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by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish professionally after graduation? While there isn't one direct route that translates into success, the recent “Hot Careers for College Grads and Returning Students 2013” report by UC San Diego Extension revealed a list of in-demand careers based on job growth, salary and work environment:

  • Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software: According to the report, the integration of technology into our daily lives “has created an ongoing critical shortage of qualified software developers to design, develop, test, document and maintain the complex programs that run on these hardware platforms.”
  • Market Research Analyst: Market research analyst jobs have exploded in every sector of the economy. This has created a high demand for those who can access, analyze and extract meaningful, actionable and tactical implications from a sea of data.
  • Accountant and Auditor: Accountants and auditors earned their spot on the hot careers list because of the sheer demand for accounting jobs. In 2010, more than 1 million people were employed as accountants and auditors and that number is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 16 percent by 2020.
  • Elementary School Teacher: Elementary school teachers outnumber any other single occupation nationally and a teaching career tends to offer a form of stability that is relatively rare in other fields of pursuit.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: From growth to salary, computer systems analysts scored strongly in every category of hot careers evaluation. This career is projected to grow in demand by 22 percent by 2020 and with a mean annual salary of $83,800, it is one of the most lucrative jobs on the list.

Did a career you’re considering make the list? If not, would you considering switching majors based on the likelihood of gaining employment after graduation? Let us know in the comments section.


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Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It’s official: After 18 months of intense analysis and serious opposition (we’re looking at you, students who barricaded themselves in the college last December), Cooper Union will begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time.

Faced with a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50-percent for all undergraduates admitted to the institution beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014. “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said board chairman Mark Epstein in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.” None of the 900 current undergraduates would be affected but those considering enrolling in the fall of 2014 and beyond could pay $19,275 a semester.

After the speech, opponents of the decision gathered outside the Great Hall and staged what they called a walkout, arguing that any tuition would alter the essential character of the prestigious school. What do you think of the announcement and the corresponding criticism? Let us know in the comments section.


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Study: College Students Are Constantly Texting in Class

by Suada Kolovic

In what some would consider the most obvious study of all time, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln confirms that the majority of college students are seriously distracted in class and found that smartphones are to blame: According to the study, the average college student checks his or her phone a whopping 11 times a day in class while a mere 8 percent said they never use their phones during a lecture. Of those students using their phones during class, 86 percent said they were texting, 68 percent admitted to checking email and 66 percent were on social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Despite these percentages, students generally downplayed their overall distraction. Fewer than 5 percent considered it a "big" or "very big" distraction when classmates used digital devices and fewer than 5 percent considered their own use to be a "big" or "very big" distraction. "I don't think students necessarily think it's problematic," said Bernard McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "They think it's part of their lives."

Being plugged in at all times isn't a new phenomenon: Students have always faced distractions in the classroom but with smartphones and the constant stream of stimuli they provide, a new challenge on focusing and learning has emerged. Do you have a problem using your phone during class? If so, would you consider it to be a serious hindrance to your education?


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Tips on How to Vet a For-Profit Online Program

by Suada Kolovic

Not every student goes the four-year route when it comes to getting a college education and instead explores non-traditional options that include for-profit institutions. And while proprietary institutions may not have the best track record, not all for-profit schools are alike. To help you differentiate between the good and the bad, experts at U.S. News & World Report have compiled a few tips on how to vet an online program. Check out their suggestions below:

  • Investigate the true cost of the program. Draft a budget reflecting the actual cost of the program, including the price per credit hour and the cost of books, support, technology and other necessities. Next, explore scholarship options. Scholarships are a great way to cover part or sometimes even all of the cost of a college education. Creating a Scholarships.com profile is a great place to start!
  • Explore your options. Before committing to a for-profit online program, be sure to do your homework. When looking at different schools, be sure to compare career services departments and their ties to the industry in which you hope to eventually work.
  • Check for accreditation. To help ensure that the for-profit school you are considering is reputable, check to see whether it is regionally accredited. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the accreditation agency, make sure it is recognized by one of two authorities on the matter – the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the Department of Education.

Do you attend a for-profit institution? If so, how did you decide on your school?


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Top Universities Where Most Students Live on Campus

by Suada Kolovic

With summer break in full swing for most high school graduates, navigating the long, challenging road that is obtaining a college degree won’t begin until late August. And while your calendar is already chock-full with summer fun, consider this: The country is facing a shortage of on-campus student housing at public and private schools. So perhaps between attending that beach party, block party and annual beach block party, it’s essential that you figure out where you’re going to live this fall.

According to the National Multi Housing Council, areas with the highest campus housing shortages include Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virginia. But despite the shortage, some universities are still housing a majority of their students on campus. Check out the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of undergraduates living in campus housing (as of Fall 2011):


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Billionaire Dropout Advocate to Teach at Stanford

by Suada Kolovic

In an interesting turn of events, Silicon Valley billionaire and college dropout advocate Peter Thiel will teach a course at Stanford. Apparently, taking a college course is still worthwhile…when he’s the professor.

The PayPal co-founder, whose 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship awarded a group of budding entrepreneurs $100,000 each to dropout and develop innovation companies, will teach a course called “Computer Science 183: Startup” at the university this spring. News has since spread like wildfire and the 250-student course is already oversubscribed, according to Reuters. But not everyone is convinced: Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford’s Rock Center of Corporate Governance, said “It’s hypocritical, but I’m not surprised. The same people who go around bashing education are the most educated. What's he going to do? Tell students, 'When you graduate from my class, drop out right after that?'" Ironically, that idea isn’t too farfetched: Thiel told Reuters through a spokesman, “If I do my job right, this is the last class you’ll ever have to take.” (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of Thiel’s stance on earning a college degree? Is it wrong of Thiel to argue that the brightest young minds should venture out on their own and start companies rather than pursue a college degree when he himself holds both a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a law degree from Stanford? Let us know in the comments section.


