Ashworth College Blog

Where to start when going back to school

Written by Ashworth College on Tuesday, 28 March 2017. Posted in Career, Why Ashworth

Where to Start When Going Back to School

Whether you’ve had some undergraduate experience or have already earned a degree and started your career, returning to school as an adult is an empowering decision. The choice to continue your higher education is a personal one, but it’s not one you are navigating alone: according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40 percent of all college students are over the age of 25.

When thinking about returning to school, take the time to recognize where you stand, where you want to go, and what it takes to get there. To help, we’ve provided answers to four common questions with our insights on where to start when going back to school.

1. Is this worth it?

Although there’s no simple answer for everyone, this is the most important question during the process of returning to school. Whether you’re looking to increase your earning potential or simply build your knowledge within a subject or field, higher education offers unlimited potential in helping you grow along your life journey.

If you were wondering about your financial future and earning potential with a college degree, there’s good news: according to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, college graduates earn 84 percent more than high school graduates, earning around one million dollars more throughout their careers than people who stopped their education with a high school diploma.

Understanding what type of education will help you reach your goals is a big part of determining whether going to school as an adult is worth it. There are many options available whether you want to stay in the same career path or switch completely. Carefully evaluate the differences between associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. And, remember there are also certificates and other short-term programs that may be just as valuable in your career.

If you’re switching careers, be sure you can make the case for why you want to make this move, to yourself and to your future employer in an interview setting. When thinking about further schooling to jump-start this career change, speak with industry friends or peers about the extent to which college degrees and certifications are valued. This will help you better understand your target industry and hopefully validate your reasons for switching careers.

2. How will I pay for college?

Taking the time to review – or make – your budget and do some forecasting is crucial. You may choose to meet with a financial advisor or strategize on your own or with family. These steps will help you think through your options for paying for college while balancing other financial responsibilities.

The good news is paying for college without taking on student loans is possible. Don’t assume your income or age at this stage in your life takes you out of the running for financial assistance. Conduct some research online and leave no stone unturned! Scholarships from local civic organizations or religious institutions are also great opportunities to investigate.

If you’re currently in the workforce, you may consider asking your employer for assistance with your tuition. Tuition assistance programs vary from employer to employer. Some programs will reimburse an employee for their full tuition amount and some will cover only a portion. There can also be stipulations about how long an employee must stay at a company if tuition costs are covered. Check with your employer to gather all the details.

3. Do I have the time to go back to school?

With family, work, or any other responsibilities that demand your attention, you’ll need to determine how college fits into your life – or how the rest of your time fits around school. Fortunately, modern higher education offers an increasing amount of options for pursuing degrees. Online college can be a flexible option for adult learners that allows them to schedule their classes and studies around the rest of their day, not the other way around.

Think outside of your immediate community and consider how the rise in technology has opened (virtual) doors for communication through computers. Students looking for college education aren’t limited by the options in their backyard, neighboring area or through other countries. Whether you take an on-campus or online approach to going back to school, time management will be crucial to your success.

4. How do I handle transfer credits correctly?

This will depend on the institution you’re joining. Most schools will place a credit limit on the maximum number of previously-accumulated credits as well as the age of credits that you can apply to the new institution. One thing you’ll definitely need is an open line of communication with the previous college(s) where you earned credits.

Another important piece of transfer credits is exploring whether your workforce experience can be leveraged into college credits with your next institution. More and more colleges and universities allow students to capitalize on their career experience and other skills for course credits.

Passing tests from the College Level Examination Program is another avenue for earning college credits. If you’re currently working for a large company that has a “Corporate U” offering, some of these types of courses are accredited. This is another transfer credit option that could save you money. Be sure to look into the school you’re targeting to learn all about transfer credit options.

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Ashworth College

Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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What do employers really look for in a resume? Three things to include and three things to avoid.

Career Life Hacks What do employers really look for in a resume? Three things to include and three things to avoid.

When it comes to what employers want to see in a resume, you may be surprised. Certainly they want to see the standard bits of information, such as education, job history, and training. But what they’re really looking for is a means by which to determine if you’re the right hire for the job. This means they’re also looking at information such as results, relevance, signs of motivation, and an indication that you have a genuine interest in the company and position.

No matter where you are in your educational journey or career, you can write a resume that helps employers identify you as the best person to hire.

Here’s what employers look for in a winning resume – and three things they don’t want to see.

