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Four Degrees That are Better to Earn at a Community College

December 9, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to earning a college degree, attending a four-year university may not be the surest route to a successful career: Depending on what you're interested in pursuing, a two-year or technical certificate can offer a better return on your investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in fields such as health care, manufacturing and information technology offer median earnings of up to $55,000 or more for graduates with associate degrees. Interested in the specifics? Check our U.S. News & World Report’s four degrees that are better to earn at a community college below:

  • Engineering technology: High-tech employers are looking for specific skills rather than degrees. This is especially the case in manufacturing, where employers have a hard time filling open positions, says Jason Premo, founder of the South Carolina-based aerospace manufacturing company Adex Machining Technologies. The median salary for aerospace engineering technicians ranges from $55,000-$75,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; with additional on-the-job training, that figure could rise significantly, Premo says.
  • Radiation technology and medical imaging: Radiation therapist, nuclear medicine technologist and diagnostic medical sonographer are three high-paying positions a student can take on with a two-year degree. In 2012, radiation therapists and nuclear medicine technologists earned median salaries of $77,560 and $70,180, respectively, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Plumbing and heating: A college degree isn't required to become a plumber or HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technician. Instead, students become apprentices, where they receive on-the-job training (with a salary!) and take classes in math and science that cover topics relevant to the field, such as hydraulics and mechanical drafting. Apprentice programs are either offered directly via a union or through a community or technical college. The programs are typically tuition-free and trainees earn technical certifications and professional licenses required to work in the field.
  • Dental hygiene: Bachelor’s and associate degrees in dental hygiene are both considered entry-level requirements for a career in the field but an associate degree is by far the more common route. The median salary for hygienists in 2012 was $70,210, according to BLS, which also estimated that job openings in the field will increase by 33 percent over the next few years.

Are you considering a two-year degree or technical certificate as opposed to a bachelor’s degree? If so, are you pursuing any of the careers listed above? Share your thoughts in our comments section. For more on the pros and cons of community college, head over to our College Prep section. And while you’re there, don’t forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile to help you fund your education.

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10 Universities Where Most Classes Are Small

December 16, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The transition from high school to college is most evident to students when they realize they’ll no longer be coddled in cozy classes of 20 students or fewer. Lecture halls with 300-plus students are the norm at most major universities, where classes tend to be impersonal, relationships with professors are typically nonexistent and students feel more like numbers than people. So for those who prefer a learning environment that provides back-and-forth discussion amongst students and professors, U.S. News and World Report has compiled a list of universities with the highest percentage of small classes.

According to the data, several universities with undergraduate enrollments below 3,000, as well as a few top ranked universities with larger undergraduate populations, reported that a vast majority of their classes have fewer than 20 students. Check out the top 10 universities with the smallest class sizes below. (For more information on this survey, click here.)

How important is class size to you? Are large lectures deal breakers in your book? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile for a list of scholarships that are personalized to you! Whether you’re studying at a university or community college, we’ll help you find the financial aid you need to pay for school. Start your search today!

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What to Consider Before Opting Out of Standardized Tests

May 1, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Standardized testing is as much – if not more – a part of the college process as tweeting your acceptance, Snapchatting your new roomies and buying a shower caddy...or at least it used to be: According to reports, there is a growing trend toward test-optional admissions. What does that mean? If a student decided to apply to a test-optional institution, they can choose whether or not to submit ACT/SAT scores as part of their application. Thinking about signing up? Don’t shred your test prep materials into confetti just yet; here are some things to consider, courtesy of Time Magazine:

  • Your academic record: When admissions counselors evaluates a test-optional application, they pay particular attention to grades and the difficulty of the completed curriculum. Students who excel in AP, dual-enrollment, honors and IB courses – and who have the high marks to prove it – may find that test-optional admissions is particularly well suited to them.
  • Your exam history: If your exam results do not reflect your marks on most other academic tasks, test-optional admissions may be right for you.
  • Your prospective schools: Consider the colleges and universities to which you plan on applying. How many of these schools offer test-optional admissions? If even one school requires a standardized exam, it may be worth submitting your scores to every prospective college on your list.
  • Your financial aid prospects: Some academic institutions and outside organizations require ACT/SAT results as part of their decision-making process. Before you commit yourself to test-optional admissions, research the criteria for any grants or scholarships that appeal to you. If test-optional admissions will limit any needed financial aid, it may be best to follow a more traditional admissions path.

Do you think the test-optional admissions practice is the way of the future? What do you think is a better barometer of qualified applicants: test scores or essays? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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Want to Earn an Extra Million Dollars? Choose Your Major Wisely

May 12, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

When choosing a major, most would agree that it's important to consider gaining lucrative employment following graduation. In a perfect world, the best college major would simply be the one that interests you most, period. But if you have a particular knack for math or science and aren't necessarily sure where those skills would translate best, consider the kinds of careers that could offer a generous return on your investment.

