Topic of the Week School Daze
- The right credential.
School Daze: Going Back To Get a Degree
It's rare to meet someone who doesn't want to get a raise or a promotion. For millions of us the best way to do that is to get a college degree. Heck, it makes a huge difference in just getting a job. Check this out: the unemployment rate last month for college grads was 4.1%, for people with some college, 6.6%, for high school grads, 8.8%, and for high school dropouts, 12% (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Which reminds me of a 35 year-old man in New York who was caught trying to pass bogus $50 bills. As the cops led him away, Larry Jones tried to eat some of the fake bills.
If you don't have a college degree, unfortunately, like Mr. Jones you'll be eating away at your future earnings. I'm not saying this is right, but it just is. And on a personal note, I juggled my job, a family and school to get my MBA. So I know how challenging it can be to go back to school as an adult. That's why I've listed below the four things you should look for when shopping for a degree.
The right credential. The worst thing that you can do is to put all the work and sweat into a degree only to have it be wrong for your interests, vocational needs or credibility with employers. So take a hard look inside of you to figure out what you should be doing for your career.
Legit. Accreditation is the good housekeeping seal in education. And you want to be sure that the school you choose has the same street cred as the big name schools across the nation. But for some degrees, like teaching, nursing and information technology, that's not enough, you've also got to have the right certifications.
Affordable. Okay, I was going to write cheap here. But the cheapest schools might not meet your needs. So you want to consider the debt load that you'll have when you graduate. Can you swing it? Will your job allow you to pay off your loans in a reasonable time?
Access. Small classes and lots of personal attention, given the time and money you'll be spending, is something that you should demand from your school. There should be plenty of access to professors, ways for you to get one-on-one help and plenty of guides for all aspects of maneuvering through academia. Another important consideration is flexibility.
Finally there is the question of online vs. classroom-based education. There was a time when online was viewed as a clearly deficient option. No longer. Now most major classroom-based schools offer online courses. The flexibility of online education alone should put it on your list of options to be considered. Just remember that online education often requires more discipline and focus than going to a classroom week after week. Choose a great option for finishing your college degree and you won't be chewed up at work any more, you'll find yourself in a more satisfying career.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.