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Education and Careers
Updated: 1 hour 19 sec ago

Expand your career options with a global perspective

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - The business world is constantly changing and growing, becoming more culturally diverse and interconnected than ever before. Companies are looking for employees who are globally minded – even if the company does not do business on an international scale – because chances are it employs and serves a diverse population. Employees who recognize and understand different business opportunities, cultures and strategies can help a company successfully negotiate diverse situations.

Colleges and universities are recognizing how important it is for students to have a global perspective as part of the degree they earn.

“More and more, the best universities are choosing to include deep and integrated instruction on global issues,” says Dr. Benjamin S. Pryor, provost and senior vice president of Western International University (West). “By preparing students to think about their surroundings in the context of international situations, we have found they are better equipped to participate fully in an increasingly complex world in which everything from accounting to human resources is touched by global trends.”

West integrates a global focus into courses taught through all degree programs for this exact reason. If you are thinking about going back to college to earn a degree, or if you are considering a graduate degree to help enhance your career, keep in mind how a globally focused education can help you:

* Almost every business has a cultural connection. Even the smallest locally owned and operated companies need to obtain materials to do business, and there is a good chance those materials are not available in the local community. They might not even be available in the same country. Having employees who understand how to navigate complex negotiations with people who may not share the same cultural values and backgrounds can help the company make great business deals with businesses in all parts of the world.

* Employees who are able to adapt quickly and easily to changing business environments can help the business stay current and grow as the economic environment fluctuates. These changes do not necessarily need to be international in nature. They can be caused by social, political and economic trends, and an employee who knows how to adapt is a valuable asset.

* Often cultural diversity is present within the workplace, especially as families become more mobile. Employees who have the ability to understand and recognize diversity among coworkers and with business partners may be able to blend better in the work environment. They may also be strong team members who can contribute solutions that encompass a variety of perspectives.

* The world is growing smaller as technology becomes more advanced and international dealings become the norm for many businesses. Because of this, companies are setting up partnerships with foreign-established businesses. Employees who have a global cultural awareness may have better success as the international business sector grows.

“By creating opportunities to think about diverse cultures, as well as the practices and business environments they sustain, we give our students a better view of their own roles in our world,” Dr. Pryor says. “In addition, students who think globally offer an additional skill set for employers.”

As you look into the degree opportunities available to you, learn whether the degree is taught with a global perspective. It may help you take your career – and the company you are working for – much further.

Categories: Lifestyle

Don't wing it: tips to help prepare for your next interview

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - So you put together a stellar resume, wrote a winning cover letter and landed an interview for your dream job. The hard work’s done, right? Wrong. Don’t think you can just rely on your dazzling personality to win over your interviewer. There’s no substitute for being prepared, and with some expert tips, you’ll ace the interview and be one step closer to a job offer.

“Research, research and research. The more you research the more prepared you are,” says Ricardo Estevez, career services director at The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta. Having a firm understanding of the job description and job duties allows you to practice answers associating job duties with positions you’ve had in the past.

“This helps make sure your answers are succinct and helps connects the dots for the employer,” says Kristin Frank, career services director at The Art Institute of Phoenix.

Estevez adds that research can help you take charge of an unstructured interview and bring it back to home state. It also enables you to have questions to ask at the end of the interview. He says: “Without research, it’s hard to realign the interview and get out of uncomfortable spots.”

Along with getting a better understanding of the job, your preparation should also include getting a better grasp on your own skill set. “Be confident with your accomplishments, and be prepared to share them with multiple people who could be interviewing you,” says Frank. “I always say practice with your best friend. They are your biggest cheerleader. They will help you come up with some of your big statements about what you did.” Also having an outline of key points and clean, concise messages is going to benefit the entire process.

“Tell me a little about yourself” is usually the first point of discussion in an interview and is often one that can easily trip up the interviewee. “Usually, at the beginning of an interview, you really should keep it about the job, about your past experiences in relation to the job you’re applying for,” says Estevez. “Keep it hyper-focused on the position you’re interviewing for.” He adds to listen to how the question is asked. If the interviewer says “tell me more about you,” he or she usually wants to know more about you personally. People shouldn’t shy away from this but also not get too personal.

Another question that can be tricky to navigate is why you are leaving your current position. Both Estevez and Frank agree that the key here is keeping it 100 percent positive. For most people, the answer should be about opportunity, challenge and growth. “Having this answer planned out ahead of time is really going to be key,” says Frank.

