Category Archives: College Guide

Making the Transition between College and Career

You have finally done it! You made your way through college, have a degree and you are ready to make your mark on the world. Once you are ready to enter the professional world, you may find that things are somewhat different from the world of college. The time period between graduating college and embarking on your first professional position is typically a crossroad. This time can be daunting as well as exciting and overwhelming for most college graduates. Below are some steps that will help to make the transition between college and the professional world much easier.

First, begin by making certain that you have determined the direction in which you want to go next in your career search. While it would certainly seem that you would be 100% certain about the next step after spending several years in college; that is often not the case. This crossroad time period is often the best time to make sure you understand the best type of career that will suit you. Give thought to whether you enjoy being around people or prefer to be on your own. Take into consideration all of your interests, dislikes, weaknesses and strengths when planning your next career step. Take the time at this point to focus your direction on those fields that match your talents as well as your interests.

Always make sure that you have done your homework. You may have thought that you were finished with homework once you had your degree in hand, but that is not the case. Employment candidates who take the time to research the companies that interest them will often have the best competitive edge as well as odds of landing the job they want. Look at the company’s web site and review news articles that talk about current trends and activities of the company so that you can learn as much as you possibly can.

Do not forget to assemble all of the tools you need for your career search. You will need a resume, cover letter, and a portfolio that focuses on your work. Taking the time to develop a professional resume and cover letter will be time well spent.

Spend some time networking. Even with the popularity of the Internet, the importance of networking should not be overlooked. In fact, networking can be one of the most important things that you do when looking for a job. Utilize any resources that are available to you, including your college’s career placement office, former professors, your parents’ friends, neighbors and friends who may already be in the working world. Do not be afraid to ask your contacts for assistance. You may be surprised at the doors that are opened to you through networking.

Advantages of a Business Degree

If you plan to pursue a career within buiness industry, it is imperative that you first pursue a degree in business. This is one particular field where continuing education can prove to be critical in order for professionals to remain competitive. A business education that is results oriented, combined with real life applications and experience, can prove to the crucial combination to success in the business world as it becomes increasingly global and technology driven.

Through college courses in business administration and business, you will gain the ability to compete for positions that will put you on the fast-track for success. Business degrees are able to assist you in developing leadership skills as well as teach you how to solve problems through methods that have been tested through time. You will also be exposed to innovative solutions that will guide you in approaching the obstacles that face businesses today.

Once you have decided that a business degree is the right option for you, the next step is to decide upon a college. There are many fine colleges and universities that offer business degrees around the country. Some of them may even be located near you. In addition to the traditional campus based colleges and universities, there are also online programs that will allow you to pursue a business degree online.

When deciding whether a college is right for your needs, you will first need to give some thought to the type of business degree that you wish to obtain. There are actually many different options.

The Student Body and the College Search

Should the student body of a college or university affect an individual’s choice in a college search? Most experts would say “absolutely”. This is because a large portion of the college experience is a social one, and a student body that matches the social needs and interests of a student will help them achieve stronger academic success.

If a student is very social, participates in numerous clubs, activities, sports or student organizations they will require a student body that has similar patterns of behavior and similar wishes. An academic career immersed in such interaction and activity will yield excellent social, educational and even some professional results. For example, a student who studies graphic design, works on a school paper, and belongs to a fraternity or sorority may have immediate access to “real world” professionals in the publishing, journalistic or artistic communities through their college affiliations and activities.

Also, if a student is from a diverse background, such as an urban education would provide, transitioning to a small, rural college may not be a good idea. They may find some social limitations, or even isolation that can do harm to their potential. This is the reason that a visit to each school that a student is considering is critical.

When a student visits a college or university they should be sure to interact with some current students, tour the dormitories and housing facilities, inquire about all of the current clubs, organizations and social groups, and walk independently from the “standard” tour to get a “feel” for the student body, campus and general atmosphere of the school.

Each student has a list of things they want to get out of their own academic experience, and realistically a large number of their goals will involve other students, or interaction with the student body. This is the primary reason for taking fellow students into consideration when performing a college search. As the main social focus for the entire academic career of the student, the student body will greatly affect each person’s success or happiness.

There are many state colleges and universities that offer majors and degrees to adults seeking to complete their college course work. These individuals should also consider the make up of the student body when doing a college search. Most of these students will also be involved in full time employment and will traditionally find themselves in evening or “twilight” classes that are filled with like-minded individuals.

This is an excellent and unique opportunity for social and professional interaction. This also serves as a good illustration for the impact of a well matched student body on the performance of a student. If a person in their mid-thirties was forced to attend classes with people in their early-twenties, they would not necessarily bond or interact with their classmates. This could present an unhappy scenario for the older student; leaving them feeling awkward or isolated. By attending classes with individuals in a similar lifestyle and environment the student is more likely to interact with their teacher and classmates and have a more successful experience.

