And some grads are facing issues where they either aren’t making enough to pay off student debt or their potential employers are requiring them to have three to five years of previous experience. Despite these concerns, however, there are ways that students can cut down on educational costs and ways to gain experience.
Take Free Online Courses & Tutorials
Because of online learning platforms, distance education is easier than ever and often much cheaper than paying for college room and board. However, if a student is on an extremely tight budget, there are actually massive open online courses (MOOCs) that offer free coursework. For instance, Coursera offers verified certifications for a cost, but it also has free courses on subjects such as computer science, foreign languages, business, the humanities, and the like.
If a student is in a creative field, such as graphic arts, a degree may not be as valuable as developing a portfolio of artwork. MOOC sites offer free tutorials for useful computer programs, like the Adobe Creative Suiteâ€”that way, students can show employers that they have the ability to learn and work with many different programs.
Apply for Many Internships & Network
A study that was conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education surprisingly found that academic-based attributes weren’t nearly as important to employers as experience-based attributesâ€”namely internships and employment during college. An internship is a great benefit not only because it will provide experience, but because some are paid and can mitigate student debt.
There are numerous internship databases at sites like internmatch.com, idealist.com, indeed.com, internships.com, etc.; however, one of the greatest resources students have at their disposal are professors on campus. If a student develops a relationship with one or two professors, he or she has a better chance of not only getting an internship from them, but getting a foot in the door in regards to networking and meeting a professor’s circle of colleagues. Along with networking among professors, students should network with as many of their classmates as possible instead of seeing them as future competition. Sites like meetup.com are not only good resources for students to socialize, but they also have student groups solely for professional development and networking.
Be Picky About Which Certificates to Pursue
As previously mentioned, along with higher education and experience, a student may wonder if he or she should picky about what certifications programs to enroll in. If a course costs money because of a certification and is free without one, then it may be better to stick with the free courseâ€”especially since some employers don’t weigh certifications as much compared to other resume elements. So what certifications should a student pursue? Advanced certifications like a CPA, CFA, FSA, LPC, etc., are often best because they can greatly increase not only your job opportunities but your salary too.
If a student isn’t quite sure whether or not they should save their money or spend a little extra for a certification, they should peruse industry pages at sites like LinkedIn. They will have a better idea of what certifications really matter for jobs they are interested and avoid overpaying for certification programs they don’t need.
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