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Is College Right for You?

April 30, 2012

Is College Right for You?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

If you had to guess, what percentage of students start college and actually finish it? According to a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only 46 percent of students who started college earned degrees in 2010. Hefty student loans and interest rates, stress and being academically unprepared are amongst the many reasons college drop-outs cite; some students report being as much as $50,000 in debt before graduation with no viable means of paying it off.

Given this info, it’s really important that you consider if college is right for you before applying, especially if the field you’re thinking about going into doesn’t require a degree. There are still plenty of great job opportunities for people who think college may not be for them, including air traffic control and locomotive engineering. That’s not to say, however, that a college degree is overrated. According to a study conducted by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, bachelor’s degree holders earn 84 percent more than high school graduates during their lifetimes. And while there are still plenty of jobs that don’t require a degree, virtually every employer will prefer a college graduate over a high school graduate.

My goal here is not to discourage anyone from attending college; instead, I want to present both sides of the argument so that you can commit 100 percent to furthering your education or, alternatively, seek out a job that doesn’t require a degree. It’s better to recognize now that you won’t be able to commit to college than be forced to drop out and pay back $50,000 in student loans later. No matter which path you choose, one thing’s for sure: You’ll have to work hard if you want to succeed!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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Fastest Growing Jobs for College Grads

by Suada Kolovic

Today is National Decision Day for college applicants and while determining where you’ll be headed in the fall is huge, knowing what you’ll be studying once you get there is just as imperative. With the economy the way it is, pursuing a growing job field would be ideal. With that in mind, check out some of the fastest growing jobs in America below:

Would you consider pursing any of the positions listed above? Will the current labor market impact your decision on what you’ll major in? Let us know in the comments section.


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Five Years, Two Degrees...Is It the Right Path for You?

by Angela Andaloro

As college students, we make tons of important decisions every day. Our futures are constantly at the forefront of our minds and for some students, continuing their schooling after completing their undergraduate degree is a very serious option. Luckily, many schools recognize this and offer five-year programs that allow students to begin graduate work as an undergrad and have their credits apply to both degrees. So how can you tell if such a program is right for a student like you? Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you positive you want to pursue a graduate degree? If so, then these programs can be great for you! You can finish both degrees in less time than it would take to pursue them separately. Financially speaking, this is also a good move because you'll be spending less money on school.
  • Are you looking for a challenge? By senior year of college, some students start to question how much they’ve learned and how challenging their course loads are. If you feel like you need more of a challenge, beginning graduate classes as a senior could provide you with just that. You’ll also have the opportunity to warm up to a graduate course load.
  • How much of a difference does it make? In some instances, a master’s degree does not make much of a difference in the type of job you get or how much you will ultimately make after college. It IS very important and almost necessary in some fields – yours just may not be one of them. It’s best to do research on your intended field and see what the pros and cons of getting a master’s degree are for what you want to do when you have your diploma in hand.

I hope these tips help you out but the truth is no one can decide for you whether or not a five-year combined undergrad and grad program is the right fit – it takes your willingness to research, consult with people in the right departments and get all the facts straight before making your final decision.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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Not Ready for London 2012? Try the College Olympics First

by Radha Jhatakia

Recently, the College of Business clubs at San Jose State University held a Business Olympics. In this mini-Olympics, students from the various CoB clubs participated in many different athletic games and fun activities where students had the opportunity to get good workouts, blow off some steam and socialize with others.

According to the club board members who united to host the CoB Olympics, there was a great deal of planning involved. They had to ensure a date, time and space on campus where the games could be held, as well as find faculty members who would be willing to oversee the event since it was an on-campus activity. They also needed enough of the clubs in the College of Business to join so that there would be enough participants for a competition and needed to plan which games to play (touch football and volleyball tournaments, a five-legged race, a balloon stomp game, tug-of-war and business trivia). This being the bare minimum, the board members of the clubs went above and beyond for the event: They even found sponsors for the OlympicsMonster (energy drinks), State Farm Insurance and WiLD 94.9 (a local radio station) – that provided supplies, t-shirts, snacks, water and food for a barbeque after the event. After the eight-hour competition filled with bumps and bruises, we all left having made new connections with students from other clubs and the successful nature of the event will be continued in a now semi-annual College Olympics.

Depending on the department or major you are in, you can tailor the Olympics to fit your criteria and the great part is that this kind of event can be held by any organization on campus. Does your school have any Olympic-like event like SJSU's? If not, will this article help you in planning your own?

