• I Graduated College and Started my Career by 20 Years Old. Here’s How.

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    I Graduated College and Started my Career by 20 Years Old. Here’s How.

    I’m a people person. Not necessarily an always-surrounded-by-a-crowd type of people person, but I find myself drawn to individuals who need a helping hand.

    The same way a car’s steering wheel determines where the vehicle goes, a focus on helping others often steers my decision-making process. I’m passionate about supporting the growth of those in my sphere of influence. This people-focused passion is the fuel that pushes me to accomplish my goals.

    It’s at this intersection of focus and passion that I discovered:

    1. A career in social work would allow me to influence the foster care system.

    2. To become a social worker, I’d need a bachelor’s degree at minimum, but preferably a master’s.

    My goals at this point were broad, but concrete. I wanted to work with foster youth of all ages, whittle down my focus to a more specific community or culture, and develop the gifts I had so that I could better serve the people I would one day work with.

    While I understood that a college education would be necessary for my career, I also knew I would need hands-on experience working with people if I hoped to blossom in a helping profession.

    Accelerated Pathways Gave Me Freedom to Pursue College and Experience Simultaneously

    I had established my goals, so I began to review my college options. As I compared community college, a local state university, and private university options, nothing felt right.

    I was frustrated with the traditional options. They were inflexible, expensive, and forced me into a box. That's when I heard about Pearson's online program Accelerated Pathways. A quick Google search later, and I was convinced it was for me.

    I was right.

    Accelerated Pathways' unconventional structure provided the flexibility I needed to invest in the people around me. Instead of being constantly consumed by class schedules and homework like many of my friends, I was able to stop and be present with friends, family, and kids in the various ministries I was involved in.

    I was also able to work full time, intern at my church, provide childcare for foster children, and be a counselor at multiple summer camps; all of which has given me real-life experience in my desired field of work. Accelerated Pathways gave me the freedom to gain that valuable experience at a young age—a huge head start on the career path I am passionate about.

    Choosing to be an Accelerated Pathways student allowed me to earn a BS in psychology before my 20th birthday. I was 15 and at the threshold of my junior year of high school when I started college through Accelerated Pathways. Because I earned dual credit, I was able to graduate high school the next semester and focus all my academic efforts on finishing college.

    Because of the aforementioned flexibility I found in Accelerated Pathways, the speed at which I worked varied greatly. But I never felt “behind.” There was no pressure for me to work faster than I felt I could with excellence. But there was also no predetermined classroom pacing to hold me back if I quickly mastered a concept. I completed my courses in the standard 4 years, and at 20 years old, I am well prepared for the next steps toward becoming a social worker (i.e. heading off to grad school).

    Finally, Accelerated Pathways allowed me to graduate from a private university completely debt free. Many of my family members and close friends ended up taking out massive student loans for their degrees. But it doesn’t need to be this way! I graduated without a penny of debt and with a savings account in place. This financial freedom has provided me with priceless opportunities, like the ability to travel and meet people that I never could have otherwise!

    An Unexpected Benefit: College Classes Designed for Personal Growth

    As if the freedom I experienced through Accelerated Pathways wasn’t enough, the program was also unexpectedly brimming with opportunities for personal growth—opportunities that I enthusiastically utilized!

    From the very beginning, the Accelerated Pathways team carefully guided me toward a degree and school that matched my goals. I often find myself using the various practical skills I developed from my Accelerated Pathways experience to help others reach their goals as well.

    Life After Accelerated Pathways

    I started my Accelerated Pathways journey a little over four years ago, and since then my life has changed significantly. Some of the changes were natural and inevitable (like becoming an adult and doing those adult-ish things), but I have also grown in ways that I directly attribute to the unconventional way I earned my degree.

    Before I became an Accelerated Pathways student, my goals were to gain experience with foster kids of various ages, find my niche, and develop my gifts.

    I am now employed by a foster family agency, providing childcare for young kids in the foster care system. I spend my Wednesday nights eating a good home-cooked meal and doing Bible study with a group of former foster kids who are now young adults. And for the past couple of summers, I have been a counselor at a summer camp designed specifically for elementary-aged foster children.

