5 Reasons to Attend Community College First

5 Reasons to Attend Community College First | Rose Colored Water #education #college #advice

If I could change one thing about my college experience, it would be how I began. At age 17, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I jumped into an expensive, private junior college I thought would impress everybody and give me the “college experience.” A year later, feeling jaded and confused, I transferred to a school I swore I would never attend — my hometown community college.

I felt like a failure when I went to community college, but it was one of the best decisions I made. The private, all-girls school I attended first made me question everything that college stood for. We were paying $25,000/year to take gen eds and sleep in a dorm with no air-conditioning! It was a waste of money and my time. Not to mention, I was not prepared for the college lifestyle at age 17.

The most common piece of advice I tell high school students and my co-workers pursuing a higher education is to start at community college, no matter what. If you are considering attending a fancy private school right out of high school, I urge you to reconsider.

5 Reasons to Attend Community College First | Rose Colored Water #education #college #advice

1. Community College is Cheaper

I went to four colleges during undergrad. The only one that didn’t leave me with student loans was community college. Whether you believe it or not, student loans suck and will impact your life after graduation. Community college is the cheapest option for earning general education requirements. In a time when you may not be sure where you are trying to go, why add debt to the confusion?

2. Community College Offers Many of the Same Opportunities as a University

Everything I did at a four-year institution was available at my community college. Granted, I focused on working full-time while in community college because I was money hungry. Had I wanted to join a club, however, I could. Most community colleges offer a full range of athletics and intramural sports, every type of club under the sun, and all the same classes you might take at a large university. Just scroll through a two-year college’s course catalog and you’ll realize everything is available to you for a lower pricepoint.

You should also note that many professors that teach at the big universities also teach online and evening courses at the surrounding community colleges. This is a common way for them to earn more money, and you still get the best instructors in the area.

3. Most Courses are Transferrable

Every course I have taken at community college has transferred to a four-year university. I have transferred numerous times, so this is something I am experienced in. Calculus, General Chemistry, Human Anatomy, and Intro to Philosophy are all the same everywhere you go. You may have classes that are degree specific, i.e. Developmental Psychology or specific religion courses that won’t transfer exactly as they are, but they will count as electives towards your chosen program.

Don’t use fear of classes transferring as a reason not to attend community college.

4. Community College Offers More Flexibility

When attending community college, you have the flexibility to attend in-class sessions or take online courses. Nearly every community college offers classes online, with many offering full Associate degrees. This allows you to work full-time and save money for when you do transfer to that big university or small private school you’ve been eyeing.

I was able to work full-time and attend distance-learning courses in my small town about 40 miles from the actual college campus. This helped me save money and taught me how to be an adult well before my peers. There’s nothing quite like learning in the comfort of your own home.

Not a fan of 8am classes? Online courses might work well for you. The tradional college experience isn’t for everyone. Community college gives you the best of both worlds with flexible options.

5. Smaller Class Sizes

You don’t have to pay big money at a private college for small class sizes and an intimate setting. I never attended a class with more than 30 people in it, and more often than not, there were only 10-15 students. This allowed for more one-on-one time with our professors and a better learning environment.

College doesn’t have to be pricey. Community college is a low-cost way to earn your degree without ever taking out a student loan. The best degree isn’t always at the most expensive school. Check your options, do some research, and think long-term before jumping into the “traditional college experience.”

What are your thoughts? Have you attended community college? Are you considering it?

What You Need to Get a Job Today

Can we all let out a collective *sigh* while thinking about the job market? Sure, it’s better than it was in 09′, but it’s still cutthroat. It’s no wonder so many people have turned to freelancing and went down the path of entrepreneurship. It’s a rough road in the corporate world. It’s even rougher if you don’t have a skill set.

5 Things You Need to Get a Job today

Ah… Notice I said skill set and not an education. My husband and I are learning fast that without actual skills – it can be very tough to find a job that pays more than $9/hour. Let me elaborate a bit.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and when I graduated, my only skill was technical writing. I had very little professional experience as a technical writer, but alas, writing comes fairly easy to me. My first (and current) job is in content marketing. Since working in this area (for nearly a year and a half), I have gained HTML, SEO, PR, and CMS skills. If I needed to get another job, I would have a much better chance now than I did when I first started out (though the pay for these jobs is still sub-par).

Now let’s look at my husband. Mike is a people-person and Veteran, yet he has no higher education and no marketable skill set. He is struggling in his search for a well-paying job because he simply has no skills. His job in the National Guard taught him data entry and human resources, but no one takes him seriously because he doesn’t have a degree to back it up. Good sales positions won’t look at him because they can hire people with degrees for what they would pay him. Factory jobs don’t want him because he doesn’t have proof of mechanical skills. And obviously, everywhere else won’t hire him because he doesn’t have a degree. Even though he is a capable, reliable, kind person with a good work ethic, he is repeatedly passed over for better jobs.

Thankfully, Mike was finally picked up for a better job because he is a veteran and wooed his hiring manage with his epic people skills and love for all sports. Unfortunately, not all places take so kindly to those who have fought for our country, but that’s a story for another day.

So what do you need to get a good job in today’s world, with or without a degree? I’ve highlighted a few things below.