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Confessions of a College Graduate

by Jessica Seals

After my high school graduation, I could not wait to start attending college and gain more life experience by being out on my own. Before I graduated from college, however, I heavily anticipated the break that I would be taking before I began law school. I dreamed about all of the extra rest that I would be getting and became even more excited when I thought about all of the extra energy that I'd have. Today, I find myself missing college more and more each day...and I am only six months into my break!

When I first told people that I would be taking a break after I graduated, my decision was met with mixed feelings. Some people said that they were jealous of all of the free time that I would have and some stated that I would go crazy from having too much time to myself but I never would have guessed that the latter would be right! I began to miss school so much that I would dream about random classroom scenarios several times a week. It sounds crazy but I soon realized how much I loved learning new things and having my mind challenged on a daily basis.

Some students may need a long break in order to recover after undergrad but six months was more than enough time for me to realize that I am not one of those students! I have a full-time job but it does not even come close to comparing to what I experienced as an undergrad. I know that I am not ready to begin my journey in law school so I decided to pursue a master’s degree to compensate for the chaotic state that my mind has been in since I took my last final exam. Wish me luck!

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Staying Sharp Over the Summer

by Kara Coleman

Thousands of college students across the country have been making their way home from school to spend the summer relaxing and taking a break from studying. But how do you keep from forgetting everything you’ve learned throughout the academic year? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Rack up the credit hours. The most obvious way to keep your study skills sharp over summer break is to not take a break at all. Most schools offer summer classes – some full-term, some mini-mesters and some online. Even just taking one class during the summer can be good for your brain.
  • Hit the books. While lounging poolside this summer, why not do a little reading? You don’t necessarily have to tackle War and Peace, but try for something a little deeper than Cosmo or Entertainment Weekly. Visit GoodReads.com to browse books in any genre and find something that will keep you turning pages all summer long!
  • Help someone else. I spent last summer tutoring two eighth-grade girls. Even though we just worked through pre-algebra books together, it really helped the girls to remember all that they had learned and it was a great brain booster for me, too!
  • Just play. Whether you're right-brained or left-brained, puzzle games are a fun way to keep your mind active. Sudoku – a wordless crossword puzzle that involves the numbers 1-9 – is available in book form as well as via download on Kindle. Also available for free via Kindle is Grid Detective, a game where players unscramble words.

How do you choose to keep those brain juices flowing over the summer? Let us know what works for you!

This past summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.


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Wait, You Can Major in THAT?!

Not-Your-Average College Majors and the Schools That Offer Them

June 11, 2012

Wait, You Can Major in THAT?!

by Kara Coleman

What are you majoring in? Business? Nursing? Psychology? I’ve been scouring the Internet for some cool and crazy college majors so if you’re having second thoughts about your curriculum of choice, consider switching to one of these:

  • Home Economics. Yep, you can actually attend college and get a degree in home economics. Idaho State University offers this degree, with courses in interior design, nutrition and meal management.
  • Comic Book Art. The ultimate nerd degree can be obtained from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. To get this BFA, students focus not only on actually drawing comics but on plot and character development, publishing in both print and web forms and, the coup de grâce – an advanced comic art seminar.
  • Motorsports Management. You can travel to the heart of NASCAR country to pursue this degree. Winston-Salem State University’s website states that “WSSU is the only four-year university in the country and the only Historically Black College and University to offer a Bachelor of Science degree program in motorsports management.” Classes include sponsorship, public relations and mass media, and operational logistics; an internship in the field of motorsports is required before graduation.
  • Folklore and Mythology. If you are an honor student at Harvard and have always dreamed of attending Hogwarts, you can get pretty close. This Ivy offers a degree in Folklore and Mythology from a wide variety of cultures including Celtic, Scandinavian, Japanese and African. One featured class is “Fairy Tales and Fantasy Literature,” where students read books by Lewis Carroll, the Brothers Grimm and, yes, J.K. Rowling.

This past summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.


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Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

by Suada Kolovic

The notion that those who are well-educated are safeguarded from bleak employment rates doesn’t seem to hold true anymore: According to the National Association for Law Placement, recent law graduates face employment rates that have fallen to the lowest level since 1994.

Only 85.6 percent of 2011 law school graduates (whose employment status was known) had jobs nine months after leaving school – two percentage points lower than the employment levels of the 2010 graduates. Now that may not be reason to sound the alarm, but only 65.4 percent of 2011 graduates had jobs that required passing the bar exam. Ding! Ding!

"For members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession...the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal," the association's executive director James G. Leipold said in a written statement. "When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school, there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing and yet by the time they graduated, they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal-employment market in more than 30 years."

Future law students in the audience, what do you think of the news? With a law degree no longer translating into instant financial security, are you reconsidering your educational path?


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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.


Comments (2)

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.


Comments (2)

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