Graduation

Till Death (or graduation) Do You Part – Selecting a Research Topic

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romance 1
The topics you studied in the general ed classes of your undergraduate years were one night stands; fun for the semester, but rarely thought about after. Selecting a research topic in grad school is the equivalent of dating in your late twenties; you’re looking for something serious that through all the toils and trials, will stand the test of time.

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Picking a subject that already has a fair amount of existing research is usually a smart way to begin your academic marriage. This probably seems counterproductive as you are thinking “Why would I pick something that already has been researched to death? What could I possibly discover.”As any experienced student will tell you, the starting point of all research papers is the literature review: the portion of the paper where you cite the works of people much smarter and more accomplished than yourself. One day, some wet behind the ears first year may be citing one of your many published works but for now, your professor is going to expect a certain number of citations to earn a passing grade. So while the 14th century mating habits of the indigenous people of Utah may sound like a winning topic, if your EBSCOhost search returns only three results, you my want to venture in a different direction.

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When you reach a certain age, you’re going to want to expand your family from just you and your partner, to a few children and maybe a corgi. As with your relationship, you’ll find it wise to select a topic in which you can branch out on during your time in your program. Keeping in mind you are selecting a thesis that you’ll be with from your intro class to your capstone, you most certainly will want one that will give you the most milage. My topic area of Greek Life has spawned research projects on diversity, privilege, academic success and hazing ethics. You and your topic will be expected to reproduce numerous times during your program, so pick one that is fertile.

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The most important aspect in choosing your topic area, is selecting something you are actually interested in. As with your significant other, you’re going to spend much time with your research topic. All of those long evenings hunched over your laptop in a coffee house or late nights closing down the library will be much more enjoyable if you’re studying something that piques and holds your attention. Just as passion fuels the fires of your romances, may it incite your academic pursuits as well.

Is College Worth It?

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Some say college may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth your time and money. Granted, the rising cost of tuition and other college expenses isn’t cheap, but there are far more benefits to earning a degree than not. Not only will there be a greater increase in economic mobility after graduation, but college is also perfect for meeting new people, networking and landing that dream job.

college stats

Statistically, those who graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree made  98 percent more  than those who only had a high school diploma. Those are some good odds! One study also found that those who finished at a four year institution were expected to earn 1.2 million more than those who didn’t.

The advantages of college doesn’t just stop at higher pay grades. It has overall life benefits as well. They are said to be happier and healthier due to better access to healthcare and the ability for more leisure activities.

If paying for college is an issue, there are many avenues you can take to make the situation less of a burden. There are a whole range of scholarships offered to incoming freshman based on what you are majoring in or your age. Checking the colleges’ webpage will give you a better understanding of what is being offered.  Another route is through loans that can be found with low interest and financial aid. If you are working during the school year, many loan companies will allow you to pay the interest on the loan; cutting the price upon graduation.

In the end, college is an investment and with all investments, there are possible risks. But what can be more important than an investment in yourself?

Why You Should Intern in College

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Interns Wanted

 

Since starting my college journey last year I have learned a couple of things: a load of laundry makes wallets cry , coffee is a lifesaver, and the official 8 am class attire is PJs and bedhead. I can, however, say that one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the importance of internships.

So why exactly should you intern in college?

1. Internships present the opportunity to confirm your choice in major.
You’re young; it’s okay to change your mind once or twice, heck maybe even five times. College is the time to discover yourself, I mean isn’t that what growing up is about? That’s what Internships are for; they allow you to experience something firsthand to see if you could picture yourself continuing to do in the future.

 

2. Internships help provide a smooth transition from the classroom to the workforce.
Think of an Internship as a bridge, it connects one side to the other. Internships allow you to develop skills that you can’t learn from reading a textbook or sitting through a theory class. Much internship often requires you to complete critical projects and occasionally heavy research that will help prepare you for future job assignments.

3. Internships allow you to sample a company without having to commit.
Let’s be honest here, commitment is a scary thing. Luckily, internships allow you the opportunity to test out the company, managers, coworkers and the work environment without any repercussions. How cool is that you get to test out a possible future employer without any strings attached?

4. An Internship often leads to a job.
Companies look to hire well-trained, quick learners, self-motivated, and hardworking individuals. Many supervisors give feedback to help interns strengthen professional skills before entering the workforce.

5. Internships allow you to network.
In today’s modern day society it’s no longer about what you know, it’s about who you know. Building up credential through internships helps get your name out there and meet people who could potentially be your boss, coworker, or maybe even future business partner

I can’t stress this enough, an internship is the most powerful credential you can have on your resume upon graduation

The 2013 SAT and ACT Guide

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standardized-testingIt’s that time of year again. Soon, high school students all around the country will begin taking standardized tests for college. Whether you’re taking the ACT or SAT, it’s always nice to have some pre-test advice. And while I can’t exactly help you with the actual test questions, I can answer some common questions that many students may have.

Q: Where do I sign up for the test?

A: For the SAT, head over to the official SAT website and follow the instructions to register for your test. Do the same thing at the official ACT site to register for the ACT. Public and private schools around the country are made available for testing, so search through the list of nearby schools and choose the testing site that works best for you.

Q: Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

A: While most colleges and universities only require one of these tests, it can help to take both. Many colleges require, or prefer, SAT scores over ACT scores. I recommend taking the SAT first, and the ACT can always act as another positive to add to your transcript. Before signing up, look at which colleges you are applying to, and see which test they prefer.

Q: Should I study?

A: Absolutely. There are many SAT/ACT prep courses, websites, books, etc all meant to boost your scores. While the tests are labeled as standardized, some information, such as vocabulary, will prove challenging to many students. I guarantee if you spend time in any of the above listed prep opportunities, your score WILL be much higher.

Q: What do I need to score?

A: Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. However, there are helpful resources to help you decide. Some colleges and universities weight SAT/ACT scores heavier than others. Also, some colleges ask for higher scores than others do. I, once again, highly recommend visiting your prospective colleges’ websites and looking for their past class statistics and requirements.

Q: Do I need to take any SAT II’s?

A: SAT II’s are subject tests the SAT offers to test a student’s knowledge in a particular subject. Depending on your major selection, and college choice, you might be required to take an SAT II in a relevant subject area. As an engineering major, I didn’t take any SAT II’s. However, I know that those students who did take them had an enormous leg up in the application process.

Q: What tips do you have for actually taking these tests?

A: Relax! Study far ahead of time so you aren’t cramming last minute. On the days before the test make sure you get lots of rest and relaxation. Cramming before the tests will NOT be pleasant for anyone involved, I promise. Make sure you eat a decent breakfast before the test, and just stay calm!

I know that taking the SAT/ACT can be very stressful, but if you make sure you study ahead of time, I promise you’ll do well. Check your school or library for any books or tips on SAT information, and check out the websites mentioned above for any more things that I might have forgotten. Good luck!

5 Professions That Require a Master’s Degree

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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)