Online Degree Spotlight: Computer Technology

Online Computer Technology DegreeIf you’re looking into getting a bachelor’s degree through distance learning (online courses), you’re probably thinking that some fields of study are more suited to the online environment than other. Needless to say, though, information technology and computer science are perfectly suited to these types of courses.

Considering most employers are currently looking to hire employees with at least a bachelor’s degree for IT jobs, graduating with this degree definitely provides a competitive advantage. However, let’s focus the lens a bit and consider what it means to get an IT or CS degree through online courses.

Is an Online Computer Technology Degree Right for Me?
In most scenarios, the answer to this question is ‘yes.’ Online computer technology degrees require very little previous experience for success. They’re perfect for students who are currently employed in IT and have an associate’s degree or lower because they often make it more feasible to get pay raises and promotions. In fact, acquiring the degree great no matter what your current profession is because it opens up a lot of potential doors for you to move up in your career. If you have no IT background and are looking to change directions in your career, don’t worry – these online degrees are very manageable.

Career Opportunities
Some people believe the myth that online degrees don’t give you as much credibility as degrees acquired on-campus, but that’s not at all true. If you graduate with a bachelor’s in computer technology by any means, you have a lot of potential career paths to take. The healthcare industry, for example, is never going to struggle no matter what the economy looks like – but there is always a need for someone to manage the technology upgrades. There are plenty of IT jobs in government services as well. Essentially any office building, whether it’s a call center, a financial services provider, or anything in-between, needs an IT team. There are also plenty of opportunities in education if you decide that’s a path that you might want to take.

Concentrations
You can concentrate your computer technology studies to make you a better candidate for certain positions if you know what direction you’d like to take. For example, you can concentrate on education if you’d like to teach IT or CS, or you can focus on governmental work to better land a job in one of those positions. Artificial intelligence, chemistry, and project management are other possible concentrations, but the list goes on.

The Growing Industry
The bottom line is that the demand for college-educated IT professionals is on the rise as technology becomes a more and more integrated part of every job. Any IT career is one that offers growth potential, and the field itself offers an endless list of opportunities.

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Four Ways College Students can get Involved in the Community

College Students involved in the CommunityWhen you’re getting ready to go away to school, “getting involved” is probably not one of the main things you’re most excited for. However, the more time you spend on campus, the more it becomes your home and your surrounding area begins to feel like your very own community. Giving back to the campus and local community is not only a great way to build up your resume and feel rewarded – it’s a great way to make friends.

The best part about getting involved locally is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” way to do it. You can find something that you genuinely enjoy doing that will benefit your social life, your academic progression, and the community alike. Here are a few ideas.

Browse Clubs on Campus
Almost every campus has at least one club that’s dedicated to doing community service. Typically, there are different clubs for different types of endeavors, and you can join as many as you like. This is a great way to find out about any local events that need some extra help as well as to lend a hand in organizing cleanups, seminars at local schools, fundraisers, et cetera. If your school doesn’t have one of these, why not start one?

Find a Job
For things that need to be done on and around campus, most hirers prefer to fill these positions with college students. Check Craigslist, your college’s social media pages, and on-campus bulletin boards to see what positions need to be filled. Whether you’re lending a hand at a local pizza shop, in the on-campus mailroom, or at the bookstore, you’re helping to make the local community more self-sufficient while, in most cases, getting a paycheck.

Offer Tutoring
If you’re in your junior or senior year – or even a grad program – you have plenty of knowledge and experience to help others pass their classes. Post bulletins at the library and nearby high schools to let students know that you’re available to assist them. You should even make this known on your school’s social media pages so that anyone who is attending college online won’t miss out.

Support Local Events
You don’t even have to commit to regularly volunteering your time if you want to give back to the community. Just support local events! Go to local farmers markets, art shows, concerts, and charity events to show your support. There’s nothing more disheartening than putting together a big event and having a small turnout – and just by giving a few hours of your time every now and then, you can contribute to making someone’s day.

