Archive for February, 2013

Caffeinated Nation

Feb. 25th 2013

People in the US regardless of where it is: Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, consume a lot of caffeine—80% of us have some sort of caffeinated beverage every day. Everybody has their own caffeine-loaded drink of choice, from double lattes to ice-cold cola to strong-brewed green tea. More and more, however, people (and especially young people) are turning to less healthy caffeine options, like chemical-loaded energy drinks. While energy drinks aren’t always inherently bad, studies show that more and more people are using them in excess, often drinking many a day in order to stay awake and alert—and the effects can take a serious toll. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, much like coffee or many sodas, but energy drinks are also often chock-full of other energy-giving, unhealthy substances. Among students, energy drinks are being consumed at heightened rates in unhealthy qualities, and in tandem with this, hospitalizations and even deaths related to energy drink consumption have seen a considerable uptick in recent years. While an occasional energy drink for most healthy people is harmless, when energy drinks are consumed at high volumes, and when they’re paired with alcohol, the risks become much higher. The following infographic takes a look at how the energy drink market has grown, and what some of the health impacts of this could be for those who consume them.

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Caffeinated Nation Infographic

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Posted by Staff Writers | in Education | No Comments »

The Falsified Data Crisis & the Application Process

Feb. 25th 2013

Lets face it, the application process is daunting anywhere – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii. As competition to draw in the best students has grown increasingly aggressive, many colleges and universities have turned to less than scrupulous ways to bolster their admissions and to become more attractive to students. A small but growing number have begun twisting or outright lying about data regarding SAT scores, job success after graduation, the selectivity of programs, and even the debt students may graduate from college carrying. It’s a disturbing trend, and one that rightly may have prospective college students nervous about the selection process.

The Culprits

While only a handful of colleges in the U.S. have admitted to or have been found to be falsifying data about their schools, that doesn’t make the trend any less troubling, especially as many of these schools turn out to be highly regarded, top-tier universities. You may even be surprised by the schools that have fessed up about dishonesty, the majority of which we’ve listed here.

Bucknell University: One of the most recent cases involving false data is related to Bucknell University. The school admitted in early 2013 than it had inflated average SAT and ACT scores when reporting data to rankings magazines, but, surprisingly, that revelation did not lead to the school losing its number 32 spot on the “Top Liberal Arts Colleges” list.

Claremont McKenna College: Small but prestigious Claremont McKenna admitted to sending false SAT scores to college rankings publications in an attempt to boost its rankings. Even with the correct data figured in, however, the school was able to maintain its ranking among the top liberal arts colleges.

Dickinson State University: An auditor found that enrollment numbers for the fall of 2010 had been inflated by then-president Richard McCallum, counting participants in a not-for-credit symposium as enrolled in the university.

Emory University: In 2012, officials at Emory admitted to sending intentionally misleading data on SAT and ACT scores and admitted students’ class rank to rankings magazines for more than a decade.

George Washington University: George Washington University is a prestigious top-tier school, but that didn’t stop officials from tampering with data. In 2012, the school announced that it had been misreporting data about freshmen class rank for more than a decade. In response, the school was removed from the U.S. News & World Report college rankings.

Iona College: It was revealed in 2011 that Iona College officials had been misrepresenting data from the school for more than a decade. More surprising was that data wasn’t just going to rankings magazines but to its accreditor, the U.S. Department of Education, and state agencies. False data inflated the SAT scores and GPAs of admitted students, higher graduation and retention rates, the number of alumni donors, as well as reporting smaller than actual faculty-to-student ratios.

Scripps College: In mid-2012, Scripps College found itself in hot water for providing inaccurate reports about its graduates’ average student loan debt. In reality, students from the school were graduating with far higher levels of debt than the school would admit.

While the bulk of data falsification that has been exposed has been at the undergraduate level, graduate and professional programs certainly haven’t gone unscathed by the trend. Tulane University’s business school was found to be providing false data to boost its rankings among MBA programs, Villanova University’s law school was put on probation in 2011 for submitting falsified admissions data on median GPAs and LSAT scores to the American Bar Association, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s law school was censured and fined for intentionally publishing false acceptance rate data for more than six years.

