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When that missing college degree begins to haunt your life.

I am a former model and singer who decided one day, (not to long ago), that life is way too short and being short on funds means that you always have more time to "sweat the small stuff.: and less time to laze about and enjoy the sweet stuff in life that one feels that one deserves. I have worked online as a website designer and advertising consultant for very small businesses and friends of friends. When I say that I run a small business from my home I am not exaggerating! So when things went from bad to worse with my business I took a job out side my home again and thus for the "um-teenth" time since I quit college in 1993 I saw myself having to scrap my plans of taking a few classes at the local community college. My 17 year old daughter and I have plans to move her from her Grandmother's home is Las Vegas and into my Home, just 9 miles north of Palm Springs, In a pocket town called Desert Hot Springs, CA. Our intention is to enroll her in the community college out here while she lives with me. Finally after having to take a "good job" for $11.10 an hour, when I have the computer skills to make sooooooooo much more. It's the difference between having the degree and having some of the skills through learning HTML, Javascrip, and Frontpage from trial and error learning as I used them building professional looking websites. Most of the HTML I actually picked up free on the web from several tutorials and web- books, and doing search engine optimizations programs for clients, and friends, as well as a couple of my own sites. So after I picked up the Microsoft Office 2003 Professional programs I went to the Windows website and learned those programs backward and forward and gained my certificate (free again) so that I could aim my sites at landing a job for better than minimum wage. My fiance completed his Masters Degree program, in ironically "Career and Educational Counseling", while working as a senior financial aid specialist at the local community college. Though he does make a decent wage he really has to struggle to make our money last so that we don't end up with "more month than money", as is often the case, with people these days.
Anyway I had "college principles of academic blah blah blah" All around me, from the fiance, from his classmates, his friends, and former students, or current educators from the High School where he taught locally for 15 years. People who who are now in college or have graduated and are starting their careers. I was getting a whiff of the college, and the educational environs that I longed for. However things twist and turn and just when I am ready to keel over in despair every time I open the classifieds looking for a job. I mean open today's copy of your newspaper, look at all the high-paying jobs in the technical, administration, and data entry and processing fields, etcetera, etcetera, and .. (ad nauseum). Screaming inside my head, " I can do that job as well as any other fresh faced kid from college !"

(continued in the next column)

The following is a final class essay that I wrote for my IT 105 class "Skills for Learning in an Information Age". It is a student "survival" guide for distance learning students. I have allowed several people to read it and they thought that I should publish it somewhere. So here it is.

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 A Distance Learning Education Student Survival Guide

Student: Sharon M. Early

Axia College of the University of Phoenix

Skills for Learning in an Information Age IT 105

Instructor: Vickie Schubert-Martin







            Often when a person recognizes that in order to earn what they are worth and secure their dreams they are going to first have to secure additional skills and education. For the purpose of this Student Survival Guide the author will focus on the Distance Learning Education or online education format rather than the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ collegiate learning format. Distance learning is an efficient way to attend school when you cannot quit your ‘day job’ to attend college. Once the student decides that it is time to continue their education, in today’s information rich environment there are a lot of options to choose from. We have all seen the ads and unsolicited emails for these degrees and institutions. t. First you must choose the school and format that fits best with your abilities and available time. This student guide, written by a student of Axia College of the University of Phoenix, will hopefully provide you with some relevant information as to how you are to ‘survive’ the new age classroom.

Before your first scheduled class begins:


            Once the student has decided upon and applied to the College or University that they will be enrolling in, that the student then logs into the site where they will be receiving and submitting their coursework. It is imperative that the student familiarizes themselves with the forums with which he/she will be expected to interact. It is also important to log into the classes that you will be attending so you may view the course requirements, overviews, syllabus, and both instructor and “graduation team” contact information. Print this information out for a handy contact list in case you do not have access to the internet and need to get in contact your support team. This support team will be composed of an Enrollment Counselor, an Academic Counselor, a Financial Aid Counselor, and last but not least, a Technical Support Person or team. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the college or university’s policy statements pertaining to participation and attendance requirements, student rights and responsibilities, technical support procedures, use of class forums and other resources, and the basic expectations  for the student per the institution guidelines on how to properly interact with their website and class forums.