    Through these experiences, as well as my time volunteering with my church’s youth group, I have become aware of the heart I have for teenagers and young adults. My goals have shifted ever so slightly, and I am now focused on a future of serving these older kids who have been affected by foster care.

    As for what the future holds, I am still unsure of the specifics; I have learned to move forward one step at a time. I know I’ll be continuing my education in the near future, but for the moment, I am enjoying the time I have to invest in the people in my sphere of influence.

    You Can Do It Too

    Though I still have much to learn and even more growth ahead of me, my Accelerated Pathways journey has been instrumental in getting me where I am today!

    My unique college experience dramatically changed my outlook on life. I no longer feel bound to the (often low) expectations the world has set before me. I am confident in the skills Accelerated Pathways has equipped me with, and will continue to push forward toward each of my goals now that I’ve graduated.

    And I am not the only student who has found success in utilizing the services that Accelerated Pathways provides. Your story will be different than mine. But if you have passions and goals that require a degree, and you find yourself wanting more out of your college years, Accelerated Pathways just might work for you too. I recommend giving it a try.

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE

  • Productivity Hacks for the Working Student

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    productivity-hacks-for-the-working-student

    We live in a culture that values busyness.

    During college, I worked a job a that consumed 30 hours every week (at minimum). The volunteer work, internships, and study groups I liked to add on the side made sure my schedule was always overflowing. And since I have a tendency to overcommit, I pushed myself to maintain full-time student status on top of everything else.

    Why not add one more thing to my never ending to-do list?

    Busyness itself isn't inherently bad. When accompanied by productivity, a busy schedule can result in huge successes! However, we must be careful to avoid filling our schedules without purpose.

    Take it from me, it is not easy to stay on top of your studies as a working student. With so many varied projects on your plate, it’s often difficult to focus on what actually matters right now.

    Don't get discouraged, though! Difficult does not mean impossible.

    With some intentionality and creativity, you can stay productive amidst the busyness. Here are 6 tips for students who want to adopt a lifestyle of productivity.

    1. Write it Down

    Take time to write down what you need to accomplish. This brings tasks from the ambiguity of your brain to the reality of ink and paper (or text on a device, if you prefer).

    Need to stop by the bank on your way home from work, email that report to your boss, or call your mom? Write it down. This may take the form of a color-coded calendar, a list of bullet point points, or even weekly/monthly/yearly goals written in your favorite journal. Find what works for you!

    Having everything written down in front of you will keep important tasks from falling through the cracks.

    2. Prioritize Rest

    When you have what feels like a million things to do, rest probably isn't your first priority. However, getting enough physical, mental, and spiritual rest is much more important than you may think!

    If you want to have the ability to focus on the tasks at hand, produce quality work, and avoid running out of steam, rest must be a priority. During an especially busy season of my life, I found that the only way I would rest is if I scheduled it in. I physically wrote “read a book,” or “take a nap” in my pocket-sized planner.

    Crazy? Maybe. But it was effective. Do what it takes to ensure you are well-rested and thus prepared to tackle those challenging assignments.

    3. Set a Timer

    People are more productive when working in focused intervals. Rather than attempting to multitask, you can accomplish more by attending to one subject matter at a given time. Timers can help to separate your studying into manageable chunks while giving you a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

    Try setting a timer for 30 minutes and dedicate that time to studying for your dreaded calculus test. Because you have a set end for your study time, you will be more likely to focus and actually learn the information you need to instead of quitting after 5 minutes. Not quitting is the goal, right?

    4. Turn Off Notifications

    As a working student, your time is valuable. And social media, email, and texting all have a nasty habit of stealing it. You will never get back those hours spent scrolling, clicking, and typing!

    If you want to be productive (instead of “busy” on Facebook), you have to set boundaries. A simple way to do this is by turning off those pesky notifications that scream “Stop what you’re doing! I’m important! You must look at this NOW!”

    I often keep my phone on silent to avoid distraction. Yes, I will reply to that text, like the photo of my friend’s adorable puppy, and delete dozens of emails. But I’ll do it later, when I have a free moment.

