7 Ways to Crush Your Goals

If you’re working to become #GOALS, you know how challenging it can be to stay the course and continue grinding. It’s easy to go through the everyday motions and feel like you’re not making progress.

But you know what’s great about setting goals? You can do anything you set your mind to.

We’ve been there too. Plenty of times. And to be honest, the only way to get through it is by crafting a sensical, realistic plan to achieve your goals. When it comes to embarking on your journey, it’s ESSENTIAL to understand what’s important to you and how to achieve what it takes to get there. If you’re stuck on how to set goals, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 helpful tips to keep you motivated to crush them.

1. Make your goal specific

Setting vague goals like “I want a new job” or “I want to find a better job” may seem like a good idea at the time, but they’re not going to help anyone get anywhere. Instead, try setting specific goals with steps in between them: “Apply for 3 jobs in my field this week,” or even better, “Start researching companies I might want to work for.”

2. Measure your progress

Know where you stand! Sometimes getting lost in the details of a project can be overwhelming—especially if they’re not great details! But if you don’t measure where you are against where you want to be, how will anyone know when they need to step in and help? You wouldn’t bake an entire cake without measuring first (right?)

3. Make your goals attainable and be realistic

The point of setting goals is not to make yourself feel bad about what you can’t do—the point is to stretch yourself and grow into someone who can do it! So if you’re setting a goal that seems totally out of reach, re-evaluate. Is it worth setting at all? If so, how can you make it more realistic?

4. Stay relevant – is this for YOU?

Goals should always come from within—so if there’s something you want to do that doesn’t feel like an authentic expression of who YOU are right now, maybe let it go for now and revisit later when you’re more ready for it. But don’t be afraid to dream big! You never know where life will take you!

5. Set an appropriate timeline

When setting your goals, defining a solid time frame will only benefit your progress without leaving you feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to get it all done at once! You can break things down into smaller chunks and tackle them one at a time.

6. Find someone who’s been there, done that

Draw inspiration from the people who have already accomplished the goals you’re seeking. Ask for tips and tricks and ask questions about what they wish they could have done differently. This can be a huge motivator when things get tough – AND REMEMBER: if they could do it, so can you!

7. Stay positive!

It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset when things aren’t going your way, but we all know that the power of positive thinking can be so incredibly powerful. Don’t forget about the beauty of manifesting your outcomes and being intentional with your goals! Consider writing down your achievements, thoughts, and intentions so you can put them into action. Keep going!

By establishing some simple, effective rules in your goal-setting journey, there’s no doubt you’ll find yourself accomplishing all of the amazing things you’re dreaming of right now. Remember, you used to wish for the life you’re living right now… and look at you… doing it (and well, we might add).

Let’s do this!

Benefits of Trade Schools

Though a traditional four-year college or university may seem like the right choice for many students, trade schools are worth keeping on your radar. Trade schools, also known as technical or vocational schools, teach and develop skills related to a specific job. Read on to learn more about the benefits of trade schools.

Benefits of Trade Schools

Less time and money

Most trade schools offer 2-year programs, so naturally, the cost is going to be less than paying for a 4-year bachelor’s degree. The average trade school degree cost around $33,000 compared to many bachelor’s degrees that exceed $100,000. With affordability being a major factor in the college decision-making process, you might want to consider trade school as an option.

Smaller class sizes

When attending a college or university, the first couple years are dedicated to general education classes that tend to be larger in size. Technical schools allow students to jump into intimate class sizes right away. When classes are smaller, they offer greater focus on the material and allow for more student-teacher interaction. This may be appealing to students eager to become experts in their specific field as soon as they can.

Flexible learning environment

Not only is the learning environment more intimate, but trade school programs also offer more flexible options for non-traditional students. If you don’t have the ability to attend physical classes during the day, technical schools have more options for online and night classes. 

Variety of programs

Technical schools offer many programs that appeal to all different interests. You may prepare for a career as a HVAC technician, practical nurse practitioner, home inspector, commercial diver, electrician, landscape designer, construction manager, dental hygienist, and so much more! One thing all these jobs have in common: they involve hands-on work that can’t be outsourced to another country.