            Before your first day of class you should survey the workspace which is to be your “classroom”. Whether that classroom is a desk that is tucked into a family room, living room space or, if you are fortunate enough to have an entire in your home which you can devote to a “home office”, you will want to prepare that space for the tasks ahead. By this I mean, clean it up! Tidy away any stacks of paper or other materials that clutter most desks. If you do not already have one, establish a filing system for all of the papers and various articles that you need to keep on or near your desk. A tidy workspace is quite important for three reasons: (1) a clear and neat learning center will help you to focus upon your schoolwork and minimize distractions (2) psychologically it will aid you in feeling prepared and on top of things (keep in mind that an untidy workspace often denotes an untidy mental space (3) an uncluttered workspace will also help to keep you from misplacing or misfiling the significant amount of paperwork that you will need to print and file away for reference as you begin your courses, and as you progress from one set of classes to the next.

            If you do not currently have one or if the one you have is outdated, or ‘tempermental’, purchase an inexpensive or “bare bones” printer for your office. The printer that you select need not be a top of the line model, and you may even look to purchase one of last years models or one that is on sale in order to minimize the cost of your new hardware. You will more than likely feel the need to print out a good-sized proportion of the documents and reference materials that you will need to keep handy. You will need to refer back to these documents on a fairly regular basis. Recommended also is an ink refill kit (much less expensive than purchasing new ink cartridges, which can often cost the same if not more than purchasing a brand new printer!), at least three(3) three ring binders, one for each course and one for documents and reference materials which will continue with you throughout most or all of your course of study. This binder will contain your correspondence with the college, via email and regular mail and any other documentation pertaining to your collegiate career. Also you will need a three hole punch, and tabbed dividers for your binders. Now admittedly, not all of those items are absolutely necessary for a student to be a success at distance learning, but if you can invest that small amount of capital (less than $75), you will find that your organizational ability and that the ease of locating reference documents will repay your investment many times over.


Investigating of your learning resources, and suggestions for the best strategic deployment:


            Investigating and learning to navigate your student platform should be done no less than a day or two previous to the “first day of school”. When first accessing your class forums, you should find at least three separate forums provided to you. Your “class forum”, your “chat forum”, your “private forum”, and a class materials link should also be included. You should have each of these sets of asynchronous chat forums in each of your active classes. An asynchronous forum is one in which each party may log in at any time to respond to any posts that you have made. In your Course Materials section, you should easily find a 2 links labeled “Course Syllabus” one in PDF format (for Adobe Reader) the other in Plain Text or in HTML. There should also be a course overview and description. The plain text Syllabus will allow you to link to the listed resources. There are often links to outside educational or tutorial websites listed among the other required reading materials and appendices, these will bring a student quickly up to speed if it has been a while since last they had to conjugate a verb or identify an adjective. Normally these sites will also include testing or exercises to gauge how well you have “brushed up” on the basic skills that you will need to use to grasp the larger more involved concepts which are to be tackled in the course you are taking. These exercises are more for the purpose of helping the student and their instructor to assess where they are in terms of  basic skillsets and what may need a bit more intensive attention. This first and much less involved syllabus you needn’t print out as its most useful function is to provide the weekly overview of materials you will need and links to access these resource materials. Usually the links will be imbedded in the text that describes the document or site You may wish to save this document as either a MS Word document, or save it to your desktop in whatever format it is offered. The second lengthier and more descriptive course syllabus will provide for you all of the specifics required to complete each assignment and then post it to the correct forum in the properly requested format (these include: a posted thread, as a posted thread with the main assignment attached, or multiple separate and distinctly marked threads posted one after the other to a specific forum, either individual or main forum. The only required post for the Chat forum will be your student biography. This second course syllabus you will want to print out, punch, and save in your binder as it is your “blueprint” for the successful completion of your assignments and as such for the successful completion of your course.

