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5 Continuing Education Options for Engineers

Engineer1Engineers who have grown bored with their jobs and want to explore other career options should consider pursuing a master’s degree. Not only will having a master’s heighten your appeal to prospective employers, the knowledge you gain while earning your degree will expand your professional repertoire. If you’re ready to take your engineering career to the next level, there are a number of options for you to consider.

Master of Science in Engineering Management

If you’re interested in overseeing the technical aspects of a business, pursue a degree online as a Master of Science of Engineering Management. This degree provides engineering students with the necessary skills to organize and control company databases. With a course curriculum comprised of computer science and business management classes, students will essentially be learning two valuable trades. Engineers with this type of degree often head their companies’ engineering departments and make larger salaries than their peers. Additionally, the technical skills you’ll acquire while earning your degree will ensure you’re well-equipped to oversee your department’s technology-based projects.

Master of Bioengineering

Engineering students with an insatiable interest in science should look into a Master’s in Bioengineering. The exact curriculum varies from school to school, but most bioengineering programs require students to complete a fascinating assortment of courses on cell creation and manipulation. The knowledge you gain from these courses will make you a sought-after job prospect for corporate labs and pharmaceutical companies. Graduates who want to make inroads into curing widespread diseases can pursue careers in public health.

According to U.S. News & World Report, biomedical engineering is a rapidly growing field. Between 2008 and 2018, biomedical engineering has a projected growth rate of over 70 percent, making a degree in this field an enticing prospect for engineering students who are itching to join the workforce. With a median salary of $80,000, you won’t find many biomedical engineers with insufficient funds. Furthermore, bioengineers who work in medical equipment design have been known to make upwards of $100,000 annually. The sizable salaries associated with this field make a career in bioengineering a tempting option for engineers looking to support a family.

Master of Engineering in Management

Similar to a Master of Science in Engineering Management degree, this type of degree provides students with business management skills while placing a strong emphasis on technology. Courses on computer science and system management constitute the bulk of a Master of Engineering in Management curriculum. With the ability to manage large groups of workers and a knack for solving technical problems, you can become an essential part of any business lucky enough to land you as a hire. Armed with a Master of engineering in management degree, you’ll have no problem overseeing a company’s technology department.

In our increasingly tech-laden society, job applicants who possess management know-how and technological savvy are heavily favored by employers. Earning a Master of Engineering in Management degree will ensure your post-graduation job prospects are strong.

Master of Engineering in Manufacturing

Engineers with aspirations of working in product design and distribution will benefit from earning a Master of Engineering in Manufacturing degree. When pursuing this degree, you’ll complete a wide range of courses on marketing and industrial manufacturing.

After graduating, you’ll feel right at home in the manufacturing department of any business. As a manufacturing engineer, you will play an integral role in designing both products and packaging. In addition, you’ll help develop ways to make your company’s manufacturing process more efficient.

Master of Financial Engineering

Students with a knack for crunching numbers will enjoy pursuing a Master of Financial Engineering degree. With a curriculum composed largely of advanced math and economics courses, this type of degree gives engineers the skills to thrive in the financial sector. Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll have a fair number of job prospects. Not only will you be qualified to head a business’s accounting department, you can also seek your fortune on Wall Street and join a successful brokerage firm.

Since engineers are natural problem solvers who are always eager to tackle new challenges, many of them will jump at the chance to continue their education. Instead of viewing continued education as a chore, determined engineers are sure to see this opportunity as the precursor to bold new adventures.


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What to Do if You’ve Been Waitlisted

standinginlineGetting waitlisted can add confusion to an already stressful applications process. After receiving the news that you have been waitlisted, you may be feeling stressed, nervous, angry, scared, or even confused.

There are a few things you should understand about your admission prospects. Firstly, remember that all is not lost; in some cases, there are even some steps you can take to improve your chances of admission. If you want to ease your admission anxiety, below you’ll find everything you need to know about your options after being waitlisted.

