College Everything You Need To Know
Going to college is a pivotal moment in anyone’s life. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time going to college or you’re returning to college to finish your degree, the education, and credibility that you gain in college will be life-changing. In fact, people who have a bachelor’s degree or higher achieve an 86% employment rate in the united states. And a recent study by Georgetown University found that on average, college graduates earn $1 million dollars more over their lifetime.
As you can clearly see, higher education can pave the way for a more prosperous life. So how do you go about picking the right colleges for you, applying to colleges, choosing which college to attend, and then preparing for and maintaining a steady goal and career path while in college? Getting into college is one thing, however, spending your time wisely at the school of your choice is where most people fail. Below we are detailing everything you need to know about college, from the research process to graduating with your degree and all the way to career options after graduation.
College Research And Preparation
When you start researching colleges there are a few things you’ll want to consider. There are literally hundreds of available college resources to help you figure out which colleges are best for you so the amount of available information on colleges and universities and the individual programs is very overwhelming.
You’ll want to start by making a written list of the things you like and enjoy doing. While you’re making your list you’ll want to envision your ideal college path and career path. Start by figuring out what exactly you want to do with your life after college. Try and pick at least 3 -5 career paths that you think you’ll enjoy. For now just write down whatever comes to mind and trust yourself, usually, the first 3 things you write down are what you should be doing with your life.
Once you have your ideal career paths in mind, you need to figure out what degree programs and majors you’ll need to take to help you enter into that field. There might be several degrees you can get that will ultimately lead you to your career of choice, however, there are many career options that have very straight forward educational paths and not all will require tradition four-year colleges and universities. Below is a break down of three major categories that can help you understand the best higher education options for your specific needs.
College Degree Options
When choosing to study in higher education it’s important to know your options. Once you are aware of all the available options you can then make a better decision when it comes to your personal life goals and the educational path you want to follow. Too many times students fall into the trap of just doing what they are told without critically think about their goals and the options that are open to them. Many students often regret the educational path they took because they did not make an informed decision, they just went to school. Below are some of the options you should consider when as you are looking at colleges and degree programs.
Trade Schools and Vocational Schools
Typically trade schools and vocational schools are higher education options that help you learn a specific trade or skill for a very specific career path. Trade schools are usually for things like becoming an electrician, plumber, personal trainer, hairstylist, automotive repair, sports medicine, pharmacy assistant and more. However, there are other professions that can be considered trades like animation, graphic design, aircraft mechanic, engineer, accountant and more. Trade schools usually offer flexible scheduling options and may require significantly less time to complete and get a degree. This means you can get started on your career faster and spend less time and money while you’re in school.
An associate’s degree is a two-year post-secondary degree. An associate’s degree is roughly the first two years of 4-year college, you can consider it freshman and sophomore year. Many jobs only require associate’s degrees or “some college” so this could be a fast track option for people who are looking for employment after only two years of colleges. An associate’s degree is not only quicker, but it’s also less expensive and it’s been growing in popularity over the last twenty years or so. Associate’s degrees range in topic and in many cases you can study the same things as you can when going for a bachelor’s degree. There is a lot of overlap in the degree offerings.
Bachelor’s degrees are the most common higher education option. Typical bachelor degree programs take 4 years to complete and they are what most people think of when they hear the words college or university. A bachelor’s degree is four years of full-time study where a student completes 120-semester credits or around 40 college-level courses and if your college operates on a quarter system you’ll be looking at 180 credits to earn your accredited bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is considered a post-secondary undergraduate degree and is most commonly associated with a “college degree.”
Master’s degrees is the first level of graduate study. One can not get a master’s degree without already having an undergraduate degree or bachelor’s degree. Master’s programs usually require one and a half to two years of full-time study to complete, depending on the subject of study. When planning your career path and backing it into your education journey, you’ll want to understand what competitive advantage you’ll have by getting your master’s. Some jobs require that you get a master’s degree and some jobs will simply pay you more for having one.
Master’s degrees are often a subject of debate in many careers mostly due to many people not seeing the full benefit or need for additional education. However, in other careers like teaching, getting your master’s might be the only thing that can help you climb the ranks or get a pay increase. You’ll need to understand if a master’s degree is something you’ll be going for because it can help inform your bachelor’s degree choice as well.
A graduate certificate is similar to a master’s degree, however, it is a short program consisting of three to seven courses and is usually completed over the course of one year. One must hold a bachelor’s degree before acquiring a graduate certificate and in some cases the graduate certificate can satisfy some requirements of a master’s degree. Graduate degrees do not qualify for federal grants and they usually have a shorter application process than a master’s degree.