If you are changing careers, Estevez recommends talking about how you are passionate about the new field you are entering. He also cautions about mentioning how a current employer doesn’t offer a flexible schedule. Make sure to keep things positive and career or passion focused.

If there is a gap in your resume, it will most certainly come up during the interview, and the HR representative or recruiter will always be a bit sensitive to this. “Be genuine,” says Frank. “It is up to the candidate to articulate in a way that’s genuine and not implying that something negative happened. Be really positive and be sure you are focusing on what you can bring to the table.” The same goes for any unfinished education.

While you are doing your research on the company, your interviewer is also doing research on you. “Many employers Google people before they come in for an interview or research them before they even become a candidate,” says Frank. She stresses you need to protect your image on social media and be aware of what is on the internet and ensure the information reflects your goals and experience.

“If salary comes up and they really want an answer and really want to know your number, everyone should know what their bottom-line number is. Add a bit more and negotiate down,” says Estevez. Once this question is asked, it is ok to then ask what the budget is for that position. If there is a big disparity, ask if there is an opportunity for a higher salary later.

Depending on the job your are interviewing for, demonstrations of your skills or job shadowing could be required. Skype interviews are also becoming more common, says Frank. These help interviews see how well a candidate can work with technology.

The biggest mistakes that Estevez sees is not being in the interview mindset as soon as you leave the house. Each person you see from the receptionist to the people you pass in the lobby or elevator, could potentially be part of your interview panel. Treat them all as such.

For more information about The Art Institutes, visit  

Categories: Lifestyle

Now's the time to go back to school [Infographic]

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - College graduates earn approximately $17,500 more than adults without a degree according to the Pew Research Center, and they are more likely to be employed than their less-educated counterparts. Despite these advantages, more than 31 million people started college in the last 20 years, but did not graduate. Family or personal responsibilities and military service are just some of the reasons students “opt out” of their education. As the value of a college degree continues to rise, for adults planning to complete their degree, there’s no time quite like the present.

Categories: Lifestyle

6 surprisingly common student money misconceptions

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - From sports teams and extracurricular clubs to first jobs and first cars, high school students learn new lessons every day, many away from the classroom. But when it comes to balancing their obligations, many students learn some tough lessons for the first time as they dip their feet into adult life, particularly with their finances.

“Only 7 percent of high school students are financially literate and fewer than 30 percent of adults report being offered financial education at school or college,” said Brian Page, finance teacher and personal finance adviser to H&R Block Budget Challenge. “Personal finance can be an overwhelming subject to learn, so many students have developed money misconceptions.”

According to Page, many students share these six common misconceptions when it comes to money:

1. A person can save what is left over at the end of the month. Those who save by making automatic savings deposits right from their paycheck save four times more than those who only deposit directly into one account, according to

2. College is unaffordable. Most teens are well aware of the surge in college costs. However, many teens don’t realize that, by comparison shopping, seeking financial aid and looking at alternative pathways to earning a degree, college costs can be more manageable.

3. All debt is bad. “Borrowing now to improve your future self can be a good idea,” Page said. “Student loans not exceeding your first year’s anticipated income makes sense for most everyday Americans.” To find information on anticipated salary, check out

4. Overdraft protection is free to use. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the typical overdraft situation is comparable to a small-dollar loan with a 17,000 percent interest rate.

5. I don’t need to budget right now. Teens annually spend nearly $100 billion, reports the University of Illinois. Yet only 17 percent of teens maintain a budget, states an H&R Block survey. Budgeting is important now as small expenses can add up and get you into trouble – for example, the average American spends more than $2,500 a year dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Properly monitoring your spending habits can help avoid overspending.

6. Never use credit cards. It depends. “If you’re unable to control credit card spending, steer clear,” Page said. “However, they can be ideal credit building tools for young consumers who use them responsibly.” Consider starting with a secured credit card, avoid borrowing more than 30 percent of the credit limit each billing cycle and always pay the balance in full and on time.

Having these misconceptions doesn’t mean teens are doomed to have a damaging financial future. Proper education through programs like the H&R Block Budget Challenge help teens prepare for the real world so they can correct any misinformation received in the past.

Categories: Lifestyle

Fighting post-military unemployment on the home front

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - As the Department of Defense continues its drawdown of American military personnel after decades of major troop deployment, tens of thousands of American troops are preparing to transition out of the military and back into civilian life. The transition will be easier for some than others; but with a solid plan and access to helpful resources, returning heroes can find success and satisfaction in a post-military career.