1. Keywords

Keywords help match your resume to relevant job openings. It should be a no-brainer to realize that an employer searching for a “veterinary technician” needs to see that specific phrase in your resume (and not just the abbreviation “vet tech”). Beyond the job title, you should include other important keywords in your resume, too.

Go over any job posting carefully and make a list of the skills and attributes the employer is seeking. For instance, if a job posting lists “the ability to create pivot tables in Excel,” and you have this experience, then be sure to include the phrase “pivot tables” in your resume. If a posting requires “ability to work with minimal supervision,” and your prior work history includes such a position, then you should be sure to write something like, “managed the department with minimal supervision.” Including specific keywords like this helps employers find you when searching for resumes online and also helps the hiring official match you to the opportunity when scanning resumes to determine which people to interview.

2. Action-oriented verbs

When you write about your employment history, use strong action verbs and focus on accomplishments instead of tasks.


Example: “Achieved 25% year-on-year sales growth,” NOT “Was responsible for managing the sales department.”

Example: “Reduced patient billing errors by improving the efficiency of work flow within the department,” NOT “As part of management responsibility, changed the department’s work flow.”


Be sure to quantify your achievements whenever possible. If you can use numbers to communicate the concrete results of your efforts on the job, it will help a prospective employer better visualize what you can contribute to the organization.

3. Education

Even if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t specify an educational requirement, be sure to list all of your degrees and relevant diplomas or certificates, starting with the highest degree you’ve earned. You do not need to include the year you graduated unless you are still taking classes, in which case you should share your anticipated graduation date and your current GPA:

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (anticipated degree date June 2020)
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Current GPA: 3.9

To highlight your commitment to continuing education, be sure to include relevant career diplomas and certificates you’ve earned:

Career Diploma: AutoCAD
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Career Diploma: Medical Office Assistant
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Three things an employer doesn’t want to see on your resume

Just as employers are looking for the inclusion of certain items on a resume, they are also actively scanning to make sure certain items are not a part of your resume. Don’t make these common resume mistakes! No employer wants to see these errors on a resume.

  1. Typos. Make sure to carefully proofread your resume before you post it online or send it to a prospective employer. In fact, you should have a couple of friends proofread your resume, too, to catch any stray typos.
  2. Inflated skills or credentials. Be honest on your resume and only list the skills and qualifications you actually possess. Never lie on your resume, whether it’s about your educational level or past career history.
  3. Lack of links to social media profiles. These days, many employers dive deeply into the backgrounds of their job candidates. On your resume, include links to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, personal website, or other relevant social media so prospective employers can get to know you better.

BONUS: Add a new degree to your resume’s education section

You can increase your chance of getting a good job by pursuing a degree, certificate, or career diploma in a field that pairs well with your interests. Talk to an admissions advisor today to find a degree program at Ashworth College that suits your interests, schedule, and budget!

What do employers look for in an interview? These 4 interview secrets will help you land the job.

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During an interview, a prospective employer wants to get to know you better as a person. Your resume tells a prospective employer everything he/she needs to know about your educational background, work history, and job skills. You’ll be expected to answer questions on these topics but, to ace an interview, you need to be able to speak beyond your resume.

Different companies have different ways of approaching interviews. Some ask every candidate the exact same questions while others take a more open approach, allowing the conversation go where it may. As a job applicant, you should be able to do four things in any interview setting: speak knowledgeably about the company, articulate your successes, talk about your weaknesses, and ask questions about the job.

1. Speak knowledgeably about the company

Before you even sent a resume in response to a job posting, you should have researched the company to find out exactly what products or services it offers, where it operates, how it’s structured, and other important details. During the interview, you can use this knowledge to demonstrate you know how you and your job skills can help the company meet its goals.

Instead of offering generic answers to interview questions, tailor your responses to show how you will address the company’s specific needs. You might say something like, “All of my experience in healthcare compliance has been in Texas, so I’m well-qualified to oversee risk reduction activities in your nine Texas-based nursing homes.” This response shows the hiring official you’ve done your homework and understand where your skills might fit in.

2. Articulate your successes

Many people fear “tooting their own horn” or sounding egotistical by “bragging” about their accomplishments, but in a job interview you absolutely must be able to discuss your successes. To make it easier, you should come prepared with two or three anecdotes about things you’ve achieved – at work or outside it.

