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ack to school? Tips to choose the right degree

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 10:41 a.m. CDT

(BPT) — For many, earning a college degree opened the door to the working world; it may have even been instrumental in landing your current job. But are you applying what you learned in college to your current career field?

Only 35 percent of college-educated workers consider all or most of what they learned in college to be applicable to their current jobs, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll.

Today, many working adults are returning to college to either complete a degree that better aligns with the skills required for their current job or earn a second degree to gain additional experience for a potential career change. The National Center for Education Statistics reports an estimated 8.7 million adults over the age of 25 were planning to enroll in college in 2013, up nearly 37 percent from 2000.

“There is significant progress being made in higher education to adapt to the needs of the employment market and tie curriculum to careers earlier in a student’s education,” says University of Phoenix School of Business Executive Dean Ruth Veloria.

Veloria offers these tips to help you get the most out of your educational experience:

• Research degree programs with a career in mind — Don’t wait until you are enrolled in college to determine your career path. Research specific positions, develop learning plans with an academic advisor and take career and skills assessments. Research jobs related to different degree programs and discover which fields best fit their interests and personalities.

• Go straight to the source — If you know someone currently working in the career field in which you are interested, schedule an informational interview to learn more about the skills and experience required for that line of work.

• Communicate with your boss — Your return to school will most likely benefit your company, so share your education plans with your boss, including how your classroom learning can benefit colleagues and special projects in the workplace. If your manager feels invested in your goals, it could be a source of support and motivation for you.

• Consider certificate programs that lead to a degree — Many working adults balance school with workplace and family priorities, so it can take additional time to earn a college degree. University of Phoenix offers a certificate option that allows you to move core courses toward the front of your degree program.

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