    5. Eat Healthy

    There is a stereotype that college students survive off of Top Ramen and caffeine. While I love a good cup of coffee (or even a bad cup of coffee if I’m desperate), I have quickly learned that quality food matters.

    Who wants to take the time to make a healthy meal after a long day of work when there are 3 hours of studying still to be done? I understand. I’ve been there. For some people, eating healthy may mean buying prepackaged salads from the grocery store. For others, it may entail meal prepping at the beginning of the every week. Find the system that works best for you.

    It does take effort to keep your body healthy, but I promise your overloaded brain will thank you.

    6. Get Accountable

    What is more difficult than embracing a productive lifestyle? Maintaining it. This is where accountability comes in.

    You were not meant to go through life alone. Balancing various responsibilities can be challenging, but becoming productive doesn’t need to be a solo journey. Getting support from someone close to you—someone who can keep you focused on your goals—will make you much more successful in your pursuit of productivity.

    I learned to value consistent accountability when I was an Accelerated Pathways student. One of the many services provided by Accelerated Pathways is regular phone calls with an academic coach, providing this much-needed accountability.

    As I was earning my degree, my coach supported me and kept me on track with my academic goals as well as my personal ones. She was a lifesaver throughout my hectic college experience!

    Busyness is often unavoidable. But it doesn't have to consume your schedule.

    With these simple tips, you can take charge and turn your busyness into productivity.

     

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE

  • What Every Prospective Psychology Student Should Know

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    what-psychology-students-should-know

    Psychology is a fascinating field containing a plethora of job opportunities. The degrees available are extensive: you can pursue a general B.A. or B.S. in Psychology (what’s the difference?) or choose a specific emphasis such as counseling, criminal, developmental, or life coaching.

    Whether you want an overview of the field, or you’re driven to pursue a degree that’s tailored to your needs, here are some things every prospective psychology student should know before diving into this fascinating field.

    What You Should Know About Psychology

    Psychology is a Science

    Just like biology or geology, psychology is a science. Specifically, it’s the scientific study of the mind.

    There are countless misconceptions about what psychology actually is. Sometimes it’s thought of as asking clients “ how does that make you feel?” as they lie on a couch, while some people get psychology mixed up with psychic readings. (Psychologists don’t read your mind!)

    Given how often the field is misunderstood, what psychology is can most easily be defined by what it is not.

    Psychology is not:

    • Online personality tests. Personality is just one aspect of psychology. Admittedly, I myself started researching psychology because of a silly online test, but it’s best to realize early that studying psychology is more than relating the color blue to your natural punctuality.

    • Facts. As a scientific field, psychology is primarily formed by theories. As a newer scientific field, psychology poses many theories that we have yet to explore. Science constantly evolves as our understanding deepens. What was “true” yesterday is not always true today. As psychologists draw conclusions from new experiments and data, theories are adjusted to fit the new findings, and ongoing research pushes the mental health field to modify treatment to better help people.

    • Easy. I cannot count the number of times people have scoffed at the idea that psychology is difficult. “Pft. I know what it’s like to be a human!” Just because you’re a human doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand why people do what we do. That would be like assuming you understand the chemistry and composition of the earth’s atmosphere just because you breathe air every day.

    Psychology is a Diverse Field

    One objection to this field of study is the perceived notion that psychology majors can’t find jobs. Psychology is often thought of as a helping profession, but in fact, many psychologists never hold a private practice!

    As I said in the beginning of this post, psychology is a diverse field: where there are people, there is a career for psychology majors. Many with psychology degrees find jobs in businesses, schools, or the military. They may seek higher education and become neuroscientists, psychiatrists, or other similar medical practitioners.

    Job titles for psychology majors may include, but aren’t limited to:

    • Counselor

    • Researcher

    • Life coach

    • Consultant

    • Professor

    • Social worker

    • Human Resources representative

    How to Succeed in Psychology Courses

    So you’ve decided that psychology is the right path for you. Wonderful! Studying the mind can be extremely rewarding, as it grants insight into how people think and behave the way they do.