1. A Smashing Resume

This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how few people have an actual resume highlighting their skills and experience. A solid resume is a must-have if you’re going to separate yourself from the crowd, especially in higher-paying fields. Make one today. Have a friend look over it. Polish it. Make it one page. Still need help?

Check out these resources:

  1. Make Your Resume Stand Out
  2. 45 Quick Changes to Better Your Resume
  3. Resume Do’s and Don’ts

2. A Valued, Marketable Skill Set

What can you do? In 2015, some of the most valued skill sets are in healthcare, IT, and business relations. Can you do bookkeeping or write code? Are you certified in CPR? Do you have training in electrical repair or automobile mechanics? Do you know how to design with Adobe Creative Suite? These are marketable skill sets. If you don’t have one, take a class or two. You’d be amazed how much you can learn in one semester of accounting or design classes. Invest in yourself and you’ll have much less trouble finding a job.

3. A Great Business Outfit

To own an interview, you need to look great, even if the job is casual or uniform wear. If you want people to take you seriously, you need to dress like you’re serious. Take a moment to buy a suit that can cross all seasons. It will be one of the best investments you make for yourself and your career.

4. A Desire to Learn and Humility

You must be confident, but don’t act like you know everything. Play up your desire to learn and and be successful. Let the hiring manager know what you’re good at, but be honest and humble. Being humble doesn’t mean downplaying your skills; it means showing your success while acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement.

5. The Ability to Sell Yourself in an Interview | a.k.a. People Skills

No matter what your skills or education, if you can’t sell yourself in the interview, you’re not going to get the job. Be yourself – unless yourself is boring and scared to death. Act poised and confident. Be prepared to answer tough questions. Imagine if you were hiring someone. How would you want them to act? I have seen people passed over jobs simply because they suck at interviews. I am one of those people. Calm your nerves, and take what’s on the line out of the equation. Be chill, talk like you would with a friend or acquaintance, and move on.

Do you have any other tips on how you can get a job in today’s economy?  I’d love to hear them!

10 Things to Remember after Graduating College

10 Things to Remember After Graduating College

Around this time every year, I start thinking about my final semester in college and how amazing I felt. I would have told you I was going to break barriers, make amazing money, and be a huge professional in my own right. Nothing was going to stop me.

Then reality hit. Even though I had a well-paying internship and job waiting for me, I realized that I didn’t know everything and wasn’t invincible. I was unhappy, scared, and felt like a total failure. Had I kept a little better perspective, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and pain.

Here are 10 little tidbits of wisdom to remember after turning that tassel.

1. Don’t get a big ego just because you have a diploma.

If there’s one thing you’ll learn fast, it’s that college courses didn’t prepare you for most aspects of your career. Unless you have a technical career like nursing or engineering, very little of what you learned will help you in the real world. You are not better than anyone else just because you went to college. A lot of people in this world do not have degrees and are more qualified than you. Keep a level head on your shoulders and take every criticism as a way to learn and better yourself.

2. A degree is just the beginning.

Another thing I wish I had known was that my degree was just a way to get my foot in the door. It’s just the beginning. I wish I had learned more about connecting with people and selling myself, because that’s what’s going to get you past the first interview – not your high GPA and “awards.”

3. Never stop creating.

When you do start to feel hopeless (because you will, even if your life is “on track”), remember to never stop creating. It doesn’t matter what your “thing” is. For me, it’s journaling and writing for this blog, even if no one is listening. If you play music, paint, or build towers out of toothpicks, never stop doing it. Keeping those creative juices flowing will keep you happy, sane, and relieve stress when things don’t go as planned.

4. It’s okay to keep working your low-wage job if you are happy.

When my internship ended and I still didn’t have a job, I went back to doing what I’d done through college. Sure, the pay sucked, but it got me by and I was happy. I enjoyed what I did. It’s what I needed at that time in my life, and I’m not ashamed of working that job for a year after graduation because it paid my bills and allowed me to support myself.

5. It’s okay to take a low-paying job if it gives you relevant experience and opens up better opportunities.

Most of the time, the biggest and best opportunities are not going to come first. You have to work for them and gain real-world experience. Sometimes, you may have to take a crappy job in your field to open up doors to better jobs. Use your time wisely and learn everything you can. If you hit a plateau, move on and search for something else.

6. Network with everyone.

This is crucial because great jobs happen to those who know people. Most of my opportunities came from my connections, and even now, my connections are the ones who offer me the greatest return. Join a club, start a club, or go to networking events. It will probably change your life.

7. It’s okay to change your mind.

So maybe you have a job in your field and you hate it. You’ve realized you hate working in an office or that you chose the wrong field. That’s okay! You are still so young and there are a lot of ways to change paths. Remember, that diploma is more about getting your foot in the door than defining the career path you’re meant to be on.

8. Friends and family are everything.

When I was going through hard times and feeling horrible about myself, my friends and family were the only people keeping me sane. My best friend let me crash on her couch while I tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life. My parents would have let me move home, but I just wasn’t ready for that. These people are your support group. Love them. Cherish them. And if something negative happens, work it out and take your part of the blame. Good friends are NOT worth losing.