Maybe you want to tell a story of running your first 10k race, how you trained every day, and how you felt victorious even by coming in last. Or maybe you want to relate an incident that occurred at work, when a colleague left without warning and you stepped in to take on additional responsibilities until the role could be filled. Rehearse these stories by telling them to friends until you feel comfortable talking about them.

3. Talk about your weaknesses

Gone are the days when you could couch a weakness as a strength by saying something like, “My biggest weakness is working long hours.” Employers don’t want to hear that from you.

Instead, prepare to talk about two or three genuine deficits – and how you plan to address them. For instance, if you’re asked about your greatest weakness on the job, you could respond with something like, “I wish I had a better grasp of bookkeeping now that I’m moving into positions that require more budget responsibility, and I’m planning to take an online course to improve my skills in that area.”

4. Ask questions about the job

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So come prepared with three to five questions that will provide the insight you need to determine whether or not to accept the position, if it’s offered to you. A few questions you might consider are:

  • What caused this position to come open?
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  • What is the departmental culture like?
  • What are the top priorities for this position over the next six months?
  • What type of staff or resource support will I have to accomplish the department’s goals?

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Advance your education to be interviewed for better jobs

Employers may not always ask about your education in an interview, but you can guarantee they’re looking at it, and that having the the right training for a job can help ensure you get your foot in the door. For those ready to take the next step in their current career – or start a new one – talk to an admissions advisor today to find a degree, diploma, or certificate program at Ashworth College that will propel your career to the next level.

Meet the Ashworth College Online Engagement Coordinator: #ShawnCares

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We’re not so different from the students we serve. Like them, we each have our individual goals, dreams, personal roadblocks, and vision for who want to be and where we want to go. Here at Ashworth College, we’re all about inspiring and enabling students to be their best selves, so we thought we’d share insights into what motivates our staff to GO BEYOND the ordinary and always—always—strive for more.

Every company has that person—the one who knows everyone and seems to hold the key to finding the answers to any question. At Ashworth College, that person is Online Engagement Coordinator Shawn Bryant. Or, as he’s referred to by his social media teammates, #ShawnCares.

A graduate of James Madison University and lifelong athlete, Shawn originally came to Ashworth College in 2007 as an Admissions Advisor to pay for his training to play professional football. He eventually returned to Ashworth College where his career path took him from Admissions, to Student Services, to being tapped to join the social media team.

Today, Shawn can be found behind the scenes on the social media sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) for Ashworth College and sister sites James Madison High School (JMHS), Madison School of Healthcare, and PCDI-Canada, responding to questions and resolving issues.

Q: #ShawnCares. Why do you think your peers gave you that nickname?

A: I think it’s because anything I put my name on, I take seriously. I remember something our CEO, Rob Klapper said, about everyone in our company being important from the janitor to the CEO and that resonated with me. When I’m responding to students, I’m not speaking for myself—I’m speaking for Ashworth College. So I treat every issue as if I had something to do with it, personally. That helps me be the very best I can be.

Q: You were the Chairman of VOTE for six years. Tell us about that.

A: VOTE is “Voice of the Employee” and its purpose is to give employees across the company a means to be heard. It’s also a morale booster, as we headed a number of projects like Habitat for Humanity builds, food bank drives, our annual company picnic, etc. When I was chair, I was still in admissions and student services but I had one-on-ones with our CEO, representing employee concerns. That was great training for what I do now on our social media channels.

Q: What’s your superpower?

A: I’m a puzzle-finder. My degree is in sociology with a minor in criminal justice and for a while I thought I might be a detective. My current role allows me a good bit of detective work. I trace down what was said, what the roadblock is, and put together the story of what happened, so I can bring our team members together to resolve it.

Shawn Bryant and Kamogelo Phahladira

Shawn Bryant and Kamogelo Phahladira. Kamogelo traveled from South Africa to attend our 2018 graduation. She often reached out to Ashworth College on Facebook Messenger with questions and was thrilled to meet the person who helped her along the way!

Q: What do you most enjoy about your job?

A: Resolving issues! It’s great to turn a frown into a smile or just know I was able to help someone seeking answers.

Q: You live on social media during the day. Are you active on your own time?

A: Oddly enough, no. (Laughs). I prefer face-to-face conversations and being able to read body language and hear someone’s tone. That’s why when I receive a complaint over social media, I read the complaint over and over and over. I’m really trying to “hear” what the person is saying, so I can respond appropriately and give them the answers they need.

 
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