of classmates, professors, and your career center can help you to compile the best of what you have to offer, and showcase what is most important. Accepting constructive criticism, updating your vocabulary, and finding new ways to create a quality, eye-catching resume will put you ahead of the game.

Don’t be afraid to get creative when structuring your resume, as some employers like to see out-of-the-box interpretations, but use your best judgment. If you’re applying for a position at a young, creative company, for example, consider tailoring your resume to fit the company’s mission, values, and overall aesthetic. As you would tailor a cover letter to fit the job you are applying for, you should always do the same with your resume. Having a strong skill set on paper can help you emulate the confidence you need to score the job of your dreams.

Dress the Part

A big part of being the best version of yourself in the professional world is dressing the part. This doesn’t mean you have to dress business professional every day, but elevating your style to look more put-together, and especially well-dressed during important moments, is a great first step. For ladies, it’s easy to be stylish by pairing trendy loafers with dark wash jeans and a button-down top. Swap the jeans out for a pencil skirt and add a cute suit jacket for a more professional twist. Purchasing staple pieces that you can alternate from ultra-casual to business is a great way to elevate your look. For men, try renting a great suit for a big interview or networking event. In your everyday wear, get some stylish dress shoes to pair with dark jeans or khakis and a nice shirt or sweater.

Of course, you’ll still have days where wearing sweatpants in public is fine, but try to limit it to the weekends or for running quick errands. You never know who you’ll see on a grocery store run or in class, so it’s important to always be on your A-game and grow more comfortable dressing professionally.

Network

Networking is an important step to take when positioning yourself for success. No matter how far along you are in your collegiate career, it is never too early to take advantage of networking opportunities. When it comes to events, showing up in your best professional attire with a resume and business card in-hand can give you the confidence to interact with anyone. Work on your elevator speech, build an off-paper resume that you can speak to, and work on some speaking techniques to command the room and exude confidence.

The most important thing to remember about excelling at networking is maintaining the connections you make. Reach out to your connections on LinkedIn, offer to meet them for coffee when you’re in their area and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or insight when the opportunity presents itself. If you keep these connections into your career, it may turn into a mutually beneficial connection down the road.

 

Be sure to look to GradGuard for all of your Motivational Monday posts!

Career Other

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Grad School

October 15, 2018

When you graduate from college, you have options about how to make your next move. Some will try to jump into the workforce, some take time off, and others think about continuing their education by applying to graduate school. If you’re considering grad school, make sure to ask yourself these five questions first:

1. Am I sure of what I want to study?
Graduate school is obviously different than the undergraduate experience. You might have started out as a freshman with an undeclared major, and took your time deciding on what to major in. Grad school doesn’t really offer that luxury. You have to know what it is that you want to study and what degree you’d like to eventually obtain. This will make searching through grad programs easier. If you don’t have any specific goals in mind though, grad school might not be the best idea.

2. Will this advance my career prospects?
When you already know what it is you want to study in grad school, you need to ask yourself how it will affect your professional future. Grad school will take up a lot of your time and it can be pretty expensive. You might want to get an MFA in creative writing, but will that help you get a paying career before you can be a bestselling author? If you’re interested in something that won’t necessarily help your career prospects, consider putting off grad school until you have more stability and a steady income.

3. Can I afford it?
Most students graduate college with a huge pile of student loans. It’s important to think about how you’ll tackle those payments in addition to new bills for grad school. Try looking for scholarships and grants, and find out what schools and programs would be within your budget. Also consider the fact that some jobs will help pay for your graduate school classes! So if you’re ready to jump into the job market, find out what companies offer tuition reimbursement.

4. What schedule would be best?
Grad school accommodates for people’s busy schedules, so think about what time commitments would best suit your lifestyle. Full time, part time? Would you take night classes after work, or go during the day? Depending on what schedule you make for yourself, you can earn your degree in different amounts of time. Consider that too—do you want to devote three years to grad school, or do you want to set a sooner cutoff date and work from there?

