Thursday, January 29, 2015

College Degree Programs: The Advantages of Taking Your Time

An oft-cited advantage of college programs is their rapid rate of completion. Within two or three years, you can get a practical, job-focused education, and be out of school and in the workforce. There's even fast-track single-year programs, if that's your thing. However, there's a new option available for college students who want a little bit more our of their program: Certain colleges in Toronto offer Degree Programs which run for four years, letting you get a College Degree that comes with both practical education and theory of the profession. Of course, it takes a bit longer to get this sort of degree, but there are advantages to the extra time.

The extra preparation pays off
It's better to enter the workforce prepared and later than early and unskilled. Consider what you'll be spending that extra time doing: Learning the theory along with the practical. Traditionally, theory and practical were split between university and college respectively, but in a degree program, you're getting both as one education. Rather than delaying your entry into the workforce, you're banking that extra time so you'll enter it with a broader intellectual base than the average college student, which brings us to how…

You'll need to stand out
The way to not be the "average college student" is to have a unique educational background. In a crowded job market, that unique background can cut you ahead of the mob and put your resume to the top of the pile (sometimes literally). Possessing both a university's theoretical education and a college's practical training is one way to stand out, demonstrating your special perspective on the career you wish to enter.

Maturity and wisdom is important
Consider yourself and your viewpoints a short two years ago, and how they've changed in the interim. There's a significant difference between entering the workforce at 20 and 23, and 23 and 26. It's a cliche, but this phase of your life is a time of change, and over the course of a few years your ideas, perspective, and personality will shift. Entering the workforce a few years later can put you ahead of the crowd strictly by making you a slightly more mature, wiser voice.

You'll learn what you really want
As your maturity level shifts, so too does your outlook on your job and your career. While Degree Programs at institutions like Centennial College focus on a specific career, there's room for variation within that career, and electives to be taken so you can focus on a specific aspect. Over the course of those four years, you'll have a chance to examine every facet of your career, and decide what area of it really want to be in, and what suits you best. That time to consider what you want out of life before making the leap into the workforce will be immensely valuable.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Step Outside The Classroom: Why College is More Than Your Courses

Your academics will always be important to your success in life. They're not the only factor, however, and there's more that you should be doing when you're in college than simply attending classes and doing the work. The social experience that comes with spending time at a Toronto College attending events, joining clubs, or simply hanging around can be equally valuable. It's not slacking. It's an investment in your future. Here's why:

Social links will help you in times of need
Everyone needs some help sometimes, and having the support of a community of student friends will be valuable when the going gets tough in school. Whether it's getting assignments finished, sharing resources like notes or textbooks, or just having someone to vent to when stress gets to you, there's numerous advantages.

Take studying for an exam, for example. I've found in the past that the best way to learn a subject is to attempt to explain it to someone else. Having to teach a subject embeds it in your own mind, and having a friend teach it back to you makes it an equal exchange. And on top of that, even if you think you've studied all the important bits, having someone else's perspective when cramming is an excellent way to pick up on things you possibly hadn't thought of.

Those social connections will also link you to a career
Getting a job these days is all about who you know, a process formally known as networking. Students, teachers, guest lecturers, and anyone else you need in school who's vaguely connected to your career field can be a potential connection to a job, so getting to know those around you is an essential part of the employment game.

There's ways other than networking that these social connections can help you, too. For one thing, you're going to have to do at least a few job interviews in your lifetime, and they include the question "tell us how your friends describe you?" Inevitably, you'll need to know some of those opinions. And even if that's not the question, it's harder than you think to describe yourself. Having some friends describe you can be a shortcut to that particular answer.

You'll need to know how for your job.
Life experience is more important than grades, and there's one practical bit of life experience that they don't teach in a classroom: How to connect with people. No matter your profession, you're going to need to know how. It could be to get the job, or it could simply be while you're on the job, interacting with coworkers and customers. Practice makes perfect, and the supportive ecosystem that is college is the perfect place to hone that skill. Socialization is universal, and something everyone should look into developing. After all, the people around you, being in the same school and being at the same point in their lives, all have something to talk about with you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Succeed in a Joint Program: Five Easy Steps

One of the many options for a student looking for a quality post-secondary education is a joint journalism program between a college and university. In this case, a joint program has you taking classes at a university for a Bachelors Degree Program, then heading to college for a practical diploma focused around the same area of study. There's numerous advantages to this set up. For one thing, you get to leave with both theoretical and practical knowledge of a subject, and leave the program with both a degree and a diploma. More advantageous to your personal development is the fact that you'll get to attend two different campuses, and get a slice of two different sorts of student life. This will prove to be the key to your success, and here's how to take advantage of it:

1) Focus on skills development, not grades
Obviously, you still need to do well, but bear in mind both of these schools are supposed to be helping you, and you're not there to serve them. You're at college for job skills, and university for mental skills. Pay attention to what abilities you can pull from your program, and be prepared to nurture them, and show them off in your portfolio, your resume, and job interviews.

