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Demand for College Degrees Grows, Study Finds

September 30, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Reality check: For some students, heading off to college for four years isn't ideal. And while college isn't for everyone, an education should be. In order to stay competitive in the workforce, it's important to realize that there are opportunities in the form of both trade and vocational schools for students who don't see themselves attending classes on traditional college campuses...or are there?

According to a report by Boston-based labor analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, more employers are demanding college degrees for positions that historically didn't require one. The shift is most significant for occupations traditionally dominated by workers without college degrees: For example, fewer than 20 percent of currently employed executive secretaries and executive assistants have bachelor's degree but now 65 percent of postings for such roles require the degree. Why? One reason may be that employers are requiring a bachelor's degree to narrow the applicant pool to a more manageable size. "For an individual employer, that may be an understandable step," said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, in a statement. "When everybody does it, however, this becomes a trend that could shut millions of Americans out of middle-skill, middle-class jobs." (For more on this study, click here.)

What are your thoughts on upcredentialing in the workforce? What problems do you see arising? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to fund your college education the right way – free! Create a Scholarships.com profile today and get matched with funding opportunities that are unique to you.

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How to Effectively Network While Still in College

October 8, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're in college, chances are you've been reminded – on a daily basis, no less – about the importance of networking in the adult world. Why wait until then? Get a head start on building your network and you might connect with someone who could potentially help you find a job after you graduate. Need some help getting started? Check out U.S. News & World Report's six tips to network while still in college:

  • Play the student card: Take advantage of the fact that you’re still a student. Alumni are more likely to help you while you’re still in school because you’re just asking for advice and not looking for a job, says Heather Krasna, director of career services at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. Ask questions, request an informational interview and grow those relationships while there’s no pressure.
  • Use your friends’ parents as resources: Believe it or not, your friends’ parents are great contacts. Not only do they offer decades of experience but since there’s already a relationship established, you’re more likely to be comfortable asking for advice and possibly their contacts!
  • Get out of the bubble: Some campuses offer that country-like feel, a pastoral paradise if you will. And while it’s great not having big city distractions, it can hinder your networking opportunities. Emily Bennington, who helps college graduates transition into careers through her company, Professional Studio 365, suggests, “Rather than using your savings for a spring break in Daytona...go to a conference that's within your industry.”
  • Use LinkedIn: So you’re a whiz when it comes to Twitter and Facebook but if LinkedIn isn’t on your radar, you’re going to fall behind professionally. The sooner you familiarize yourself with LinkedIn, the better. Boasting more than 300 million members, it’s a great way to engage with professionals in your desired field.
  • Use Twitter strategically: Sure, Twitter keeps you posted on what’s most important to you (be that Kim Kardashian or Scholarships.com) but it can also provide an avenue for you to connect with professionals in your field. Make a list of people in your industry who you look up to and use the network to connect with them.
  • Get an internship: This tip is an oldie but a goodie. The value of an internship is undeniable – not only will you walk away with real-life experience to put on your resume, an internship puts you in eyesight of people who work in your field and positions you conveniently ahead of other job seekers.

Do you find these tips helpful? Do you have any that you’d like to add? If so, please mention them in the comments section. And for more tips on preparing for life after college, visit our Resources section. Plus, for more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section and conduct a free scholarship search today!

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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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How to Play (and Win) the Waiting Game

March 11, 2014

by Mike Sheffey

It’s that time of year: admission decision time. Those daunting, time-consuming and incredibly necessary applications that you sent off months ago have yet to result in anything concrete and you – like many high school seniors across the country – are now playing the waiting game. The process is now, for all intents and purposes, out of your control. (I found myself in this situation when I applied for college and have recently returned to the game as I wait to hear from potential employers.) Worried? Don’t sweat it. Here’s what to do while you wait:

  • Keep those grades up. This goes out to you high school seniors: There is a myth that once you’re in, you’re in for good...and it’s simply not true. You get the fat envelope because the school wants you there and thinks you will bring a good work ethic and dedication to campus. Slacking off will only prove them wrong and could cause them to rescind your acceptance. Senioritis is tough (trust me, it occurs as a senior in college as well!) but your hard work will pay off.
  • Continue applying for scholarships. Every little bit helps when funding your education so if you find an award for which you qualify, apply! Also, it’s not too late to apply for scholarships in college – there are lots of awards out there for undergraduate and even graduate students!
  • Weigh your options. Once you get in, don’t instantly say yes – do your research! Look into the college culture, the activities, the campus, the surrounding city, the class size, etc. I’m sure you’ve done the majority of this research before applying but keep at it until you are 100-percent sure the school is the place you want to live, study and socialize; if it’s not, you still have time to consider your other choices.