    Luckily for you, I’ve blazed the trail and have made it to the other side in mostly one piece. I’m here to share what I learned from both my successes and mistakes, so you don’t have to totally wing it!

    Here are my top four tips for budding psychologists. Following these will save a lot of pain later in your academic career.

    1: Psych 101 is important—pay attention!

    Every psychology major (along with almost every other college student) will take Psych 101. This is your foundation. Every psychology course from here on out will reference concepts and people you learn about in this introductory course.

    My greatest success in Psych 101: I painstakingly drew out, color-coded, and labeled a diagram of the brain. This is something that I referenced in every. Single. Course. It truly helped me throughout college.

    My greatest failure: I did not take good notes on anything else. Learn from my mistakes!

    2: Get your terms right.

    In Psych 101, you will be flooded with potentially brand-new terms that are necessary to understand both for your academic success and the sake of your grades. Don’t assume you know what a term means! (Even if you’ve heard it before.) It is entirely possible that a term meaning something very technical in the psychological field is widely misunderstood by the general population.

    Here are some examples of commonly confused concepts:

    • Psychologist vs psychiatrist. Psychologists are trained in psychological testing, and often use a therapeutic approach when treating patients. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who primarily diagnose mental disorders and prescribe medications. These titles are easily confused, especially because the two often assist one another with the same patient!

    • Introverted vs antisocial. Introversion is a personality trait which could be described as a preference for one’s inner world (as opposed to the external world). Antisocial, on the other hand, is a personality disorder that is far from introversion or “shyness.” Those with antisocial personality disorder have a complete disregard for the rights of others and lack of remorse, among other symptoms.

    • Psychosis vs psychopathy. Psychosis describes a mental break with reality, which could involve a number of causes (schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease, for example). It is a symptom, not a disorder itself. Psychopathy is described by professionals as a disorder which manifests itself as amoral and antisocial behavior. Psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder (described in the point above) are seen as similar, if not identical, disorders. Either way, psychosis and psychopathy are very different!

    3: Focus on the theories.

    As previously mentioned, psychology is a science—a relatively new one at that—and therefore there aren’t many things that everyone agrees on. Like all sciences, Psychology uses the scientific method: observing, hypothesizing, testing, theorizing. As theories are developed, evaluated, and refined, psychologists better understand the human mind and are able to apply this knowledge to their specific field of work. Psychology students study the theories resulting from the scientific method of research.

    Therefore it’s crucial to understand:

    • who some of the foundational theorists were,

    • what they theorized,

    • and how it’s been tested.

    For instance, Freud, Pavlov, and Erickson were groundbreaking in their particular views of the human mind and behavior. Their theories will come up in almost every psychology course you take, so be sure to understand their theories thoroughly and early in your studies—you’ll thank yourself later!

    4: Understand your worldview before starting your studies.

    The field of psychology can be a confusing place, with conflicting theories and strong opinions continuously begging for your attention. This is why it’s especially important in this field to know what you believe before beginning your studies.

    Your philosophical opinions should form your psychological ones—not the other way around.

    Psychologists all have different worldviews, and as the science evolves, theories that once appeared solid reveal themselves to be shaky at best. If psychology shapes your worldview, it is entirely possible that you will have an illogical worldview that borrows from several opposing views, and falls apart when theories are disproven.

    Understanding your own views prior to burying yourself in psychological theories will help you to sort through the opinions and find which ones fit within your own beliefs and understanding of the world.

    However difficult it may seem, it is possible to view psychology from the lenses of your worldview and understand how it fits! It’s your job to always wear those hypothetical glasses to interpret theories, therapeutic approaches, and psychological studies according to your views, not the theorist’s.

    Whether you go for a B.S. in Psychology: Life Coaching to assist people in achieving their goals, or you end up becoming a super-genius psychiatrist addressing mental health medically, all psychology students should remember that psychology is science, paying attention in Psych 101 is essential, and knowing your worldview will keep you from drowning in theories!

    Understanding these basic principles will help you survive your psychology studies with little to no scarring. You’ll come out with a better understanding of yourself and humanity in general, and will be well equipped to help your fellow man in whatever profession you choose. That’s the goal, right?