What makes this more troubling, however, is that many education experts believe that the data falsification issue encompasses many more schools than just those which are willing to come forward about their deception. In fact, an Inside Higher Ed survey of admissions officers found that 91% believed some institutions besides those that had been identified at the time had reported false scores or other data.

Why Schools Lie

With all of the bad publicity and reputation damage that comes along with submitting false data, it may make students wonder why schools are willing to do it. There are a variety of reasons, though the motivations of each individual school may be quite different.

One of the major reasons schools lie is to get ahead in national rankings and, in turn, become more attractive to students. Rankings have become a huge deal for colleges of all sizes, and many shell out millions in order to raise their scores. This makes the temptation to lie or misrepresent information almost irresistible, especially if schools feel little risk in getting caught.

Some deception may occur as a result of internal pressures, as well. Colleges often set admissions and performance goals for their administrators. If these goals are unrealistic, sometimes officials feel it’s easier to lie than to admit that there is little way to meet them.

Beyond this, however, some schools lie simply because they can. Most schools who have falsified data have seen few consequences, with penalties resulting in a small drop in ranking or removal for one year but no real hit. Even as major scandals have emerged, new schools still come out all the time and data falsification remains a major problem. While penalties for these actions could include loss of accreditation and reduced federal funding, no schools have yet to face these consequences, giving most little impetus to stop.

What Falsified Data Means for Students

While knowing how and why schools are willing to report false data is useful, it doesn’t help address just what that false data means for students. In most cases, when colleges are falsifying data, they’re doing it to manipulate students into choosing their school, whether or not they’re really as good as they claim to be. This kind of false advertising can have serious consequences for students, especially when it’s related to student debt and the ability of graduates to find jobs.

The potential penalties that falsification of data can carry also pose serious risks for students. When schools are censured, put on probation, or lose sources of funding, students suffer, too. While most schools haven’t seen these kinds of consequences, there’s no guarantee that accrediting bodies and federal policymakers won’t take a harder line in the future, exposing both schools and the students who choose to attend them.

How to Protect Yourself During the Admissions Process

Since you can’t put a stop to colleges falsifying data, you’ll have to learn how to manage it while seeking out a great college to attend. That’s not as hard as you might think. There are a number of ways you can shop around for the best school for you without getting taken in by numbers that aren’t quite true representations of what things are really like at a school. Here are some tips that should guide your college search process.

