2010 January - Career Fuel Special Report2010 January - Career Fuel Special Report

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Special Report: College Bound! Maybe you've already been checking your mailbox for that early-acceptance letter to college. If not, you will surely be eagerly awaiting such news in the next few months. This special edition of Career Fuel helps you make that final decision between going to school close to home or far away, offers insight into community college certificate programs, checks your basic knowledge on college loans and tells the story of one young woman who has confidently strayed from her college-major career path. Enjoy the read! And may your mailbox hold good news.



It's Decision Time
Money Making Certificate Programs
The Basics of Borrowing for College
Something Major
Resource Corner

It's Decision Time

If you are planning to attend college this fall, you may be anticipating that early-admission acceptance. If not now, you’ll definitely be eagerly checking the mailbox in the next few months. And if you haven’t yet submitted applications, you may still have time! Colleges with rolling admission policies don’t have hard-and-fast deadlines and continue to accept applications until they have filled all the spots in their freshman class.

Ultimately, if you have more than one school from which to choose, how do you decide if you should stay close to home or travel far from the nest? Jim Montoya, vice president of higher education relationship development at the College Board, an organization in New York City that connects students to college opportunities, offers the following things you should consider when making the close versus far decision:

The “I” in Independence. “If you’re going to go 3,000 miles away, you want to go to a college that has a strong residential life program that supports students that are far away from their families,” notes Montoya. “Student life becomes a very important component of looking at colleges.” The good news, he adds, is that everyone is much more connected these days through computing and cell phones. Thanks to technology, Mom and Dad are mere nanoseconds away.

Make It Work. The lure of exciting campus life is often the biggest draw for students who leave home to go to college. Students who go to school close to home and also live at home need not miss out on the campus experience. “Even if you live at home, you may be able to arrange to have a meal plan in one of the residence halls where you can make new friends,” says Montoya. Join clubs and organizations that look to connect off-campus students to those students living on-campus.

Distance Learning. If you decide to go to school close to home, you may not have to give up on the chance to explore beyond your hometown. “Maybe you can take advantage of summer school programs that let you study in a different part of the country, or certainly study abroad programs that would enable you to spend a portion of your experience further away from home,” says Montoya.

Be a Smart Shopper. If you’re contemplating going to school far away, make sure you do the necessary window shopping. “I am always surprised when I hear a student say I never visited the campus before I made the decision to go there, especially when it is thousands of miles away from their home,” says Montoya. “I think it’s worth the investment. Often just being on campus gives you a sense of comfort level and readiness.”

Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Lifeline column’s Show All feature and selecting “It’s Decision Time.”

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Money Making Certificate Programs

A certificate program offered at your local community college is a great way to get some training in a completely new and different career. Earning a certificate is by no means the same thing as earning a diploma—it can sometimes be completed in a year and is not nearly as comprehensive as tackling a full college lineup of courses. Even so, certificate programs are highly specialized and, once earned, can equip you with the skills to start interesting careers with lots of earning potential. Check out these money making certificate programs, identified with some help from http://www.payscale.com, an online resource for jobs and salaries:

Court Reporter. Do your fingers fly over the keyboard? Court reporters are said to be in high demand, especially for all that closed captioning text on TV. You can go directly from high school to court reporting school, of which New Jersey has three. A court reporter must reach a speed of 225 words per minute and pass a state certification exam in order to get licensed as a certified shorthand reporter. For more info, visit the Certified Court Reporters Association of New Jersey, http://www.thehighschoolgraduate.com/profiles/csranj/index.htm.
Average Salary: $39,781 a year

Medical Transcriptionist. OK, so it’s another chance to let your fingers do the earning. Health care is a popular and growing field and medical transcriptionists, who decipher and type up doctors’ recordings about their patients, are always on call in today’s economy. Salem County College’s certificate program, for example, is two semesters and 31 credits, including classes in human biology, medical terminology and word processing. Students learn to transcribe dictated surgical reports, letters, charts and physical examination reports with emphasis on speed and accuracy.
Average Salary: $31,286 a year