2) Take writing seriously
Out of all the skills you can learn, you should always pay attention to writing. Even in the digital age, you'll still need to send emails, resumes, cover letters, proposals, and other formal communications. And in both college and university, you'll be writing assignments, too. Take the time to learn how to communicate clearly and formally, and you'll always have an advantage over those that can't, regardless of the career. Speaking of careers…

3) Search for the exact career that suits you
Even if you're taking a narrow subject, there's still a a broad set of careers you can find yourself in. And if you're in a joint program, you'll get an increased perspective on what you can become when school's over. And it's important that you do, because your career will define part of your life, so it's important you find one that's rewarding, fits your strengths, and that you find enjoyable.

4) Take advantage of the smaller classes
By the time you reach the college part of the program, you'll be able to appreciate the pros of not inhabiting a 300 person lecture hall, namely the fact that your professor will know who you are, your questions have a good chance of being answered, and you will receive a more personalized education. Be sure to make use of this, and develop those skills as well as you can.

5) Pay attention to the people
They'll be the ones getting you the job, albeit indirectly by networking. And attending a joint program means you'll find yourself on two campuses, with double the network of people. So, get to know teachers and students alike, forge some bonds, and be prepared to see those bonds lead you to post-school career success.

Degree Programs: Using That Extra Time Wisely

A typical college course is over in about two years, the goal being to connect you to a career faster. But there's a special sort of college program in existence for students who understand the advantage of taking the time to acquire a broader intellectual base along with their skills. Called College Degree Programs, they run for four years, and focus on adding theoretical training to the practical skills training commonly associated with a college program. While it does take a bit longer to get this sort of degree, there's things a student can do to make use of that time while they get their Toronto degree, specifically, prepping for the job market. After all, you'll need a job when all this is over, and while your education will open a path as directly as it can, it's up to you to take your own steps down that path. Here's what you can do to prepare.

Figure out the skills you need and the skills you have
Near the beginning of your program, do a bit of research on your ideal job or your ideal company to work at, and figure out what skills you'll need to have that job or work there. After that, focus on acquiring those skills, through classes or through independent study. Of course, college programs are all about ensuring you're equipped with skills, but in a four-year program you can do due diligence to make sure you have them all.

Really polish that resume
This includes making sure you have things to put on them, which links back into the skills training mentioned above. Spend that time studying how to make a good resume that really highlights what you do, and is unique enough to stand out, but not to the point of needless ornamentation. Fortunately, the career centre at your college will be able to help you out, and you should become well-acquainted with that place.

Build a portfolio, too
Speaking of a portfolio, you'd be surprised at how few applicants bother to create one. It's an excellent way to show a proof-of-concept of the work you can do, by showing the work you've done. A good portfolio is both a personal website, and something physical you can hand off to an employer in the middle of an interview. So, begin looking for assignments or achievements that are particularly noteworthy, and document them.

Don't be afraid to modify your plans
It may come to pass over those four years that you decide your specific goals don't necessarily fit you. There's a variety of reasons for this. Maybe you've done the research and found elements of your job that you don't care for, or a particular strand of career that suits you better. Or maybe you've realized you're good at something else entirely. Don't let this intimidate you. It's better to pick a career path you're happy and talented at, and the extra time afforded by a four-year degree program lets you figure yourself out before you graduate, with no need for hindsight.

Monday, January 26, 2015

On Electives in College: Discover Your Passion

When leaving high school and picking your college program, you hopefully have a solid idea of what you want to do as a career. But when choosing your college courses, you may find yourself having to take mandatory electives, or courses that seem to have little to nothing to do with your chosen profession, or else don't cover an area of the career you're interested in doing. Basically, they're the equivalent to that subject in high school you weren't good at, only in a post-secondary setting. You may wonder why you have to take them, but they shouldn't be written off. College is all about giving you necessary job skills, so you're taking those classes for a reason. These reasons include…

Those skills may prove useful later
Just because you're not fond of what a course teaches doesn't mean you won't need it eventually. For example, if you're in journalism, you may be disinterested in photography, but have to take it as part of the program. Maybe you're bad at photography, or uninterested, and don't intend to do it as a part of your subsequent career. But in a field that requires everyone to be multimedia savvy, you may find yourself called on to be a photojournalist anyway, and when that time comes, you'll be grateful to have the skills, even if they were begrudgingly acquired. Indeed, if you're not good at the subject, it becomes even more important that you study it, like it or not. Furthermore, not having those skills may cause you to be locked out of the jobs you really want, so the college is simply avoiding killing your career before it even begins.

You can keep your interests varied
Maybe you have interests outside of your chosen career path that aren't covered in your program. Electives can be a way of keeping your interests in your life while making them a part of your education. After all, not all of your education has to pertain to directly advancing your career. Your happiness is important, too, and a course about your non-career-related interests can be a welcome breather between your dryer academic pursuits. It may even be the key to an unknown future path, too.

You may discover your true passion
In the long run, you may discover your program of study isn't the best fit for you. It happens, and the important thing is knowing when to change tracks and choose a program that does suit you. One method of finding that is through your electives. If there was something you liked better than your main program, it may turn out to be the career for you.

So, don't grumble about taking a few electives. Indeed, experiment a bit and choose some odd things you have no prior experience in, and aim towards expanding your marketable skills. You have no idea the strange things you're good at until you try, and you never know what will enhance your career, or lead you to a new one.