“Military service members learn important on-the-job skills that make them valuable civilian employees,” says University of Phoenix Military Relations Vice President, retired Army Col. Garland Williams. “Knowing how to market those skills correctly helps ensure a smooth transition into a rewarding job after military service is complete.”

Despite mastering in-demand skills, hurdles often remain. According to a University of Phoenix survey, when past service members were asked about their first civilian job after separation from the military, less than one-third (29 percent) say that they used their military skills to that extent in the civilian workplace. This suggests that while the veteran unemployment rate continues to decline, many veterans may actually be underemployed.

To help transitioning service members maximize the career resources available to not just get a job, but start a viable post-military career, Col. Williams recommends tips to help service members get started:

1. Start early and get connected. Begin the transition process as early as possible. Talk to peers who made transitions and network with as many people as possible to learn about employers who are hiring and who could benefit from your skills. Create a profile on professional networking sites to keep in touch with professional contacts and learn about possible career opportunities. Conduct informational interviews with veterans who are working with companies that appeal to you.

2. Research your education and career options. Use free online tools to investigate degree programs and possible career paths. The Phoenix Career Guidance System can help you research a degree program based on your interests, skills and experience, and provides insight on local job market trends and industry demands. Also, the Military Skills Translator Tool takes your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) code and suggests a list of related civilian occupations.

3. Brush up on your job-searching skills. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Transitional Assistance Program (TAP), which provides soon-to-be discharged or retired service members helpful information and workshops on job searching, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing techniques and career decision-making. Look for veteran hiring fairs and local hiring events that are taking place across the country. Each year, there are hundreds of Hiring Our Heroes veteran events that help transitioning service members, veterans and their families find viable career options.

4. Speak the language. Communicate military experience and training to hiring employers with words, not acronyms, which may not translate on a resume. Promote skills such as leadership, management, cooperation, teamwork and strategic thinking. Mention these attributes in the cover letter and resume alongside all technical skills. Give your prospective employer specific examples of how you utilized these skills in your various assignments during your military tenure and how they will translate to the job for which you're being interviewed.

5. Don’t sell yourself short. While job searching, remember the valuable skills you learned in the military can make a real difference for employers. Identify a mentor – preferably someone with a military background who has transitioned successfully and can help guide the job search process and remind you of your strengths and transferable skills.

“Service members have a wealth of resources available to them, but knowing where and how to start the transitioning process can be overwhelming,” says Col. Williams. “However, it’s similar to being in the military – developing a plan of attack can set these jobseekers on a path to future career success.”

Categories: Lifestyle

5 tips to keep your child's school days from becoming sick days

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Studies show that children in daycare or attending school can catch up to 12 common viral infections each year and that each of these infections can last seven to 10 days. Getting sick is commonly seen as part of growing up but the good news for parents is that you can help support your child’s immune system.

Here are five things you can do to potentially help reduce the 12 viral infections a kid can encounter in just one year.

* Review hand-washing techniques. This classic practice still remains one of the most effective ways to eliminate germs. You’ve probably already taught your children how to wash their hands, but are they finishing too quickly? Each hand-washing session should last about 20 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s long enough for children to sing the ABCs twice. Children should also know to wash their hands before eating, making food or handling a baby, and after going to the bathroom, playing outside, touching an animal or sneezing.

* Are your child’s vaccinations up to date? Vaccinations won’t prevent your child from catching a cold, but they can protect him from more serious illnesses like the flu. You can find more information on the proper immunization schedule for your child by visiting the CDC’s website.

* Support their immune system. Research shows deficiencies in zinc and vitamins A, C, D and E can reduce the overall function of the immune system. Zarbee’s Naturals immune support supplements with ingredients such as Elderberry can help support your child’s immune system when he or she is most susceptible. Created for children ages 2 months to teens, there’s an immune-system supplement for children of any age. There is even an immune support option for parents.

* Avoid exposing your child to others who are sick. If your child’s best friend is sick, the play date will have to wait. Remember, children are contagious before their symptoms actually show and distancing your kids from those who are physically coughing or sneezing lowers their risk of getting sick.