Chances of Admission: What Does Being Waitlisted Mean for Me?

Waiting lists are used as a means for accommodating students who meet requirements for admission, but are surplus for the college’s capacity to facilitate students. Your chance of being admitted off of the wait list varies drastically from school to school. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about one third of students who decide to stay on a waiting list are later admitted. For more competitive programs or for ivy league schools, these margins of acceptance can be razor thin. Recently, Yale waitlisted 996 students, and only went on to accept 103 of them. Schools like Duke will often place thousands on a waitlist, anticipating the admission of only a few dozen.

The reason the acceptance rate for waitlisted students at selective schools is so low is because waiting lists act as safety nets for universities—allowing them to have a pool of applicants to choose from in case accepted students decide not to attend. Students selected for competitive, ivy-league programs are more likely to accept an offer of admission, so waitlisted students are more likely to be rejected from these institutions.

However, despite those statistics, being waitlisted doesn’t have to signify the end of your college dream; in fact, you have a couple different options at your disposal.

Staying Listed

The very first thing you should do is figure out the specific deadline for decision at the college in question. Although the date will vary drastically from school to school and program to program, May 1st is a common time for many institutions.

The next step is to decide whether you want to remain on the waiting list or not. If you’re seriously considering accepting the offer for admission, remaining on the waiting list is a good idea. There is often a form or response that waitlisted students are required to fill out if they wish to remain on the waiting list; US News urges students who want to remain on the list to fill this out as soon as possible. However, if you’ve decided to accept a different offer, it’s a good idea to get off the waiting list for the benefit of the other applicants.

Terms and Conditions Apply
Before you make any big decisions one way or the other, you should call the school and determine if there are any conditions that waitlisted candidates should be aware of. Most commonly, these conditions happen because waitlisted candidates are informed about their admission much later than other applicants, which can reduce the amount of financial aid and housing options available to them.

Looking Forward

If you decide to remain on the waiting list, you should also prepare to attend a different school, as a precaution. If different institutions have accepted you, select the one that suits your needs best to ensure that you’ll have a place. You may be forced to make a small non-refundable deposit in order to do this, but it’s an important insurance to have if your waiting list program doesn’t turn out.

If you were not accepted to other institutions, or did not apply to other institutions, consider looking into colleges with rolling applications, community colleges, or online schools.

Be Proactive

Determining a sense of your chances of admission involves contacting the admissions office and inquiring about the wait list. How is the wait list organized? Are students placed in a priority list of some kind? Where are you on the list? Is there a long waitlist and a short waitlist? Most schools will gladly inform you of your status if you contact admissions.

Establishing a presence for yourself after you’ve been waitlisted is generally a good idea, as long as you don’t become a pest (in other words: do not contact the admissions office to ask why you weren’t accepted). Communicate with admissions, by letter or email, that you still have an active interest in attending the school. Updates and changes to your application are also a good idea to include (this also consists of achievements and shifts in your grades since your application). According to the Princeton Review, you should ask that a letter declaring your interest in the school—and pledging attendance if you are, in fact, accepted—be added to your file.

Remember that if a school has placed you on a waitlist, that means they’ve already determined you have all the academic skills necessary to be admitted. You’ll only benefit from adding nonacademic information that could help your case, achievements you didn’t mention in your application, or supplemental data that can help improve your case.

Remember: You’re Already Successful!

Above all else, remember that your application was waitlisted—not declined. If you’re ultimately turned away because the school can only accommodate a limited number of students, know that you’ve already achieved something because most students didn’t get as far as you! Remind yourself that many students are waitlisted every year, and that being waitlisted does not invalidate your many accomplishments or your hard work.

Rather than see your being waitlisted as a setback, take this time to refocus on your goals and take pride in the fact that—wherever you’re going to school—you’ll be starting on an exciting new chapter in your life. There is no one path to success, and while your dream school may feel out of reach following a waitlisted status or even a rejection, your dreams certainly aren’t.

