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Time spent well in college or university can go a long way in strengthening your professional future. Even so, success is still pegged on a complex set of variables, including the type of program you choose and what you do after that.
Let’s explore them all.
Focus on technical and soft skills
Most college programs focus on technical skills and forget soft skills completely. If you ask any employer right now, they will tell you that undeveloped or underdeveloped soft skills are the biggest driver of the skills gap currently plaguing in the job market.
Find a course that balances the subject matter concepts with soft skills, such as communication and leadership. Choose an institution that emphasizes collaboration in projects while championing practice and research in training and testing.
Try to skip the student loan
Young graduates are being crushed under the burden of student loans. If you read the papers, browse digital literature, or watch the news, you will see just how the situation is dire. What good is education if a painfully big portion of your future salary goes towards paying the debt?
Apply for a scholarship. Luckily many schools have a scholarship aspect for students from humble backgrounds. Give it a try.
Or leverage crowdfunding platforms online to raise tuition money. Make Google your best ally in this. This is simply relying on the generosity of others online to contribute to your education. You might be surprised how many individuals and institutions out there are willing to help when you raise your voice and shout for help.
If neither of that works, study online. By choosing an online degree, you can slash your school fees in half. You get to avoid commute fees, accommodation fees, and many other costs. Provided the online degree or diploma is from a reputable school, no employer should turn it down.
Choose an up-to-date program
Think about big data, AI, and machine learning. Think about data privacy laws, multilateral trade issues, and the other trends shaping the business world. If a program doesn’t train and prepare you for these trends, then it’s no good.
Unfortunately, most college programs offered- (even those in top schools) have not been updated in years. It is the same concepts and teaching methodologies that were used decades ago. These programs will waste your time and money.
Look at the numbers
Employability is a critical factor when considering a college program. Consider job prospects for the program you have in mind.
Ensure your information is from trusted sources. Be sure to check out reputable sources such as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website.
Go to class
Indeed, college can be a great time to play, party, and make friends. But please don’t skip classes. That’s a mistake that too many people make, and it comes to haunt them many years after.
The nature of college education, the way it is meritocratic, assumes that A’s mean everything. You can pull an all-nighter just before the exam, and because of your sharp memory, pass the exam. But then at the end of the four years, you will walk out of the institution with nothing but a piece of paper.
Focus on learning and not on just passing. Study for knowledge and you will pass without a doubt.
This kind of learning, one where you start studying early before the exam, reinforces the concepts in your long-term memory. Many years after college, you will be a trailblazing professional because of that.
Study with friends
They say that a person is the average of his/her 5 closest friends. Make the right friends. Use your time to lay the foundation for your professional network. Create meaningful study groups. But don’t limit your friends to students. Reach out to professors. Get a mentor.
Practice what you learn
During college, many students will need to survive on a relatively small amount of money. But that shouldn’t be a reason to turn down a non-paying internship opportunity. Look for internships and even volunteer opportunities that align with your professional direction.
Learn the workplace’s expectations, the challenges, and the roles you are required to play. After the summer break, tune your studies accordingly.
Read beyond the syllabus
You can hardly be an out-of-the-box thinker if all you do is a study within the curricular. You must find ways to test and question everything you learn. That ability comes when you read broadly, regardless of whether you will get tested on it.
Going wide sharpens your critical thinking skills. In the workplace, this attribute is a gem. When complex scenarios or risks arise, you will be needed to produce multi-dimensional solutions to reduce costs and steer business recovery.
Get value for your money
When you first graduate, you will have little experience. But your employer will be looking for proof of that before offering you the job or promotion. Accentuating your college degree with a professional certification can help.
Specialized accreditations are typically focused on the practical aspect of things. They are respected in every workplace. The exams are tough, and successfully obtaining the title can catapult you well into the future.
You could go back to school for an advanced degree, but then that would take more time and more money. You could sit and be contented with your undergraduate degree, but then, you may never find a good job, or you may get stuck in the same position for years and years.
In the end, many people often find that the best decision after college is pursuing a reputable certification program in their field.
College can be good for you in many unimaginable ways. Choose the right program, take responsibility, and use your time well to earn more value from it.
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