Both early and seasoned professionals attend school for various reasons—personal development, intellectual curiosity, and even boredom. But with student loan debt on the rise, online degree ads perpetually displayed on TVs, social media, and billboards, and zero guarantee that another degree will give you an ROI, it's important to ask yourself these three questions before you jump on an educational bandwagon.
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So many professionals we've met voice one common concern: "We wish we knew back then what we do now about school and loans before we began our professional journeys." And understandably so!
Earning an undergraduate or graduate degree is no easy feat and comes with its own set of financial and professional challenges including, but not limited to:
"Is This College Right For Me?" Checklist<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjY0MjU1Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTE0ODc2M30.3uRhvy7ry-vJYhYk6TnrFkKWdHeYyvqnm3Q7r-sPxrA/img.jpg?width=980" id="0d81f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ddd702b58b12da70cfe4e6569b35f77" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Student goes through a checklist to determine which college is right for her" /><p>__Does this specific university have the program that you want to study and will it prepare you for a job in that field? How? What are the exact tracks the school provides?</p><p>__Can you contact an academic counselor/adviser at the school and ask these questions in a face-to-face meeting? Ask for the meeting on the basis of, "I'm sincerely considering this university and want to learn more on how I can be successful. Would you be open to setting up a 30-minute meeting?"</p><p>__What will this education cost you, including tuition and all additional expenses?</p><p>__Is it out-of-state, nonprofit, for profit, in-state?</p><p> __The location and type of university you choose <em>will</em> matter. Can you get the same job prospects and educational advancements if you stayed in-state? What is your rationale behind wanting to go out of state anyways? If you seek independence, can you choose a university that is a 2 hours away from home, giving you that independence, but cuts tuition in ½ just be staying in state?</p><p>__Are there any other methods that can help you reach your professional goals? See following question below.</p><p>__Can you search for volunteering, shadowing, part-time, entry-level, or internship opportunities instead (before starting this educational program) that may open the same (if not, more) professional doors for you than this degree?</p><p>__Did you know that experience and technical skills can be more valuable? Employers want applicants that have <a href="https://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/hiring-employers-value-experience-over-education-when-employing-graduates-according-to-new-research-by-678726523.html" target="_blank">experience and the right skills</a> to do the job rather than just a high GPA.</p><p>__Can you attend a community college for the first 2 years to earn your basic credits (Gen Eds) and then transfer to a larger university? This will cut down your costs dramatically. Remember, prestige and brands of universities shouldn't be your primary goal, and there are always base credits every degree requires regardless of what career you choose.</p><p> __Can you attend school debt-free? Think grants, scholarships, award money. Are you fortunate enough to have family members that would pitch in for your educational expenses? Or, are you willing to attend school while working part-time? (It may take extra time to complete the degree.)</p>
Smart Tips To Remember<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjY0MjU1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDkzNjUzMn0.V0BCxEhK5Uu8BvQatmVtdeY67y6iWIFjqTiIV33J_pU/img.jpg?width=980" id="815b5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b7ddbeba85986de219efdb1c139d40d2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="College student happy with his school of choice" /><ol> <li>Meet with a financial counselor outside of your university sphere to discuss your options first. Many times, school financial aid officers are just coasting along and do not entirely inform students on what borrowing really entails (and are not very experienced in financial health long term). Plus, they may be biased and just cover the minimum facts.</li><li>Talk to a career coach before you make your move to re-confirm your decisions.</li><li>Research, research, research!</li></ol>
There are many people out there who are fortunate enough to go to school with a few career paths in mind.
However, there are also many people who aren't sure which path is best, and spend four or more years trying to make sense of the best route to a satisfying career.
Research Degree Outcomes<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjEzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjIzOTUwOH0.YWk9qxeyPldp73xtYS43M-0MqMHcZiewh69R33g_5F8/img.jpg?width=980" id="044cf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="70fc7d15193ce578bfe3116d28eaf8b8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>This may seem obvious, but a little research could be the inspiration you need to help you sift through your career aspirations and goals. </p><p>It's normal to experience anxiety after receiving your college degree, especially when that degree seems very open-ended. These degrees usually include: marketing, criminal justice, education, English, computer science, or business administration. </p><p>The one thing they fail to mention in school is that there's no cookie cutter outline for your life or career trajectory. Just because you major in advertising doesn't mean you have to seek out a highly competitive ad agency to feel happy or to be successful. You could use your knowledge to build campaigns for hospitals or non-profits, or you could start your own business. </p><p>You might even desire to switch careers entirely at some point to a field not even remotely connected to your first degree. Having a degree in one field or industry doesn't limit you to that one field. The world is your oyster, and you're free to use your degree however you see fit!</p><p>If you're looking to change careers, but aren't sure where to start, you can <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/st/quiz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>take this free quiz</strong></a> to see which careers you could thrive in.</p>
Tap Into The Potential Of General Studies<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjE0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTIyNjU3M30.3iew45JZ6BGA-ObtJ-lU_ieCV--8srtV53Ow0AospuY/img.jpg?width=980" id="1b2b1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0bbd0bf5cc7ef2d2e54c2293b3d441f4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Sometimes there isn't a degree option available that perfectly aligns with a students goals and passions. The most common degree awarded in this situation is <em>General Studies</em>. </p><p>Contrary to popular belief, you can do a whole lot with a General Studies degree as you would've spent a few years testing the waters in many different subject areas. <a href="https://www.bls.gov/home.htm" target="_blank">Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics </a>to learn what careers await you!</p>
Go Back To School<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjE2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzc2NjAwNn0.sKgcqCkjYG49ctWc6Ncm30k2JAcarfeleBjUpzRCA0o/img.jpg?width=980" id="d227b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4d2f3796c986b15942e2a3c2f43542c4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>This may not be easy if you've already lined up a job after school or started a family but going back to school isn't impossible. In fact, it's actually easier to do today than it was a decade ago. </p><p>Tap into resources like <a href="https://www.coursera.com/" target="_blank">Coursera </a>or <a href="https://www.udemy.com/" target="_blank">Udemy</a> if you'd like to try your hand at new subjects or improve skills gained during your undergraduate education. Who knows, you could stumble upon something you're really passionate about or re-ignite a dull flame by pursuing additional education.</p>
Stop Overthinking It<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjE3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzQ4Nzk4N30.iF2h30Xi6OEitDPOnPD752x49Xn_GisWeewXrtun9wo/img.jpg?width=980" id="fb760" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="add14fae12a4bb43c9e6a9ebb3973f38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>If you let the perplexities that follow post graduation get to you, they can stifle your job search or lead you to miss out on a great career opportunity. So stop overthinking your degree and start getting your foot in the door. </p><p>Network, seek out post-graduate internship opportunities, and create new ways to generate work experience. It's okay to be confused or feel like you may have wasted time during your undergraduate studies, but don't dwell on those feelings. </p><p>A degree is as useful as you make it out to be, and you have to remember that you are ultimately more than your education. It's okay to doubt your college degree's potential, but never doubt YOUR potential! </p>
You did it! You managed to survive the long nights cramming and countless research papers.