* Sometimes it’s good not to share. OK, this probably isn’t a life lesson you want your child following most of the time, but some things are better kept to themselves. Bottles, utensils and cups should not be shared between children, as bacteria is easily transferred through saliva. Make sure your child has his own lunch and that he knows not to share with or borrow from other students at mealtime.

While cooler temperatures and the continuing school year increase your child’s risk of catching an illness, your child can reduce his risk for getting sick. Employ the tips above and you can help your child stay safe and healthy this school year. To learn more about how Zarbee’s Naturals can support your child’s immune system, visit

Categories: Lifestyle

The secret to achieving better work-life balance

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you're feeling overworked and finding it a challenge to juggle the demands of your job and the rest of your life, then you're not alone. Achieving the elusive work-life balance may be getting harder with today’s connected lifestyle, but it is still possible.

A better work-life balance doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires a lot of patience, careful thinking and attention toward understanding what is most important to you and your family. First you must focus on prioritizing your personal and professional life. Consider all the things that compete for your time. Then decide what to keep and what to discard. Think of it as streamlining your priorities, sorted by the activities that are the most important.

“No matter how hard you try, you can’t squeeze more hours into your day,” says Dr. Nancy Aragon, professor of industrial organizational psychology at Argosy University, Online Programs. “What you can do though is make more efficient use of your time. It takes persistent planning to get a management system started, but keeping a time diary helps you to become more aware of where your time is being spent.”

Aragon recommends a weekly block schedule coupled with a daily to-do list. The block schedule should be a fairly permanent, regular weekly plan that allows adequate time for necessary, recurring activities such as cooking, exercising, homework, grocery shopping, work, etc. A critical element to include in the block schedule is “flexible time” or free time that is purposely built into your schedule. Scheduling flexible time is a way to account for unexpected, but inevitable events to be worked into your life with minimal disruption to your regular routine. In effect, you plan for the unexpected.

And although technology has the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of your daily life, it also has the potential to encroach on your work-life balance. “Set boundaries when it comes to technology,” says Aragon. “Schedule time for you and your family when it comes to accepting calls, texts, or emails. Make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of what acceptable technology use is, and what crosses the line into technology abuse.” In other words, technology doesn’t have to be eliminated, but its use does need to be purposefully managed and monitored.

Also keep in mind the power of attitude. Learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you. A positive attitude can make a big difference in your energy, your focus and your pace toward achieving balance. You can’t always change your circumstances, but you certainly can change how you react to them.

In addition, do not try to live up to other’s expectations. “Work-life balance is a very personal matter. If you seek to find your own balance by emulating the ideals, priorities and expectations of others, you are doomed to miss the mark,” adds Aragon. “It can require some courage to live by your own values and ideals rather than what seems to be the prevailing social norm, but the payoff is worth taking that venture out of your normative comfort zone.” This is an important truth to keep in mind for not only improving your work-life balance, but also finding success.

In the end, you need to find the right balance that works for you. Celebrate your successes and don't dwell on your failures. Life is a process, and so is striving for balance in your life.

Categories: Lifestyle

School zone safety in the age of distractions

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Every school year, busy parents tack on more daily chores to their to-do lists. In addition to packing lunches and getting kids dressed, they also have to make sure last night’s homework was completed. For many families, the morning routine also means getting everyone in the car and on the road in time so the kids aren’t late to class and parents aren’t late for work. With all this chaos it’s no wonder the morning’s mad scramble extends to the school gates, with traffic snarling and tempers flaring as people jockey for position at drop-off area.

“Stressed out and distracted drivers mixing with crowds of school kids can be a recipe for disaster,” says James Fults, vice president, personal insurance auto for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. “School zones can be difficult to navigate for drivers, many of whom are running late, might be receiving important work emails or calls on their smart phones, and trying to have last-minute conversations with their kids before they dash off for the day.”

In fact, as many as one in six drivers in school zones were reported as distracted in a 2009 national study of driving behavior around middle schools. The study was conducted in 15 states by the Safe Routes to School organization, which works to increase safety and reduce traffic around schools. Cell phones and electronics were identified as the leading distractors, followed by eating, drinking and smoking. Other distractions included reaching and looking behind the driver’s seat, grooming and even reading.

Drivers of larger vehicles like sports utility vehicles, pickup trucks and minivans were more distracted than car drivers, according to the study, and distracted drivers appeared more frequently in school zones without flashing lights and in school zones that had a daily traffic volume of 10,000 or more cars.