A doctorate degree is the highest academic degree one can achieve in most fields. For research or teaching the doctorate degree is usually a Ph.D. and professional doctorates are things like a medical doctor or MD or Doctor of Education or EdD or Juris Doctor. One can get a doctorate degree in almost any subject area, so there is plenty to choose from. A doctorate degree will usually take 4 years of full-time study to complete, which can be incredibly challenging for many people. It is required that you have a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for a doctorate and you may be able to complete your doctorate degree in some subject areas in as little as three years if you already have a master’s degree in a related field.
At a minimum, you’ll be looking at 8 years of full-time study dedicated to gaining your doctorate degree and you could spend as much at ten to twelve years in school. Again, you must think of your ideal career path and then work back to understand which degrees will be needed to achieve your goals. Understanding your ten to twenty-year plan will help inform how you approach your degree and college selection process.
Higher Education Roadmap
Now that you are familiar with the different college and or higher education options, you’ll need to create a roadmap and plan for achieving your career goals through your educational journey. Obviously, if you plan to get a master’s and or doctorate that will help you decide on where to get your bachelor’s degree and what you should major in. A lot of educational planning is based on future plans and then deciding on what you will do to reach those future plans by starting in the future and working backward.
For example: let’s say you want to be the head of marketing at a major corporation one day. And you know that to better your chances of reaching this goal, you’ll need to eventually get your master’s degree in marketing. This will help you figure out where you should get your bachelor’s degree and what you should get your degree in. You’ll want to look at the best colleges for marketing/communications/psychology programs in the country, then begin picking your top choices from there.
You’ll also want to consider what school to attend to get your master’s degree and figure out if the college you get your undergraduate degree at has any positive effect on getting into your master’s school of choice.
For example: If you want to get your master’s at Georgetown, you might want to find a college that has a high acceptance rate for Georgetown master’s programs. And then you can try your best to get accepted into that college.
Higher Education Roadmap Breakdown
In this section, we’ll be discussing how to break down your educational goals into actionable steps that will get you to your desired career outcome.
1. Identify 5 Careers You’d Like To Have
Identify 5 interesting careers that you would like to pursue. Try and look 20 years into the future and understand who you want to be, and what roles you may want to achieve in your career. Make a list of these 5 careers and we’ll revisit them later.
2. Learn Which College Programs You’ll Need
Figure out what type of higher education you’ll need to achieve your career goals. Will you need an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, or will you need certifications or trade school diplomas?
3. Research The Schools That Match Your Needs
Start your research on schools that offer the best programs for your top 5 career paths. There are tons of resources to help you find a higher education institution that is right for you so you will need to sift through a lot of websites and information to find what you’re looking for. You can start by taking our college matching quiz here. However, you will want to google search for key terms like “best college for business degree” or “best school for electrical technicians”. You should spend a lot of time researching, the better informed you are the better decision you can make.
4. Learn About The Admissions Process
Make a list of the top 10 colleges you would like to attend and then start researching the admissions process for each college. Each higher education institution will have unique admissions requirements and you need to understand if you can meet those requirements with your GPA, transcripts, essays, diplomas, etc. Even if you don’t quite match the admissions standards, you should still think about how you can effectively apply. Many people will get accepted into a school for one major and then switch their major once they are accepted. They do this because one major might be easier to gain acceptance on and then you can switch once you’re already in.
There are a lot of loopholes and intricacies in every admissions process so think creatively and seek help wherever you can get it. Additionally, finding a college counselor might be very beneficial. You’ll want to schedule a school tour and or call the school and schedule a call with an admissions officer. By doing this, you are showing the school of interest, that you are committed to finding the right school for you. And, this only reflects well on you and your integrity!
5. Prepare All Of Your Admissions Materials
Start preparing your admissions materials. Once you have identified the schools you’d like to apply to and you understand their admissions process, you can begin to gather all of the material you need to complete a successful application. Start as early as possible because it can take some time to get all of your required admissions paperwork together. Sometimes transcripts etc. are not released in a timely manner and you don’t want to face any obstacles in your admissions process. Always plan for the unexpected!
6. Apply To Your Top 10 Colleges
Apply to your top 10 list of schools. By now you should have all of your paperwork together, you should be fully prepared to send in your admissions material. Usually, at this point you will need to pay a fee for each school you apply to, so you’ll want to get your finances in order. If you cannot afford the application fees, you should pick the schools that you believe you have the best chance of getting into and apply only to those schools. Keep in mind, not all schools have an application fee and some schools don’t have a very rigorous application process either.
7. Follow Up With The Admissions Department
Follow up on your admissions process. This is a step most people don’t take and it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t forget or neglect to follow up on your application. One or two weeks after you have submitted your applications you should call each school to follow up and make sure that they received all of your information. Usually, you will have some sort of online portal that will tell you the status of your application but you’ll still want to call and make sure.