            After you print and bind this syllabus in one of your two class three ring binders keep it in a handy and easy to access location as you will need to refer to it quite often. It is also not a bad idea to redundantly save this PDF file to your desktop for quick and easy referencing. Each week before the class week begins, it is a good idea to read the section of the syllabus that refers to that week so as to familiarize oneself with the expectations and assignments of the upcoming week.


Performing successful web and library searches: You are, I am certain aware of the Dewey Decimal Method of Libraty Catolouging.



Table 1 for IT 105 Student survival guide


Duke university Libraries>Guide to library research, Part 5: Searching for information>Books



See also the outline of the Dewey numbers.


000 Generalities

100 Philosophy & psychology

200 Religion

300 Social sciences

400 Language

500 Natural sciences & math

600 Technology (Applied sciences)

700 The arts

800 Literature & rhetoric

900 Geography & history

Each sub-category is further divided into nine specialized topics ranging from 1 to 9:

520 Astronomy

521 Celestial mechanics

522 Techniques, equipment, etc.

523 Specific celestial bodies

524 [Unassigned]

525 Earth (Astronomical geography)

526 Mathematical geography

527 Celestial navigation

528 Ephemerides

529 Chronology

Each major category divides into nine sub-categories spanning a range of 10 to 90. For example:

500 Natural science & mathematics

510 Mathematics

520 Astronomy & allied sciences

530 Physics

540 Chemistry & allied sciences

550 Earth sciences

560 Paleontology & paleozoology

570 Life sciences

 580 Botanical sciences

590 Zoological sciences

By adding decimals, the specialized topics are broken down even further:

523.3 Moon

523.4 Planets

523.5 Meteors, solar wind, zodiacal light

523.6 Comets

523.7 Sun
523.71 Constants and dimensions
523..72 Physics of
523.73 Motions
523.74 Photosphere
523.75 Chromosphere and corona
523.76 Solar interior
523.78 Eclipses

Take a look at the complete breakdown of Dewey.

Thus the Dewey Decimal System is a hierarchical system, 
in which the arrangement of books on the shelves 
moves from the general to the specific.

Some of the Duke Libraries use other classification systems. For example, the School of Law Library, Fuqua Business School Library, and the Medical Center Library use the Library of Congress Classification System; Public Documents and Maps use the Superintendent of Documents (SU Docs) Classification System and other systems. If you need help using one of these classification systems, ask at that library's reference desk.

Example was copied from: The Duke University website

When engaged in a regular library search or a digital library search you may find it helpful to refer to the DDS  to narrow your searches for reference materials.


In order to fulfill the expectations of your instructors and to complete your final project for each course you will need to do research for topical data to include in your final essay assignments. Not all but most of your courses will require a final essay as a project for a point value that is worth one-quarter of your final grade, rather than a final exam. One cannot expect to test a student’s skills in an asynchronous atmosphere. Obviously there would be no way in which to keep the student from using his course materials to “ace” the test rather than testing from memory to ascertain what has been learned and how much of that information the student retains. The essay format is also one which provides for checkpoints at regular intervals along the course to insure that you are able to keep up with the instruction and the pace at of the class. There are several distinct and separate resources for the student to find reference materials and other relevant information. One of these will be the student library, which can be found on the college’s website. This library, functions in a wonderfully more efficient and readily accessible fashion than a traditional university library. It will provide multiple databases and search options for locating the materials that you will need. Another wonderful research forum is the World Wide Web. In order to perform a “successful” search it is often helpful to brainstorm on your topic or search term previous to doing the actual search. Now I can not stress this point enough, whether you brainstorm in a word processing program or on paper, you will  need to take copious notes of the terms that you search and the results which you may wish to refer back to in the future. Document, document, document, because how successful is a search if you cannot find the materials you want again without an arduous and time consuming search. After you find and read a few of your articles or websites you will find it difficult to remember under which search term or link you located specific documents, especially after a few days or weeks have gone by.

