Archives for July 2013

Five Important Items You Need To Know About College

The college you pick is one of the most important decisions of your career but it needs to be last not first. This is backward from the way that most students decide. Most pick the college first.  Here is how you can make this decision work for you.
     Buzz TodaySource:  COLLEGENavigator      The list and actual tuition cost for every accredited American college and university is available online in a searchable data base.  Data elements include: Tuition, Fees, and Estimated Student Expenses,  Financial Aid, Net Price, Graduation and Retention Rates. All are available in great detail.  The site is maintained by the US Department of Education.

Important Item #1     Colleges compete to enroll students.   Harvard University has the luxury of rejecting about 95% of the applicants.  But the good news is that you were not going to be able to go to Harvard even if you were accepted.  There are literally thousands of other universities.  From that long list you can find a college that fits who you are but you need to do your homework before you get into serious discussions with any of them. Being assertive can save you tens of thousands of dollars in the cost of your degree.  My advice is to do your homework before you engage them in an enrollment conversation.

Important Item #2      Professors are very smart, well educated subject matter experts but they know little about what career is best for you.  The most important education decision you have to make is not about classes and majors.  The most important decision is to make sure that you select a career that fits you.  Some people go through their entire life trying to figure out what they need to do to be satisfied in their professional life.  It is far better to face this important choice before you get your degree, not after.

Important Item #3      Online education is at least as good, if not better than traditional higher education.  A Department of Education research project “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning” states: “A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning….The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”  The Implication for you is that you do not have to give up a quality degree to attend an online college.

Important Item #4    Credits do not automatically transfer even when earned from an accredited university.  The college that you plan to attend determines what  parts of your past education apply to their degree.  This is one reason why selecting the right college is so important.

Important Item #5    Some employers recruit for young graduating students exclusively only at the most prestigious universities.  But this characteristic of hiring applies most to on campus visit by company recruiters looking at recent graduates with no work experience. In this case, the prestige of the college is a way to deal with the fact that the graduates have little or no work experience.

The right experience trumps the credentials of the college.  Once you have been out in the work force for a period of time, the college you attended (attend) is much less important than it is for traditional college undergraduate with no work experience.  Look at a sample of job postings.  Software bots are making the initial screening of resumes and job applicants.  The bots function by matching key words in your resume with key words in the job description.  I have never seen the name of a college listed in the key words of a job posting.   Once you have work experience, where you went to college is much less important than what you studied and your work experiences.

Don’t get me wrong.  What college you decide to attend is an important decision but it needs to be made last, not as the traditional first as I explain in Your Future is Calling.   Start your search by deciding on what you want to study to position yourself for the career that fits who you are.

How Do You Get a Job When Fancy Resumes Don’t Work Anymore?

Millions of Americans are hired to fill jobs every month in the American economy. If this is true, why can’t you get a response when you send your resume in response to a job posting? Here is the answer.

Buzz TodaySource: The Wall Street Journal, “Your Resume vs. Oblivion”, by Lauren Weber, January 24, 2012. The Starbucks Corp attracted 7.6 million applicants over the past 12 months for about 65,000 retail and management positions. Procter & Gamble Inc. got nearly a million applications last year for 2,000 new positions plus vacant jobs. And the Texas Roadhouse Inc. gets as many as 400 resumes for a job opening within 24 hours after listing it online.

Many people complain that they submit their resume to hundreds of job postings and never hear anything at all back from any company. The reason they hear nothing is because the software “bots” that companies use to screen resumes are not passing the resume on to HR recruiters unless the key words in the resume match up nearly perfectly with the key words in the job description of the posting. The reason companies are doing this is clearly shown in the data in BUZZ Today. There is no other practical way to deal with the massive number of resumes received.

Unfortunately, the bots are merely a fact of life in the labor market today. A bot is a piece of software, not a human. The bot does not interpret or infer. It matches key words. If the key words are not present it does not pass the resume to the recruiting manager. So for example, if the job ad says “Bachelor degree required, masters degree preferred and 5-7 years experience” the candidate’s submission has to match exactly.

Here is an example of how hard this can be. Here is an actual job posting for a marketing position at an innovative company.
Position: Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing
* Education: Bachelor’s degree required, MBA preferred
* Experience: 7-10 year’s experience with a consumer-oriented internet business in a multi-channel environment.
* Must have experience in the following marketing functions: agency management, strategic brand marketing, digital marketing vehicles, website operations.
* Experience managing complex projects and multimillion dollar budgets.There is no way around this grim reality. Because our labor markets are now functioning like this it is more important than ever that the applicant do what is presented in my book “Your Future is Calling”. Rather than picking a college, then a major and getting a degree and then looking for a job (marketing in this case), the book advises, Who you are then career choice, major, degree, university. In this way the person has a better chance to have what is needed when they get to the job posting.