Mike Sheffey is a senior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.

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Teen Accepted to All Eight Ivy League Schools

April 2, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top schools in the country is unquestionably unnerving but after months of stress, sleepiness nights and chronic stomach pains, it all seems worth it when you read those magical words, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted.” Most would celebrate such an occasion with screams of triumph, followed by an immediate Facebook update or witty tweet sharing their enthusiasm...but what would the proper celebration be when you’ve been accepted to not one but all eight Ivy League schools? Ask Kwasi Enin.

Enin has hit the admissions jackpot, receiving acceptance letters from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. This outcome, however, wasn’t just luck, for Enin is quite the accomplished and well-rounded student: The William Floyd High School senior scored a 2250 on his SAT, is currently ranked 11th in his class, plays three instruments for the chamber orchestra, sings in an a cappella group, throws shot put and discus for the high school's track and field team, participates in student government and has had lead roles in school plays since the ninth grade. And although he’s yet to make a definitive decision as to where he will enroll this fall, there seems to be a frontrunner. "I think my preference is Yale," Enin said. "They seem to embody all the kinds of things I want in a college: the family, the wonderful education, the amazing diverse students, and financial aid as well. So I think Yale has all that for me right now. I still have to compare all these schools – these wonderful schools." (For more on this story, click here.)

Share your thoughts on Kwasi Enin’s story in the comments section and be sure to let us know where you’re headed this fall.

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Some Good Reasons to Attend College

November 6, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

U.S. News had an interesting piece in their education section last week about the monetary benefits of a college degree.  Citing government statistics and several recent studies, the author related that students who complete a bachelor's degree can expect to earn $300,000 more in today's dollars over the course of their working lives than students who just complete high school.  Students who earn a professional degree, go to law school, or complete business school can expect to earn even more.

A full-time worker with a bachelor's degree makes about $20,000 more a year than a student with a high school diploma, and a student with, say, an MBA can expect to make about $100,000 more than a high school grad each year.  While such annual income disparities add up to more than $300,000 over a lifetime of work, studies citing that figure also adjusted for inflation, the extra money high school grads earn in those first four or five years, and the average cost of attending college for four years.

Another benefit of a college degree is a better chance of landing and keeping a job: the unemployment rate for college grads is half what it is for those who don't go to college.  Students from low-income backgrounds also reap more benefits from receiving a degree, as they're able to land not only higher-paying, but also more stable jobs and better-benefited jobs, and to have opportunities that would not have been available to them otherwise. Going to college can also provide significant academic advantages for your future children.

So if college costs are daunting and you're considering whether your education is going to be worth the price you pay for school, do some research.  You're statistically more likely to live a better life in a lot of ways if you go ahead and earn that degree.  There are tons of reasons to go to college, and also tons of ways to help with funding your education.  Do a thorough college search to find the best and most affordable fit for your educational goals, and then search for available scholarships and other financial aid to help you pay the bill.

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College Seen as More Essential, Less Affordable

February 4, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

More Americans are regarding a college education as necessary, but fewer are regarding college as accessible for everyone according to survey results released today by Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.  While the economy is likely a factor, these trends have been ongoing since at least 2000, even during times of relative economic strength.

In the latest survey, conducted in December 2008, 55 percent of Americans regard a college education as not only advantageous but essential for success in today's work world.  Meanwhile, 67 percent of respondents believed that many qualified people don't have the opportunity to go to college.   63 percent believed that college costs are going up faster than other costs, and 53 percent believe that colleges could reduce tuition while still offering a high-quality education.

