October 29, 2013
Transitioning from a teenager to an adult is never easy. Compound the pressures and demands of time, family and jobs, financial resources and an inadequate preparation for the amount of academic work. Perhaps then it doesn’t seem so unbelievable that nearly half of the students who began college at a traditional four-year institution at 18-years-old didn’t graduate. Sound familiar?
Missteps happen. Life intervenes. However, now you are older, wiser, and more experienced in the world. You fully understand the importance of an education, and feel you are ready and motivated to finish the degree you started all those years ago. But, like with any new endeavor, you are anxious. This time, you want to succeed and earn your degree. Today, adult learners like you have more resources and tools available to help you reach your goal that go way beyond online courses and taking classes at night or on weekends. As you begin the road to your degree, consider these five tips to help ensure that you find success:
Pursue a passion. Select an area of study that interests you. What you learn should be your choice, as it is a reflection of you. If you are passionate about what you are learning, your curiosity and fascination will likely give you more drive you to succeed. Learning is not about getting the highest grade or score on an exam. As you progress in your career, no one will ever ask you for a report card. But they will assess your motivation and ambition. The best way to develop these qualities is to love what you do.
Set goals and accomplish them. Envision your goal, finishing your degree, and keep working towards it. Even if it takes one step at a time. “Each day, each class, you’re closer to your goal,” posted Linda Wells on Facebook. “Once you get there, no one can take it away. Do it!” Every step, no matter how small, will eventually take you to where you need to be. “Just begin. Take the first step. Time is your friend, not your enemy,” posted Michael Burns on LinkedIn. “Right now you just need to focus on the beginning, not the end. At a later point in time, when you look up, you will see that you have completed more classes than you have remaining. At that point you will be inspired…. You will know that you will finish.”
Recognize your time commitments to school, work and family. Assess your obligations and realize how you will be able to fit school in. You might do well at a college that understands your commitment to family and career, and offers flexibility offers flexibility for motivated adult learners through programs that do not require traditional classroom attendance. “It first takes determination and desire,” posted Robert Scott Gardner on LinkedIn. “Make a schedule and stick to it!” Also, consider schools that accept a wide variety of transfer credits and those that let you take a break from course work for personal or professional reasons without any academic or financial penalties.
Understand the resources available to you. At this point in your life, you should have realized the type of learner you are. Think about your needs as a busy adult. Do you prefer interaction with other classmates or would you rather work independently? Does the program work around your schedule? What course formats and learning options are available, in addition to a traditional classroom setting? As an adult learner, there are many more course options to choose from that not only fit into your lifestyle, but also your learning style.
Also, remember that you have different needs today than you had when you were a fresh-faced teen who just graduated from high school. You may have earned college credits at another institution or acquired college-level knowledge that can be applied as college transfer credit toward a degree. Will the school you are considering accept previously earned credits from other institutions? How many credits will you have to repeat?
There are a variety of ways to earn college credit that do not require sitting in a classroom or even taking a formal course. If you already possess specialized expertise, you may be able to earn additional credit for demonstrating you possess that college-level knowledge. You may also be able to earn credit for any licenses and certificates, or training programs you completed through your profession. Before you select a school, ask the admissions office what prior learning assessment programs they offer.
Talk to your family. Sit down and discuss with your family why you are pursuing this goal, and why it is important to you. Make sure they realize the commitment you are making and the potential role they can play in helping you. Their encouragement can prove essential as you complete your degree. “Surround yourself with a good support system, “ posted Mark De Luca on Facebook. “So you have others helping you get through the times when you think you [want to] give up!” Discuss with your family what you are learning. Including your family in this facet of your life will help strengthen the support system you have.
And remember, that when you finally do earn that degree, you will have received a lot more than a piece of paper that hangs on a wall. “Keep in mind that when you take risks, go outside your comfort zone,” Aura Rose posted on Facebook. “Wonderful things start to happen – horizons expand [and] the world opens for you.” For Wayne Sos, “Going back to school not only improved my critical thinking and earned me a degree,” he posted on LinkedIn. “It also set an example for my children that focus, commitment, and goals are needed to improve your life.”
There is always time and opportunity to try again. After all, it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to come up with a light bulb that worked. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up,” said Edison. “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” And he will always be right.
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October 03, 2013
Think long and hard on how you would answer this question:
Would you take the same course twice, if you didn’t have to?
Hopefully, you answered no. Or, even better, answered no way!
Then why not get maximum transfer credit towards your degree by applying a little extra effort?
There are several ways to ensure that you get the optimal amount of previously earned credit to fit into your curriculum so that you can quickly finish your college degree. As an invaluable planning tool, you’ll want your customized academic evaluation to be accurate the first time around to effectively assess which courses you have left to take. Education is never wasted, so here are some smart ways to get college credit for your hard-earned past efforts:
Ultimately, your goal is to leverage all that you bring to this endeavor, which validates the work you have completed and the expertise you have developed. Understanding how to transfer the maximum amount of credit can be a key to success.
Want to learn more about the many ways to earn credit for knowledge obtained in noncollegiate settings? Check out our Methods of Learning and Earning Credit section.
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September 10, 2013
What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
Whether you are 21 or 50, this question will probably be one of the most difficult you will ever determine. Discovering your elusive “sense of purpose” is no easy task, nor is there a step-by-step guide or obvious answer in a book. Even the standard answer – do what you love – is not easy to define. And, sure, career quizzes are fun, but realizing what will help lead you to happiness and success requires a little more introspection. Once you understand some things about occupations, industries and the economy, you’ll be able to increase the amount of freedom and control over your life and career.
