Choosing the right Career Path

It may surprise you that 80% of college students change their major at least once.  Sometimes these changes are small shifts within a field of study.  However, some changes constitute major shifts that can affect your financial plan for college. One of the ways you can minimize these changes is by exploring a career path before you make your college major decision.  Let’s look at some of the tools available to help students explore a career path.

Exploring a Career Path: Career Fair

One tool to help you explore a particular career path is a career fair.  Sometimes these fairs are held at local schools, sometimes they are held in conjunction with local college fairs.  The benefit of these fairs is that you get to ask any question you may have about a particular job.  It may not offer you the specific information you need, but at least you get to meet someone who actually works in that career.

Exploring a Career Path: Shadowing/Internship

Another valuable tool is shadowing or internships.  Shadowing is simply following a person in a particular career for a short amount of time.  While an internship affords you the opportunity to actually work in a particular career for an extended amount of time.  As you can see, these opportunities allow you to actually see what a particular career would entail.  This is beneficial information to help you make a good decision when choosing a career path.

Exploring a Career Path: Career Roadmap

One tool that may be available to you is a career roadmap.  A career roadmap is an assessment tool you fill out to determine what career path may be of greatest interest to you.  The career roadmap would ask you questions to determine what career may be the best fit for you.  It certainly eliminates any career choices that would not be a good fit and may help you choose that perfect fit major for you.  A good assessment tool will include information like: pay range, average job satisfaction ratings, employment opportunity, and testimonies of people currently employed in that field of employment.

No tool will ever be able to eliminate changes in one’s college major, they will give you better confidence in your decision.  Remember, not all tools are created equally.  So choose well, and use a variety of tools.  We offer one of the best roadmaps on the market, so if you would like more information, please contact our office.

 

 

Early Decision and Early Action

October is an important month in your college planning.  It starts with the important task of filling out your FASFA but also includes an important decision.  Do you want to try to obtain admission early?  For most colleges, the deadline for early admission is November 1st, that makes October the month to apply.  Early admission offers some benefits, but the terminology can be confusing at best, and detrimental at worse.  So here are the facts about Early Decision and Early Action.

The Facts about Early Decision

Early decision is the process of applying early to your specific college with the intention of attending that college if accepted.  This is a binding agreement between the college and the student.  It shows the college that you as a student are serious about attending their college.  While it does allow the student greater opportunity to be accepted before the admission spots are taken, this form of early admission is “usually” binding.

The word “usually” offers a great amount of confusion.  While many sources say that it is totally binding, others say that it is only binding if the financial award meets the financial need.  (See our post on words of confusion.)  Also, you need to note that it is up to the family to demonstrate that the financial aid package does not meet the need.  So make sure you read the information for your specific college regarding early decisions

The Facts about Early Action

Another option is early action.  “Early action is a type of early admission process for admission to colleges and universities in the United States.”(1) The greatest benefit of early action is the fact that it is not binding.  Another benefit is that students are free to apply early to other colleges.  The student will benefit from early action because it still shows that the student is serious about attending that particular college.  The student also benefits from being able to compare the financial offerings from different colleges before making a final decision.

A new kind of hybrid option is the single choice early action option (SCEA).  While not binding, it acknowledges the students’ willingness to attend that particular college by only applying there.  The student is free to apply to other colleges during the regular admission round.

The important thing to remember is to make sure you understand your colleges’ early admission guidelines.  These guidelines are usually available online and are always available through a conversation with your admission advisor.  We think the best early admission option is Early Action since it allows you to compare financial offerings to find the best fit for your family.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_action

College Apps for the College Student

We live in a technology-driven world that is ever changing to meet the needs of its consumers.  The moves in technology happen so quickly that the consumer doesn’t even know they have a need until the latest innovation alerts us to that need.  Nowhere is this truer than on the college campus in the lives of the modern day college student.  There is no way to stay ahead of this technology curve unless of course, this is your field of study.  This is not the time to run and hide, but rather the time to make some quick technology choices that will aid your college needs.  Here are the kind of college apps for the college student that are most beneficial.

Our goal is not to give advice on specific apps, although we will name some specific apps that are getting great reviews.  But rather, to show the kinds of apps that may offer the greatest benefit for the college student.  We have come up with three primary categories relating to college life: productivity, study and financial.

Productivity College Apps

Productivity apps are defined as those apps that help you accomplish your coursework on a timely basis.  They would include your word processors, spreadsheets, note taking apps, calendar, task lists, just to name a few.  This is a large category, so let’s start super obvious.

  • You need to make sure you have your college’s online platform loaded or linked for fast access.  Many colleges are asking that assignments be loaded and dropped into an online platform like Blackboard, Dropbox, Moodle, Schoology, and others.
  • You need to have a robust planning platform.  This would include a way to track your schedule and tasks.  There are many options available from your calendar and task lists, to dedicated programs designed to track classes. One such app is entitled myHomework Student Planner.  But a simple internet search will show many other options.
  • You will need a productivity office suite.  I know this sounds simple, but make sure you have a suite that will accomplish all your student needs.
Study College Apps

Study apps are closely related to productivity apps, but these apps are more for personal help rather than submitting work to your professors.  These apps will be more about personal preference than fulfilling class requirements.  For instance, would you prefer flashcards or bullet points?  Do you learn better by reading over the notes, or practice quizzes?  Here are a few options:

  • You need a note-taking app.  You can certainly use a word processor here, but other options are available.  Evernote is a note-taking app but combined with its Studyblue, it can become flashcards and quizzes.
  • You may want a flashcard app.  There are many to choose from, so it really becomes a matter of preference.
Financial College Apps

This last category is often forgotten about by many college students.  Many don’t think they need to know this, but it is our belief that this may be the most important kind of app.  Here are two kinds of apps that are necessary to help you make the most of your college finances.

  • You need your banking institution’s app.  This is the place where you can go to check the account balances.  This is the foundational piece of your financial planning.  You need access to this information so that you don’t overspend your money.  Your bank(s) will have a free app for you to track all your accounts.
  • You need a financial budgeting app.  This app allows you to track your spending and ensure that you are staying within your college financial plan.  While the banking app offers you little choice, the budgeting app offers you maximum choice.  You can even get apps that will sync with your bank to bring their information right into their app.  One such app is Mint, but there are other like available as well.

There are certainly other apps that the college student will use like, entertainment apps, social apps, music apps, and even reading apps.  But the kind of apps we have listed above are essential.  Make sure you use the best college apps for college students.