This article was contributed on behalf of Bay Area Recovery. If you’re stressing out about being waitlisted, remember that drugs and alcohol are not the answer. If you’re battling problems with seeking these whenever you’re stressed, it would be a good idea to consider finding a compassionate drug and alcohol rehabilitation program such as that with Bay Area Recovery. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!

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5 Myths About Going to College Part Time – DEBUNKED!

CollegeStudentBlindly believing the often-negative publicity about attending college part-time isn’t wise. Let’s bust some myths and look at how being a part-time college student may be a better fit for you, both financially and academically, than attending university full-time.

Myth 1. Finishing college in four years makes you more employable.

Companies prefer, almost to the point of exclusion, applicants age 25 and younger who will spend their entire career at a single firm. Your major is not particularly important. Instead, you need to earn your degree quickly, after which your employer will find the right place for you within the company.

Whoops, wait. That’s Japan.

Here in the U.S., companies seek applicants who have the right combination of education and experience. If you’re looking to attend graduate school, in fact, real-world experience may be more important than your academic background.

Working full-time while you attend school part-time can be the best way to build your network, hone your organization and time management skills, and learn how to be productive as part of a team.

Yes, it will take you longer to finish your degree. When you do, however, you’ll have a competitive edge over those who rushed through school without gaining relevant experience. Once you’re hired and using your degree, no one will ever ask you how quickly you graduated. It doesn’t matter.

Myth 2. Going to college part-time costs more.

When you look at the most basic numbers from one perspective, the statement above may be correct… technically. In reality, though, factoring in student loan interest with an even remotely competitive job market (where securing employment can take time) tilts the equation the other way.

Pursuing your education part-time can be a great way to minimize debt and build your career step-by-step, paying as you go in some respects. This can help you avoid the sobering scenario many students face at the end of their degree program: no income and facing imminent payments on a student loan portfolio the size of a mortgage.

Myth 3. It’s going to take forever. You’ll give up and drop out.

Not if you have a plan. If you choose to go to college part-time, recognize that you need a solid long-term education path as much, if not more, than as full-time students.

Write everything out. What classes will you take each semester to achieve your goal of earning your degree? How will you order prerequisites to ensure you progress at the right pace? Since you won’t be burned out from taking a full course load each semester, consider going to school in the summer to help move things along.

Also, you can often test out of lower-level courses, which is particularly helpful to fulfill graduation requirements that aren’t part of your major. For example, say you plan to major in biology and you aced English in high school. Many schools will let you test out (or use AP scores to skip) freshman-level English. You get the credit you need without having to waste time rehashing what you already know.

Myth 4. You’ll miss out on college life.

The extent to which you are involved in campus life is up to you, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. For full-time enrollees, balancing a packed course load, part-time work and the extracurricular/campus activities of your choice can stretch you so thin that you barely have time to run from class to job to gym and so on. For many students, “college life” is simply “being busy all the time.”

If you’re a part-time college student, simply swap the time commitments of classes and work. You’ll have to manage full-time work, part-time classes and then make time to participate in the campus organizations or opportunities that interest you most.

Myth 5. Your employer won’t give you the flexibility you need for your studies.

While some employers may be sticklers when it comes to scheduling around studies, others are more than accommodating. Allowing employees to further their educations often benefits companies, as hiring and retaining individuals with strong education backgrounds contributes to corporate success.

Certain positions in certain types of firms are most definitely more conducive to pairing with part-time education. These include employers such as large corporations, the government, or school districts and positions in sales, customer support, or flexible shift work.

Speak with your supervisor and Human Resources to see what may be available to you. Ask if your company has policies in place covering employee education; with proper planning, you will be surprised how realistic it can be to blend school and professional responsibilities. Some employers will even help you pay for school with employees-only scholarships or debt-forgiveness programs!

Ultimately, there are many benefits to part-time college. Don’t simply believe the myths or hype; instead, examine facts and choose the path that is best for you!