  • Know what to look out for. There have been some common threads in college data falsification that can help you determine which kinds of stats to be to most suspicious about. Take an extra close look at the SAT scores and GPA of accepted students, post-graduation debt, jobs after graduation and overall acceptance rates. These stats can be close to reality even if not quite true, or seriously far off, like that of Tulane, who reported an admissions rate of 53% that in reality was 93%. You may not be able to puzzle out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying, but you’ll at least have a good idea of what kind of data is commonly falsified.
  • Do your own research. It can be smart to do a little poking around when looking at colleges. Get in contact with schools to see who is in charge of compiling and submitting admissions data. If records are collected and sent through multiple departments, it’s much harder for schools to lie without getting caught.
  • Compare numbers. By comparing the numbers from similar schools, you can get a better sense if something seems a bit strange. Similar schools should have similar rates of acceptance, SAT scores, and other types of data. If they don’t, you might want to look into why that’s the case. That doesn’t mean that every school should be identical, only that discrepancy can be a sign that some schools might not be being completely honest.
  • Put little weight on rankings. While it might feel good to get accepted and to attend a school that numerous people agree ranks among the best in the nation, rankings are actually a pretty poor tool to use when selecting a school to attend. They won’t really tell you whether or not a school is a good fit for you, and, as recent data scandals illuminate, the numbers used to create those rankings are easily subject to manipulation. With rankings being one of the biggest motivators for schools to falsify data, you can avoid some of that by looking at schools, like Reed College, who don’t participate in rankings.
  • Watch for red flags. Something seem fishy about the numbers a school is putting out? There are a lot of gray areas in college data –there’s not always a standard way to report certain information — and most colleges aren’t trying to outright lie. But, there are times when a college’s numbers seem too good to be true. For instance, if a college is stating that most students have a certain amount of debt post-graduation and the numbers just don’t add up with tuition and room and board figured in, you may have found a serious red flag that should make you much more skeptical about the school’s data. That doesn’t mean you can’t go there, but you need to find out more clearly what you’ll be signing up for first.
  • Ask questions. Outright falsifying reports is only one way to manipulate data; other practices can skew things too. Some schools have been caught recruiting students who will not be admitted, counting faculty as teaching resources even when they don’t really teach, excluding athletes from scores, and even asking admitted students to retake the SAT for a cash reward. If you want to know how information is collected and analyzed, don’t be afraid to ask questions about which students are included for certain stats. You might also want to see if your school of choice audits data through an outside service (Texas Christian University is one example). Few schools employ this practice, but you’ll know that the ones who do will have much more trustworthy information.
  • Visit schools and talk to students. Colleges obviously want to make themselves appear as appealing as possible to students, even if that means stretching the truth a bit to get there. One of the easiest ways to see whether a school is really all it claims to be is by meeting with students who already go there and visiting it yourself. It may become immediately clear that class size stats are untrue or that students aren’t really incredibly high achievers. On the flip side, you may find that the stats don’t matter as much as you thought, with schools offering a comfortable and resource-laden experience that’s not quite what you expected based on the data.

With more cases coming out all the time, it’s unclear whether or not changes in how data is collected and reported will occur. Colleges are reluctant to cede power over these numbers to outside parties and many haven’t expressed great interest in new measurements of achievement that are more difficult to falsify, like the Collegiate Learning Test. Whatever happens over the next decade, students need to be smart about how they use data to make college decisions, as there’s not always a surefire way to know which schools can be trusted and which are acting in their own interests.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Admissions | No Comments »

How 3D Printing Will Revolutionize the Classroom

Feb. 19th 2013

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Posted by Staff Writers | in Technology | No Comments »

Innovative Methods Revolutionizing College Tuition

Feb. 19th 2013

Imagine a world in which a college education was affordable. Now, take it a step further and imagine a world in which a college education was free. Though it might seem far-fetched, especially to the more than 37 million Americans who are currently in debt due to student loans, recent initiatives and innovative techniques by higher education institutions stand to change the face of college tuition.

The Old School

Traditionally, basic tuition cuts or freezes have been the method institutions would use to curb students’ financial burdens. From national online education provider University of Phoenix to more traditional state school systems like California State University — both announcing proposed tuition freezes — to private schools cutting tuition price tags, these practices aren’t new. However, lowering tuition costs means less financial aid as well. For many schools, the strategy behind this method is that the publicity will help generate an increase in enrollment, which will offset the tuition cuts.

Innovators Changing the Playing Field

One social venture that is leading the way in tuition reform is University Now (UNow). Based in San Francisco, Calif., UNow was designed to provide students everywhere with an affordable college education through a network of schools. UNow is the parent company of two accredited schools, Patten University and New Charter University.

Students who are eligible can earn their degrees online from Patten or New Charter through UNow’s College Works Scholarship Program. Currently, the program is available to students who live or work in San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento and qualify for tuition assistance benefits with their respective employers. Through this program, students can essentially pursue a higher education for free.

The scholarship program was created to offer working adults an affordable option for earning a college degree — something that reports have shown to be quite handy post-Recession.

Here’s how the scholarship works: An eligible student will enroll in Patten or New Charter and pay applicable tuition costs out of pocket. The student’s employer will then reimburse him or her. However, the student will not be charged tuition at a cost higher than what the employer agrees to reimburse him or her, meaning UNow will cap tuition at the amount of the student’s respective tuition reimbursement program from his or her employer. The scholarship will then be applied to cover all remaining costs. There is no cost to the employer to participate in the scholarship program.