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Want to Stand Out to Employers? Follow These Three Techy Tips

by Suada Kolovic

Despite our name, we’re more than just scholarships here at Scholarships.com: We strive to keep students in the know on pretty much anything and everything college related, from figuring where you’ll spend the next four years and how you’ll pay for it to picking the major that’s right for you and finding employment once you’ve finished. And when it comes to the latter, recent college graduates are faced with one of the toughest job markets in recent years. What can you do to place yourself in the best position for employment after you graduate? Consider taking courses that will help you stand out from the crowd like those that deal with coding, design and analytics. Here are three tips U.S. News and World Report compiled to help you entice employers:

  • Get your code on: Regardless of your background, understanding even basic coding is a huge differentiator for job seekers in nearly every field, says Keith Cline, founder of the recruiting firm Dissero. Before you graduate, squeeze in a basic computer science class or, if you just don’t have room in your schedule, join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and pledge to learn computer code by the end of 2012 via Codeacademy, a free tutorial website.
  • Socialize, virtually: If you think knowing your way around Facebook will suffice, you’re in for a rude awakening. Instead, Cline suggests students build and maintain blogs focused on target fields and use Twitter to engage with industry influencers. "Out of 10 applicants … that one person who has a personal blog and a social media presence, that's the person they'll hire," Cline says.
  • Take stats...STAT: Companies need people who can break down data and interpret the information with a business mindset, says Vijay Subramanian, chief analytics officer for Rent the Runway, a website where customers rent high-end designer fashions. Taking statistical analysis is a great way to get an understanding of programming language and getting into the weeds of Google Analytics and the power of what it can tell you, advises Cline.

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MIT to Offer Free Online Courses

by Suada Kolovic

Think you have what it takes to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology? Let’s be honest, few do but if you’re interested in testing the waters, MIT will soon offer free online certification courses to outside students who complete them!

How will the interactive e-learning venture, known as MITx, work? Here’s the breakdown: MITx will give anyone free access to an online-course platform. Users will include students currently enrolled at MIT as well as external learners like high school seniors and engineering majors at other colleges. They’ll watch videos, answer questions, interact with teachers and other students globally, experience stimulated labs, participate in quizzes and take tests. Still have your doubts? MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif assures interested students, "This is not MIT light. This is not an easier version of MIT," he said. "An MITx learner, anywhere they are, for them to earn a credential they have to demonstrate mastery of the subject just like an MIT student does."

One slight catch is that although MITx courses will carry no cost, the institute plans to charge a “modest” fee for the certificates. (The exact amount is still undecided.) The first course will begin around spring of 2012 but MIT has yet to announce the course. Does this opportunity spark your interest? Should other prestigious institutions – Harvard, Stanford, Brown, etc. – offer similar initiatives? Let us know what you think.


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Study Reveals College Graduates Are Ill-Prepared for the Workforce

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re like most college students, you might revel in the fact that you are now the authority when it comes to course selection. Students tend to take advantage of this new found freedom and pick classes they’ll enjoy like “Philosophy and Existential Themes” or “Psychology: Sensation vs. Perception” instead of something as uninspiring as “Introduction to Professional Writing” but employers warn that they may not adequately prepare them for the workforce.

According to a recent study conducted by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, less than 10 percent of employers thought colleges did an “excellent” job preparing students for work. The group surveyed more than 1,000 employers in various industries and found that more than half said finding qualified applicants was difficult and agreed that students should receive specific workplace training rather than broad-based education.

Following the announcement of the study’s finding, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives higher education subcommittee, urged institutions to heed employers’ calls. "Colleges and universities are pandering to the students and giving them what they want, instead of what the employers want," she said. "I don't think you have to make a distinction between getting skills and getting an education. We need to do both."

Do you agree with the Rep. Virginia Foxx? Are colleges and universities pandering to students wants verses needs?


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Florida Governor Criticizes Anthropology Majors, Daughter Holds Degree in Field

by Suada Kolovic

Recent college graduates have entered one of the toughest job markets in decades. Full-time positions are scarce and with the unemployment rate hovering at 9 percent, some people have harsh words for those pursuing liberal arts degrees. For instance, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s message to anthropology majors: The state doesn’t need more anthropologists. Perhaps he forgot his own daughter has a degree in the field. Oops!

In an interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Mr. Scott said, "Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so." He told the paper that he wants to shift more funding to science, technology, engineering and math departments – aka the “STEM” disciplines – and away from departments like psychology and anthropology. This comment didn’t sit well with the American Anthropological Association, prompting 11,000 of its members to fire back at Scott in a letter stating the governor is “unaware that anthropologists are leaders in our nation’s top science fields, making groundbreaking discoveries in areas as varied as public health, human genetics, legal history, bilingualisms, the African American heritage and infant learning.” A spokesman for the governor later said that he didn’t mean to criticize anthropologists but rather intended to highlight the demand for graduates with degrees in STEM fields.

Do you think Gov. Scott’s words were a bit too harsh? Should students pursue degrees in STEM fields because there is a demand? Recent liberal art graduates, would you go back to school and change your degree path?


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