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The Five Habits of the Most Successful College Students

Habits of the Most Successful College StudentsWhen it comes to academics, there are some students who fly by the seat of their pants and there are some students who are deliberately committed to building better habits. It’s all about what type of work ethic seems to work best for you, but if you fall into the latter category, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve. We all know that it’s important to identify our own strengths and weaknesses when trying to get better at something, but it’s also important to look to those who seem to be “doing it right” already.

Here are some study habits that experts say have made the most successful students (and graduates) in the past. Which of these do you already practice? Which will you begin to incorporate?

Systematic Prioritization
Many students make the mistake of thinking that college is just like high school. Unfortunately, it lacks the structure and discipline that you’ve probably become used to. This is especially true if you’re attending classes at one of the top online schools. The lack of physical presence of a professor means you have to seriously buckle down on the front of self-discipline. For that reason, it’s important to take a look at how you currently prioritize your tasks – if at all – because you’re going to have a lot more to juggle as a college student and no one to lay out your schedule for you. Deciding how much time/effort certain things are worth is a necessary skill.

Getting Close with Professors
In high school, if you were always staying after class to talk to your teachers or visiting them during office hours to get some extra help, you were called a “teacher’s pet.” Unfortunately, it’s a term that some people use negatively, but truth be told, there are many benefits to forming relationships with your teachers, professors, and mentors. Most encourage interaction outside of the classroom and if you take advantage of that, you’ll get great letters of recommendation and the ability to excel where you once struggled.

Use College-Provided Resources (Get your Money’s Worth)
There are a lot of costs built into your college tuition. You pay for the privilege to partake in extra curriculars, have an advisor, attend events, use counseling, and more. It has been show that students who take advantage of on-campus resources have been known to excel. See a writing counselor to improve your essays or meet with the librarian to learn how to better use the library’s resources if you want to really delve deeply into your academic endeavors.

Be More-Than-Awake in Class
There is always going to be that straight-A student who falls asleep during lectures or doesn’t show up at all, but unfortunately, not everyone can pull that off. Showing up is only half the battle, but asking questions, engaging yourself in debates, and simply volunteering answers during class time is a great way to make sure that the information being taught will stick. Don’t just hear the lecture, but actually learn it.

Always Be Curating
No matter what field you’re in, you never know when there will come a time where you need to physically produce examples of work you’ve done. That’s why the most successful college students are always curating their portfolio. Keep a collection in DropBox or Google Docs of your favorite academic and non-academic projects. This way, you can quickly produce them when the opportunity presents itself, rather than having to make excuses for why your greatest short story is on your old hard drive…which crashed.

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The United States’ Greenest Colleges

The United States Greenest Colleges

If you’re the type of person who carries reusable grocery bags and has a hybrid car, you’re probably also interested in attending an eco-friendly university. Of course, “going green” is a trend that’s becoming increasingly popular, so you’re not going to be impressed by a school that’s rife with recycling bins. No – a green school has to truly go above and beyond, but don’t worry, the United States is home to plenty that do.

Which Earth-conscious college will you choose? One that runs entirely on solar energy? Or maybe one that features trayless dining? Here are a few of the United States’ greenest colleges that are definitely worth considering.

Warren Wilson College

This Swannonoa, NC-based school does more than give it the Old College Try when it comes to going green – it brings self-sustainability to a whole new level. Staff and employees manage on-campus organic gardens and forests, so while they learn the practice of nurturing the Earth, they can also benefit from their very own renewable resources. The garden and forest provide nearly all the food and lumber the school needs. Don’t worry – the chainsaws used to collect the wood are run on soy oil and brought back in hybrid, bio-fueled, or solar-powered vehicles. They’re a national leader in green building and design due to their solar-powered streetlamps and low level of light pollution.