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE

  • What I Wish I Had Known About Getting Into Grad School

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    What I Wish I Had Known About Getting Into Grad School

    Last summer, after four years of hard work and dedication, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. But like you, I’ve chosen a field that requires an even higher education: i.e., grad school.

    This is far from a flawless success story.

    Graduate school was not always in my sights—honestly, I didn’t give it serious thought until I was three years into undergrad. Therefore I planned very little, and jumped into the application process blindly. Being unprepared caused an abundance of avoidable stress. Learn from my mistakes, dear reader!

    Here are four things I wish I had known, as well as tips and tricks I’ve learned about navigating the murky waters of graduate school.

    1. Different universities and programs have different requirements

    Not all graduate programs are the same. This may seem like a silly statement—of course graduate programs are different! But this thought didn’t cross my mind until I began applications for different schools. I quickly realized that different universities have varying requirements, even for the same degree! I knew I wanted a Master of Social Work degree. Shouldn’t the requirements be universal? Apparently not. I wasn’t prepared for these differences, and the extra work my ignorance caused was annoying at best.

    Review your program’s requirements

    Establish understanding of your target graduate program’s specific requirements. There may be significant differences between universities that you wouldn’t expect, which will leave you inadequately prepared. For example, I found that some of the courses I took in pursuit of my bachelor’s weren’t transferable to California State Universities—this would have complicated my admission, or possibly prevented it! Thankfully, my school of choice (a private university) accepted my transcripts… had they not, I would’ve needed to retake courses that I didn’t even enjoy the first time around.

    Utilize Accelerated Pathways’ Academic Advisors

    As a part of their Degree Planning services, Accelerated Pathways' advising department offers support for future graduate students. Their advisors assist students in determining the prerequisites for specific programs, and ensure that undergrad degree plans fulfill those requirements. When an Academic Advisor knows your plans for grad school, they help you avoid the headache of non-transferable credit (if only I had talked to an Advisor prior to applying!)

    2. Saving money on grad school is difficult—but not impossible

    Accelerated Pathways believes in saving students from debt when possible. However, to save money and evade debt during graduate school, you have to get creative.

    Take prerequisites and graduate courses during your undergrad

    When reviewing your program’s requirements, you may find there are specific prerequisite courses you need before attending. Instead of taking these courses as “bridge courses” after receiving your bachelor’s degree, include them in your initial undergrad degree plan. (Academic Advisors are pros at this!)

    Additionally, some universities offer graduate courses at undergrad prices, so check if your undergrad degree plan has room for a few of these courses.

    Apply for scholarships (yes, they exist!)

    Scholarships may not be as readily available for graduate students as they are for undergrads, but with a little effort, you can find suitable scholarships. You may find that an online service like Scholly is helpful for your scholarship search.

    You should also check with people and organizations you’re connected with to see if they have scholarships available. Your friends, co-workers, employers, or a nonprofit you’re involved in may know of scholarships you haven't heard of. It never hurts to ask!

    Seek tuition assistance programs

    One of the best ways to pay for graduate programs is to work. Ask your employer if they offer tuition assistance programs to help cover the costs of your education—many companies do. If they don’t, seeking employment at a company that does may be worth considering!

    Similar to tuition assistance programs, internships may be an option for you. Some employers have stipends available for graduate students who complete internships at that workplace. Receiving a stipend may entail committing to the company after graduation, so be sure to check the terms before signing the dotted line. Ask the financial aid or internship coordinator at your university if these internships are available to you.

    3. Applications can be confusing

    Grad school applications are anything but simple. Essays, and transcripts, and references… oh my! Each program expects your application to be completed in a particular way, and there’s little room for error. And while the university often lays out exactly what’s needed, there are so many distinct sections within an application that it’s easy to lose track of essential elements.

    Make a checklist

    One graduate program I applied to supplied a handy checklist detailing every required material. This list was invaluable to my sanity through the application process! If your university doesn’t create this for you, I highly recommend making one for yourself. This way, you can be certain you’ve included every little requirement.

    Know your deadlines

    Application deadlines also vary from program to program, and they may come earlier than you’d expect—sometimes up to a full year before your intended start date!