According to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, going to college pays off but by how much depends greatly on the area of study. For example, students who complete undergraduate degrees in petroleum engineering earn a median $4.8 million throughout their careers (or $136,000 a year) – more than triple the $1.4 million in median earnings (or $39,000 a year) for someone who majored in early childhood education, the report says. "The surprises are in the details," said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce. Just choosing a major in a STEM field doesn't secure a hefty paycheck, either: Carnevale's team found that biology majors have median annual wages of $56,000 over their careers from age 25 to 59, or about one-third less than physicists. There are also wide ranges in salaries for specific majors. The top 25 percent of earners who majored in finance can expect annual earnings of more than $100,000, while the bottom quartile may bring in just about $50,000 a year. (For more on this report, head over to the Wall Street Journal.)

Do you agree with the sentiment that majors that aren't in high demand should be avoided or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high unemployment rates? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit Scholarships.com and conduct a college scholarship search where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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A New Facebook in Town?

August 31, 2010

by Kevin Ladd

Looks like there’s a new facebook in town. Sort of. Apparently trying to recapture what the aforementioned site once offered, namely exclusivity to college students, is the new site CollegeOnly.com. It’s really not a bad idea, either, if you think about it. Sure, facebook really took off and their numbers skyrocketed as a result of their opening-up their site and services to the general public, but at what price? Or, at what price to students, I should say. It worked out pretty well for facebook. I mean, does it really make sense to jettison users of your site once they reach a particular age or social status? With regard to site traffic, less is never more.

Several years ago, students could go online and post photos from frat parties and, basically, be college students without fear of their parents, employers, etc. seeing them, for example. Sure, facebook allows you to adjust your privacy settings and sure, you don’t have to accept every friend request you get, but it could be a bit awkward to get an invite from an employer, parent, aunt, etc. with whom you really don’t want to be facebook “friends” for the above-mentioned reasons.

Having only glanced at the site (don’t currently have a “.edu” email address), I can’t go into much more detail, other than to say the clipart on the home page is certainly an interesting choice. Regardless of your gender or preference there’s a plunging neckline there for you. Enjoy.

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Early decision; Is it for you?

October 20, 2009

by Administrator

By CampusCompare

Early decision (ED) is an increasingly popular choice for college applications. The reason? Well, actually there are a couple.

First of all, by applying early, students get their admissions notifications early: try around December 15, the same time that regular decision applications are due. This can be a huge relief, knowing where you will be attending college an entire semester before your fellow students.

Another advantage, and a hotly contested one, is that there is evidence that applying early increases your chances of being admitted in the first place, especially among elite colleges. Schools like Amherst College and University of Pennsylvania boast significantly higher acceptance rates for students applying early—almost double that of their regular decision counterparts.

But beware: early decision has some serious pitfalls. For starters, you are locked into admissions should you be accepted. So if you are just starting your college search, you might be jumping the gun by committing to one school. Some schools have, instead, an Early Action deadline which gives you the same early admittance but without being tied down to that school.

Although the acceptance rates for ED can be significantly higher, you should take into account the competitiveness of the application pool. Early Decision applications need stellar junior year grades, as colleges won’t get to see any senior year transcripts. Applicants also tend to be very motivated, as they have already done a lot of college research early. While ED can help you if you are already a competitive applicant, it is not a miracle for mediocre students looking for admissions into a competitive college. Look at your college admissions chances objectively: if you are already competitive applicant, but could use a boost than early decision might help.

Another problem with being locked into ED is that you have no freedom to compare financial aid offers. If finances are even a minor factor in your decision, you should seriously rethink applying Early Decision. By applying to multiple schools, you are able to compare offers from different schools and even use them as bargaining chips against each other.

Basically, unless you are positive that you want to go to a college, and positive that you can afford 100% of the tuition (or the school promises to meet 100% of all demonstrated financial need), early decision college applications might not be for you.

CampusCompare is a free college search engine with tons of interactive tools and blogs that help you find your best-fit college. Check out more at http://www.campuscompare.com.

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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Aaron Lin

June 6, 2011

Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Aaron Lin

by Aaron Lin

Hello! My name is Aaron and I’m going to be writing as a virtual intern here on Scholarship.com’s blog. I’m originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana and though it’s technically the fifth largest city in the state, I still consider myself as coming from a small town. Living in Louisiana and being Taiwanese has made me gain a great appreciation of other cultures and ideas. The most important thing to me though is the food: If you’ve never had home-style Cajun cooking, get down here and try some ASAP.