Even in the face of this trend in hiring there are some reasons to be encouraged. Employers will need 22 million new workers with post-secondary degrees – and the report shows that we will fall short by three million workers without a dramatic change in course. This translates into a deficit of 300,000 college graduates every year between now and 2018.

How to Make Sure College is Worth It and Save Money Too

Make money after college and save money while in college.  Possible?  Yes, if you do the right things at the beginning.  If you do what college students have traditionally done you can wind up with huge debt and low income.  Many have and millions more will without a change in the path to a degree.   Here’s what you need to know.     Source:  The New York Times.   At a time when the value of a college degree is being called into question, and when job prospects for many new graduates are grimmer than they’ve been in years, perhaps it’s no surprise to see a not-back-to-school movement spring up.  The push, which is luring a handful of select students away from the likes of Princeton, Harvard and M.I.T., is the brainchild of Peter A. Thiel, silicon valley billionaire.  A  college education remains essential for people from less privileged backgrounds says Carmen Wong Ulrich, co-founder of a three woman investment firm in New York City. “Many African-Americans and Asians can’t afford to ask the question, “Is college worth it?”  We’re not all starting from the same starting line. “Many of us are the first in our family to even attend college”, says Ms Ulrich.

I assume that you are not one of the select few destined for Princeton or Harvard and that you are, like me, first in your family to attend college.  The challenge for us is to make sure college is worth it.  We cannot afford to do otherwise.  Unfortunately, just going to college is not a guarantee that the degree at the end of the process will be worth it.

Two key factors determine the financial part of the ‘Worth it’ answer.  These are, what you can earn after you earn a degree and how much you pay to earn that degree in the first place.  Let’s begin with the last issue first – how much you pay or the inverse, how much money you can save.  By far, the biggest factor that impacts how much you pay is the college or university you attend.  Sounds simple.  It is if you have the right information.

To begin with, the average net tuition being paid at many colleges and universities is at an average almost 50% off of the listed tuition cost.  That means that you can save almost half of the cost by wisely selecting the college you attend.  Details are available in Your Future is Calling.

There are excellent independent data sources about income earned with various degrees.  We will look at one case study here.  As part of a larger study I was asked to look at the financial potential for a graduate of a two year college program in any one of six careers.

Preschool teacher,Paralegal, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Registered Nurse, Dental Hygienist, Occupational Therapy Assistant.

The data sources used for this analysis were O*NET, COLLEGENavigator, and SalarySurfer.  Looking at the income two years before and two years after graduation for California Community College graduates in these six careers show a rate of financial return of over 1,500% for the weighted career average. I know of no other investment that even comes close to this financial return.  The bottom line is that it is possible to make sure college is worth it.  See Your Future is Calling for more details.

How to Select a Career and Avoid Student Debt

University, major, major, degree, job – a traditional path to a career. Student loans become the financial means and at the end the student has massive amounts of debt. Lisa, in the BUZZ Today insert, is a classic example of the result of this traditional approach to education. But what is the alternative?

Buzz TodaySource: Lisa racked up most of her $300,000 in loan debt from going to Brooks Institute, a top school for photography in California. Upon graduation, she discovered she’d never make enough money from photography to pay her loans. “I just got caught up in the whirlwind of borrowing and borrowing and borrowing just so I could graduate,” she said

The alternative is to create a totally different pathway from who you are to a career that can sustain you and your loved ones. Beginning with the University as the first step is a big mistake. The university that you select has an important impact on many of the steps you can take to avoid accumulating huge amounts of student debt. The first step is to begin the process at a different place. Begin with you.

In Your Future is Calling I strongly suggest that you begin with understanding who you are. This is done through a wide variety of assessment tools that help you understand your personal strengths as well as your personal preferences. Some have called this finding your passion. It is so important because you will ultimately face the same decision at the end of your educational process.

The danger is that you fall into the student borrowing trap Lisa found herself in. The trap is that you become attached to a college and a major. This leads to sunk costs in the form of more and more loans required to complete the degree. It then becomes “have degree – seeking a job”. The degree actually limits options while the debt continues to pile up. Federal student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy so they remain a burden into later life. Here is an example of what can happen.

Courtney, another recent college grad, reflects the life long trap of the traditional approach. Source: After living on her own for two years, she has recently decided to move back in with her parents to save money. “I’m not saving for my future. I can’t see myself having children or getting married or saving for a house. I feel stuck,” she said.

The alternative is to create a different pathway. I recommend a totally new sequence. Here is the path outlined in Your Future is Calling.

Who you are, career, major, degree, university, job. Along this path you have a much better chance of:

* Finding a career that fits you and gives you a better shot at health and happiness;
* Deciding on a career that will pay enough money to finance your major and your degree;
* Reducing the amount of student debt by avoiding the major, major, major trap and non productive credits.

Selecting the right career at the beginning is a key step to avoid excessive student debt at the end.