    Keep track of your deadlines, and give yourself more time than you think you need to complete your application. Trust me. When it comes to preparing your application, it’s better to have extra time than to be pressed for it. You might face unexpectedly difficult essay questions, technical complications, or delays in communication with your references. Allotting more time to the application process will prevent stress down the road. (And your future self will thank you.)

    4. Graduate programs have high standards

    This shouldn’t scare you, but rather be an encouragement. Why? The fact that you want to go to grad school speaks volumes about who you are: a young person who hopes to accomplish more than the average Joe. Graduate schools look for students with hands-on experience, volunteerism, and good grades—all of your hard work will really pay off!

    Strive for excellence

    About 20 million students enroll in U.S. colleges and universities every year. But I guarantee that most of those 20 million students aren’t getting hands-on experience, volunteering, and maintaining a 3.5 GPA. This is good news for you, you focused and driven student! Keep striving to be the best you can be. It will set you apart from those less motivated, and will serve you well as you seek acceptance to grad school.

    Maintain positive relationships

    I’m sure you have exceptional relationships with the people you interact with on a regular basis. That’s great, because a substantial part of grad school applications depends on others’ opinions of you. It’s crucial that you maintain overwhelmingly positive ongoing relationships with professors, academic advisors, and supervisors; you’ll need letters of recommendation from them, and it’s always best to know that they think highly of you!

    Though I could’ve made the process easier for myself, I am thrilled to tell you that I got into my master’s program of choice, and will begin attending this fall! While I made it into graduate school despite my lack of knowledge, do yourself a favor and prepare prior to applying. Getting into grad school doesn’t have to add worry lines to your forehead or grey hairs to your head!

    A big shout-out to Accelerated Pathways' Academic Advising Manager, Joel Talley: he and his team did an incredible job helping me to better understand graduate school, and provided some of the tips I’ve shared with you!

    Want your grad school applications to go more smoothly than mine did? Prepare for your bachelor’s and grad school simultaneously: contact an Academic Advisor today to create your Degree Plan!

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE

  • Why Your College Major Doesn't Matter

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    Why Your College Major Doesn't Matter

    So you’re trying to pick a major. What a big decision! Definitely keep up the researching, planning, and stressing, because everyone knows the major you choose will set your course for success (or failure) in life.

    Or, alternatively... you could just pick one and roll with it.

    Yes, you read that right. While some careers (especially in STEMdo require a specific degree, most of us can actually get into the career we want without a degree that perfectly matches.

    Trust me, choosing a major shouldn’t be a cause for tears. Here are 3 reasons why your college major is just one small piece of your education, and why it doesn’t really matter (that much).

    Your Major Isn’t the Whole of Your Education

    It’s a common misconception that your college experience—and specifically, the major you choose—will determine the kind of education you receive. Thank our culture of Ivy Leagues and standardized tests.

    In reality, you are the determining factor of your quality education, for one reason: if you want the best education possible, you have to take full responsibility for your learning. Your college years should be a time dedicated to curiosity, not pre-test memorization that’s destined to be forgotten in a month. Learn as much as you can about a variety of topics, do extra homework or classes that interest you, try things you never thought you would, and ask as many questions as you can!

    If you commit to learning beyond your formal education and truly apply yourself, any major you choose will be just fine. Habitual curiosity will take you places that a major never will.

    Take, for example, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. His great contributions to science changed the way we view physics today. Now Einstein did receive formal training in mathematics and physics, and he even earned a Ph.D. But his revolutionary accomplishments were due to his personal commitment to discovery, not his major.

    At the end of his influential life, Einstein reflected, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.”

    Stay curious! Opt out of a passive approach and take the reins of your own education.

    Your Major Isn’t the Only Decision that Matters

    What if I told you that your college major doesn’t matter any more than your summer plans or how you spend your Sunday afternoons?

    It’s true. Life trajectories aren’t contingent on one big decision. We make decisions every day that can either bring us closer to our goals or stunt our growth. Every time you decide to spend five hours binging The Office, you are also making the decision not to invest those hours in your future (unless you’re planning on going into the paper business).