            During your brainstorming phase of your search you will want to list first the full term for which you are searching, then after that list related terms or words which will aid you in your search. Most students tend to think in sentences or more commonly in sentence fragments. For example: if your essay is about employee privacy in the workplace, you may shorten the search term into fragments such as:


Employee rights

Employee privacy

Workplace privacy

Employee monitoring

Workplace surveillance

Privacy rights

Internet access at work


Obviously you will also find additional terms as you go along but the list that I have just provided would be a good start on a productive and thus successful search. If you are looking for something specific, such as results from peer reviewed scholarly journals, while the college library has a place to request results only from these types of publications, the common search engine will not. What you will want to do to narrow your search is, previous to the search term you will want to include “Peer reviewed scholarly journal articles re:” previous to your search term. A good rule of thumb also, when searching the web, is to ignore the sponsored links and begin your search for relevant articles among the Search results which will be listed below the “Sponsored Links.”

When conducting library searches you will find yourself confronted by a multitude of databases. The easiest way to start off your search there is to first select the database in which you will begin your search. To select that database read the descriptions which are provided to describe the types of resources that are contained within. You will want to search multiple data bases to be thorough in your search. Once you have searched your first general term to prevent having to read page after page of the resulting references you will probably want to read the abstract, which prefaces each article, and which provides a synopsis of the article. It is important to weed out the articles which have little or nothing to do with your essay topic. Then you will want to mark and place into your library “folder” all of the articles which do pertain to your topic. Though not all of these articles will provide good reference material for formal referencing or paraphrasing in the body of your essay, one of the main purposes of reading through these articles is to gain a better understanding on the topic of your paper. You will gain valuable insights and possibly find data that will influence or even change your thinking in terms of your “stance” on the issue for your paper.

When evaluating your reference materials you will need to analyze the strengths and bias’ of a source. In order to do this you will want to seek out the author’s affiliations and possibly other articles which they have written to gain a better idea of where their loyalties lie and whether or not their information is both reliable and worthy of reference in your academic paper. You also may wish to dig a bit deeper and find out who the institution, organization, and or business with which your author is affiliated also affiliates themselves with. You certainly would not wish to reference an article about the non practicality of alternative fuels that was written by an oil company representative or lobbyist as their information would be biased and not necessarily reliable.


                               Upholding academic honesty:


Upholding academic honesty is not difficult at all as it simply means, to my understanding, do not submit work that was written by anyone else as your own. Do not engage in plagiarism of any type or in any form. If you use someone else’s words at all within the text of any of your assignments you must properly cite the work that you are quoting or even paraphrasing. If you do not properly cite the information you run the risk of having part or all of that assignment thrown out and not receiving a grade for that assignment. So it is extremely important that you cite all references and any text or thought that are not your own, and that you do so in exactly the format and manner that is requested by your instructor.


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A note for older students:

I think that students such as myself who did not go directly from high school right into college have a more vested interest in the success or failure of their educational goals and thus I believe that we try harder. With that break between we enter the workforce or get married and start a family or dont get married as the case may be. We know what opportunities are available to people without a college degree because we have had many career paths blocked for us due to the lack of the degree. I think this type of student is also older and more mature and more prepared to face the challenges that college will bring. We have more stumbling blocks also than your average teenager, in fact we may have teenagers as one of them while going to school. Most people cannot afford to quit working and go back to school and even with a full time job while pursuing an education those funds are often spoken for and there are a number of sacrifices known and unanticipated, that will have to be made in the path to that degree. Older students though may "want it" more so than their younger contemporaries because we have taken a look at life without a degree and we have viewed our futures without a degree and obviously we have found them wanting for something. The level of commitment for an older student is higher and the work ehtic I beleive is stronger than those younger more inexperienced students. In fact being more mature may actually be a factor in our favor in terms of continuing education.

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When that missing degree begins to haunt your life. (continued from column 1)
However without an education and a degree of my own, that fresh faced kid will beat me out every time with his piece of vellum certifying that he certainly should know' how to do something!

I gave some thought to the reality that without continuing my education, that  I would be taking hourly, wage earning sales jobs, and customer service, or even minimum wage jobs just to keep surviving paycheck to paycheck, barely ahead of my bills (if I am lucky!), while people with degrees are getting, "started or accelerating in their careers, after earning their degree online or at a technical school."

Well with my daughter coming in a year to live with me and go to college I finally decided to go for it, now, stop waiting and do it! Mind you my nightmare when I was 18 would have been to have my mother going to the same college with me!