Consider some of these ideas as you explore what degree is right for you:
Begin with an honest self-assessment. Reflect on how you choose to spend your free time, the activities you enjoy doing or the topics you find interesting. Look at the qualities and skills that you have already discovered you are good at. Think about the things others compliment you on. After assessing your strengths, investigate possible industries or fields that rely on these interests or abilities. Then compare possible career paths with the talents you already possess.
Ask others. Talk to friends, family members, your school’s alumni and even current students about their profession or experience in a degree program. Learning about their experiences can be both valuable and eye opening; you may find that a career path is or is not for you after altering your perspective.
Do your research. Look at career paths for the majors or degree programs you are interested in. Several websites and career sources, like SimplyHired or My Next Move, offer useful job search tools including salary guides, job trends and filters that help you search for jobs that match your unique education, experience level and skill set. These sites also offer unbiased, insider information, news and advice about companies, industries and specific jobs that can help you make a critical career decision.
Investigate the path to take. Whichever you choose first, the program or the career, it all begins with a degree. Ensure that the degree you are seeking fits who you are as a person, and teaches you the essential skills and aptitude you need to reach your dream job. What you ultimately decide should leave you excited, but if not, you can always change or go back to school. At Thomas Edison State College, you can change your program at any time, depending on how your goals change; our advisors can work with you to evaluate your credits with whatever programs you want. Or, if you want to pick up where you left off, you can re-start a program you began 20 years ago, regardless if it is included in our offerings. In the end, you and your degree should be a perfect fit.
Choosing a career path and degree program may seem daunting as you evaluate potential jobs, development paths and resources, but you have already made the biggest decision you could possibly make. You have chosen to go to college. Ultimately, your degree is what you make of it. And you already have a pretty good head start.
For more information, visit our career references and links resource.
September 06, 2013
We all have different reasons for returning to college. Perhaps it is to improve your career opportunities or increase your chances for a high-paying job. Maybe you are looking for the competitive edge that will enhance your marketability or help you triumph over any adversity in an economic downturn. Or, earning your degree is a personal goal, driven by your sense of pride and self-fulfillment.
Regardless of reason, you are not alone in choosing to pursue your education. And celebrities are no different. Household names like Steven Spielberg and Shaquille O’Neal were once in your shoes, choosing to go back to school after establishing noteworthy careers in their field. Filled with dreams and determination, these five celebrities prove that it’s never too late to go back to school, even when you sell millions of albums, smash box office records or slam dunk your way into sports history.
Unhappy with the direction his career was going, James Franco decided to re-enroll in 2006. Taking classes while working, and studying on film sets, Franco was able to graduate in 2008 with a 3.5/4.0 GPA and did not stop at his bachelor’s degree. In 2010, he received his MFA. Never one to rest on his past accomplishments, Franco is now a PhD student who teaches at USC, UCLA, CalArts and NYU in the Film and English departments.
After moving to California to pursue a film career, Steven Spielberg applied to his dream school, the University of Southern California, but was denied two separate times. After establishing a remarkable career in the film industry, Steven Spielberg was honored by USC with an honorary degree in 1994. However, he returned to complete his B.A. degree in Film Production and Electronic Arts 35 years after starting college.
Achieving fame as an undergraduate, Ugly Betty star America Ferrara left college to concentrate on her increasingly busy career in film and television. Ten years later, she returned to complete her bachelor’s degree in International Relations.
As a jet-setting superstar, Shakira has performed in numerous countries, feeding her interest in world history, often studying the history and languages of the countries she has visited. After one of her tours ended in the summer of 2007, Shakira took courses in History of Western Civilization, using her middle and last names so as to avoid being recognized by her professor and classmates as a celebrity.
Leaving Louisiana State University after three years for the opportunity to play in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal promised his mother he would return to school and earn his bachelor’s degree. He fulfilled that promise in 2000 with a B.A. in General Studies, missing a home game to attend his graduation. In 2005, O’Neal returned to school to complete his MBA, and became Dr. O’Neal by earning an Ed.D. in Human Resource Development in 2012. But the famous basketball MVP isn’t done yet – O’Neal spoke with a reporter for ABC News at his graduation in 2012 expressing interest in furthering his education at law school.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter when you completed school; all that matters is that you earned your degree. Whether you are looking to get a promotion, enhance your sense of self or made a promise to your family, always remember getting that degree is never too late.
If you do, you will be putting yourself in very good company of those who returned to finish what they started.
July 24, 2013
We’ve all been there. We watch a coworker or classmate continually produce stellar work, say the right thing at the right time AND do it all with a smile and some cheer. We can’t help but wonder, how do they do it all – and so well?
These are the people who have learned success is more than hard work and determination (although this is the formula for 95% of any achievement). They are always alert, always ready and always thinking. And while there is no magic formula for success, these people know how to use the tools required to achieve success with a laser point focus. By understanding what makes them tick, you too can develop the five key qualities that will set you on the path to success.
Success, however you choose to measure it, begins with how you think. The human mind is a powerful tool, and successful people just recognize how to tap into that power before they apply hard work. By practicing and utilizing these five key qualities into your everyday interactions, both professionally and personally, you will be able to turn obstacles into opportunity. You will just see it differently. And that’s more than half the battle.
Featuring stories and information about Thomas Edison State College and going back to college as a busy adult.