Sometimes these distractions have tragic results. Since 2003, 1,353 people have died in school-transportation-related accidents - an average of 135 fatalities per year - and more school-age pedestrians have been killed during drop-off and pick-up (from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m.) than any other times of day, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Remember that your kids are learning from your driving example; don’t teach them to be a distracted driver,” Fults says. “To ensure that everyone makes it home safely at the end of the day, drivers should concentrate on the task at hand and exercise patience and caution when getting into and out of school zones.”

This is especially important since there are so many pedestrians in and around schools. In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, and another 76,000 pedestrians were injured, according to the NHTSA. In that year, more than one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

In order to be as safe as possible on the way to and from school, drivers should heed these tips:

* Be hyper-alert for children walking or bicycling to school.

* Slow down and always obey posted school-zone speed limits.

* Remember, children do not easily estimate vehicle speeds and often misjudge when it is safe to cross the street.

* Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state.

* Don’t use cell phones or mobile devices, including hands-free devices.

* Don’t eat, read, drink or groom in the car.

* Don’t tailgate or honk your horn.

* Don’t yell, glare or gesture to other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists.

* Try to be on time. Running late increases your chances of speeding and reckless driving.

Categories: Lifestyle

New 'Best Places' lists help veterans make transition

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Active Reservist Lisa De Leon had a tough decision to make a year ago when the government temporarily shut down. The 40-year-old single mother of sons ages 16, 15 and 13 considered uprooting her family from San Antonio, Texas for a nationwide job search. However, she had an incomplete college degree in an extremely tight labor market.

“I was thrown into the civilian world, having to look for work,” De Leon says. She opted to stay in San Antonio, to be close to her mother.

It was a fortuitous move. De Leon used the G.I. Bill to finish her education. Soon afterward, she landed a good job that capitalized on her military cybersecurity training.

Her situation ends well. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of military veterans share a different story.

Tough market for veterans

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 1.5 million service members will leave the military between 2013 and 2017. More than half of veterans reported that their transition from military service was “difficult,” citing unemployment, health care and education among their top transition concerns, according to a recent survey from Blue Star Families, a nonprofit addressing the challenges of military life.

What’s more, younger veterans, those who served post-9/11, continue to face higher unemployment rates. Annual unemployment figures, which even out seasonal fluctuations, show that the average unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans in 2013 was approximately 9 percent, nearly two points above the national average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To help make such transitions easier, USAA, a financial services provider focusing on the military community, and the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program released their 2014 Best Places for Veterans lists. This year USAA and Hiring Our Heroes have three lists highlighting the best places in the nation for veterans, whether they are starting out, mid-career or retiring from the military.

“It’s vital to approach separation from the military with a plan for your post-military life, whether you’ll pursue a degree, begin your next career or seek to maximize your retiree benefits,” says Eric Engquist, a U.S. Army veteran and assistant vice president of military transition for USAA. “You may need to be open to the idea of living somewhere new in order to find the schools, job opportunities and services you need to enjoy a full, rewarding life after the military.”

Researching for new beginnings

USAA and Hiring Our Heroes commissioned Sperling’s BestPlaces to work with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families to help produce the top 10 lists. Together the groups worked to determine measurable variables for 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Those variables include the amount of G.I. Bill enrollments at nearby colleges, veteran wage growth and military pension taxation.

The lists take affordability into consideration, but also the opportunity for veterans to find jobs aligning with their military skill sets. USAA also offers a military separation assessment tool to determine an estimate of the salary required in a particular metro area to achieve a desired lifestyle.

“Leaving the military can be a daunting situation,” Engquist says. “But with some planning and preparation, veterans can create a path toward a financially secure, fulfilling life outside the military.”

Just ask De Leon. Now that her family is settled and her job is going well, she has started saving money. Earlier this month, De Leon bought her first home.

Categories: Lifestyle

Breaking the glass ceiling: Navy offers women exciting career opportunities

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - For teenage girls debating what they want to do with their lives after high school, the adjectives challenging, exciting, rewarding and empowering may not always be used as part of the discussion. But maybe they should be, because there are many opportunities available for high school graduates that encompass these traits, and women are encouraged to seek them out.

Where are all of these exciting career opportunities for women to pursue? Many of them are found in the Navy. From flying in an airplane to diving in the ocean, the Navy has dynamic job opportunities with great responsibilities that allow a female to earn the respect she deserves.