Evergreen State College

True to its namesake, this Olympia, WA campus is about 1,000 acres – 800 of which are woods, forests, and beaches. It makes for the perfect home for a huge organic farm and compost facility. On this thirteen-acre garden, students taking classes at the college can get hands-on experience in farming, ecology, composting, and more. The school runs entirely on clean energy and one of the main buildings, the roof of which is a picturesque “green roof,” is even Gold LEED certified.

Oberlin College

This Ohio school is a pioneer when it comes to green campuses, having invented a computer system to monitor the amount of energy and water consumption of the on-campus dorms almost ten years ago. Now, it’s home to the largest array of solar panels in the state and a beautiful building dedicated entirely to studying the environment. This building is heated geo-thermally, which is still an up-and-coming green building modification that requires only 20% the energy of typical heating systems. Oberlin continues to make eco-conscious breakthroughs through endeavors such as their “Living Machine,” which is a waste-water filtration system comprised of only plants and bacteria.

Berea College

Located in Kentucky, Berea college has set itself an ambitious goal of reducing 75% of its total energy and water consumption. They also plan to reduce 50% of their solid waste. In an effort to do so, the college has implemented an Ecovillage for providing food, clean energy, and waste solutions. All on-campus housing at Berea use eco-friendly appliances and energy sources, and are also home to rain collectors and a water filtration living machine. Due to its beautiful trees and greenery throughout the campus, it’s also an incredibly pleasant and relaxing place to live and study.

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Save Money and Learn to Budget While You’re in College

student-budgetCollege is a crucial stage in life due to the fact that, for many, it acts as a passage from adolescence into adulthood. You’re just now old enough to be on your own, and yet there are so many things that you still don’t know how to do. Managing finances is one of those things that a lot of adults haven’t even perfected, let alone college students. However, if you learn to budget and save while you’re young, your future self will thank you.

Building up your piggy bank and weaning off mom and dad’s wallet isn’t always fun, but it is rewarding once you realize you can look out for yourself. Here are some tips to get you started.

Get a Checking Account
Luckily, a lot of banks know that many people get their first checking accounts in late high school or college. For that reason, they have a lot of special offers specifically for students. Find one with convenient ATMs, storefronts, and online banking/an app. This way, you can always be aware of what goes in, what comes out, whether your check has been cleared, if you’re going to get a fee, et cetera.

Calculate your Expenses
Maybe you have a part-time job at the bookstore, you get some cash from financial aid, or your ‘rents have agreed to give you some pocket money each month while you complete your bachelor’s degree program. Now’s a good time to figure out how much you get each month, and how much you have to spend. Figure out what your living expenses are – such as rent, gas, laundry costs, and your grocery bill – and subtract that from your monthly income. Subtract that from your monthly income. Put 10% of what you’re left with into savings if you’re trying to save money, and the rest is your “fun money.” You can spend that on going out to eat, shopping, concert tickets, and other non-necessary wants. Only dip into your savings for emergencies.

Buy Textbooks Wisely
You’ll probably have sticker shock when you go to the bookstore to purchase this semester’s reading materials for the first time. That being said, any veteran college student will tell you that you’re crazy to spend full price on a textbook. Sites like Amazon and BetterWorldBooks let you shop used textbooks for a fraction of their original price, while sites like Chegg let you rent textbooks for a small fee. Don’t assume that you will get back everything you paid by selling your textbooks – it simply doesn’t work that way. Shop deals instead.

Start Thinking About your Loans
If you’re one of the millions of unlucky college students who will be in debt after college, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about how much it will be and how you plan on paying it back. Lenders have a lot of different payment plans that you can choose from, so it’s not a bad idea to set up a meeting with your financial advisor at school so you can think about this.

 

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Five Degrees you Might be Better Off Getting Online

Five Degrees you Might be Better Off Getting Online

As many are aware, there are a lot of benefits to taking college courses and even full degree programs online. The flexible scheduling, for those who have families and jobs, is difficult to beat. You also have the ability to attend a wider selection of schools without relocating, enjoy classes with more diverse students, and teach yourself self-discipline.