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Ryan Hickey. He is the Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

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“It’s Too Late to Go Now”—and 4 Other Excuses You’re Making to Keep from Applying to College

CollegeStudentsFor many people, going from high school to college is a simple transition: these students effortlessly convert from senior to freshman, with a summer break in between. But for those of you who didn’t pursue higher education directly out of high school, the decision to return to school can seem a bit bumpier; it can also involve a lot more excuses.

Unfortunately, these excuses can come back to bite you. Not going to college—no matter the reason—can hit you in one of the places where it hurts the most: your pocketbook.

The Dollar Value of a College Education

Perhaps one of the most common excuses for not going to college is the financial aspect. You may say you flat out can’t afford it. However, in truth, many people can’t afford not to go. This is because bachelor’s degree holders earn significantly more, on average, than those with just a high school diploma.

Per the Huffington Post, a 2011 study found that people with a bachelor’s degree made 84 percent more over their lifetime than high school graduates. This is a trend that seems to be moving upward: in 1999, people with a bachelor’s degree made only 75 percent more than high school graduates. Other sources confirm this. According to Forbes, a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that college graduates earn an average of $650,000 more in their lifetime than their peers who only graduated high school. Certain degrees—such as engineering or computer science—earn much, much more.

Scholarships, employee reimbursement programs, and loans are always available (especially if the loans are federal loans) for those who believe they can’t afford college tuition. While it’s very reasonable to take financial considerations into account when deciding whether or not to go back to college, it would be unwise to not consider the vast array of financial aid options at your disposal.

Other Excuses for Not Going to College

In addition to the money aspect, there are a handful of other college-avoiding excuses quite commonly used. These include:

“I’m too old”

You might be too old to live in a dorm room or attend nightly keg parties, but when it comes to learning you are never too old. Colleges are filled with people who are all ages, sometimes even those of retirement age: as reported by the Huffington Post, a Connecticut university recently awarded a bachelor’s degree to a 63 year old woman. After being laid off at the age of 59, she decided to go back to school and reinvent her life: she obtained a degree in 2011.

While you may worry your age will make you an outsider, recent studies show that the majority of students enrolled in universities can be classified as “non-traditional” students. According to a study published in the Association of American Colleges and Universities, over 38 percent of new enrolling students for the class of 2007 were over the age of 25 (a number that is expected to remain stable or increase by 2018). Meanwhile, over 4 million people enrolled in a degree program are over the age of 35. In addition, Education Department data published in the Wall Street Journal shows that nearly two-thirds of students enrolled in college in 2013 can be classified as “non-traditional” (based on categories like age, employment, dependent status, etc.).

“It’s too late”

The term “better late than never” is perhaps most fitting when it comes to education. No matter how long it has been since high school, the benefits—salary hikes, career advancement, job opportunities—will still exist. Deciding to go back to school can also have a positive influence on your image: employers look favorably upon people who show such great levels of dedication.

“I don’t have the time”

In the 1990’s and prior, a person’s path to a degree involved attending classes that met at specific times in specific places. However, with the advent of the internet, online classes have turned college into something everyone has time to do. These classes allow you flexibility, convenience, and the ability to learn from the comfort of your own home: a college degree is literally available at a computer screen near you.

“It’ll be a waste”

People who begin college when they are eighteen are just that: eighteen. In other words, they are kids often unsure of what they want to do. According to NBC News, eighty percent of college bound eighteen year olds have a major that is undecided. And, even once a major is declared, it doesn’t always stick: fifty percent of students change their majors with many changing them two or three times. This can lead to a waste of resources, money, and time. As an older adult, on the other hand, you have work experience, life experience, and perspective under your belt. This gives you the unique ability to cater your education to your desires.

Going back to school is an important decision, and one that is not meant to be taken lightly. However, you shouldn’t let yourself miss out on your chance to advance your career and change your life by falling back on any of these excuses.