The lifestyle for women in the Navy is liberating. They can push personal and professional limits in this equal opportunity field. The notion of “man’s work” is redefined in the Navy. Stereotypes are shoved aside by determination, proven capability and a shared appreciation for work that’s driven by hands-on skills and adrenaline. In the Navy, a woman is part of a team that travels the world to carry out exciting missions most only see on TV or in the movies. And women who seek to pursue what some may consider male-dominated roles are not only welcome, they’re wanted.

The Navy provides an excellent career choice for female high school graduates, and it’s a great choice for personal and financial reasons as well. That’s because the Navy provides the opportunity to help finance a post-secondary education while also providing women with the chance to see the world.

What kinds of careers are available in the Navy? Train to become an Electronics Technician who knows her way around a nuclear propulsion power plant or a Naval Reactors Engineer who designs them. Work with advanced weapons systems on state-of-the-art ships, or lead security details anywhere in the world. Launch a cutting-edge career in the field of aviation as an Air crewman, an Aviation Structural Mechanic or one of several other specialties. It’s all possible, and women are filling these rolls in the Navy now.

The Navy doesn’t only provide excellent career opportunities for women. From fitness rooms to pick-up sporting games and discounted tickets for national, regional and local attractions, women have the ability to connect with and make new friends while serving. Women interested in serving in the Navy will be able to join a team of more than 65,000 female Sailors.

There are many high-impact positions currently in great demand, including:

* Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician – Locate, identify, render safe and dispose of various forms of explosive devices – conventional, nuclear, chemical and biological.

* Navy Diver – Perform underwater salvage, repair and maintenance, submarine rescue and support to Special Warfare and Explosive Ordnance Disposal communities.

* Aviation Rescue Swimmer – Perform aviation rescue operations over land and in an open-water environment.

* Builder – Construct everything from buildings to bridges or runways.

* Naval Aviator – Be part of one of the world’s most renowned aviation teams, directing critical flight missions and piloting state-of-the-art aircraft.

For information about women serving in the Navy visit, or for a list of questions women frequently ask about training and requirements. For more information about opportunities to serve, visit

Categories: Lifestyle

Millions with college credit contemplate degree completion

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. This age-old adage resonates for many whose personal or professional obligations delayed or rerouted their educational goals. The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to pause, take stock in your goals and make a plan for how you can achieve them, including going back to school to finish the education you started and finally earning that college degree.

College graduates earn approximately $17,500 more than adults without a degree, and they are more likely to be employed than their less-educated counterparts, according to the Pew Research Center. Despite these advantages, more than 31 million people started college in the last 20 years, but did not graduate. In fact, 4 million adults have completed at least two years of college, but have not earned a college degree or certificate.

Family or personal responsibilities and military service are just some of the reasons students “opt out” of their education. And the thought of going back to school can be overwhelming. Madeleine Slutsky, vice president of career and student services at DeVry University, has advice for those who want to return to school.

“Every college and university is unique. There is no ‘one size fits all’ institution,” she explains. “Those looking to go back to school must research options to identify which will help them achieve both their academic and career goals. Breaking the journey down into actionable steps will help the decision-making process.”

Slutsky offers some advice:

Do research

Begin by researching your field of interest. Use a resource like O-Net, which includes a career assessment tool to help students explore a range of career directions.

Researching schools can be daunting. Create a list of pros and cons of each to help narrow your search. Assess each institution’s degree programs, faculty, student organizations and flexible learning options to identify those that best align with your education and career objectives.

Seek school and career advice

Connect with friends, family members or acquaintances who are employed in your ideal career field. Their academic experiences will help you identify the qualities your ideal degree program possesses. Or use LinkedIn to expand your professional reach with those in the field you are considering.

Assess credit-transfer opportunities

Obtain official copies of your transcript and determine which credits qualify for transfer to your desired program. Complete the school’s evaluations and confirm its credit transfer policies with an academic advisor who can answer your questions and help you create an action plan.

Explore financial aid and scholarships

Colleges and universities offer an array of financial aid and scholarship options, some specifically for transfer students. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online to determine what you qualify for. In addition, research and apply for scholarships. Map out financial assistance options, policies and deadlines and apply as early as possible. In addition to college and university resources, websites like and can aid in your search.

A college-educated workforce is in demand, and the value of a college degree continues to rise. For adults planning to complete their degree, there’s no time quite like the present.

Categories: Lifestyle
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