Then, there are the benefits that are unique to specific degree programs – and these are the ones that many students don’t know about. In fact, some would argue that these five degrees are better pursued through online programs, and here’s why.

HealthCare Administration

It seems as though it would make no difference either way if you got your Health Care Administration degree online or on-campus, but experts say that studying for this particular degree is a good way to brush up on certain skills used in the field. You’ll often have to be writing e-mails and memos to important figures such as business partners and regulators, so getting comfortable with communicating online could prove to be a huge benefit.

Computer Science

Lucky for you – if you’re studying computer science, you already like spending your time on the computer. For online schools, the best way to communicate with classmates is through forums and discussions, which is a lot like being on an IT team. Online classes are a great way to get comfortable with the setup you’ll likely use in your career.

Accounting

In the past few years, programs have been developed that make studying accounting online a fun and rich experience. Home spreadsheet software is now available that allows student accountants to organize financial data as though they were in an office. Combined with video conferencing, you can get real-time help from your professor with important-to-know programs without having to leave your home. It’s a perfect way for a full-time employee to expand his or her career without sacrificing to much time.

Graphic Design

A lot of graphic designers work independently or freelance their work on the side. Without a professor hovering over your shoulder, you get this sort of freedom and experience, so you can develop your creative habits as well as your self-discipline more thoroughly in an online course. You can also use these skills as a head-start for putting together a portfolio.

Public Health

When you take college courses online, you can attend any school in the country, and so can other students. So, when you enroll in an online course – especially at a school that isn’t local – you’re more likely to have diverse classmates and a wider range of perspectives. This is a great learning tool for students of Public Health. Student diversity enriches the learning experience and provides you with a more vast expanse of new knowledge.

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The Best Commencement Speeches of the Last Two Decades

The Best Commencement Speeches of the Last Two DecadesSome students long for the day they get to sit at their commencement ceremony and throw their caps into the air. Others choose not to attend at all, having their diplomas delivered to them in lieu of enduring the event. There’s certainly one way to make more students look forward to the long, and often somewhat boring, event of the graduation ceremony: by having a good commencement speaker.

Throughout history, there have been quite a few commencement speeches that have been talked about all around the world. In recent years – whether due to the prevalence of the Internet or some other reason – it seems there has been an influx of speeches that have gone viral in one way or another. Let’s take a look at the best commencement speeches of the past 20 years.

Steve Jobs at Stanford in 2005
Having Steve Jobs, easily one of the most successful businessmen in history, as a speaker at your graduation is incredibly reassuring. What better way to kick off the next chapter of your life than with the wise advice of such an important and powerful figure?

His speech was incredibly emotional, reminding everyone that we are all in this together and about the importance of keeping faith in spite of hard times. “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” he says. You can watch it here.

Conan O’Brien at Harvard in 2000
It’s safe to say that Conan’s speech at Harvard had a completely different emotional feel than that of Jobs, but it was no less heartfelt. His incredibly important message to grads was ultimately to love yourself for your failures as much as your successes. “…Every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good. So, that’s what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over.” As expected, it was also peppered with plenty of humor, but at the end of the day, since he was a Harvard graduate, it hit home for the students and everyone else. Here’s the video.

Stephen Colbert at Knox College in 2006
When you hear that Stephen Colbert is going to speak at your graduation, you have to wonder if the comedian himself or his TV show character is going to show up. Considering he started off his speech with “I’m not sure which one of us you invited to speak here today…” it seems he wasn’t so sure himself. No matter who you interpreted it to be, his speech discussed life’s trivialities as well as the hard-hitting changes that need to be made, and was packed with valuable advice. “Cynics always say no… for as long as you have the strength to, say yes,” is what he ended with.