5. Can I be fully committed?
Don’t forget that grad school is hard work. You’ll have to work more independently, and there will be higher expectations for you. You might get less guidance from professors than you did as an undergrad, and you’ll have to be self-motivated to stay on top of all your ongoing assignments. Make sure that you’ll be able to balance your grad school workload with any outside commitments you have.

If you’ve considered the above questions and are ready to start the graduate school search, excellent! Refer to this article to see what tests you’ll have to complete to be eligible.

Remember to look to GradGuard for all your college insurance needs!

Career Other

Earning While Learning: Money Making Resources for Med Students

September 5, 2018

When you’re a medical student, you can’t help but wait for the moment to start your career and become a top specialist in the field. But here’s the problem: Some claim that M.D. holders are not entitled to their dream jobs. Does it mean you should worry about your future medical career? Not at all. What it means is that you need to think of landing your first job before graduation and start building your medical career right now.

Yes, the process of job search is not that easy for students. For you to succeed, we have this list of seven resources to check and apply for your first job in medicine. You can make the most out of them to practice the skills you’re learning at university and earn some of the money all young specialists need so much while studying.

But keep in mind some details before you start surfing them:

  • Make sure their positions are open to current students.
  • Check if your knowledge and skills are enough to apply for this particular job.
  • Consider extra ways, other than applied medicine, to earn money while studying. For instance, you can try freelancing as a medical writer, offer your medical transcription services to others, and so on.
  • Decide if you have enough free time to spend on that job.

And now, check the following resources to look for a job:

1. Indeed

The best way to search for a job on this website is their listings by keywords and location. More than 500 job boards, 200 newspapers, 100 professional associations, and career centers are available at Indeed.com for you to easily search and find multiple job opportunities there.

2. Monster

Monster is one of the oldest job websites on the web, providing you with thousands of jobs worldwide. Job-seekers are welcome to use this resource for relocation services; independent medical professionals rate it high too.

3. Best Jobs USA

Their mission is to bring the best candidates and the best employers together. It’s not just a job board but a comprehensive resource that includes a career resources store, jobs database, resume posting, and corporate profiles.

4. Bid4Papers

This site is perfect for medical students who excel in academic writing and are looking for some freelance opportunities to use those skills in practice. Here you can join the team of academic writers on medical topics to craft and edit works of your peers, helping to polish their work.

5. College Recruiter

Enter your job title and location to start searching. This online resource targets college students, graduates, and recent graduates in particular, so it can be your perfect choice for landing your first job as a young specialist.

6. Simply Hired

Use this job search engine to find job listings and get updates by email, mobile, or social networks when new opportunities appear. As well as many other job search resources, Simply Hired is free for job-seekers, and it provides a list of jobs for medical specialists by keywords.

7. Link UP

Go to the individual boards to find a job that fits your expectations most. Numerous niche and geographic-specific boards are available here. Link UP is a free resource for all job seekers to use. It shares only current openings and lists jobs taken from 20,000 company websites.

As you see, many job opportunities are waiting for medical students at corresponding resources. They provide all of the features necessary to find freelance or part-time jobs regardless of your experience. All the skills you got in college can help to earn extra money: try medical writing, blogging, research, assistance, and don’t forget about summer internships.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans,” John Lennon once said. But the time will come when you need to start planning your medical career, and there’s no reason to postpone this moment. Now you have a guide to take one step forward. And of course, don’t forget to continue your renters insurance coverage! Did you know that GradGuard offers renters insurance to you even if you are not presently attending a university? That’s right! So you can take advantage of our low deductibles and worldwide personal property coverage even when you are onto bigger things. Visit our website for a free quote.

Author: Lesley Vos is a private educator and career specialist for students from Chicago. She is a seasoned web writer, contributing to many publications on business, career, and self-development. Feel free to say hi and see more works of Lesley on Twitter