Job security

Probably the biggest and most appealing reason to consider trade schools: you are bound to secure a job right after graduation. Many technical schools have connections and partnerships that commit to hiring directly from the graduating classes. Not to mention, most programs are training students for jobs that are in high demand. As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, experts predict a shortfall of skilled trade workers. This means there will be more trade job openings for younger generations to fill. 

Networking

When attending a technical school, you are completely immersed in an environment surrounded by people with similar interests and entering the same field as you. Because of this, you are bound to make connections that will stay with you long after you graduate. You will be exposed to all kinds of networking opportunities and connections that will lead you to success. 

Before making a decision about the kind of school you want to attend, be sure to think about your goals for the future. A traditional four-year college or university is an ideal option for students who want a well-rounded education or a chance to explore their interests. Trade schools better serve students who want a shorter, inexpensive path to a career. One choice isn’t better than the other; it’s all dependent upon what you want from your education.

College Towns that Everyone Loves

There are so many college towns scattered throughout the United States; some are large, some are small, and some fall right in between. The ambiance varies from one town to the next, but there’s something for everyone in these communities. Many college towns embody the ideal experience of higher education, with students dominating the population, shops and businesses flourishing, and a community overall shaped and enhanced by the university. With that being said, here are our top picks:

1. Chapel Hill, North Carolina

University of North Carolina

You can get a bit of everything in Chapel Hill. There are tasty dives, neat bars, quirky museums and galleries, and beautiful Georgian architecture. All of this is nestled in over 700 acres of natural areas and parks.

Chapel Hill’s claim to fame as a top college town rests in the hands of the University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels basketball team is infectious as it’s been a historically dominant program. The university is also a part of the Research Triangle whose three points are Raleigh (NC State), Durham (Duke), and Chapel Hill (UNC). The foodie, sporty, and outdoorsy town offers plenty of opportunities in tech and healthcare. These are reasons why Chapel Hill heads the list of the top college town in the country.

2. Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan

A large percentage of the population of Ann Arbor are college students reinforcing the perfect neighborhood for undergraduates to study. The mix of restaurants and bars certainly provide entertainment to students and other residents of Ann Arbor, but it is not the number one source of entertainment.

The Michigan Wolverines provide all the enjoyment needed for those in Ann Arbor. The always-competitive football team is the number one reason why the Big House is filled every Saturday. There is also active night-life with a surplus of bars and restaurants. As far as career opportunities for post-graduates, there are several employers nearby including Google AdWords, JSTOR, and Toyota.

3. Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin lies in the center of its state capital. The downtown is surrounded by lakes and rolling prairies. Given its location, Madison serves as an active, outdoorsy city. Along with Madison’s beauty, it is home to large companies like Microsoft and Google.

More than anything, there is a unique charm to Madison. The social scene is optimal, complete with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and bars. When it comes to showing school spirit, the whole community supports the Badgers. This team dominates in many sports year after year showing no sign of slowing down.

4. State College, Pennsylvania

Penn State-University Park

Penn State University is the centerpiece for State College, PA. This medium-sized town is stunning with fresh greenery and has a thriving art and live music scene. Raytheon and AccuWeather are set up in the area contributing to employment opportunities for students. The most prominent source of activity is the enthusiasm for the premier college football program.

5. Iowa City, Iowa

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa has established itself as a community focused on giving back. The hospital system hosts numerous events concentrated on service. The university holds a dance marathon that raises millions of dollars annually for the children’s hospital. This town also has a lot of school spirit, especially when it comes to supporting the Hawkeyes in their top football and basketball programs. Consistently listed as a top party school, the university proves itself to be perfect for all social butterflies. Iowa City is also associated with well-known writers like Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Frost, and Flannery O’Connor. Every year there is a book festival and a Literary Walk attracting visitors from all over the country.

6. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

University of Illinois

Champaign-Urbana is not your average urban city, for it is surrounded by farmland. This extra greenery provides a breathtaking landscape for the University of Illinois, one you wouldn’t typically expect from a metropolitan setting. The cities have everything to offer culturally as well as low living costs and little traffic. Due to large companies based nearby such as Kraft Foods, there are several employment opportunities in Champaign-Urbana. Champaign-Urbana also has an active music scene with several museums and festivals. Although it is surrounded by farmland, Champaign-Urbana is packed with things to do.

7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Carnegie Mellon University
University of Pittsburgh

Two great universities can be found in the Steel City: Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. While Pittsburgh is a larger city, these two universities have a great presence. The two schools continue to strengthen Pittsburgh’s status as a research city, as it is the federal headquarters for robotics, energy research, and cyber defense. The Steel City has some of the most famous sports franchises in the country including the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins. You can also find many libraries, cultural districts, and bars. Pittsburgh’s wide range of offerings makes it an ideal metropolis to attend college.

8. Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is located in a historic area where both former presidents James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson resided. Known as one of the “Public Ivies,” it’s no surprise that UVA is the central focus in Charlottesville. The university’s prestige coupled with its sports unites the town. They also have one of the largest outdoor shopping malls in the country. Between the history of Charlottesville, the elegant landscapes, and the devoted community, this college town sets itself apart from all the others.

9. Ithaca, New York

Cornell University
Ithaca College

Even though it’s a small town nestled amongst serene lakes and trees in tranquil upstate New York, Ithaca is anything but isolated. Not one, but two colleges are located in Ithaca: Cornell University and Ithaca College. It’s easy to point to academics and research as Ithaca’s selling point, but the town offers so much more.

There is a fostered sense of community in the town as it endures cold, snowy winters together. The close-knit community features great local musicians at different venues year round. If you’re a foodie, Ithaca is the place for you. The options are endless in this picturesque town. Ithaca’s research, community, music, restaurants, and beauty make it a phenomenal place to study.

10. College Station, Texas

Texas A&M University

Sitting on barrels of oil, College Station, TX has more to offer than its abundance of natural resources. The town is home to Texas A&M University. As a large university located in the heartland of the Lone Star State, the Aggies have a rich football history. While the town huddles together on Saturdays for football games in the fall, it also boasts impressive academic programs.

Texas A&M prides itself on its commitment to explorative studies, the university giving grants to land, sea, and space research. In addition to the numerous and large-scale research projects, those who call College Station their home are certainly a knowledgeable bunch. The town has continuously ranked high among all U.S. cities as one of the most educated places in the country.

Types of College Degrees

When thinking about college degrees, you may only think about the classic bachelor’s degree you earn at a four-year university. However, there are all different types out there! Read on to learn more:

Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools. You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose. The entire program usually takes a year to complete. Learn more about certificate programs by reading this article!

Associate’s Degrees

This 2-year degree is offered by community colleges, career colleges, and some four-year colleges. It’s required to have a high school diploma or GED. Many of the programs prepare students to enter the workforce straight away. In other cases, students transfer to a four-year institution after completing their Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS).

Bachelor’s Degrees

Generally, students take 4 or 5 years to complete this program at a college or university.  A high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite to enrollment. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) are the most common degrees that students pursue. Other types include a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS). Students are required to choose a major area of study. Upon graduation, many students choose to enter the workforce right away. For some fields such as physical therapy or speech pathology, you may be required to pursue additional education.

Master’s Degrees

To earn a master’s degree, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. It ordinarily takes 1-2 years to complete this kind of program. This type of degree is more advanced, and allows students to specialize in their area of study. Additionally, students are typically required to complete a thesis, capstone project, or comprehensive exam before graduating. Upon graduation, students qualify for job positions at an advanced or executive-level.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree is the highest level you can earn. To pursue a doctoral degree, you need a master’s degree. (Though there are some programs that accept students with only a bachelor’s). You can expect to be in school for at least 2 years. Most doctoral programs require a major research project and dissertation. For many students with ambitions to become lawyers and doctors, there are specialized doctoral programs for those topics of study. 