About the Author:

Chad Fisher knows how important a college degree can be when it comes to landing your dream career. In light of developing technology, today there are a number of new and exciting majors and careers for older and returning students to choose from. offers plenty of information about new jobs in fields like cyber security, software development, and more.

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Should You Let Finances Drive Your College Decision?

collegemoneyThere is a longstanding belief that you should not let financial motives dictate your decision of where to attend school. Traditional thought suggests that more expensive institutions result in better paying jobs, thus negating the added initial costs. Further still, people believe that you should not compromise your college experience just to save money; after all, you’ve got the rest of your life to pay off the debt and going to your dream school is more important than saving money, right?

According to some, the answer to that is a resounding “no.” With the job market drying up for college graduates, post-graduation life is less secure than it once was, drawing into question the traditional beliefs about post-secondary education. In addition, a changing job market focused on technology is widening the gap in value between certain degrees, meaning some students are facing the reality that a pricey diploma may not result in the same competitive salaries seen by their peers. Suddenly, financial concerns are a factor that the majority of college-bound students are beginning to take into consideration when determining where (and when) to continue their education. The thought of letting finances drive a college decision, however, is leaving some students worrying that money may be keeping them from pursuing the educational and career path they have always wanted.

Rising College Costs Change Decision-Making Process for Students and Families

Perhaps the focus of the argument in favor of prioritizing fiscal considerations when making a college decision has to do with the rising cost of college. The cost of tuition in the United States has risen by an astounding 1,124 percent since 1978, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Department of Labor. Most students are turning to loans to pay for school. According to the New York Times, students are borrowing about $113 billion per year to attend college, and total student debt topped $1 trillion in 2013. To make matters worse, even as the nation continues to recover from a recession, college graduates are still entering a tough job market.

While many will make the case that you shouldn’t go into extra debt just to go to a great school, many more will make the case that you shouldn’t go into any debt to seek higher education at all.

Author and pundit William J. Bennett warns young people that college is a big financial decision; one that, much like a car loan or mortgage, shouldn’t be taken lightly. Says Bennett, “[Americans] shouldn’t automatically or reflexively send their kids to college… it’s a big decision. There are a lot of consequences, a lot of costs, a lot of ups and downs. Investigate it with your eyes open.”

Bennett goes on to point out that a college education no longer guarantees you a job over someone without a diploma. While costs shouldn’t necessarily deter a student from pursuing a degree, Bennett urges students to carefully consider their options. A two year degree may be a more affordable and rewarding option for some students, while others may want to look to where they can cut costs at the schools they decide to attend (attending college in-state, for instance, or choosing less expensive housing a meal options).

The thought process behind encouraging students to consider finances when making a decision has to do with the ultimate financial reward. Choosing a less-expensive school means less debt, and if you graduate in less debt then chances are you will have greater freedom post-graduation.


Will Money Keep You From Pursuing Your Dream?

There’s certainly a debate over whether or not a college degree is a significant advantage in the job market these days. Yet there’s still a reason you’re going to college—and there’s still a reason that you’re considering multiple institutions, and have certain colleges penned in as dream schools. Those reasons can transcend financial situations from time to time.

If you’re interested in college for more reasons than just future employment, you should think twice before letting finances decide for you. College is a place where you will make lifelong friends, develop new hobbies and interests, and do things you never thought you would. It’s an invaluable experience, and one that should not always be compromised.

Furthermore, a good school (or a school specializing in your interest) will give you a more focused, in-depth education. That means that, even if you graduate with a little more debt, you’ll have a better chance of thriving in your job or moving up to a higher level than you would have otherwise had.

Despite the threat of debt, data still supports the idea that a college degree leads to increased lifetime earnings, on average, compared with a high school diploma or less. According to the New York Times data from Brookings, “a college graduate is nearly 20 percentage points more likely to be employed than someone with a high school diploma,” and the increase in lifetime earnings with a diploma is 75 percent higher than it was 30 years ago. The expected annual salary for a high-school grad with no degree is expected to be $28,659; meanwhile the expected salary for a college graduate with a bachelor’s is $49,000 and the expected salary for those with an advanced degree is around $87,000.

