Happy New Year!! It is January, which means that it is time to return to class! The holiday break has ended and now it is back to the grind for the semester. But this is also an important time for financial reasons. Usually after Jan. 1, both returning college students and high school seniors applying to college are able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form allows students to view their eligibility for certain federal grants and loans. Recently, students and their parents are to fill out the application as early as October. (See www.fafsa.ed.gov, but we will talk about this more soon.
This month, I want to focus on why I am not fond of student loans. Scholarships and grants are wonderful sources of financial aid to pay for school costs. Student loans can be beneficial, too, but often they can be misused and lead to financial instability even after graduation. While unexpected expenses can arise throughout one's college years, it sometimes the lack of knowledge and immaturity about finances that lead to large amouts of debt. I feel that if more information--realistic, not-sugar-coated information about student loans is expressed while in high school and first year of college, then maybe students will have better undergraduate and post-graduate financial statuses.
In an effort to help decrease the need of student loans, I introduce my 4 Cs: cost, character, career goals, and curriculum. There is no set order to discussing these topics, so my order is random. Nevertheless, understanding these four areas will hopefully provide further information into not only the improper use of student loans, but how you can succeed around and/or without them. Stay tuned!
"Adults with positive self-concept and high self-esteem are more responsive to learning and less threatened by learning environment." (Mackeracher, 2004)
Consider this: a student has made two not-so-good grades on the first couple tests given for a class. The next test is coming soon, but this student has already told himself that will probably fail the next test. He believes his grade overall will suffer because of his pattern of less-than-satisfactory grades.
Perhaps, many of you have experienced or you are currently experiencing this feeling. You may be approaching final exams and feel like there is so much pressure placed upon you to do well and pass the class. Maybe you had turn in a few essays that weren't too great and feel like this next paper will not be any different. You could be a clinical student trying to perform examinations in a new area and feel like you cannot grasp the equipment functioning. While the learning situation or learning environment can be overwhelming, it is important that you, the student, remain positive.
Mackeracher (2004) points out that a positive self-esteem and self-concept can make adult learners more receptive to learning and feel less threatened by the learning environment. This means that students should look deeper into how they view themselves, feel about themselves, and/or value themselves. They have to know that the same attributes that granted them the opportunity to attend that college or university are still there. They may be more enhanced. The same ambition that led to the decision of a major or career field should be the same ambition that goes into studying, preparing for and attempting those learning situations.
Try these suggestions:
Quote obtained from: Mackeracher, D. (2004). Making Sense of Adult Learning. University of Toronto Press; Toronto.
Recently, I was involved in a conversation about the pursuit of a Ph.D., during which I (and others) gave advice concerning the need for building experience and not just education. We see many people pursue their Bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s, and then a Doctorate (Ph.D, Ed.D, J.D, etc). For teachers, some may pursue the Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) before the Doctorate. Usually, advanced degrees in Education lead to pay increases. In some cases, the pursuit of an advanced degree is a requirement. Areas of health professions like Physical Therapy, or medicine, require extra schooling and certifications. This is understandable. But in many Arts and Sciences, the need for an advanced degree is always questionable.
In making a decision to pursue an advanced degree, one must consider many of the same factors that went into the decision for undergraduate studies. Cost of attendance, location of program, job availability, job advancement, average salary post-completion, and more, should be evaluated. One advantage that many advanced degree programs have is that they favor the working individual. Classes are either online or in the evenings when most people are through working their normal, everyday shifts. I want to emphasize work for a few reasons as it pertains to graduate school studies.
While I applaud the passion and the dreams of achieving high levels of education, I also want to stress the need to build experience alongside that education. If you have any level of education, it is important to evaluate the need for the next level of education achievable. If a person has an Associate’s degree or even a certificate, has a great job with those credentials, the need to pursue a Bachelor’s degree may not exist. Careers in surgical technology, dental hygiene, and others may not require advanced degrees unless the person was expanding beyond the field itself. Areas like administration may require more schooling in some cases, but not all. Some may just require more on-the-job training.
In building a solid résumé, it is helpful to accompany your education with some type of experience that not only validates your education, but compliments it. If there exists only your number of degrees obtained and no work or life experience to back them, employers may overlook you. I know what you’re thinking: “How can I get experience if I can’t get hired?” First, understand that work experience is not the only experience to which I am referring. But let’s consider the following “experience” options:
- T. A.