Auto Mechanic. Who doesn’t love cars! If you’re a tinkerer who knows your way around a wrench, then an auto mechanic is a very decent way to make a living. And thanks to a tough economy, people are holding on to their cars and opting to instead get them tuned up. Brookdale Community College in Lincroft offers a basic automotive technician certificate, as well as one for advanced automotive mechanic technicians and auto/break/steering/suspension/alignment. Check out the offerings at http://www.brookdalecc.edu/.
Average Salary: $41,233 a year

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The Basics of Borrowing for College

The numbers are in—and they’re not pretty. The U.S. Education Department recently reported that the total amount of money borrowed by students and received by schools in the 2008-09 academic year grew about 25% over the previous year, to $75.1 billion. Students these days are borrowing lots of cash to pay for college. Here are some things you need to know about student loans:

  1. Educational loans are just that—loans that must be repaid with interest. Make sure you research interest rates and find out info on interest subsidies, during which time you may not have to pay interest on the loan. Federal loans have the best interest rates. Applying for a student loan is literally at your fingertips. File for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the U.S. Department of Education Website. Check out http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/fafsa.jsp for lots of info.
  2. Loans come in different shapes and sizes, from the federal Perkins Loan to New Jersey’s NJClass. Check out the different types at New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, http://www.hesaa.org/index.php?page=student-loans.
  3. Student loan debt can drag down your lifestyle for years to come. Borrow conservatively—never more than you need.
  4. You suddenly came into some money and want to put it to good use. Great! You may prepay your loan, in whole or in part, at anytime without penalty.
  5. Sorry, dissatisfied customers don’t get a break. You must repay your loan, even if you do not complete the academic program, or may be unhappy with the education you received, or are unable to find employment after graduation.

Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Lifeline column’s Show All feature and selecting “The Basics of Borrowing for College.”

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Something Major

Maybe you’re one of those kids who has known what you want to be when you grow up since you were five years old. Then again, if you’re like most teens, you have no idea what you want to study in college. The experts suggest that, when choosing a college major, you should examine your abilities and take a close look at the high school subjects in which you did the best. Take some time to explore careers at My Career Builder on the NJ Next Stop website (http://www.njnextstop.org/CareerBuilder.asp). Probably the best advice is to keep an open mind. College is a time of change and personal development. Many freshmen enter as one person and emerge four or five years later much wiser and more mature. Be open-minded, seek mentors, utilize resources and explore options. You’ll find your niche and have a whole lot of fun along the way.

Before long, the real world is going to influence all the decisions you make about your career. Lauren Doyle, 26, is living proof that your college major does not always lead you down a straight and defined path. While a student at Lafayette College in Easton, Lauren majored in anthropology and sociology and minored in math. Sure, these concentrations fascinated her, but when it came to choosing a career when she graduated in 2005, a little on-the-job training at C.R. Bard, Inc in Murray Hill convinced her to begin carving her niche within the medical device and pharmaceutical industry.

“I interned for Bard for two years during the winter and summer breaks while I was in college,” says Lauren, who grew up in New Providence and graduated from New Providence High School mere miles from where Bard is based. “I was interning in regulatory and clinical affairs, where I am now. I helped do patient status reports and prepared scans and entered documents into a system so everyone could view them and I organized the archive room so they could have all their documents in one location. I knew I was interested in the company as a whole, and right out of college I got a call from one of the HR managers asking if I would be interested in a position.” She has been with Bard ever since.

In the fall of 2009, Lauren began MBA classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison to take her corporate business skills to a new level. Her four years of on-the-job experience, and the preceding internships, have been invaluable in helping her choose her career path. You can’t always predict where your college major will take you.

Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Real People column’s Show All feature and selecting “Lauren Doyle.”

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Resource Corner

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