Choosing the next steps for improving your education is an important decision that requires careful thought and consideration. Education today is no longer simply about a desired major or going to college, there is a whole spectrum of educational options from new degree and certification programs to individual online courses. Whether you are fresh out of school or you are 35 and considering a major career change, there are more options and courses that are tailored for you than ever before.
Here are some ideas to get you started on understanding and choosing your next steps.
1. Consider What Level of Education You Have Already
A good place to start is to make an assessment not just of your education level but the specific skills you have already. For example, if you have just graduated from a university but your degree was not linked to a specific career, you might want to consider obtaining additional qualifications that can help you break into the industry that you are targeting.
Are there specific skills or mini field of study that can help set you apart from other candidates looking for a position or help you advance in your existing role. There is a multitude of online courses at Shaw Academy that cover all kinds of options including photography, coding, fashion design, marketing, project management, creative writing, and many more areas of study. It is important to consider your current level of education, because these programs offer courses that are for beginners, intermediates or advanced. Totally new to programming? There is a course for you. Have some experience in Java or Python but need to learn some tools available, chances are there is a course for you as well. While it is important to avoid a course that is too basic, you also want to avoid an advanced class where you feel lost or disheartened.
2. Think About What Career You Want
The next step is to consider what career is right for you. Naturally, our minds will change regarding our careers. We change as we get older, wiser and get more exposure to different fields. At the age of 17 and applying for college, you are told to decide what degree you want to study. It is a big decision as we are taught that the degree we study will dictate our future careers. This is simply not the case, not only do students try out several majors while in school, millions of people end up working in fields unrelated to the major they do eventually select. More importantly, education is evolving and is moving from a 4 year degree to a lifelong process of continual learning. Online courses help keep you up-to-date in rapidly changing fields or develop skills to help them break into new industries or roles in their current organization.
Regardless of your educational background, you can attain certifications and qualifications online that are more relevant to the career you want. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or how old you are, the internet has revolutionized the way we learn.
3. What Qualifications Do You Need?
If you have a job or industry in mind where you want to get in the door, the next step is to consider what qualifications and education will be most helpful in entering your chosen industry. If you want a job in coding mobile phone applications but your education has steered towards website design coding, then you could take a course that specializes in mobile operating systems.
There used to be a stigma attached to online learning that it wasn’t ‘real’, but this has changed with the advancement of technology as many aspects of our lives have shifted online, especially after much of the world has gotten used to using Zoom daily. The best way to improve your education is to seek out courses that certify your skills as this will act as a qualification when you are applying and interviewing for jobs.
4. Consider Your Current Lifestyle
The next thing to think about is how you will fit your studies with your current lifestyle. If you are working part-time then you will have more flexibility. But if you are in full-time employment, then you need to find a course that allows you to study in your own time. Ideally, the course will have flexible deadlines in which you need to complete your assignments and courses. This is why an increasing number of courses are “asynchronous” and self-paced. There is no point in paying for a course that has 100 plus hours of lecture time to complete in a month if you are working 40 hours a week.
Rigid deadlines will cause unnecessary stress and you are less likely to be able to immerse yourself in the courses you take. When you decide to improve your skills courses should be offered in a way that fits and compliments your current situation and not worsens it.
The last thing you have to consider when embarking on furthering your education is your budget. You will have to compare the cost of doing courses in person at a university or doing it online. The cost of online courses varies massively and there are often deals and discounts that you can take advantage of and so you will need to do your research. And online courses are not necessarily always cheaper as some local schools, especially community colleges, may offer to cheaper alternatives. Some might offer you a free four-week period before you have to pay for anything, while others demand a significant upfront commitment. It is worth investing time into researching different course providers and doing a price comparison.
Thanks to the advancement of technology and the internet, improving your education has become easier than ever and you have many more resources to help you identify the options and their fit to your individual requirements. So while your journey may require more research, you have more options and more flexibility than ever before.