Solutions and Compromise

Students shouldn’t feel as though there is one “right” option when it comes to college. In light of a tough economy and rising student loan debt, some students are choosing to go to a vocational school or community college, rather than a traditional university. The job market for mid-level workers is still growing steadily, and these types of schools are great options for students who aren’t sure whether or not they want to go to a university, or who are not comfortable with taking out loans.

However, if you want to go to a four year university or a school with high tuition, but feel the need to let financial considerations play a role, don’t panic: you can find a compromise by cutting costs elsewhere and searching for scholarships. If you pick up a part time job during the school year—or a full time job over summer and winter breaks—you can help to both save money and build your network and resume.

Ultimately, if you’re considering whether or not college is the right choice for you the current state of student loan debt and the economy should make you carefully weigh your options. It should make you seek out as much financial aid as possible, consider the pros and cons of in-state or public colleges versus private universities, look for plenty of experience or work, and contemplate your return on investment. Being financially-minded and savvy in the face of potential student loan debt is smart—but compromising doesn’t have to mean giving up on your dreams.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from  Chad Fisher. Always interested in the state of the economy, he has been closely following developing stories on student loan debt. He knows college can be an especially risky investment for students majoring in humanities fields, like English or Education majors. However, by reading up on tips to land a teaching position, these students can find a career that offers both a competitive salary and the reward of reaching a goal.

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The Future of Online Education Is on Campus

OnlineEducationTens of thousands of students attend dedicated online colleges and hybrid universities (universities that offer both on-campus and online courses). Companies like Coursera, Udacity, and edX, all of which offer free online courses, are ready to enter the online education marketplace. But even these companies need to make a profit, and some are turning to traditional, brick-and-mortar universities to do so. With the job market as competitive as it is, future college students want to ensure they receive the best education possible in order to compete. Knowing the various options available may help streamline college application decisions.

Coursera started with a model, well-known to many university professors as the “flipped classroom,” in which instructors record their lectures and offer interactive elements to better engage with their students. The advantage of this method is that instructors can spend less time lecturing and more time interacting and communicating with their students. Students have a better chance to ask questions retain the information they need to be successful in that course.

Moving beyond this method, Coursera founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller created a format for students to take free courses online. Utilizing any number of reliable Internet services such as Verizon High Speed Internet and countless others, students can complete assignments virtually anywhere. They’ve even started working with mobile device technologies so that students can still complete some work on their smartphones or tablets. Yet Coursera, as well as Udacity and edX, has realized that partnering with traditional universities is not only the best method to continue running their operations, but possibly the best recipe for student success.

In the fall of 2012, San Jose State University selected edX’s flipped classroom pilot program for their Introduction to Circuit Analysis course which at that time had a 41 percent failure rate. That failure rate dropped to 9 percent after only semester of integrating the flipped classroom approach. San Jose State also agreed to host five online courses through Udacity for one semester. More than half the students in the program failed the final exam, prompting the university to cancel their agreement. This goes to show that the online-only model may not work as well as an integrated on-campus approach.

So what does this mean?

On-campus instruction shouldn’t be substituted with online instruction. Instead, a combination of the two may be the better approach. Utilizing not just the flipped classroom approach but new technologies such as Google Glass can prove to be highly effective. Used as a supplemental tool, Google Glass can offer a number of advantages to both instructors and students. Remote teaching and one-on-one tutor sessions are just two benefits. Instructors can create:

  • First-person video guides for shared class involvement in real-time
  • Timetables/schedules for lectures, instructors, and students
  • Mini-documentaries to improve storytelling in the classroom

The future of online education seems to be tied to on-campus instruction. Thus far, this combination seems to be the most fruitful.