There have been so many incidents where schools have not received all of the required information and the potential student never knows, and as a result, never gets accepted. Following up on your application will make sure that you stay on the right track. Even if you are applying to a trade school or certificate program or boot camp, you always want to follow up!
8. Figure Out Which College Is Best For You
Decide where you want to go. Once you receive some acceptance letters or notice of your qualification for enrollment, you’ll want to do a cost-benefit analysis. That means you’ll want to weigh your options and understand the pros and cons of attending each school. Look at the cost of tuition, housing etc, the location of the school, the benefits of the school’s brand, the quality of the student body, the available extracurricular programs offered and really consider each aspect of your eligible schools.
9. Try Hard To Pass Your College Classes
Once you’ve chosen a school and an educational pathway to fulfill your career goals, you’ll want to try as hard as possible to pass your classes with the highest grades you can achieve. Too many times people don’t give enough effort in their higher education and then many years later when they’re more mature they regret not taking their education more seriously. In hindsight, you can always do better so graduate with the highest accolades possible.
Taking Advantage Of College
Once you’re enrolled in a college or university, you’ll want to take advantage of everything it has to offer. Most students don’t realize the incredible amount of opportunity that attending college can present you. Below we’ll take a look at some major aspects of college that you need to be aware of so that your tuition money pays for its self over and over again.
Networking At College
The majority of people don’t see college as a networking opportunity and unfortunately, this really works to their disadvantage. College is a time of life where you can branch out and meet large amounts of people very easily. In fact, you’re constantly surrounded by new people with interesting backgrounds from all of the country and even the world. The friendships that you make in college will be the network and support system that you build for the rest of your life. After you graduate college and get into the real world, you wish you made more as many friends as possible and you’ll fully realize how valuable it is to have lot’s of friends in all different places.
1. Don’t Be A Hermit At College
It does not matter how self-conscious you are or if you lack confidence, you must not be a hermit at college. If you say and think things like ” I’m just here to study, not make freinds” you are being ignorant. More than anything your network helps you succeed in different areas of your life like your career, dating, and social life. If you go through college without meeting developing more than 5 friendships, that means you’ll only have 5 people that will want to help you in life. The bottom line is, don’t be a hermit.
2. Introduce Yourself To Everyone
This might be difficult for some people to do, but try and say hi to everyone in your class, or even people you pass in the hallway and around campus. The more you practice smiling and saying hi to people, the more friends you’ll make guaranteed!
3. Join Organizations On Campus
Another great way to network with more people at college is to join organizations like clubs, committees, and greek life (sororities and fraternities) There’s a reason why frat guys and sorority girls tend to have good jobs, their networks support each other all through life. The more organizations you join, the more people you’ll develop friendships with and the more life connections you’ll make.
4. Make Freinds With Foreign Students
Foreign students are great people to network with. By becoming friends with people from other countires you start to expand your network around the world. 15 years after college you might want to travel with your family and you might have friends in different countries that you can go visit. Maybe you want to start a business in other countries, your friends might be able to help. Always think in terms of. expanding your network far and wide.
5. Go Out To Parties
College can be a time of intense academic achievement, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun. Some of the best friendships are made during crazy parties and wild experiences. Make sure to go out and have fun so that you can develop real bonds with people and get to know your friends on a deeper level.
Access To Everything You Want
What a lot of people don’t realize is how much access you have as a college student. When you get into the real world, your access to facilities and opportunities shrink. College campuses usually have so many resources that you can take advantage of for free. Your professors are available to your pretty much whenever you need them for career advice, help with studying etc. People at your school are willing to help make introductions, help you get a project funded, start a business, get internships, solve complex problems in addition to many other things. Here is a list of amazing things you could have immediate access to.
- Smart Professors
- Food and drink
- Art Studio
- Filming Facilities And Equipment
- Freinds And Parties
- Woodshop /Building Materials
- Printing (Small Scale And Large)
- Advance Computer Programs
- Sports Facilities
- Outdoor Space (fields)
- Libraries And Study Areas
- People Of All Backgrounds
- All Departments
- Career Centers
- Career Fairs
- Meet And Greets
- School Events
- Charity Work
The list goes on and on. In college, you can literally do and accomplish whatever you want and the world is open to helping you because people love to help college kids find their passion and succeed. When you get out of college the world isn’t so nice anymore and you have to pay for everything you want and nobody gives you handouts. Take advantage of everything college has to offer!
Study Hard And Get Good Grades
Too many students forget why they are at college. In order to fully take advantage of the college opportunity, you must study hard, work hard, and get good grades. The whole point of studying is to make sure you become knowledgeable in your major so that you can get a job in the field that you want to work in. Take this opportunity to learn as much as possible about your future career and dedicate the time to becoming an expert, so you leave college smart as heck!
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