Working Together with Open Courseware

San Jose State University has jumped out as a leader in transforming tuition, recently partnering with open courseware provider Udacity to pilot a program called San Jose State Plus. This program allows students — both SJSU and non-SJSU — to take three courses for college credit at $150 per course. Students can choose to take the courses for free, but would earn no college credit.

The courses offered are intermediate algebra, college algebra, and elementary statistics and will be offered in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) format. All coursework will be done online and exams will be proctored.

SJSU Plus is part of a bigger initiative led by SJSU president Mohammad Qayoumi, who has expressed that colleges and universities need to approach teaching and learning assessment using methods that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and relate to current real-world problems.

“The idea is to broaden access to college education,” Patricia Harris, media relations director for SJSU said. “In theory, we will build SJSU Plus over time. But that’s still far in the future. Right now, we’re focusing on assessing the three courses we’re offering.”

With the American Council on Education recently endorsing five more MOOCS for credit — all offered through Coursera — from influential schools like Duke University, The University of California, Irvine, and The University of Pennsylvania, the opportunity for an affordable education may be on the horizon. If more schools follow suit, students will be able to earn credit for mastery of courses that do not require paying tuition, which could be a complete game-changer in the future of tuition pricing.

Different Degree, Different Price?

The method of differential tuition — offering varying tuitions based on major, program, college or class standing — is another way to address the tuition issue. For example, schools may offer high-cost courses for majors in the field of engineering and health sciences, which tend to have more favorable job outcomes for graduates. Statistics show an increasing number of colleges and universities have begun offering differential tuition.

Ohio University is an institution seriously considering this method as an alternative way of charging tuition. In a November article of the Athens Messenger, Ohio University stated they believe a tuition-driven business model is unsustainable because “tuition by itself cannot generate sufficient money to cover the state share of the future cost of education” and “the ability of families to take on more education debt is constrained by the availability of loans, the labor market and earning power of graduates to pay off debt and the fact that disposable income of families is declining.”

Tips for Working With Your Financial Aid Office

Until all colleges and universities embrace the pioneering methods being used at schools like San Jose State University, there is still a need for financial aid. According to a report by the College Board, $236.7 billion in financial aid was distributed to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants from all sources, Federal Work-Study (FWS), federal loans, and federal tax credits and deductions in 2011-2012.

Students who use financial aid to supplement paying for their college education will invariably need to work with financial aid offices at some point in their college career.

Latisha Bonner has been in the financial aid business for 10 years, four of those which she spent working directly with Sallie Mae assisting students with loan repayment and working with colleges to help students fund their education. She currently serves as the default prevention coordinator for a public, four-year university. Bonner offered these tips for students when dealing with financial aid offices:

  1. Be honest with your financial aid officer about your level of knowledge of the financial aid process.
    “Financial aid officers do not mind providing all of the information that you may need to complete the financial aid process. The more information you know in the beginning, the easier the process will be. If possible, try to meet with a financial aid officer in person so that you can receive pamphlets or brochures about the information that you are most concerned about. This allows you the ability to have something to follow-up with should you have more questions in the future.”
  2. The best time to discuss financial aid with a financial aid officer would be before the semester begins.
    “If you are going to need financial aid for a fall semester, my suggestion would be to begin the process in early March or April. This would allow time to receive any additional grants that the school may have to offer because many of them are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. For students that are concerned with their financial aid for spring semesters, you would want to begin the communication with a financial aid officer around late September or early October. The earlier you begin the process, the less you have to worry about once school begins.”
  3. Make sure to have the correct paperwork with you.
    “Once you have completed your FAFSA online, approximately 3-5 days later you will receive an email from FAFSA with your SAR (Student Aid Report). On the SAR you will be advised if you have been selected for the financial aid verification process. If you have been selected, make sure that when you meet with your financial aid officer you have a copy of your IRS Tax Transcript. If you are a dependent student, you will also need a copy of your parents’ IRS Tax Transcript. If possible, bring the verification worksheet the school may have sent to you. You may be able locate it on the school’s website. This will help in speeding up the financial aid process if you already know that you have been selected for the verification process.”
  4. Communication is key.
    “You do not necessarily have to build a relationship with your financial aid officer, however; it is important to make sure that if you are contacted by your financial aid office that you respond. Many financial aid officers may deal with hundreds or even thousands of students each semester, so if they are making contact with you please understand that there is something that really needs to be addressed.”
  5. Let the financial aid office know if you fall into hard times.
    “If a student begins to experience a financial hardship, he or she should contact the financial aid office to find out if there are ways to receive help. Many offices do provide students with special circumstances which will allow for additional aid. Also, if you are in need of additional funding to help with school-related expenses such as computers, you are eligible to receive a onetime increase of financial aid to cover that expense. You would need to contact your financial aid office to advise them of what you need and they will be more than happy to assist.”
Posted by Staff Writers | in Financial Aid | No Comments »

Innovators Wanted: A Hard Look at the Self-Designed Degree

Feb. 12th 2013

Choosing a major is one of the most difficult decisions a college student has to make; it will likely affect their college experience, as well as future job prospects and career satisfaction. For some students, though, not being limited to the specific majors offered at their schools makes the choice much clearer. Self-designed degrees are offered at dozens of colleges across the country, allowing students to combine disciplines and explore new ways of looking at topics.

The idea of individualized degree programs began to be implemented in the 1960s and 1970s, and has grown to be a great option for certain students. More than 100 schools offer some kind of self-designed program, including New York University, North Carolina State University, University of Maryland, and University of Connecticut, just to name a few. The program names vary between institutions, but may be anything from Individualized Major Plan to Interdisciplinary Studies to Self-Designed major. Indiana University-Bloomington started an annual conference for universities providing individualized major programs in 2009 with a network of about 50 colleges across the nation that offer these self-designed degrees

Untraditional majors let students explore their true passions and forge careers in areas that don’t interest many people or fit neatly into one program. One of the most famous examples of an untraditional major that a student created is that of Will Shortz, editor of The New York Times crossword puzzle. In 1974, he graduated from Indiana University with the world’s only degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles.

Online students aren’t left out of these opportunities. Oregon State, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Drexel University, and many others offer individualized degrees online.

Calling Independent Learners

Many traditional college students find designing a degree difficult because they like to be told exactly what classes to take and in what order. Self-designed majors are for more independent thinkers, who may actually benefit from being able to complete coursework whenever they choose.

Online courses also allow more adult learners to complete a degree. Instead of trying to imagine how disciplines relate and figure out what they’re passionate about fresh out of high school, adult learners have the benefit of time and work experience. They can then create a degree with a mature perspective on how they can use it and complete it while still working full-time.

Self-designed degrees, whether online or on-campus, aren’t a good fit for everyone. Students choosing to create their own degree path have to think creatively about how disciplines connect and must have a clear idea of what they want their studies to look like.

“Generally, these students need to be self-starters who can take considerable initiative,” says David Smith, Deputy Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs at University of Michigan, where they offer an Individual Concentration Program on campus. “They need to be able to see connections between disparate courses and articulate well how they fit together to help accomplish their respective plan of study. They will need to be able to knock on doors of faculty members and willing to engage in conversations about their ideas. Overall, they need to be passionate about asking questions and learning.”

Getting Started

To help discover suitable candidates, most schools require potential students to submit proposals, goals, and other paperwork for their degree. Advisors can then determine if a student’s degree will delve deeply enough into the student’s desired topics and if the student has put enough thought into this degree in the short- and long-term.

Certain careers may not lend themselves to self-designed degrees. Karolyn Redoute, a senior advisor at University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education, points out that any field where you need a certification to become employed won’t lend itself well to an individualized degree.

