Saturday, August 1, 2009

2nd article - Where to find what is available

Your future starts today!

The house phone is ringing, your cell phone signals an incoming text message, the timer on the stove has two more minutes before time to remove the cupcakes that need to be iced and delivered tomorrow to the school for a party, laundry is piling up and you have no idea what’s for supper. How on earth is there time for retraining or enhancing work skills?

Do not despair! There are several avenues for identifying available courses and finding time for working to improve your future.

A couple of simple questions will lead you toward the right selections. Do you work full-time from 8-5? If so, day classes may not fit in your schedule. However, if your employer has an education benefit, check to see if time off during the day to attend one or more classes is an option. If you cannot get off during the day, your next choices are for evening/weekend courses or online courses.

Evening or weekend courses are exactly as they sound. The difference between a day and evening course is instead of attending three 1-hour classes throughout the week, you attend one 3-hour session and cover the same amount of material. It can be brutal if you are not prepared, and missing one evening class is like missing an entire week!

If having the flexibility to work any time you have available (even the middle of the night) seems like your best choice, online courses might be for you. Online courses are delivered via the Internet. Generally, these are not online correspondence courses and students are expected to log-in to the online classroom every day and complete assignments. In a face-to-face course there are live discussions between students and instructor; for an online course there are discussions but they are delivered as a discussion forum. A discussion forum is a place to type your response to a question or group of questions, read what other people have typed and posted and then reply to those postings. It is very similar to in-class discussions except it is happening through written comments rather than verbal comments. Usually, there are also electronic assignments and tests or quizzes. Sometimes, the tests are proctored which means you must go to a testing center to take the test. Online courses require the same or more work and time as day or evening courses.

Where do you look to find available courses? First, check with your local community colleges and/or vocational schools. These will be the least expensive choices. Most of the courses from community colleges transfer easily to 4-year universities. It is always a good idea before you enroll to check with the university if you plan to transfer hours to make sure they will accept them.

In the Cunningham area, check out Pratt Community College at and Hutchinson Community College at for day, evening, weekend and online schedules.

Next week: making choices about retraining - the good, the bad and the ugly.

First article - Places to begin...

Your future starts today!

It is not 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression but sometimes it may feel that way if you have lost your job or are looking for a better one. There are plenty of options for enhancing current skills or learning a new trade or profession if you just know where to look.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employed people held an average of 9.6 jobs between the ages of 18 and 36. That’s about one job every two years. Not all of the job changes were complete career changes, but some certainly were. About 15 years ago, it was assumed people would completely change careers three times in their working lives. Today that estimate is SEVEN complete career changes! One reason is because some of the jobs we thought would always be around have actually disappeared. For current high school students, many of the jobs available to them by the time they are 22 have not even been created yet.

So, what’s a working person to do? Where do you start if you are interested in looking at a career change or additional training to make yourself more employable?

First, do you know what kinds of jobs are out there and what you like? A good website to research careers is maintained by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics at To find career information, choose the link on the left side for “Jobseekers” and it will take you to a page with the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Handbook lists information about the nature of each job, education required, average salary and 10-year outlook for employment.

Look at the training and educational requirements. Do you have the needed education and skills? Start by considering your options for training: attending face-to-face classes at a college or university, taking online courses, or apprenticing with someone.

At most colleges, there are options for training to a specific job and general education courses. Courses are available during the day, evenings, weekends, online, or a combination of all of the above. If you are working full or part-time, certainly you will need to find what fits your schedule.

Next week, the topic is where to look to find courses to fit your schedule and how to get started with your future!