    The things you do on a daily basis—your routines, habits, and hobbies—are just as important as the seemingly bigger life decisions like your major.

    Even if your goal is to be a stellar paper salesman, be honest with yourself. You’d be better off reading Forbes, shadowing an experienced salesman, and practicing your pranking skills on your unsuspecting friends than trying to passively glean knowledge from any sitcom character.

    Make daily decisions that will bring you closer to your goals, and you’ll find success, no matter what major you choose.

    Your Major Doesn’t Confine You to a Specific Career Path

    One of the reasons many students stress about their choice of major is due to the mistaken belief that their major will determine their career. While your degree may come with an obvious career path, you don’t have to follow it.

    Your future career and success are not at the mercy of the degree you choose. You can be an entrepreneur with a liberal arts degree, a photographer with a B.A. in Sociology, or a life coach with a B.S. in Biology. You aren’t going to ruin your life by making the “wrong” choice.

    It’s okay to forge your own way through the woods. If you go off the well-trodden path, oh well! You may just take the long way around to an occupation you never knew you were passionate about. The valuable lessons you learn from an unconventional journey like that may even equip you for more adventures in your future, all unbeknownst to you now.

    I’ve experienced this personally. I chose the “wrong” bachelor’s degree. I majored in psychology, because it was interesting to me and, at the time, I knew was I wanted to work with people somehow. Along the way, I realized that I wanted to be a social worker, which requires a master’s degree in Social Work. Had I chosen to major in social work for my undergrad, I could’ve shaved two years off of grad school.

    Did I make the “wrong choice”? I don’t think so. If I hadn’t earned my B.S. in psychology, I wouldn’t currently have background knowledge of psychology supporting my current studies. I wouldn’t have gotten an internship in which I was able to explore the intricacies of the human brain. And I never would have crossed paths with the brilliant individuals I get to sit in class with every week. Because, had I earned my bachelor’s degree in social work, I would be in a completely different graduate program.

    Friend, stop stressing about what college major you choose. Put down the pros and cons list and stop Googling every major, emphasis, minor, and elective you find. Take a deep breath before you spiral into a vortex of unnecessary worry.

    Instead, stay engaged, make a decision, and enjoy the journey… you never know where life is going to take you or what you’ll learn along the way!

    What you major in may not change the course of your life, but how you do college might. Don’t settle for “just college.” Use these years to try new experiences and work toward your life goals alongside a thriving community of dedicated students just like you. Learn how Accelerated Pathways will help you say “no” to debt and make the world your campus.

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE

  • How to Squeeze More Reading into Your Life

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    How to Squeeze More Reading into Your Life

    I used to consider myself a reader. Throughout my childhood, if I wasn’t sleeping, I was reading. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. I taught myself to walk, brush my teeth, make breakfast, do the dishes… all with my nose in a book.

    As I became increasingly busy, my reading addiction began to diminish. College, a full-time job, volunteering, and a social life later… and I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover.

    So trust me, I understand the struggle. I often feel like there’s just not enough time in a day to read.

    But there are many reasons we should prioritize reading, besides the fact that it’s just plain fun. So this summer, I decided it was about time to introduce reading into my life once again. This is how I did it (and how you can do it too!)

    Ease Into It

    I have an embarrassing confession: sometimes I struggle to read even a blog post thoroughly. If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! You’re already a better reader than me!

    With iMessage, Instagram, Snapchat, and every other communication service promising immediate social connection, it’s no surprise we struggle to incorporate reading into our daily lives. We’ve grown used to consistently updating online platforms, and it’s hard to consume a single piece of writing without getting distracted.

    Recognizing my tendency to skim over blocks of text showed me I really needed to start small. So my first baby step toward reading more was to intentionally read the articles that came across my social media feed—not just skim them.

    My challenge to you: read at least three blog, magazine, or newspaper articles every day. And don’t skim over them… actually read them! What point is the writer trying to make? Do you agree? Why or why not? Asking yourself questions about the content you’re consuming will help you to actually learn from and enjoy it.

