Dropped Out of College the First Time? How to Go Back Now and Succeed

Posted Tuesday, 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.

You can also explore a wide range of scholarship and financial aid options, or check with your employer to see if they already have a tuition reimbursement program.

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.


Tags: Going Back to College , Motivation , Transfer Credits , Work-Life Balance

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How Do I Expand My Network to Advance My Career?

Posted Friday, October 11, 2013

By Roxanne L. Globis
Director of Alumni Affairs

How many times do you say to yourself that you need to network with more people to advance your career? You have great skills and talents, and networking might help the right people discover you. In today’s marketplace, achieving your professional goals relies more on networking than ever before. Networking sounds like a great idea, but for many it can be intimidating.

If you are ready to meet new people face-to-face, there are numerous networking events related to your industry, interests and career. To find one to attend, do a simple Google search. Some are in amazing places that lend to incredible experiences, like the upcoming Thomas Edison State College student and alumni events in Manhattan and San Francisco.

If you would rather not attend an event in person, LinkedIn is a great, free tool to connect on a more personal level and grow your network in an easy-to-use, online format. If you're looking to expand your network or looking for a job at a specific company, in a particular industry or in a certain location — or are just curious about where Thomas Edison State College alumni are now working—the LinkedIn Alumni Tool makes finding those people easy.

Here's how it works:

Navigate to www.linkedin.com/alumni to start. If Thomas Edison State College is listed in your LinkedIn profile, it will automatically be selected.

The LinkedIn Alumni Tool

At the top of your Alumni Page you'll see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do." Click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "Where they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."

All the graphs are interactive: Click any of the blue bars to drill down and refine your search. Clicking "Greater New York City Area," for example, will display the names of alumni living in New York City below the graph, and update the top lists detailing the companies they work for and the fields in which alumni work.

LinkedIn Alumni Tool 2

If you're job hunting and know you want to work for Google, for example, use the Alumni Tool to find alumni—and with your major—who work there now.

If the company doesn't appear in your top five list, click the magnifying glass icon to search for it. Then, select the field of work to narrow the pool.

LinkedIn Alumni tool 3

So now that you have found the alumni you are looking for – what do you do with that information? Or, now you are at an actual networking event, but have no idea how to start chatting? Sparking up a conversation can be easy, if you ask the right questions. Try ones that lead to further communication, open up new views and lend to valuable advice, like:

How did you get started in your career/industry/field?
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
What advice may you have for someone interested in a similar path?

Of course, there are no set guidelines when it comes to career networking; it is what you make of it. But having confidence and a willingness to learn can get you far. Whether you are a student just beginning to look at what the industry can offer, or a high-powered executive looking to find the next great idea, networking is the key to success.

Do you have any tips or advice on networking with alumni at events or on LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below or on the LinkedIn Thomas Edison State College Student and Alumni Group.



Tags: Alumni , Career , Online Tools and Resources

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Going Back to College: How to Get Maximum Transfer Credit Towards Your Degree

Posted Thursday, 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:

  1. Send official transcripts from every institution you have attended.
    Whether you attended a regionally accredited community college or a four-year institution, or multiple institutions, send all official, sealed transcripts of your past college credits for evaluation. Even if you attended five or 25 years ago, earning a grade of C or better. If you feel unsure how the credits might apply, send the transcripts regardless. They may be better suited to a specific course objective, or a different degree program should you change your mind. Credits don’t expire.
  2. Submit official, notarized copies of all licenses and certifications.
    You may already possess specialized licenses and certifications for your workplace, and not only will you be able to earn college credit for them, but some degree programs actually require them. The complete list is extensive; it includes everything from pilot’s licenses to real estate licenses, nuclear regulatory certifications to testing certifications, and more. The list of licenses and certifications reviewed by ACE (American Council on Education) and NCCRS (National College Credit Recommendation Service) are continuously being updated, and yours can end up saving you lots of time.
  3. Submit official transcripts or documentation of any professional training, programs and courses.
    Any apprenticeships or courses taken in your workplace, through your company, government agencies, professional associations or unions, are also evaluated for college credit. Many of these specialized training programs, like military or EMT training, or online course programs like Straighterline, have already been reviewed by ACE and NCCRS, and through Thomas Edison State College’s Office for Assessment of Professional and Workplace Learning. These credit-awarding organizations, particularly branches of the military, require individual transcripts and documentation, so make sure you submit the proper paperwork to guarantee your efforts didn’t go to waste.
  4. Submit all official examination or credit-by-exam scores.
    If you took CLEP exams, the College’s own TECEP program, or another accredited testing option, make sure your final scores are recognized. The content reflected in the tests demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills equivalent to that of students who learn the material in a college classroom, thereby earning you credit towards your degree.
  5. Determine how your knowledge acquired outside the classroom can apply toward your degree program.
    Prior Learning Assessment, including portfolio assessment, demonstrates that what you already know is equivalent to the course objectives that would have been learned in an equivalent course. Your past work, independent reading and study, training programs or in-service courses, volunteer service, cultural or artistic pursuits, hobbies and recreational pastimes, community or religious activities, organizational memberships, adult education, non-credit courses, study abroad, military training not evaluated for credit by ACE, or other experiences enables you to develop a portfolio for this knowledge, and potentially earn credit for it.

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.

Tags: Academic Evaluation , Credit by Exam , Going Back to College , Military , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Transfer Credits , Veterans

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