“A student who wanted to be an engineer, for example, could not really pursue this kind of degree, as the student would need to spend all his or her undergraduate study in Engineering to be certified as an engineer,” she explains.

Similarly, those wanting to become Certified Public Accountants need a large number of accounting and business courses before taking the CPA exam, so they would need to focus on those areas during college. Teachers who don’t want to earn alternative certification may also want to rethink an individualized degree. The education-to-career path is laid out clearly for these kinds of fields, so there is little room for creativity.

Potential Pitfalls

Self-designed degree earners might have some explaining to do. Hiring managers don’t necessarily understand the benefits of an individualized degree. Since most of these degrees are one-of-a-kind, employers may not know what they’re looking at, and they sometimes have pre-conceived notions about them.

“One possible career pitfall is that employers often have misconceptions about what a self-designed degree entails,” says Ashleigh Stubblefield, an academic advisor with Oregon State University’s Liberal Studies program. “They often believe students have used previous course work to cobble together a degree or have used a self-designed degree as the easiest or fastest way to graduate.”

She also says, that most self-designed graduates are well-equipped to explain their studies since they have had to write essays on the theme of their degrees. All the prep work for getting a degree plan accepted prepares students to tell future employers exactly what they’ve learned through their education. Smith agrees; the degree can create opportunities to show off in interviews.

“This often can become a good question for the student to address because the student now can take time to explain in more detail how and why they designed their individual program of study,” he says.

A Degree with Unique Advantages

For every potential downside of these individualized degrees, there is a potential benefit. Savvy employers and post-grad admissions boards understand the advantages. Because of the kind of student that gravitates toward these degrees, completing a degree you designed shows passion and innovation.

“From my perspective, the career benefits of an Individual Concentration are the motivation and commitment demonstrated by these students,” Smith says. “In most cases, these students are very dedicated to the subject they are studying and exhibit the drive and motivation that employers are often seeking from prospective applicants.”

This deep interest and study of a subject from unique angles can actually be great preparation for grad school, law school, or med school. In grad school, where research is a core focus, the ability to look at a topic from multiple disciplines is a boon. For those hoping to continue on to law school or medical school, as long as they take appropriate classes to prepare for entrance exams, a self-designed degree can show admissions boards that students have the focus and drive necessary to excel in post-grad studies.

While other degrees may pigeonhole a person into one field or career, self-designed degrees can turn into self-designed careers. Smith, Redoute, and Stubblefield have seen students from their programs go onto a wide variety of careers — with major media organizations, NGOs in Egypt, ambassadors in foreign countries, restaurants, park systems, just to name a few. Many innovative degrees allow students to jump on a growing trend before schools have had a chance to come up with an official program for that field of study, giving them the chance to become leaders and experts before others catch on. Students have graduated with degrees in subjects like Food and Culture, Global Health and Poverty, and Environmental Ethics when you wouldn’t find these combinations of studies in any degree program catalog.

“Often students who do individualized degrees are bellwethers for what is going on in the culture,” Redoute says. “Students here were focusing on ‘green business’ before it became a catch phrase and the trends in understanding local food movements and global health issues, for instance.”

For self-starters and innovators, individualized degrees can be fulfilling and give students a boost above the competition, but keep in mind they aren’t for everyone. They require hard work, the ability to see the big picture, both in coursework and in the career world, and a serious focus, but can be worth the risk. If instead you want to follow a well established career path or have a four-year plan laid out for you, you’d be better off going with a traditional degree.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Degrees | No Comments »

10 Career Resources All Online Students Deserve

Feb. 4th 2013

Nearly every college or university campus has a department devoted solely to easing the transition between graduation and starting a career. Understandably, this may leave some online students feeling locked out of the offerings, though they deserve just as much of a chance at landing a job as their counterparts on campus. Most schools recognize this disparity and are working to give online students access to the very same resources, adjusted to meet their virtual situations. If they’ve put in the time and energy toward their educations, they’ve certainly earned the right to enjoy everything that might lead them to scoring and keeping a dream job.