The College Student’s Guide to Follow-Up | College Students

Have you ever experienced this problem? You have applied for a job during your career search that you would really love to have and one for which you believe you are imminently qualified for. Yet, you haven’t heard anything back from the employer and you can’t help but find yourself wondering whether you will ever hear anything. You may also wonder if it is possible that there was another candidate the employer preferred.

Following-up with the employer can give you a good idea of where you stand in the process. Is it really a good idea to do that, though? The answer to that question depends on how you go about it.

Hiring managers will typically appreciate a candidate who shows enthusiasm and tenacity by taking the initiative to call and follow-up on a position. It shows that they are genuinely interested in the job and are motivated. Both of these are great characteristics. There is no doubt about it, following up can be a great way to land a job; that is if it is performed right. If you go about it the wrong way you may find yourself making the situation worse and blowing your chance of landing the job.

The way in which you follow-up on a job truly does make a difference. Unfortunately, most college students tend to call the employer and complain that they have not yet heard anything. While this certainly may be the case, if you go about following-up with this type of attitude, there is a good chance you will not ever hear anything.

Instead, it is better to let the employer or hiring manager know that you have sent in a resume and that you are calling in to ensure that it was received. You might also inquire as to when individuals may be contacted for interviews.

The critical key is to make sure that you follow-up on the position, but that you do not stalk the person who is in charge of hiring. Making one phone call is perfectly acceptable; making several phone calls is bordering on stalking. At the most, you should not make more than two phone calls to follow-up in your career search. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that you should wait several days between follow-up phone calls. Under no circumstances should you make daily phone calls. This goes beyond showing initiative and just becomes annoying.

Email can also be a great option for follow-up as well. Employers who are bothered by phone calls may not mind receiving follow-up emails because it allows them to better manage their time. The same rules also hold true for email follow-ups as well as phone calls, though. Make sure you do not overdo it. Keep your follow-ups brief and always make sure they are professional.

The Basics of a College Search

For many students beginning a college search is a very complicated and detailed procedure. There are usually several schools or areas that a student all ready has in mind, but a quick analysis of their actual educational, financial and social needs helps to bring a few more candidates into the list of potential choices.

The basics of a college search should be built around five simple criteria:

1. Fundamentals – which include the geographic location of the school, the setting, size, cost and any affiliations
2. On Campus – should address the availability of adequate housing, sports, clubs, and fraternities or sororities
3. Fellow students – looks at the gender ratio, diversity and number of local versus out of state students
4. Degrees and Majors – considers the degrees available, any special services and programs, and the majors that a school provides
5. Admissions – reviews selectivity and a student’s GPA

Fundamentals should be thoroughly reviewed because they address the most important factors of any school, college or university. Any student’s college search should begin with these considerations – international or domestic schools? Will they remain close to home or at a distance? Do they want an urban or rural setting? What can they realistically afford? Are there any special requirements of the school?

“On Campus” takes in the secondary set of criteria after a pool of possible schools has been developed. These issues include the availability of housing, any relevant activities to the student such as sports, clubs or groups and any sorority or fraternity opportunities.

The issue of fellow students is a relevant point because this provides any student with their primary social opportunities and can make a big impact on their performance. There are schools that are gender specific, that promote and encourage ethnic diversity and those that are chosen primarily by in-state or local students. All of these present a different environment and social opportunities.

“Degrees and Majors” are another key factor in a college search. A school should be dismissed or removed outright from a pool of candidates if it doesn’t offer a complete degree or major in a student’s field of choice. It is a good idea to select a school that also has events, activities or clubs dedicated, at least in part, to the field of study or academic major, such as a theater club or a poetry group for a literature or English major.

Finally, “Admissions” involves a review of the selectivity of the school. Most students quickly realize how competitive a college acceptance process can be, especially for prominent, popular or specialized schools. Students should also be aware of the required grade point average, or GPA, that the admissions process demands. It is very frustrating for many students to “set their caps” on a certain school only to find later in the process that the GPA requirement is higher than the level they maintained in high school.

Testing the Waters with a Community College Search

Perhaps you didn’t think you wanted to go to college, but now that you have finished high school you have changed your mind. Maybe you aren’t sure if college is for you, but you don’t want to let the opportunity for an education pass you by. You may even wonder “what to do with your life” and can’t commit a full year of tuition to a four-year school.

What is the answer? One of the best choices for a student who is unsure, undetermined or nervous about college is to attend a community college. There you can experience high-quality education at a fraction of the cost of a four year college or university, you can earn credits that will transfer to any other academic institution, and most importantly you can “test the waters” to see if college is what you would like.