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Is Degree Inflation Real–and What’s My Degree Worth Today?

collegedegree1With the tightening of the labor market and high unemployment rate making major headlines in recent years, many people are well aware of the woes that job applicants face today. Some new college graduates with mounds of student loan debt to pay off are unable to find a job in their field; meanwhile, others who have been working without a degree in their field for many years have been finding that those same positions now require a degree. With so much emphasis on the rising cost of college tuition and the struggle of those with a degree to find a job in their field, many people are wondering if they may be witnessing serious degree inflation. They want to know if it is still worthwhile to go into debt to get a bachelor’s, go back to school to get a master’s or professional degree—or if they should simply head out into the workforce to establish experience.

What Is Degree Inflation?
Degree inflation, which can also be termed “academic inflation,” relates to the practice of employers increasing their minimum job requirements; it may also refer to the value of certain degrees changing over time—often lessening—and the rising cost and competition of college degrees (according to the Economist, college fees have risen faster than Americans’ ability to pay them). Often, these practices are closely related and together form a more complete definition of degree inflation.

Evidence of degree inflation is found in a couple different areas. For instance, positions that did not require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement in years’ past may now have this requirement. In other cases, employers may require advanced degrees (such as master’s degrees or professional degrees) for positions which would normally require a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, the compensation for the position may be commensurate with the education requirements, but many employers may be taking advantage of a larger pool of job applicants to find the most skilled and qualified for the position. In order for applicants to be considered for jobs in a tight market, they often need to have advantageous or advanced qualifications over other applications.

Positions That Have Been Most Affected By Degree Inflation
One study from Broken Glass, a firm that regularly analyzes trends based on information in online employment ads, provided an eye-opening look at the positions that have been most affected by degree inflation. The data analyzed included the percent of positions requiring a bachelor’s degree in both 2007 and 2012. The top positions affected by degree inflation based on this study included dental lab technicians, chemical equipment operators and tenders, medical equipment preparers, buyers and purchasing agents of farm equipment, and electronics engineering technicians.

It is important to note that while some of these positions may now have more advanced skill requirements, others simply have the advanced degree requirement in place to take advantage of the oversupply of workers. Employers may be including the degree requirement in job descriptions as a means of narrowing down the pool of applicants initially.

The Value of a Degree Today
With some positions that did not require a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree now requiring one, many people are left wondering what the value of a college degree is actually worth today. One key part of this analysis involves comparing the cost of the degree versus the starting salary for the field after graduation. Clearly, the starting salary for a teacher may be far different than the starting salary for an engineer. According to data supplied by the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, the starting salary for an application with a systems engineering degree in 2013 was $60,300. With a degree in mathematics, graduates could expect to earn about $45,777. The lowest paying field was in biology with a starting salary of $27,209. While the cost of a college education can vary significantly from institution to institution, the average cost of in-state tuition at a public school for the 2012-2013 school year was about $23,000—meaning that degree inflation may disproportionately affect students whose degrees land them salaries near $20,000.

Despite the news that college tuition is rising and the pool of qualified graduates is growing, recent graduates (and current employers) need not worry about their futures just yet. While some students are beginning to fear that their degree may be useless, research still shows that any type of college degree—even just an associate’s degree from a community college—will drastically increase earnings over a lifetime.

According to one study out of Georgetown University, the difference in lifetime earnings was greatest between those with less than a high school or a high school diploma ($1.30 million) and those with a Bachelor’s degree ($2.27 million). While there is some discrepancy in lifetime earnings between those who hold a Bachelor’s degree and those who hold a Master’s, the difference is less pronounced. The difference in earnings between a bachelor’s degree and an advanced degree may also depend on the type of degree offered. An advanced degree in Engineering, Law, or a Master’s in Business Administration, for instance, may yield a higher return on investment than a Master’s in English Literature.