Then one day in August I got an email advertisement for a College in my e-mail box. One of those schools that abound all over the internet these days. I was one of the schools that had been affiliated with of the University of Phoenix online under their banner recently. Now I am usually the first person to throw these types of emails out and I have an email filter set to weed these types of things out. I filter them so that they never even make it to my inbox before they are HISTORY!

 Something told me to request more information after I read the e-mail.  So I submitted my web form, and received a response from my Enrollment Counselor Lesley Stevenson who was in a word, FANTASTIC. She knew her stuff, and she also really knows people. She seemed almost to address most of my issues before I had actually managed to develop the ideas for issues so that I could tactfully decline and go on with my miserable life. I had liked what I had read both in the e-mail and on the website. I also liked what Lesley had to say, and the things that she wanted to show me online even more. Before I knew it we were walking through the enrollment process and getting me registered for student financial aid. University of Phoenix is a completely accredited University in which you can qualify for grants and federal financial aid.

Lesley managed to get me enrolled and "completely up to speed" for my classes in 8 days total before my first class was set to begin. I must admit that I was a little trepidatous about the fact that it had been over 13 years since I had picked up a text-book, or any book other than a good novel to be honest. The graduation team than they have assembled, for help and answers from real people, is impressive. The asynchronous forums, tools, and initial reading and exercises for my classes, to kind of brush up on the skills that you shed when you shed your last school, are simple to understand and informative. The resources and the attention to the details that goes in to every single thing that they do at the University of Phoenix, are likewise impressive, as are the staff, and the instructors. The teachers are professional and their credentials I must say, are likewise impressive, and give you confidence in studying under these people. In addition to my teachers, and Lesley I have been given the name of my academic councelor, financial aid counselor, my other councelors and administrative liesons for the duration of my course of study with the University. Believe me when I say that nothing, and no one that you may find that you need to succeed in a distance learning enviroment has been left out.  

The convenience of going to classes when I want to, and the accellerated pace at which I will be able to get my Associates Degree in Information Technology is amazing and I just cannot say enough to enough people about the college and the classes and about all of the new stuff that I am learning so quickly! I have now been enrolled at College for 9 weeks and one day and today is the first day of my second two classes in my course of study. Whether the folks out in Phoenix put me in their commercial or not, I am still a walking advertisement and testimonial to everyone I know, and even some people that I don't know. The classes are great, interesting, fast paced, and professionally managed by the instructors. Even my fiance, who works at a college and has worked in education for 22 years is supportive and impressed with my College online. I have even heard him referring some people to take a look at their degree programs if their schedules were not going to work a brick and mortar education in.

That sealed the deal for me. Thanks to them I will have my degree in less than 6 months after my daughter moves out here for school. She won't be going to school with her Mom, and I am on my way to having a good job and an exiting career in the technical field of Information technology. And what better place to get such a degree but online?!

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Tips for the scholarship application process.


*      Find free scholarship search sites on the web and fill out a profile.

*      Read the requirements and rules for each scholarship that you plan to apply to very carefully. You want to keep a clear picture in your mind of what you are being asked to submit (most require a 500-1000 word essay)

*      Apply for every scholarship that you qualify for (some scholarships are for $400-$500 but if you accumulate these by applying for and winning several scholarship awards you will still take a bit more money for the neccessities of college)

*      If you are still in high- school and you are certain that you want to go on to college talk to your high school guidance councelor., or the counselors at the colelge that you intend to attend.

*      High School students do qualify to apply for and win several of the scholarship contests that can be found on sites like Fastweb and Scholarship experts.(It is never to early to start securing the funds that you will need to continue your education!)

*      If you are an older student returning to college after several years away Please read the article Tips for Adult Students on this page


$1000 "Predicting the future" scholarship contest at The contest is free and a futures trading account is also free. Checkit out!

Tips for adult students


 Some things to consider if you are thinking about going back to school. (Article published on

When you decide to go back to school after a few years away from school your mind may boggle at the number of alternatives that are available these days. Three of the main alternatives for adult learners are:

Distance Education- learning in an online or mail order class enviroment where the student may be a distance from their classes.


