EDUCATION AND SUCCESS share a unique link. Although education does not guarantee success, don’t opportunities exist today provide inexpensive alternatives to advanced degrees or extensive costs of perpetual continuing education? If so, where are they? And in a market where tons of schools exist that want your money, and every employee looking for an edge, how does one make the right choice?

I've graduated,  now what?
I’ve graduated, now what?


Most people typically have some college debt, thus, it should feel odd if the notion of debt=degree continues into grad school. Debt is unnecessary! While some careers at a minimum require advanced degrees such as lawyer, psychiatrist, professor, most all employment opportunities do not have such requirements. So, how does one stay competitive in the labor market, or advance up the corporate ladder without dropping a minimum of $25-thousand dollars in a Master’s program? The answer – believe it or not – is specialty knowledge, abilities, and unique skill sets.

Specialty knowledge acquisition takes the form of informal cross-training (learning someone else’s job in the company, and perhaps doing so over a series of months), or formal apprenticeship, in the traditional sense. The problem is that with both of these methods one doesn’t really set oneself apart from the paradigms in place (co-workers production, or teacher’s work styles) fast enough, and in an apprenticeship, one is essentially training to work as one’s predecessor, period.

So,  if I don't have a ton of money,  want to set myself apart from predecessors and co-workers , what idealistic options remain?
So, if I don’t have a ton of money, want to set myself apart from predecessors and co-workers , what idealistic options remain?


Actually, there are a number of low-cost methods available to enrich one’s career, of course, depending on what one’s career objectives are. Let’s look at a short-term example, then an intermediate to long-term means by which to enrich one’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s for short).

Short-term methods to increase ksa’s involve utilizing a bit of your extra time, perhaps a handful of hours per-week, devoted to learning. Depending on your priorities, there are plenty of online, as well as brick-and-mortar schools (and vocational institutions) through which to take a class.

Adams State University of Colorado, is accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. ASU, as with many Universities, offer certificate programs in business, legal studies, and other areas at approx. $375-500 per 3-credit certificate.
This is a more expensive route, but well worth the 8-16 week trouble. Plus, if one were to seek a degree later, the credit will transfer. Employers love nothing more than employees who care by showing interest in a collective future.
The extended education staff are really helpful, and academic advisors are invested in student success.



Now let’s look at a long-term example – though an accredited certificate should not be misconstrued as only a short-term option. Certificate programs should not be underestimated in value and actually have long-term implications also.
Aside from a certificate – used to delve deeper into one’s industry – a non-accredited certificate can do the same thing – in so much as one is not attempting to later transfer the certificate into a degree program. These types of certificates won’t be accepted by credible universities, but employers will be thankful you took the time to develop your skills and abilities – especially when it shows in your productivity.

A no-cost long-term option can involve developing a cornucopia of knowledge through a number of programs over the course of a year or so. A great place to learn in online format is At Futurelearn you can take dozens of courses, working at your own pace in areas of mental health, business, legal, history, public policy, and many others. Additional to the work, one is exposed to articles, videos, quizzes, and interaction with a handful of mentors who interact with students as they work. It must be admitted this platform is amazing, fun, and interactive. In this way, contacts from all over the world can develop; in any given course one can interact academically with someone from Canada, Zaire, Japan, and Italy (even retired folk!) all bringing nuances of culture and society to the class. A very enriching opportunity. Courses are delivered through numerous British universities such as University of London, University of Sheffield, etc. Additionally, courses last anywhere from 3-weeks to 12, depending on the subject matter, and certificates are available for proof of completion at minimal cost of around $32 – shipped to you from the UK.


Thus, no matter the method you choose, developing your KSA’s really comes down to asking yourself: Is this knowledge meaningful and will I benefit from the information beyond a promotion? Remember, Learning is time-consuming, often expensive, and requires a level of maturity needed to focus your energy and balance your schedule to accomplish your goals without negative disturbance to other aspects of your lifestyle.
The key is documenting your learning and doing so at relatively low-cost.
See you at Futurelearn.


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