    Reintroduce Books

    Articles are a great place to start, but if you want to reap the full benefits of reading (like living longer and increasing your emotional intelligence), you have to read books, too. After creating the habit of reading articles every day, you may find it easier to pick up a book.

    But with endless options to choose from, what book should you start with?

    I have two types of books on my reading list. Books I want to read and books I ought to read. The books I want to delve into tend to be lighter reads—YA novels or 200-page memoirs. I’ve found it much easier to get into these books than it is to pick up War and Peace. Though I truly desire to read more dense volumes, I don’t want to be too ambitious with my choices at this point.

    Someday I’ll finish all of the classics I’ve skipped… but that day is not today. And that’s okay! Maybe tomorrow your book choice will be a bit more scholarly, but for now, let’s simply focus on reading more. So you want to squeeze more reading into your life? Pick up a book. Any book. The more you read, the easier it gets!

    Give Yourself Grace

    So imagine this: you started reading more articles. You’ve finished a fun book or two. Maybe you’ve even tackled a challenging book you know you should’ve read in high school (and hopefully enjoyed it). Things are going well! You’re actually squeezing more reading into your daily life!

    And then… two weeks go by and you haven’t read a single paragraph.

    That’s okay.

    Reading more is just like working toward any other long-term goal—there will be peaks and valleys along the road, but the journey is worth it!

    Forgive yourself for not changing immediately. Creating a habit takes time. But once that habit is formed, reading daily will be a natural and enjoyable part of your life.

    So when you get stuck without the motivation to finish a book, don’t quit reading altogether. Just move on. Find something that fits your current interests and read that instead! Reading shouldn’t be stressful. If it is, just change it up until you enjoy it again!

    This summer, I’ve used this method to successfully read a handful of books and countless articles. Some days I read thousands of words, while other times I barely find the time to read a hundred. But overall, I am happy with my progress.

    Should you choose to prioritize reading, know that it’s not going to be easy. You might not be as consistent as you’d like to be, but “reading more” is a beneficial and admirable goal; just make sure you remember why you wanted to do it in the first place. It’s worth it!

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE

  • 16 Highest Paying Majors (That Aren’t STEM)

    ALYSSA CONLEE

    16 Highest Paying Majors (That Aren’t STEM)

    We get it—growing up is expensive. Groceries, gas, college classes… it all adds up. And you don’t want to barely get by, you want to thrive! Moving out of your parent’s house, getting a car that doesn’t break down every other week, and being able to afford a night out with friends are all admirable goals. Goals that require a reasonably-sized paycheck.

    If you aim to earn a decent living, your degree choice matters—and not every bachelor’s degree has the same financial future in store.

    But you also want to work in a field that interests you. From a quick Google search, you’ll find that a majority of the higher paying jobs are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and require degrees in those respective fields. That’s great… for people who enjoy science, technology, engineering, and math. But what about the rest of us? Is there any hope for us?

    Absolutely!

    Being uninterested in STEM doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a starving artist. Despite common belief, you can work in the arts, education, or social sciences and earn an above-average salary.

    So if you’re struggling to make a degree decision that will satisfy your interests and your financial needs, here’s a list of the 16 highest paying degrees from each general field, according to PayScale.

     

    Keep in mind, this list is nowhere near extensive, and there are many more high-paying degrees out there. No matter what your interests are, there are opportunities to thrive! So even if you aren’t a STEM genius, get out there and be your lovely self—people need what you can offer (and will pay you for whatever that is).

    What are you waiting for? Go ahead and do your own research on the degrees that interest you. Determine your passions, calculate your degree’s return on investment, and get to work!

    Before you know it, you’ll be working in a field that fuels your passions—without going broke.

    Of course, if you’re serious about setting up a secure financial future post-graduation, you need to think about more than your degree. The average graduate pays $385 towards student loans every month. What if you could put that money toward your car, a wedding, or a house instead of throwing it to the debt monsters?

    If you want financial security after college, you need to graduate debt free. Fortunately, that’s what we at Pearson help students do every single day. Click here to learn more about how you can graduate from your college without a single student loan with Accelerated Pathways.

    read more

    ALYSSA CONLEE