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The One College Assignment That Actually Matters

college assignment
I sometimes find myself wondering how my college assignments could possibly relate to my future career. It seems like I memorize all these theories and concepts, without knowing their practical applications. I mean seriously, has anyone in the real world ever dissected a sentence?! My favorite professors are the rare ones who make an attempt to relate what we’re learning to our futures. It’s often through assignments/projects that I’ve been able to see the things I learn in college extending into my “real life”. Lately, it seems that all my professors this semester are talking about that “portfolio” we’re supposed to be compiling.  So what exactly is a professional portfolio and how do I make one?

The point of a portfolio is to be able to showcase real examples of your work to those interviewing you. It’s a way to show off your skills and strengths as a professional. What does my portfolio contain? I have writing samples from the blogs that I write for (this being one!), a letter of recommendation, feature stories I wrote for my internship over this summer and class assignments that are comparable to tasks I’d have in the workforce. I also make sure I have a few copies of my current resume just in case. I know some people keep their own personal business cards in their portfolio, as well as ones they receive.

Ultimately, what you put in your professional portfolio is up to you—whatever you think future employers would be impressed by. If you have special awards or achievements, show them off! This is your time to shine. College is a four-year period that allows you to build up and add to this crucial piece for your future, so it’s important you have something to show for it!

5 Professions That Require a Master’s Degree

While the economic forecast may make you gloomy, it will give you peace of mind to know that many industry sectors today are thriving. What does that mean for you? You guessed it: jobs do exist!

grad school professionsBut professional success won’t necessarily come fast and easy. Some of the best and most lucrative career paths require significant applied intelligence, creativity, and hard work. They also may require years of formal training involving some higher education, such as a master’s degree. Below are career paths that require a master’s degree for you to evaluate and see if one is right for you:

1) School Administrator – Master’s or doctoral educational administration degrees are available for students seeking a career in education. Such degrees will qualify students to work as school principals, assistant principals, educational board members, or faculty advisors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment rates for post-secondary school administrators will grow by 19 percent between 2010 and 2020, and the median annual salary in 2010 was $83,710 for post-secondary school administrators.

2) Marriage and Family Therapist – A Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy will provide students with the experience necessary to practice in this field. According to the BLS, most marriage and family therapists in the U.S. work for service or government-run agencies, outpatient care centers, or at physicians’ offices. Employment is predicted to grow by 37 percent through 2020, and the median annual salary in 2010 was $39,710.

3) Social Worker – To enter the workforce as a social worker, you will need to earn a master’s degree in clinical social work. According to the BLS, this field is expected to grow by 25 percent through 2020, and, in 2010, social workers earned a median annual salary of $42,480.

4) Physician Assistant – Accredited master’s degrees will qualify physician assistants to perform medical diagnostics and procedures under the supervision of physicians, as well as provide a license for them to practice. According to the BLS, employment in this field will increase by 30 percent from 2010 and 2020, largely due to healthcare industry expansion, and the median annual salary for the position in 2010 was $86,410.

5) Computer and Information Research Scientist – Breaking into this field requires a Master’s or Ph.D. in Computer Science to better prepare workers for all aspects of computer and information science. According to the BLS, this occupation will increase by 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, and, in 2010, the average annual salary wage was $100,600.

The above positions will provide a rewarding career path for you, as well as substantial financial benefits. However, in order to gain employment in these fields, you must earn a master’s degree, which will provide you with a competitive edge in today’s tough job market.

Mandy Fricke is the community manager for Elearners.com where she helps manage their online community for their master’s programs. In her free time she enjoys biking, traveling, and reading in coffee shops.

(Sources available upon request)

Things to Work on This Summer (Besides Your Tan)

As the semester is ending, the only thing on my mind is summer. While I wish I could spend my summer lounging around, the sad reality is that I can’t. This summer I’ll be working part-time, working two on-site internships, as well as blogging for eCampus.com. Maybe you don’t want to spend your summer like me, but there’s something everyone can do to be productive during break. The following are my recommendations for ways to have a productive summer break.

enjoying the sun

1. Work. Working allows me to save up money so I don’t have to work as much during the school year. If working part-time is the only thing you’ll be doing this summer, then you’ll still have plenty of time to relax and hang out with your friends.

2. Intern. Internships are the best way to get experience related to your field. Unfortunately, many internships don’t pay, so doing one in the summer can allow you to work without trying to juggle school and work too. But the important thing about internships isn’t the money; it’s getting real experience. Internships are also a great way to gain pieces for your professional portfolio. If you don’t know where to start looking, check out internships.com (that’s how I got this position)!

3. Volunteer. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something good. Countless organizations take volunteers, especially during the summer. Volunteering is a way to do something you’re passionate about outside of school.