Russell Baker at Connecticut College in 1995
Considering his Pulitzer-Prize-winning authorship has affected so many, it’s no surprise to hear that Russell Baker’s commencement ceremony did the same. A bit self-deprecating, a bit wise, and very anecdotal, as it turns out, is the perfect recipe to make an impact at a college graduation. “Listen once in a while,” he advises the grads. “It’s amazing what you can hear.” This is just one gem among many in his sea of funny yet captivating pieces of advice.

David Foster Wallace at Kenyon in 2005
After his unfortunate suicide just three years after this speech, Wallace’s speech swept the Web. Whether he’s still here or not, it was entirely deserving of its popularity. It puts an emphasis on the importance of mindfulness, of “exercis[ing] some control over how and what you think…being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.” Why? “Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.” Those who were in the audience for this incredibly engaging and thought-provoking speech should consider themselves lucky for the rest of their lives – they’re among the few who got invaluable advice and the opportunity to take it, though the speaker himself didn’t.

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How to Get the Most out of your Summer Internship

Summer InternshipsA lot of students who don’t want to squander away their summers binge-watching Netflix decide to get an internship. It’s a great way to shape up your resume, gain experiences, and even potentially make a few extra bucks. That being said, it’s important to make a good impression and go focus on honing valuable skills – it’s more than just another line on your resume.

So, how can you make sure that your summer spent in an office is worth it? We have a few tips to offer.

Make an Impression Without Overdoing It
Even if you’re not getting paid, just because an internship is temporary doesn’t mean you should try to scrape by doing only the bare minimum. On the other hand, you don’t want to burn yourself out by being over-productive in an effort to make a good impression. Take this as an opportunity to learn at which pace you function best. If someone is asking so much of you that you’re getting stressed out, don’t be afraid to say so – but also don’t be afraid to ask for more work.

Play by the Rules
Remember – you’re not an employee at this company, and they’re prepared to carry on without you after your internship is up. Now’s not the time to put your own spin on “business casual” or take an extra twenty minutes on your lunch break. Good impressions make for good connections in the future, so do your future job-hunting self a favor.

Ask for Feedback
It’s always best to know how you’re doing so that you can know what areas need improvement and get a better idea of what the standards for excellence are like in your potential industry. Ideally, you’ll be able to have this conversation periodically with your manager, but you may find that there is someone else within the business who works more closely with you. In any case, be sure to have someone you trust looking over your work occasionally and giving you honest advice. It’s a good opportunity to learn new things and reinforce your strengths.

Be Outgoing
You’ve only got a short amount of time to make an impression on your coworkers – who, ultimately, are potential job connections. Being outgoing, friendly, and confident is a good way to make yourself memorable in case you apply for a position within the company later on or want to use someone there as a reference. Don’t be afraid to help with small tasks outside your “job” description or make friends at lunch.

Be Aware
Try to take note of what you’re learning that will be useful in the future. Internships are great supplements to both accredited online and on-campus degrees, but you will want to be able to articulate how you benefited from your experience in your cover letter and in interviews. Whether you keep a journal of what you’re learning or just make a mental note, this is what’s going to help you set yourself apart when searching for a job.

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5 Life-Saving Networking Tips for Recent College Graduates

Networking Tips

So you’ve spent the last four years of your life cultivating a pristine resume complete with a GPA that makes your mother proud and a list of extra-curriculars as long as your arm. Now what?

Just because you’re a great student doesn’t mean a job will immediately fall into your hands after graduating. You’ve probably heard this before, but now it will hold a lot more meaning: It’s all about who you know. Sure, a handful of grads get lucky and are offered jobs as soon as they take off their cap and gown, but even they probably achieved those offers through making connections through internships and work study. Now that you’ve graduated, how do you get your resume into the right hands?

The key is to network, and although putting yourself out there seems intimidating, it’s essential (and not too bad, if you have a strategy).