When mapping your academic path, we recommend figuring out your ultimate goal and working backwards. For example: If you want to be an MD (Doctor of Medicine), you should check out the medical school admissions requirements. Then, plan your bachelor’s degree with those requirements in mind. By understanding the different types of degrees out there, you can choose the academic path that will serve you best. 

5 Careers Working With Children

If you enjoy working with tiny humans and impacting the leaders of tomorrow, perhaps a career working with children is right for you! We’ve highlighted five professions that work specifically with children. Within our highlight, we will briefly describe the role, review the required education, and link you to the median salary. Just an important FYI, half of employees make more than the median salary and half make less. There can be a lot of factors that play into this, such as experience level, location, education level, and type of organization.

1. Elementary School Teacher

This is probably the first profession that comes to mind when you think about careers with kids. Elementary school teachers instruct students (grades K-6) in all of the basic subjects (math, reading, science, social studies) and ensure they are socially and emotionally prepared to succeed in all future education.

Education

To become an elementary school teacher, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. To work in a public school, you must complete the experiential requirements of your state and take an exam to earn a state-issued certification or license.

Median Salary

You can learn more about an elementary school teacher’s salary here.

2. Social Worker

Social workers assist people with the problems and obstacles within their everyday lives. They also help to protect vulnerable children and families. Clinical social workers have the ability to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional problems. Many social workers work with people of all ages, but depending on the setting you work in, you may have the opportunity to work exclusively with children.

Education

To become a social worker, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. If you would like to work in a clinical social work setting, you must have a master’s degree in social work in addition to two years post-master’s experience in the clinical setting under the leadership of a licensed clinical social worker. Clinical social workers must be licensed in the state they work.

Median Salary

You can learn more about a social worker’s salary here.

3. Child Life Specialists

Child life specialists work with infants, children, and families to help them cope with illness, injury, and treatment plans to reduce the fear and anxiety associated. They use developmentally appropriate interventions such as therapeutic play to help children understand what they are going through.

Education

To become a child life specialist you must be certified. In order to become certified, you must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in any field of study and have completed 10 college courses within specific content area in addition to having a minimum of 600 hours of a child life clinical internship hours under the direction of a Certified Child Life Specialist. You can also earn the coursework and internship hours needed to sit for the licensing exam by earning your master’s in Child Life. For more information about the requirements, check out the Association of Child Life Professionals website.

Median Salary

You can learn more about the salary of a child life specialist here.

4. School Counselor

School counselors work with students in the areas of academic achievement, career readiness, and social/emotional development within elementary, middle, and high schools.

Education

To become a school counselor, you must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a closely related field. Some states will require school counselors to have previous classroom teaching experience or a teacher’s certification. You will also take a licensure exam and complete a required internship or practicum experience under the supervision of a licensed school counselor.

Median Salary

Learn more about the salary of a school counselor here.

5. Careers in the health field

People of all ages need health care so a career in the health field will provide you the opportunity to work with children if you’d like. Many students go into nursing school or medical school with the intention of working in pediatrics. Despite this interest in pediatrics, you will still be educated and complete hands-on training with patients of all ages within an array of specialties because you will be required to pass board exams that cover all ages. It’s not until after you complete your classroom education, that you will begin to specialize in pediatrics.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of all careers that work with children, but it’s a starting point. No matter what career you choose, it’s important to get hands-on experience so you can get a “day in the life” view. This will help you to decide whether that career is for you or you need to continue to explore your options!

Matching Your College Major to Career Goals

As a college student, it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after you graduate. You have plenty of time to figure it out! However, there are some steps you can take to make sure you are matching your college major to your career goals.

Work backwards

We recommend figuring out which career you want, and then shaping your education based on those dreams. You are paying a lot of money to be at school, so you want to make sure you are working towards a goal that you really want. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you know that you have to go to medical school. Knowing this, you will want to shape your undergrad major to fulfill medical school requirements. 