Community colleges earned their name by being just that, “community” schools. They accept all who apply, though deadlines will always determine if a student can enter the upcoming semester. These schools will often have multiple opportunities in a wide range of fields. Many are a two-year, Associate’s degree program and some offer other professional credentials such as veterinarian technology certification, emergency medical training, and many more.

When beginning a college search among local community colleges it is a good idea to take one of the school’s orientation tours. This way a student can see what kinds of resources are available to them. For example, some community colleges have extremely high-tech graphic design labs and studios and this is a great way to learn a new art form or even full-blown trade. Some community colleges are also technical schools and can provide auto mechanic, plumbing, electrical, drafting, and even engineering training.

A college search for a community college should also take into consideration whether or not there are classes at all hours of the day and evening. Many schools accommodate full-time working students and make many classes available during twilight and evening hours. Some schools also make weekend courses, and even some online classes, available to their enrolled students. While this can be an excellent opportunity for working students it may make it difficult for someone looking for day classes. It pays to visit a few schools, their web sites and counselor’s offices to see which is the best fit.

Finally, when doing a college search for a community college take the time to make sure the school is fully accredited. This can be very important later on if a student would like to transfer to a larger college or university, or if they would like to go on to graduate school. Only accredited schools can offer course work, credits and transcripts that are considered valid by other accredited schools.

A community college is an excellent method of finding a career path without committing to a large student loan, a four year degree or moving to a new area to be near a large college or university.

Special Environments in the College Search

There are thousands of colleges in the United States and throughout the world. Some focus on specific programs of study such as culinary schools, nursing schools or art schools. Some schools operate on a faith-based learning system such as the many Christian, Catholic or Jewish colleges and universities. Still others work on a historic basis such as the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

While these schools may operate on a specific mission or underlying principle different from so many other colleges or universities, the ultimate goals for these schools is still fundamentally the same – providing excellent educational opportunities to the many students who attend daily classes.

For a student beginning a college search among these specialized schools the basic decision criteria are going to be the same as any other potential college student’s search.

They will assess the basic or fundamental needs they have of the school. Beginning with the degree or major of their choice they will analyze a college or university based on the required location, setting, size and cost.

First they will determine if the school is in an area they find desirable, which can mean near family members, near an area with specific appeal such as a city or rural environment. The student and their family will assess the affordability of their school and determine if it is suitable to their needs.

If a college or university meets the fundamental criteria it will then be analyzed on several other levels. This is where the unique environment of faith-based, ethnically based or historic colleges and universities play a stronger role than in other college assessments.

The student body may all ready be a well-known and understood factor to students performing a college search at unique schools. There will be a common interest or experience at some of these schools, and all of them will have a relevant and well known mission or motto. Any additional information, such as the incoming freshman GPA, geographic diversity and gender ratio will generally be available to inquiring students or parents.

The campus life for a unique school may allow a student to relate quickly and easily to their peers. For example, a faith based school may have many groups, clubs and student organizations that students are all ready familiar with through the religious activities from the upbringing. There may be culturally significant clubs and extra-curricular activities for schools with a strong ethnic mission. These may include musical or dance groups, language clubs, literary or even political organizations.

A college search among the many unique schools, colleges and universities will not present limited educational opportunities to a prospective student. Instead they will bring a different dimension to the campus and social life of the student, and may provide a richer experience for an individual all ready immersed in their faith community, cultural community or ethnic background.

Not Sure? A College Search for Flexible Programs

While some people may know exactly the college they would like to attend, they may be undecided as to their exact degree program or field of study. For these individuals many schools provide a Major as well as a Minor degree or focus. For those who aren’t sure about the career path they want to enter or the school they should attend, a college search can be a bit more complicated.

In order to meet the academic needs of an individual unsure of their future professional needs, many colleges and universities provide an “undecided” option, or a “general studies” program. This allows a student to begin earning the credits that every graduate needs to complete any degree program, while also considering and exploring their future plans and goals.

A college search for schools with such flexible programs usually begins with state colleges and universities, though most community colleges also provide flexible options. These schools will allow a student to receive high-quality educational experiences at a lower cost than a private four year school, while living free of the pressure of picking a set program or field of study.

Many other students at these schools will also be entering into their four year degree in the same circumstances, “undecided” or “general studies”, and this presents a nice opportunity for a student to interact with others trying to figure out their futures as well.

Any four year degree has a large portion of study dedicated to liberal studies, meaning an opportunity to choose from almost any class or course that is open to a student. For example, a history major could sign up for an astronomy course, a drafting class, or a graphic design course to meet some of their general degree requirements. In this way a student is able to encounter potential career paths, or spark an interest that could lead to a choice in degree or field of study.