4. Study abroad. If there were one thing I wish I could do, it would be to study abroad. While it may be pricey, there are options to take care of the finances. There are numerous national study abroad programs, and your school may have its own study abroad program. Learning or working in a foreign country is a great resume enhancer.

5. Personal improvement. If the above don’t seem like your thing, you at least owe yourself some “me” time after a long semester. Start a new fitness routine, read a book, or take up a new hobby. There are endless ways to spend your summer. You don’t want to waste three months with nothing to show.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing for a few days after finals and enjoying the sun, but it is important to have a plan. The longer you sit around, the harder it will be to get back on schedule.  What are your plans for making this summer the best it can be?

2014 Best Grad Schools:Inside the Guide [An Infographic]

So you’re about to graduate college – congrats! What now?

As the economy recovers, so does the job market, allowing new opportunities to emerge. This is great news for those who are currently in college! However, many of these jobs require candidates to have more than an undergraduate degree. It is predicted that 2.6 million new jobs will be created between 2010 and 2020, and that individuals with masters or doctoral degrees will be the ones to fill those spots.

Many students are turning to graduate school as a way of carving a niche for themselves in today’s competitive job market. Grad school can be a risky bet which could land you in a deep pit of student loan debt, or it could result in a dream job with a six-digit salary. Such a commitment requires a great deal of research, and with the growing number of programs offered it can quickly become an overwhelming process. Meeting with advisers and professors is a great starting point, but most students will want to do some investigating on their own. It is important to gather a wide variety of non-biased information, but with the endless amount of websites, books and blog articles dedicated to “facts” about grad school, it can be difficult to find high-quality sources. This is why I recommend U.S. News & World Report’s annual Grad Guide.

Best Grad Schools Infographic

 

Each year, U.S. News & World Report surveys thousands of programs and academic professionals to create a guidebook that helps students navigate the world of graduate school. For the second year in a row, eCampus.com has taken some key information from this elaborate, 200+ page grad guide and created an infographic to help students streamline their research. The goal behind this piece, as with all infographics, is to take a large amount of information and condense it into a unique graphic that’s easy to understand. Similar to the 2013 grad school infographic, The Good & The Bad in Bad, this 2014 edition highlights trends regarding admissions, debt and salaries for the top five professional fields (Business, Education, Engineering, Health & Medicine and Law).

New this year is a section called the “Virtual Path”, which describes the growth in options for online graduate programs. There is also the option to attend a partially online program, where some classroom attendance is required. Such opportunities are favored among non-traditional students who may have children or a full-time job. As this trend increases you will find that there are some great resources for affordable online education programs.

As graduate school becomes a more prevalent option for those holding college degrees, it is important that this decision is made with all of the right information at hand. This infographic should not be used to replace your grad school research, but it is a great way to quickly gather information and gain an understanding of new trends in the academic and professional worlds.

Good luck to all who join me in the pursuit of a higher-education!

To view the full infographic, and purchase your copy of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 guidebook at 10% off list price, visit http://www.ecampus.com/best-grad-schools.asp or click the above image.

The Good & The Bad in Grad [An Infographic]

Are you approaching graduation and thinking about going to grad school? Or maybe you’ve been out of school for several years and are contemplating a return, but you’re wondering if it’s worth it. This is a question that many soon-to-be, as well as current, college graduates are faced with on a daily basis. When taking into consideration the present state of the job market, more and more students are turning to higher education as a means of differentiating themselves and taking their careers to the next level. The decision to pursue grad school has also become a way of “buying” more time and avoiding the harsh realities of our slowly recovering economy.

Grad school, U.S. News & World Report

Click the image above to view the full infographic.

However, making the decision to go to graduate school is not as simple as one would hope. Students are forced to look into the inevitable financial burdens and intense time commitments associated with graduate level programs. Throughout this process students scour the web for trustworthy information on various programs and career paths to consider. One of the most credible sources they rely on is the U.S. News & World Report.

Each year they release a guidebook to the Best Grad Schools in the nation, but for the first time ever eCampus.com has decided to put a new spin on these rankings by creating an innovative visual in the form of an infographic. Using their findings on the top five professional fields (Business, Health & Medicine, Law, Engineering and Education), we’ve managed to take a large amount of useful information and condense it into a unique, easy to digest graphic. Our goal here, as with all of our infographics,  is to bring you a large amount of practical information in the fastest and easiest way possible.

This infographic provides some of the hard-to-swallow facts about graduate school, and whether or not the time and money spent obtaining that advanced degree will really yield the results many students are hopeful for. With “The Good and Bad in Grad” exposed, eCampus.com hopes this fun and helpful visual guides prospective grad students to make the right decision for their future. What are your thoughts? Is Grad school something you’ve been considering?

To access the full infographic, please click the image.