I’m currently studying chemistry at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge but plan to transfer to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to study clinical lab science (CLS) instead. CLS offers a combination of scientific, medical and lab training that would help me find a job after school and it’s mentally fulfilling to know all the information that CLS offers. In the future, I hope to study public health or obtain my master’s in CLS. If I go the public health route, I hope I can impact people’s health education to prevent costly and frequent doctor visits.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading blogs, news and various online comics such as Lifehacker.com, bbc.co.uk, and xkcd.com. I’m also recently got into footbiking and consequently I’ve become interested in minimalist running, health and minimalist food, and body weight exercise. While I’m not an expert in any of these things, learning and experimenting is something that I’m living for. We can always better ourselves in one way or another and I’ll be trying to figure that out for as long as I can.

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Discounts to Take Advantage of While in College

July 26, 2011

Discounts to Take Advantage of While in College

by Aaron Lin

Being a college student has a lot of perks in terms of accessible facilities, discounts and resources. Here are a few tips on what to take advantage of while you’re a student:

I hope some of you have ideas to add, too. Feel free to comment!

Aaron Lin is a chemistry major at Louisiana State University but has plans to transfer to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a medical laboratory science degree and further feed his interest in the application of scientific and medical knowledge. In his free time, Aaron likes to eat food, read and write about food, exercise to work off that food and play the occasional computer game. He also enjoys footbiking, running and Frisbee.

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Why You Should Consider MLS

July 12, 2011

Why You Should Consider MLS

by Aaron Lin

When I started college, I was a chemistry major on a pre-med track but when I shadowed at a hospital and observed the lab technologists there, their role in patient care interested me so much I decided to change my major to what they were doing: medical laboratory science, or MLS.

So what is it? Medical lab science recently underwent a name change from clinical lab science. Medical technologists (formerly clinical lab technologists) work in labs analyzing body fluids and send out results that the doctors can use to make decisions about patients’ treatments. MLS can be good for budding scientists if they want to study a blend of medicine and science during their undergraduate years. Usually the first two years of undergrad are similar to a biology major’s; it’s during the second two years that classes like clinical immunohematology, parasitology, mycology, biochemistry and microbiology are taught. Then there are semester- to year-long clinicals where students apply what they’ve learned in lecture. After graduation, students must get certified and pass a state board if their state requires one for work.

Why could MLS be good for you? Many reasons, actually. There is a shortage of MLS workers, you’ll get to work right out of college and your background in clinical lab will be phenomenal. Depending on where you work, there is room for specialization in certain areas like microbiology (where you’d be identifying microorganisms) or blood banks (where you’d be matching blood types for transfusions); you could also find yourself working in reference labs, public health labs, pharmaceuticals, biotech, forensics, veterinary clinics, fertility clinics, food industry and many more.

If you’re interested in medicine and science, try looking up MLS. It’s a great stepping stone and opens many doors to the health field.

Aaron Lin is a chemistry major at Louisiana State University but has plans to transfer to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a clinical laboratory science degree and further feed his interest in the application of scientific and medical knowledge. In his free time, Aaron likes to eat food, read and write about food, exercise to work off that food and play the occasional computer game. He also enjoys footbiking, running and Frisbee.

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Writing an Effective Personal Statement or Cover Letter

August 11, 2011

Writing an Effective Personal Statement or Cover Letter

by Aaron Lin

The goal of a personal statement or cover letter is to display personality the way a resume and transcript cannot. You want to show the person receiving your materials that you’re a good candidate, right? Then don’t overlook the importance of this piece of your application.

There are several ways to tackle a personal statement or cover letter. For me, it was the rule of thirds of past, present and future that took my personal statement from good to great.

Past: Set up your statement with a captivating hook, then move into a narrative that informs the audience of something unique that happened to you. Reel the reader in with a story that will incite laughter, emotion or invigorating feelings.

Present: Discuss a few academic or extracurricular achievements that define you today. This may reflect your resume since it’s about your achievements right now but it’s important to note that your personal statement shouldn’t be a repeat of your resume in story form.

Future: Talk about where you want to go and how you can get there as a member of this particular company or graduate school. If you’ve researched the organization – and you should have! – let them know about it and mention any complementary classes, professors or special opportunities you’ve had. Enforce your skills, background, what kind of asset you will be and mention what the company or school has in particular that will benefit you in your career goals or academic pursuits. Lastly, thank the reader for his or her time.

Spellcheck won’t catch everything so read your work aloud, let others read it and edit accordingly. Don’t try to include EVERYTHING you’ve ever done in your personal statement or cover letter – that’s what your resume is for! – and don’t sell out with gimmicky quotes, overused metaphors, cuteness or a thesaurus addiction. The most important thing to do is to let yourself shine through!

Aaron Lin is a chemistry major at Louisiana State University but has plans to transfer to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a medical laboratory science degree and further feed his interest in the application of scientific and medical knowledge. In his free time, Aaron likes to eat food, read and write about food, exercise to work off that food and play the occasional computer game. He also enjoys footbiking, running and Frisbee.

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