9. Live cheap. Build your savings. Build your credit.

This is especially true for those who haven’t found a great-paying job. If you have loans, pay them. Start building an emergency fund, even if you can only save $50 a month. Get a credit card and start building credit history. Get a second or third job. Live with a roommate or two. I’m sure we can all think back to our younger years when our expenses were low and how much money we wasted. Don’t you wish you had put some of that money away rather than spending it on Starbucks and take-out? Guess what… the future you will feel the same. Spend and save wisely. 

10. Take care of yourself.

I know you hear this all the time, but it is so true. Find some way to stay active because something happens when you hit your mid-20’s. Your body will change. Working a 9 to 5 will exhaust you. A piece of cake will hang around and make you feel like crap. It happened to me, and I thought I was invincible with the metabolism of a jackrabbit. Give up some of the bad habits and replace them with good ones. Your future body needs it.

I could list a million other things here, but I’m going to save that for my “25 Truths for 25 Years” post. My birthday is coming up in May. 

Post-college peeps, do you agree with this list? Anything you’d like to add?

5 Things I’ve Learned at my First “Real” Job

First real jobs are awesome aren’t they? And totally horrible! Since I’m currently working at what I consider my second “first real job”, I’m going to talk about my first “first real job” as a marketing and sales rep. It was a three month internship/trial period with a company to see if I liked it. I was being paid on a salary and I had the 8 to 4 schedule, Mon-Friday. It was perfect, yet all wrong. The company is awesome, but the job was not right for me.

I don’t want to talk about that though. I want to tell you the things I learned while in that position. It was an awesome learning experience right after college and taught me so much about who I am, what I want, and how the “REAL WORLD” works. Here are 5 things everyone starting their first job should know.

5 Things I've Learned at My First Real Job

1. Emotions are important, but it’s best to get rid of them.

I let my emotions rule my life during that three month time period. I read WAY too much into the things people said and how they said it. I took things to heart when I should have realized it was just business. Remove your emotions if you want to survive.

2. Take every criticism seriously.

There are crappy people out there. This we know. When you start your first job, there aren’t going to be professors that coddle you and give you feedback all the time. You have to rely on your own abilities and sense. It’s hard! I struggled because in college, I was an all-star, but when it came to the real world, I was like a child. I realized I wasn’t as smart as I thought. I felt foolish all the time, which leads me to my next point.

3. You are going to fail.

And it may be huge. It will be embarrassing. You may think you’ll be fired (you probably won’t be). You’ll cry to your grandma, mother, brother, sister, and spouse. You might even think your career is OVER. It’s not. Failing sucks, but honestly, it’s the people who never fail that think they’re invincible and are horrid to work with. It’s good to be knocked down a few times because it’s all about the learning. Take the failure and use it to fuel your learning and career growth.

4. It will drive you crazy.

I don’t think anyone can disagree with this point. No matter how aligned your first job is with your career aspirations, it will be crazy. Whether it be transitioning from college hours to a 9 to 5 or being thrown into workplace drama, you’re going to feel mentally unstable. When I first started, I was exhausted all the time because I was learning a new routine and new rules/regulations/stuff college never taught me EVERY SINGLE DAY.

5. You’ll wonder why you went to college.

This may not be true for technical positions that need to learn actual skills, but for those liberal arts degree holders, you will feel jipped. You’ll realize that the degree only gets you the interview, and the on-the-job training is what helps you KEEP the job. We gotta do what we gotta do.

What did you learn from your first job? Are you still working there?

Career Success Tip #1: Remove Your Emotions

Some things have been changing at my workplace. We’re shifting strategies, changing priorities, and the original job I was hired for nine months ago has been omitted. Without going into too much detail, it’s a big transition for our team.

Remove your emotions | Rose Colored Water #career

This new transition made me start thinking about my career as a whole and how I let my emotions control my behavior. I take things personally and it can cloud my judgement. This is a bad thing in the workplace.

Remove your emotions.

You often hear the saying, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” This can be a hard pill to swallow, but in my experience, I’ve found it to be true. Most people are not out to get you, even if they do not like you. All businesses come back to money, and without it, they cannot operate successfully.

If your boss or supervisor jumps on your case about an issue, remember that it is not personal. She/he wants you to do the best you can in the position you were hired for. If you fail in that position, consequences or criticisms will come your way. Do not react in anger. Do not cry (at least until you know you’re in private). Take it with a cool head and use it to better yourself.

On the other side, do not let your emotions affect the way you treat your peers or boss. Even the worst scenarios call for composure. No matter how annoying a person is, remember that you are a professional and all of your reactions reflect who you are at the core. You do not want to be known as the hothead or whiner.

Keeping your feelings in check can be tough, but it’s worth working on. Even when the situation is unfair and you feel justified, it is better to stay silent before spouting words you will later regret.

In terms of my own career growth, I am much better than when I started my first “real” job, but I still have a long way to go. It is difficult, but I continue to challenge myself to be level-headed and calm in less-than-desirable situations so I am seen as a young, yet mature woman in the workplace.

Have you ever let your emotions get the best of you at work? Was it worth it in the end?