graduate

Advice for Every Year of College

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It’s officially August! We all know what that means: classes will be starting before we know it. No matter what year of college you’re entering this fall, keep these little tokens of advice in mind.

 move-in

Freshmen: Welcome! I am so excited for you. Even if you loved high school, try not to hang on to it too much. Also, get to know your professors and advisors! They are only there to help and want to see you succeed. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things. This is the best time!

 study abroad

Sophomores: So you’ve got a year under your belt and you’re not so new around campus anymore. Approach each opportunity with the same enthusiasm that you did as a freshman. Use this year to get a few internships under your belt or study abroad before you have to start taking your upper level classes.

 college-student

Juniors: The past two years flew by super fast and the next two will fly just as fast so don’t miss a minute of it. Classes are going to get harder this year and you’ll get incredibly sick of people asking you about grad school. Hang in there.

 college grads

Seniors: Is it senior year already?! Make sure you’re keeping your GPA up even though senioritis is surely kicking in. Make sure your resume is in tip top shape for the job search that is quickly approaching. Some companies will even hire you before you graduate. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk across the stage with a diploma and a job waiting for you?

 What advice would you pass on to incoming students? Share your advice in the comments below!

5 Important Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

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There are some things you are definitely going to want to master before you finish college.  Finding a job after college is harder than ever and you want to be as prepared as possible.  You’ll likely start in an entry-level position and this list will prepare you for what lies ahead!

1. Photoshop

 photoshop

The world is becoming increasingly digital.  Any company you end up working for has a website and one or more social media accounts.  Photoshop is a great skill to have in your arsenal because it will likely come in handy for a great number of future projects.  Photoshop can help you create/adjust logos, flyers, newsletters, etc.  This is an excellent skill to have on a resume because potential employers will see it as a great asset!

2. Microsoft Office

microsoft office

This may seem obvious, but knowing all the ins and outs of Microsoft Office is essential.  Don’t just know how to use the basics of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, know how to use every feature of each program.  You’ll likely be using Microsoft Office a lot in whatever job you have and you’re going to want to know everything you can; it’ll make your professional life much easier!

3. How to Use a Copy Machine Extensively

Copy Machine

When you’re first starting out in your professional life, the Copier is going to be a big part of your routine.  The last thing you want is to be the person that breaks the copier or needs help using it; to avoid this, take the time to learn how to use all of the features of one of the copy machines on campus—it may not be the exact machine you will have at your future job but it is a great start.  Also look over the machine to know how to fix it when it jams and how to change the toner!

4. How to Write a Professional Email

email

 This is extremely important.  In most jobs, you will be corresponding with many different people and you want to always make a good, professional impression.  Whether it is an email between you and a co-worker, you and your boss, or you and a client/affiliate of the company, you want to make sure you come across as intelligent, organized, and professional.  This is also an important skill when you are emailing with a potential employer about an interview!

5. Social Media

social media

Learn the ins and outs of several social media platforms.  Most companies several social media accounts, so having a lot of knowledge about Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is really important.  Having these skills is also great for your resume.  If you notice that your company has yet to make an account for a social media platform that is or is becoming very popular, suggest that they make one and maybe even offer to create and run it for them.  This shows initiative and can lead to more opportunities and responsibilities!

Should You Go to Grad School?

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The following is a guest post from Margaret Mannix the Executive Editor of U.S. News & World Report’s best-selling higher education reference books, including Best Graduate Schools 2013 and Best Colleges 2012.

Given today’s economic turmoil, corporate belt-tightening, and abysmal unemployment rate, a second degree could mean a higher salary, a big career boost if you’re already out there in the working world, or an exciting new direction if you’re still floundering around with that part-time job at the mall. It’s a pricey proposition—you’re talking tuition and fees of $9,000 at public universities and more than $20,000 at private schools—but the payoff could be tremendous: People with master’s degrees earn more over their lifetimes than those with baccalaureate degrees.

For many of you 20-somethings, the decision might be a no-brainer. Coming out of grad school in your 20s or early 30s means you’ll have decades of high-earning power. And just think what that fatter paycheck will help with—rent, clothes, a car, and those student loan payments that seem to have no end. But—and this is a huge caveat—pulling in the big bucks in this day and age depends on your chosen field. The median salary for someone with a master’s in engineering is $107,600, according to a recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. That’s more than twice what someone with a master’s in English will earn.