Consider time and money

When exploring your career options, you may find that some fields require more schooling than others. Graduate school is certainly an investment of both time and money. If you know you want to achieve a master’s or doctorate level degree, that’s great! If you’re not so sure, you may want to give your career goals more thought. Maybe choose a major that leads directly into a career without any additional education requirements. 

Visit your school’s career center

We know, it’s stressful to think about your future. You may be tempted to just focus on your classes and figure out the career stuff later. However, exploring different careers is essential to figuring out what you want. You don’t need to map out the next ten years of your life, but you should be doing a bit of research about the various occupations out there.

Focus on the fit of your major

If the first step of choosing a career doesn’t work for you, then focus on the fit of your major. Take note of how you feel during different classes. Do you see yourself doing this type of work in the future? Trust your intuition; do you have an overall sense of ease or belonging when it comes to your major? Reflect, and adjust accordingly!

Matching your major to your future career is all about setting yourself up to achieve your dreams and aspirations. No matter where you are in this process, keep these steps in the back of your mind. Though we encourage you to contemplate these big questions about your future, don’t let it stress you out. You will figure it out, we promise!

All About Certificate Programs

When planning for your future, don’t forget about certificate programs. They are a prime option for students who aren’t sure about committing to a four-year university. They also suit students interested in a highly specialized field. Read on to learn more about these programs. 

What Are They?

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. There are also programs for graduate students, allowing students to pursue mastery of a particular topic to supplement their degree. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools.

You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose.

Benefits of Certificate Programs

You’ll save money

If you are attending your certificate program full-time, it usually only takes about a year to complete. Paying for only one year of school will cost much less than paying for four years of college. Woo! Math. 

There are so many topics to choose from

Certificate programs are available in various trades, professional fields, and areas of study. Some of the most popular include healthcare, technology, and business. Some examples of potential careers from certificate programs:

  • Web Developer
  • Dental Assistant
  • Architectural Drafter
  • Hairdresser
  • Welder
  • Veterinary Assistant

You’ll be qualified for professional work

Some high school students might want to skip college and go straight into the work force. A certificate program can help you quickly qualify for a higher paying job. It’s a great resume booster! 

Put those credits toward a degree

Many of the classes you take may also count towards an associate or bachelor’s degree. In completing the program, you will become a working professional. If you want, you can use your new employment as a means to continue studying. Many working students pursue their degree part-time or online.

Now you can see why you shouldn’t overlook these programs as an option for your future!

Apprenticeships May Be Right For You

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships have been around since ancient times, allowing craftsmen to supervise and pass along knowledge to younger generations. The purpose of these relationships is to maintain the quality of a trade. Nowadays, apprenticeships include time in the classroom. According to the Department of Labor, apprentices are required around 144 hours of classroom time for every 2,000 hours of workplace training. 

Benefits of Apprenticeships

Learn and earn money at the same time

Unlike many students who pay to take classes, you will have the opportunity to make money as you learn.

Become an industry-recognized professional

Upon completion of the program, you will have all the credentials you need to start working right away. 

Advance your career

If you want, you can build upon your apprenticeship. With the hands-on career training you received, you will be prepared for more responsibilities. 

Network

Because you are learning from professionals, you will make connections with all the people you work with. When you are done with your program, this network will serve you well. 

Choose from so many different industries

This includes construction, automotive, hospitality, energy, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare.

How to Become an Apprentice

Earn a high school diploma or a general education diploma

For most formal apprenticeship programs, this is the minimum educational requirement. This works out since the minimum age requirement is typically 18 years old.

Update your resume

If you are applying for an apprenticeship program, you will need a resume of your experience and accomplishments. 

Find a program that interests you

As listed above, you can find a training program for all sorts of careers. The U.S. Department of Labor has resources for you to explore more about potential apprenticeships. 

If studying in college doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, consider an apprenticeship. There are all different paths to success; all you have to do is find the one that’s right for you.