When to Get a Degree
While degree inflation has been a problem for some professions, other professions have been relatively untouched by degree inflation. It is important to first establish your career goals before deciding on the need for a degree or a more advanced degree. Once you have developed a five or ten-year career plan, you can then take a closer look at current job requirements for those positions. Always take a forward-thinking approach so that you can work on your educational requirements now for a position that you would like to have five or ten years down the road. Clearly, there are some financial benefits to getting a degree, but the degree should also be aligned with your own career objectives and goals.

Guest writer Esteban Bieter understands how difficult it is for recent college grads to find a job due to the impacts of degree inflation, as has seen an influx of people turning to professional certifications. For young people looking to pass the CompTIA exams and become computer technicians, he recommends using A+ certification study materials from Total Seminars.

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Go to College Prepared: Don’t Be THAT Guy

collegemoney1Most prospective college students know that tuition, housing and textbooks cost a significant amount of money. However, there are also several hidden expenses that add up over time. This can result in long-term student loan and credit card debt. Estimate these costs when budgeting for your college education.


Depending upon where you decide to live, you may incur travel expenses when attending classes, buying groceries or visiting your family. The average American college student spends almost $1,100 per year on transportation, according to Wells Fargo. Among other things, travel costs include parking fees, bus tickets and taxi fares. Some of these expenses range from free to several dollars in different locales; city Web sites often list specific prices.


The small size of a one-room apartment or dorm room may encourage you to recreate more often. Peers may also persuade you to visit movie theaters, bars, fraternity houses or stadiums. Unfortunately, college recreation often proves costly. You will probably spend money on travel, admission fees and expensive snacks or drinks. For example, the latest statistic from the National Association of Theater Owners puts the average price of a movie ticket at almost $8. The cost of attending a concert currently exceeds $67, according to the New York Post.


It’s difficult to cook or store substantial amounts of food in a dorm room. Even if you rent an apartment, you will probably eat lunch at the university. Cafeteria and restaurant meals typically cost several times more than they would at a grocery store. The USDA indicates that Americans spend about $93 to $171 per month to eat at home. Various estimates put the cost of college cafeteria meals at $5 to $9, so the monthly cost is approximately $630. One way to reduce this expense is to find local eateries with student discounts.


A furnished dorm room or apartment usually lacks a number of items that you will need to purchase. For example, many students need to buy bedding, fans, reading lamps and hair dryers. Small air conditioners cost at least $100 new. The average American college student spent about $837 on electronics, clothing and furnishings in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.


To protect yourself from the financial consequences of theft or fire, you might want to insure your belongings. Your parents may have homeowners insurance that will cover items in your dorm room. The cost of this coverage varies from one state to another, according to An alternative is to purchase a separate dorm or renters policy.

Insurance is important because theft remains a serious problem at colleges. For instance, the University of Oklahoma reported that thieves stole over 400 bicycles on campus between 2007 and 2012. They were valued at nearly $160,000. Shared housing also provides thieves with easier access to valuable electronics and textbooks. The Times Union blog offers some tips on protecting your belongings in college.

Washing Laundry

College students typically have to use coin-operated laundry equipment. You may also need to buy laundry bins, detergent and dryer sheets. The cost might come as a surprise if you presently wash clothing at your parents’ house. Also, most small housing units don’t give residents the opportunity to save money by putting up clotheslines. It costs roughly $3.50 to wash and dry a load of laundry. Some apartment and dorm buildings have laundromats; if not, you can use the Laundromatic app to find one.


You may be accustomed to using a landline phone with unlimited regional calling. If you move to a dorm, non-local calls may become much more expensive. Students often use cellphones, calling cards or payphones to communicate. These methods generally vary in cost depending upon the length of a telephone call. Most people pay at least $70 per month for cellphone service, says Time magazine. Most wireless providers offer student discounts.

Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize the expenses associated with college. You can do without a car, buy used merchandise and compare insurance companies to find the best rates. Adequate income will reduce the amount of debt you accumulate; consider scheduling classes so that you have time for a part-time job.

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