While 74 percent believed that cost should not deter students from attending college, concern is growing about the availability of financial aid and the extent of students' reliance on student loans.   67 percent (up from 60 percent in 2007) believed that students were borrowing too much to pay for school, while 22 percent (up from 15 percent in 2007) believed that sufficient financial aid was not available to everyone who needed it.

While public perception does not always accurately reflect reality, these survey results do suggest that more needs to be done to make college affordable or to inform the public about grants, scholarships, and campus-based and federal student financial aid.  College scholarships and grants are still out there, and they're not just for A students or the exceptionally needy.  Complete a FAFSA (a free application for federal student aid) and conduct a free scholarship search to see what's available for you.

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Most Stimulus Jobs Require Postsecondary Education

February 24, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

In yet another sign that a college education is becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury, a recent study of the stimulus legislation reveals that many of the jobs the stimulus is expected to create will require some education or training beyond high school.  In fact, at least 54 percent of the estimated new positions will require at least a postsecondary certificate according to analysis by Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce.  Considering a major goal of the stimulus package was to create jobs for less-skilled workers who are usually hardest hit by economic downturns, this figure is especially telling.

It appears that despite the calls for "shovel-ready" projects, few workers will be expected to merely wield shovels. Many of the "non-college" jobs created by this legislation still may require some employer-provided training or time spent at a community collegeInside Higher Education has more complete information, including a chart of the percentage of anticipated stimulus jobs that will require various education credentials.

While some required training will be covered by grants to employers and the increased Pell Grants and college tax benefits in the stimulus, those hoping for job security but apprehensive about college costs may be left with little choice but to go to collegeCollege scholarships and grants, as well as student loans and other financial aid can help.  A postsecondary education is becoming increasingly necessary in our economy, and it appears that this trend will continue.

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Obama Urges Americans to Attend College

February 25, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

In a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress, President Obama called for every American to complete at least one year of postsecondary education and pledged greater financial support for those attending college.  He also urged that America become the "best educated" nation and set the goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

In addition to healthcare and alternative energy, the president declared education to be a top priority for improving America's economy and its place in the world.  He called on families, schools, and Congress to embrace this priority, and to better prepare citizens for careers that increasingly require some amount of  education or training beyond high school.

President Obama promised greater funding for higher education in the federal budget for 2010. This may include the educational tax benefits he advocated in his campaign, as well as other increases to federal student financial aid. He once again mentioned community service or other national service as requirements for future financial aid.

In addition to pledging greater state support, he also asked for an individual commitment by each American to not only graduate from high school, but to set college goals and attend a college, university, community college, or vocational training program for at least one year.  In addition to helping people succeed individually, greater education and training can lead to greater success for society.

Obviously, problems with paying for school will not disappear overnight.  But with help from schools and the government, individuals who work hard and make higher education a priority can reap the benefits, despite the challenges that remain.

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Even in a Recession, College Pays

April 8, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Nervous about shelling out big bucks for a college degree in this economy? Here's a compelling reason to go to college: data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008 indicates that higher education attainment still translates to a lower rate of unemployment and a higher salary.  A handy graphic here breaks it down.

The annual average unemployment rate for adults over 25 with only a high school education was 5.7 percent in 2008, 5.1 percent for adults with some college but no degree, and 9.0 percent for those with no high school diploma or GED.  Just finishing a degree at a community college drops the average unemployment rate to 3.7 percent, and getting a bachelor's degree reduces it to 2.8 percent.  The drop in unemployment was less substantial for master's, professional, and doctoral degrees, with rates for those ranging from 1.7 to 2.4 percent.

Graduate and professional degrees really pay off in terms of increased salaries.  Median full-time earnings for 2008 ranged from $426 per week for those with no high school diploma to $1,555 per week for those with doctoral degrees. Those with a diploma or GED but no degree could expect to make $591 to $645 per week working full-time, compared to $736 with an associate's degree. Median income rises rapidly from there, with four-year degree recipients making $978 per week and master's degrees and professional degrees resulting in median earnings of $1,228 and $1,522.

While these figures are for all adults age 25 and older in a wide variety of lines of work, they still present a compelling argument to at least consider a degree.  Choosing the right college and doing a thorough scholarship search can help make higher education affordable, as well as lucrative.

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