     Traditional college-also called a brick and mortar colleges in this article and these colleges are the traditional college to which you go on a schedule of classes and class times.


     Career and Technical colleges- these are colleges that also have a brick and mortar physical location. 


First things to do:

            We will examine these three alternatives in just a moment, first lets evaluate your needs to determine which educational strategy will best fit in with the rest of your life. Among the top reasons that older strudents tend to drop out of an educational program are time constraints (not being able to attend classes or to find study time within their schedule which is reflected in the grades and feedback that they recieve from their instructors), not getting the material early on so that they feel out of place, peer pressure is another important factor and for older learners it can often be more insidious. Some of the students friends don't want the person to enroll in classes to better their future not because they shouldn't do it, but because that will give them less time to "hang out". So you need to decide on the best type of program to fit your needs and your skill level. Don’t worry though, school is not a means to test what you already know but a means to teach you new things.


What are your educational goals or needs?

            Fist you must determine what needs you have and also what are your goals and timeline. This is simple you evaluate your life, your schedule, your obligations to others in your life (ie. children, spouse,etc.), and the "free time" that you have in addition to the first two. If you work days, as most people do, you will want to look at either evening classes at your local university or job training programs in your area, another alternative that is quite viable is distance education. Going to school online in an asynchronous classroom environment has proved to be the ideal for many adults who cannot afford to quit their jobs and go to school

            Then evaluate what you will need, not books and pens, the bigger things like tuition, transportation if you choose to go to a brick and mortar, financial aid. Lets face it folks most adult learners that did not go to college immediately following high school did not pick the cherry jobs as a consequence of that decision. Also if you had gone to college immediately following high school you more than likely would not have now decided that you need to earn a degree in order to earn more cash! Will you be eligible for grants? Student Loans, how much are you comfortable with borrowing? What about scholarships and grants from private sources?


Loans, grants, or scholarships, how are you going to fund your education?

Are you aware that you are eligible for federal grants and loans if you go to school online? You must go to an accredited college in order to qualify, and you must fill out and submit a FAFSA(Federal Application For Student Aid). You may also be eligible for certain scholarships once you start your classes and have a GPA. Some scholarships will require just an application and a few hundred words for you to explain why you are the deserving party for the money. Others are purely random drawing contests. There are still others that require blogging, getting lettters of recommendation from your teachers.


The three main alternatives for adult learners

Online schools or Distance Learning Programs, offer a lot of great alternatives to people who can’t afford to quit their job and go back to school for a few years. They also tend to accelerate the speed at which you earn your degree. Right now in 2006 I know that a traditional private college can cost > $10,000/year or more. That is to earn a 4 year degree. Online colleges tend to cost around $6500- 8000 per year but you can also finish a two year degree in a year with most programs. There are many accredited schools online in this price range. Go online check out some of the curriculums and what the schools have to offer if you are interested in this type of educational option,


Technical colleges a two year degree or a certificate program can run between $9000 and $12,000 some are even higher for the better named national schools. However again the classes are accelerated so the amount of time required to get your degree is reduced. Normally a student should be able to finish with a certificate program in 10mos to 1 yr and an AA or AS degree in a year to a year and a half. What defines technical colleges from traditional college is that they give you “hands on training” and the teachers are normally also employed at the same time in that field. Also, career and technical colleges will allow you to make weekly or monthly payments so that you don’t have to come up with the money all at once.


Get ready and go!

So once you have decided to, go back to school, how you plan to finance that schooling, and what type of school you want to go to, you are all set to start on the path to your future. Education is important now, technical jobs are replacing many of the manual menial laboring jobs and the gap between poor and middle class is widening. A degree can help you to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Even if you have children it shows them that their future is important to you and that school is an important thing too. Some children are even amused by the idea that mommy or daddy has homework too. Going back to school to get the skills that you need to create a better future is getting easier all the time. All you have to do is get started.