Make a Networking Card
In order to have a business card, you need a job and a title first. But networking cards are becoming increasingly popular and it’s never a bad idea to have a few printed up. If you’re going to be meeting a lot of contacts, you want to give them something to remember you by. Put your name, contact information, and a brief bullet-point list of your skills on it, and hand it out when the opportunity presents itself.

Attend Events
College students and alumni alike have the unique advantage of being able to attend career fairs and networking events through their schools. Take advantage! They’re great practice for brushing up on your professional interaction skills, and a great place to get a few names and numbers. Bring a couple copies of your resume with the aforementioned networking cards attached and give them out to companies of interest. Don’t be afraid to hold a conversation and do a little bragging about yourself. You want your presence to be memorable.

Maintain and Monitor your Social Media Presence
Social Media is becoming an increasingly important networking tool in this day and age. Make sure that your LinkedIn and Google+ profiles are active and up-to-date. Browse around for groups that pertain to your ideal career field and partake in discussion. Connect with potential employers and show enthusiasm. It’s a great way to show that you’re genuinely interested in what you want to do. Furthermore, make sure other profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter, are privatized so employers can’t find any potentially unprofessional material.

Network in Unlikely Places
You never know when you’ll come across someone in a position that will be useful to you. Begin striking up conversation with your parents’ friends, that woman at church, or your friend’s mom. Start up a chat about your online degree program or some of the volunteer work you did throughout college. This paints a memorable picture of you, and people love to lend a helping hand and will mention it if they can!

Be Grateful
Whether someone offers you a job, puts in a good word for you, or just listens to your “elevator talk” about your skills, always be enthusiastic and grateful that they lent you the time. This leaves them with a good final impression and shows that you’re welcoming any opportunity, which is a great trait to have for a new college graduate.

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5 Online Degree Programs with High Earning Potential

Online Degree Programs with High Earning PotentialIn our previous post, we discussed the most widespread myths about college degrees. It seems that one of the most common misconceptions about degrees that were achieved through online classes is that many employers won’t accept them. That myth was, of course, debunked when we found that more than ¾ of surveyed employers had recently brought on employees who had online degrees. Still, this could raise the question of whether these employees are worth as much.

The main reason most people go to school is to make themselves more hireable and increase their earning potential. If you’re curious about which online college graduates are putting more in the bank, you’re not alone! This list of online degree programs with the best pay and career potential should provide some food for thought.

Online MBA
Whether you get your MBA by spending years in the Harvard library or by attending one of the top online schools from home, you’ll have made a good decision. According to a piece in USA Today, brand new MBA grads have reported salaries in the six-digits. More specifically, surveys have shown that acquiring an MBA online can boost your earning potential by about $30,000 per year. The two years spent taking online courses seem like nothing when you consider the numbers!

Online BS in Information Technology
You don’t have to get your master’s to reap the financial rewards of an online degree. With just a BS in Information Technology, graduates have the opportunity to become IT managers, who, as of 2008, have reported a median salary of $112,000. The career potential doesn’t stop there: this online degree program opens you up to potential careers in fields like software publishing and computer systems design.

Online BS in Engineering
A lot of people seem to think that you can’t acquire an engineering degree online, which is simply not true. In fact, those who do have quite lucrative futures ahead of them. Engineers have the opportunity to acquire entry-level jobs that start in the six-figure range, especially in fields like medical, chemical, and electrical engineering.

Online BS in Healthcare
Healthcare is, and always has been, one of those fields that will never falter in terms of available jobs and job security. Whether you study public health, surgical tech, or anything in-between, online graduates will have no issues securing a job and making a profitable living. There are many ways to further your education after achieving a bachelor’s in healthcare, as well – many nurses, for example, seek online classes to get their RN certifications and make more money.

Online BS in Accounting
Small businesses and corporate spearheads alike are in need of accountants, and they always will be. If you’re proficient in math and interested in business, it’s the perfect online program to consider. There is no shortage of jobs in the field, you could work in any number of different industries, and, of course, entry-level pay is rather decent.

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