  1. Resume and cover letter services:

    The most basic of career services involves helping students hammer out the best resumes and cover letters possible. Seeing as how these are probably the most important documents most people will ever have to write in their entire lives, they certainly need as much guidance as possible. Pretty much every school with online degree plans offers enrollees a chance to e-mail their documents — including whole applications — to a counselor for detailed critique and suggestions. University of Montana’s online and distance students, for example, enjoy access to such assistance via phone, the Internet, or even in person if they prefer.

  2. Personalized resources:

    Skype, Google Hangouts, and other voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) and chat functions make it easier than ever for online students to receive one-on-one career counseling from a pro. These sessions might include advice on resumes and cover letters, guided assessments, questions and answers about different options, and anything else the up-and-coming employee might need. Many schools post up general resources at minimum, but students tend to flourish with individualized assistance.

  3. Workshops:

    Some colleges and universities, like Academy of Art University, encourage their online students to sign up for virtual workshops on a wide range of career-related subjects. The specifics vary from school to school, but commonly focus on the basics of job-hunting — writing resumes and cover letters, filling out applications, networking navigating the frustrations of finding a position, etc. — sometimes even as they pertain to specific industries.

  4. Online networks:

    Oberlin College and Conservatory might host a suite of fabulous online networks for current students and alumni, but it’s hardly the only one who reaches out in such a manner. LinkedIn groups remain incredibly popular, with most schools providing groups perfect for meeting others in the department, graduates, and anyone else wanting to help out that job search, though Facebook isn’t without its trumpeters. For online students, this means a more equitable chance at meeting people who could very well launch their careers.

  5. Self-assessments:

    The savvier career services departments out there proctor self-assessments, frequently online, meant to grant students a deeper understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and possible career paths. Since so many schools still do not offer personalized sessions with a counselor, these little tests and questionnaires provide insight into what the individual might want and need in a job. Alternately, they offer up a viable alternative to shier or more self-assured types who prefer exploring themselves and their possible futures alone.

  6. Mock interviews:

    Whether conducted online through video chat, over the phone, or in person, participation in mock interviews builds the skills and confidence students need to land (hopefully keep) a job. Montana State University at Billings allows its distance learners to sign up for phone interviews via e-mail and receive practice and feedback about what needs improving. Even the most comfortable and poised student could stand to use a few pointers before heading in for a real interview.

  7. Meeting with experts:

    Most career workshops hosted by colleges and universities are fronted by staff members, but some departments take them to the next level by bringing in the professionals. The Climbing with the Experts series at Westwood College pairs up students and employees in industries they might want to pursue, allowing the former to ask more specific questions than they could in a more general setting. Some of the workshops this particular school offered include game development and design, criminal justice, and IT, though the meetings change from semester to semester and school to school.

  8. Job openings:

    Whether or not students take their courses in the classroom or online, job postings are a staple of career services departments. While the mechanisms differ depending on the school, the one thing they have in common being that they connect students with openings in their field. Online students who live closer to campus can also scope out whether or not their colleges plan to host any career fairs anytime soon.

  9. Links:

    Even if career services departments provide absolutely nothing else to the online student body, at the very least they should post up a listing of valuable job-related links. Penn State’s World Campus boasts one of the best examples of doing resource inventories right. They break their dozens of links down to several different categories — including social media, interview tips, graduate school, and plenty more — for quick and easy browsing.

  10. Lifetime support:

    Harrison College proudly ensures that its alumni receive full usage of career services department for life. After all, schools train students to enter the workforce, and with life being what it is they may find themselves searching for a new job years, even decades after landing their first. Which means they might need a bit of assistance rewriting their resumes and remembering interview protocol as well. Continual support for graduates means peace of mind that the ol’ alma mater will always be there to provide assistance when the road grows rough.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Education | No Comments »