Now comes the most rewarding part of your undergraduate education: graduating.
Leverage Your Internship Experience<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU1OTE2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjQ5OTA3OH0.W3G3yZEc2xuNyz3H2O3_28H0s9-umdAiUIVrcHQJMRE/img.jpg?width=980" id="b2182" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a1c989e910886d01ebcd76a38a650f79" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Believe it or not, your career can start from something as simple as an internship. Never take an opportunity like that for granted! You never know if you'll meet your future boss or wiggle your way into a large company through an internship. </p><p>If you've managed to rack up your fair share of internships, make sure you display them prominently. Treat them as valuable work experience. Be prepared to share your internship experiences and how they've played a role in your professional growth. </p><p>Internships are a BIG deal, so don't make the mistake of leaving them off your resume. </p><p><strong>Tip</strong>: Volunteer experience counts, too! Add volunteer experience to your resume that speaks to your skill set. It makes you that much more competitive.</p>
Put Yourself Out There<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU1OTE3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTM4MTM3Mn0.8cx7jweevGTJ9U_cop0s_mXjgo5K9TNyARLj780F0A8/img.jpg?width=980" id="1b5ec" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="29867a4abe134470ec06da45b1c1807e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Don't let your degree collect dust. Put your talent and brand out there through networking. Lend your skills to organizations that can't afford to hire. Moonlight. Start a hobby hustle. Take more classes. Don't let your education end at the stage. </p><p>Take time after graduating to learn everything there is to know about your industry (learn it ALL). <strong>Network, share what you've learned, and work to become an expert</strong>. The more you practice incorporating your skills into your everyday life, the more confident you'll be during your interviews because you'll be able to demonstrate your <em>active</em> experience. </p><p>Active experience is experience you're gaining in real-time, meaning you're building or honing skills daily. </p><p><strong>Things to remember</strong>: You will not land your dream job right out of college. Even if you graduate with a job in hand, this job still may not meet your expectations. While you search for a job, don't set your expectations too low, but don't set unrealistic expectations that could cripple your job search and leave you devastated, shocked, and more likely to settle for anything.</p>
Work On Your Resume DAILY<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e946cfa738085b2d0f035690a6af1248"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WATpBoVprRk?start=17&rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Times change, industries change, and people change. This means your resume will change. </p><p>A great way to excel in your job search is to build a relationship with your <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/skills-to-include-on-resume" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resume</a> and <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/how-to-write-cover-letter" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cover letter</a>. The more you look at it, the more you'll be able to quantify your experience, communicate your value to prospective companies, and understand where you've been. </p><p>The more you work on your resume, the better you'll understand where you want to go in your career. </p><p><strong>Tip</strong>: Craft job-specific cover letters for each job and create multiple resumes per industry. You don't want to send a resume or cover letter geared towards marketing to an employer specializing in finance. Cut those rejection emails in half by making sure your resume and cover letter are personalized and unique.</p>
Be Bold<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU1OTI3OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDkzNzgxN30.2a_RibY6RG_Mz0GYMhntMuQbs_BlYyjkX1xiB0DVKFY/img.jpg?width=980" id="3808c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9eb958ddaf93da5134ebc59a53af653c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>The hiring process isn't always cookie cutter, but when it is, you may feel there's nothing you can do to stand out. </p><p>Be bold and put together <em>takeaways </em>for your interview. A takeaway could be a video showing what you'd do to improve a company's processes. It could also be a sample communications plan. A takeaway essentially involves you taking an idea you have to make the company better or jump-start a project you'd be working on if hired and bringing it to life for the employer in your interview. </p><p>Takeaways can be expensive depending on what kind you need and how many interviews you have, so limit takeaways to companies you're really passionate about. This will not only impress the hiring manager, but it will also help you make an impression that's hard to forget.</p>
Picture this: you come across a job posting and think, "wow, that's my DREAM job!" You instantly get excited about this opportunity and start crafting your resume and cover letter.
However, when you work on your resume, you realize that you have very little work experience to show off.