Finished with School? Think Again!(article retrieved from Monster Learning)

Barbara Reinhold

Everybody knows that organizations have to watch their flank all the time -- making changes, getting better and learning constantly in order to avoid being outpaced by the competition. But what about the individual leaders in those organizations? When execs are too busy doing the job to commit some of their precious time to learning, they ensure their own obsolescence.

But where do you go to figure out which educational experiences are going to work for you and your crazy schedule? Here are four different approaches to consider:

1. External Training Paid for by Your Company.

The management development professionals in HR will share with you the names of institutions and programs particularly suited to people at your level. Word of mouth among colleagues is also a good way to find out what the effective programs are.

2. In-House Training Provided or Contracted for by Your Company.

One option is to do some sleuthing on your own to discover trainers who could design modules specifically geared to your unit or organization, so that you and your senior team can learn together. For example, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia and The Anderson School at UCLA offer custom executive education programs, as do many other business schools.

3. Your Own Graduate Degree, Perhaps Reimbursed All or Partially by Your Company.

There are lots of ways to go to school, either for an advanced degree program or for selected courses aimed at staying on top of the ever-climbing learning curve, particularly in areas of global marketing, finance and technology.

4. Peer Mentoring Programs, Both Formal and Informal.

Biblio-training is a time-tested strategy for learning new things on your own by reading selected books and then discussing them with colleagues.

Strategic support groups, an outgrowth of networking and mentoring, help you learn with your peers in small, safe, confidential settings. They're like writers groups in some ways. (And what new writer would try to get started without having a writers' group for support and honest feedback?) The trick is to find two to four people you trust, and with whom you'd enjoy sharing books, new ideas and problems to be tackled. Meet for two hours a month in a safe place, and see what you can learn from each other.

Having been in strategic support groups over the years and having helped groups of leaders start them many times, I can attest to their effectiveness. As one senior VP told me after she had been in such a group for six months, "The most important thing I learned was that I didn't know what I didn't know before we started meeting."

So there are lots of ways to keep on learning. Choose one, then add another. Being a leader means being in training forever. There's simply no escaping it!

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Older and Wiser: A Scholastic Advantage

Lisa Hardman,

Several weeks ago, a guest speaker in my “publishing your writing” class shared his insights regarding creativity and the writing process. He surprised me when he admitted that becoming a father was one of the best things that had ever happened to his writing. “From that point on,” he said, “it was the end of narcissism.” Unexpectedly, his vantage point changed when he realized that he was no longer the center of the universe. As he began to write more expansively about the wider human experience, his writing became more consequential and more significant.

Sitting in class that day, I realized that I too had experienced this kind of epiphany in my own life. Twenty years ago, as an eighteen-year-old music performance major, I remember my professor repeatedly urging me to perform with more self expression. I tried my best to emote, but looking back, I honestly believe that I was incapable of the pathos he demanded from me. My naiveté was due to the fact that life just hadn’t required that much from me yet. Although I had experienced the typical angst of youth, tragedy and grief were still unfamiliar to me. I just wasn’t cognizant of the finer particulars of the human experience or of the range of human sentiment because I had not yet learned about loyalty and loss, self-denial and self-sacrifice. But all that changed when I became a wife and a mother.

With marriage and the birth of each of my children, my musicality miraculously improved. Without realizing it, raising a family had taught me how to be a better musician. Now, as a returning college student, I am discovering that my domestic experience adds richness to my education that wasn’t there the first time I went to college. Many of the barriers I thought I would encounter in my studies have not materialized. Years of practical experience have actually refined my critical thinking skills and provided me with an unexpected advantage in the classroom.

As a younger student, my attempts at problem solving were superficial at best, but now as a more mature learner, I bring depth to the process of what my English textbook calls “wallowing in complexity.” Although each class assignment takes a great deal of commitment and hard work to complete, I actually value the struggle with complexity. The years of managing an energetic household has honed my ability to handle intricacy and as a result. I have reaped the satisfactory reward of true intellectual growth this past semester.

No matter what educational obstacles I encounter, I know that it is never too late to be what I might have been. With plenty of patience, persistence and perception under my belt, I am learning that next to the joys of family life, pursuing a higher education can be one of life’s most fulfilling undertakings.

retrieved from Monsterlearning


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