Here are some things to think about if grad school is on your horizon (and you’ll find much more advice in our just-published Best Graduate Schools 2013 book!):

*Do your homework—and not just in choosing a program. Grill the career service people at all the schools you’re researching: Ask how many grads got jobs, what kind, and how long it took to get them. Ask about the long-term career path. Ask about the starting salaries for the jobs—and when you can expect a bump up in pay. Ask where all the good jobs are.

*For aspiring B-school grads, while the boom times aren’t back yet, there are definitely some bright spots. The tech sector is hiring more M.B.A.s, and international firms are seeking talented grads to help them take advantage of emerging markets like China.

*Prospects for newly minted engineers are excellent, with robust demand across the board—especially in electrical, biomedical, aerospace, computer, mechanical, and petroleum engineering, to name a few.

*Med school applicants will find that primary care practitioners are enjoying a seller’s market. Openings for nurse practitioners and physician assistants abound, too, and get this: One expert told U.S. News that more than 90 percent of people with a master’s in nursing nab a job within six months of graduating.

*Would-be J.D.’s might want to consider healthcare and intellectual property law, which are showing signs of rejuvenation thanks to recent legislation on healthcare, patents, and financial services.

eCampus.com has the absolute lowest price you will find for the Best Graduate Schools 2013 guide.

The College Graduate Checklist

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The following is a guest post from Noël Rozny of myFootPath.com

Right about now, you’re probably crawling out from underneath a pile of library books, term papers, and exam notes, feeling like you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you’re right, the school year is almost over, which means that if you’re a senior, you’ll be graduating soon. Congratulations!

While you should reward yourself for completing your degree program, don’t take a break for too long. There are many other details that need your attention now that school is winding down. To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a College Graduate checklist that will help make the transition in the “real world” a little bit easier.

5 Things Every College Grad Needs After Graduation

Job Search Tools

You might have already started your job search, but if not, now’s the time. For a successful job search, you’ll need a polished resume, 3-4 professional references, and a strong professional network. If you’ve never compiled a resume, you should be able to get some free guidance at your school’s career center. Professors, former employers, and student organization supervisors all make great references, so check in with those individuals now to see if they’ll speak on your behalf. As for networking, start with references, colleagues, coaches, and anyone else you’ve collaborated with in the past four years. Contact them about your job search, connect with them on LinkedIn, and pick their brain for any tips or job opportunities they know of.

An Apartment

If you’ve been living in the dorms the past four years, one of the first things you need to do before graduation is line up a place to live. Finding an apartment that fits your needs and price range can take a few weeks, so get started now. Make a list of what you want, what you don’t want, and start contacting apartment companies. Don’t forget that you’ll need money for a security deposit (anywhere from a month to two month’s rent), basic furniture (this is where futons come in handy) and to get the utilities (electricity, water, gas and cable) turned on in your name.

Health Insurance

While you were in college, chances are that you were on your parent’s health insurance. The good news is that you can stay on you’re their plan for a few more years, until you’re 26, so if the internship or job you’re starting after graduation doesn’t offer a plan, you’re covered. If you do decide to switch insurance plans to what you’re employer is offering, make sure there are no gaps in your coverage, as that can currently affect your ability to receive treatment for pre-existing conditions.

A Work Wardrobe

Even if you luck out and land a job at a company with a relaxed dress code, you’ll still need a good suit or two for client meetings, corporate events, and business trips. Business clothes are expensive, so maximize your dollars by buying one or two suits in neutral colors, like black or gray, and variety of dress shirts in a different colors.

Retirement Plans

I know retirement probably seems very far away. But now is actually a crucial time in your retirement planning. Putting away a set amount each month, no matter how small, can have a huge impact on how much you’ll have when that golden day arrives. If you’re employer offers a 401(k) or similar plan, getting started should be pretty easy. If not, you can meet with a financial advisor and get started on your own.

I know the items on this checklist might seem overwhelming, but with the help of those who have gone before you (parents, an older sibling, an aunt or uncle) it’s all very doable, and the sooner you start, the easier your transition will be. Good luck!

Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Visit myFootpath.com to find the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD program that’s right for you.