Guidance counselors are an important connection for students beginning a college search for flexible programs and degrees. They will be able to recommend the appropriate school to meet the student’s budget, preliminary goals and deadlines. They are also excellent at analyzing a student’s existing strengths and interests and offering advice, support and suggestions for potential degree programs or fields of study.

Many state, public and community colleges or universities have an open enrollment opportunity, which eliminates the need for an application essay, or competitive acceptance requirements. They will however adhere to strict deadlines and class limits. This means that any student interested in applying should do so as early as possible to guarantee their place in the class and have access to as many enrollment opportunities as possible.

These schools will generally be at a significantly lower cost than a private college or university and can allow a student to build up their transcript at an accredited school without committing to a large amount of college debt or school loans.

Narrowing the Field in a College Search

There are all sorts of guides and recommended criteria that aim to help students and their families pick a college or university. Quite often, however, there ends up being several schools that easily meet all of the criteria and a student may have to further narrow the field and eliminate some colleges or universities from their list. This is a time that requires very specific information for a successful college search, and there are a few easy resources for locating such facts.

Examine the Degree Requirements: To begin narrowing the field, take all of the selected schools and do a thorough examination of the degree of study or major intending to be followed. Will the school require an established background of participation, volunteerism or study in the field of choice? For example, if a student is seeking a degree in some sort of social work, will they need to have all ready participated in social work activities or organizations? If this is a requirement, there is no method of working around it and a student who is lacking this experience must eliminate the school from their list.

Visit College and University Web Sites: Go the school’s web site and find out what percentage of the student population is enrolled in the degree or major of choice.

Why is this important? For several reasons, first it gives a good idea of what the student to teacher ratio becomes for the specialized course work. Second, it will allow a student to see how many school resources are available for this degree focus. For example, if a student would like to focus on astronomy or physics and the school has a planetarium and several related clubs, then it might be a good idea to visit the school and get a stronger picture of how it fits the need of the student.

Find Out About Student Statistics: Many schools will also list some statistics about each incoming freshman class, with information such as certain test score averages, overall GPA for a “standard” member of the class, geographic backgrounds and other relevant facts. A student who analyzes this information is more likely to get a better understanding of the school as well as a stronger gauge as to whether or not the school is a good “fit” for their needs.

Visit As Many As Possible: Before deciding to eliminate many of the colleges and universities from a list of consideration it is a good idea to visit as many as possible. This could be a weekend marathon with one or two campuses each day, or it could be an ongoing project over the course of a few months.

What is critical to each visit is to make a written record of the “pluses” and the “minuses” of each experience. Many students will begin to see a pattern that they may not have even been aware of prior to visiting the schools. Some students believing they want a city college or university may realize that a large green campus with many natural areas is appealing to them. This can change or shift the criteria for the list of schools completely.

Interviewing Tips for a College Search | Interview Tips

While many schools are eliminating a one on one interview between a prospective student and a member of the admissions staff it is a great idea for a student to try to schedule one with a college or university that they are interested in attending.

An interview allows a student to really “shine”. It brings a rare opportunity for a student to put aside GPA, SAT, essays and all other factors and just express why they are a great fit for a particular school or course of study. Personal strengths, or even weaknesses, can be frankly discussed in the opportunity available during an interview.

There are three key behaviors for a successful interview experience however and they are:

• Be prepared
• Be yourself
• Ask questions

In order to be prepared a student should do a thorough examination of each specific school’s policies for admission, as well as an examination of themselves in regards to that school and its policies. Many interviews come with some powerful questions, and it would benefit any student to take them into consideration prior to an interview.

Some of the questions include identifying any difficulties a student has in their desired field of study. For instance, are there classes that have posed problems or challenges to the student? Another common question is about extra-curricular activity, especially around the desired field of study or major area. For example, has a student participated in clubs specific to their academic interest?

Other questions to be prepared for are those around a student’s future. For example an admissions officer may ask a student where they see themselves after graduation, or if they plan on post-graduate work. Some interviews will address a student’s high school career, and may even ask them to be honest about their own performance. It pays for a student to think of these things prior to any interviews.

We all know how it feels to be “put on the spot” and an interview makes most people nervous, but a college interview is a rare chance to express what makes a student special. Some students rehearse interviews to train themselves not to fidget, to speak slowly and clearly, and to think briefly before answering a question. This is a great way to strengthen interview skills and make it a much less mysterious or nerve wracking experience.

Finally, many interviewers form strong and long lasting impressions of students who have questions of their own. For instance, specific questions about the facilities for the student’s proposed major, or questions about college or university expansion, even a question about the mission of the school will all show that a student is interested in choosing the best location for their future education.