Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Degree programs’ Category

Perpetual Student

In Degree programs, Learning, work on June 1, 2017 at 6:36 am

It took me three colleges, six majors, and twelve years to earn my bachelor’s degree.

During my senior year of high school I discovered that my dad opposed my going to college because “Girls don’t need college.” My mom wouldn’t fight my dad. I would get no help from them.

I went anyway.

My grades earned me a full scholarship to Colorado State University, which wasn’t really that big a deal back then. Tuition was cheap. I had enough money from a summer job and an insurance settlement from a car accident to pay for the first year.

I picked CSU because it wasn’t Playboy’s #1 party school in the country as CU was. I didn’t like parties. I was going to college to learn. What a concept, huh?

Almost everything about it I hated—living in a dorm with a roommate, oh, my God. That was the worst. Girls had strict hours, but boys could come and go as they pleased. My one fond memory of that long-ago year was demonstrating against that policy (and getting demerits for staying out past 10 p.m. for the demonstration).

After the first year, I quit, out of money and out of spirit.

I worked in clerical jobs I hated and that kept me on the brink of poverty. Got married. Got divorced.

Then my mom got a job at what is now Front Range Community College, but then was the Community College of Denver, North Campus. Housed in temporary buildings in a field in south Adams County, this college suited me. I fit into the small adult student population of outcasts and misfits and studied sign language.

After graduation, I learned that there were no jobs in interpreting for the deaf and ended up back in a clerical job, this time at the college.

Flash forward a few years and I was sick to death of clerical work and of beating my head against a wall that required a bachelor’s degree for any job that interested me. I pored over the CU Denver catalog and determined that I could finish a degree in sociology—barely—in a year. I figured I could hang in there for one year. Along the way I had majored in art, philosophy, sign language, anthropology, psychology, and sociology.

I quit my job and enrolled at the newly completed Auraria Campus. Once again, my fellow students were oddballs like me. These days they call us nontraditional students. And this time, I finished with both a BA and a Phi Beta Kappa key. I was thirty years old. Having a degree profoundly changed my life, my prospects, and my self image, although it took years to whittle away the chip on my shoulder.

Three years later I went back to CSU for a master’s in adult education.

My mom called me a perpetual student, and she didn’t mean it as a compliment. She was right, though. Although I was through with education, I never stopped learning. That’s why I call my blog the Constant Learner.

You won’t catch me in a classroom these days. My learning is outside the box.

Five Reasons to Return to College

In Degree programs, Learning on January 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Too often, the decision to go back to school is a knee-jerk reaction to change. Schools know that their enrollment rises when the economy tanks. Can’t find a job? Return to school. It gives you an acceptable answer to the question, “what do you do?” Saying, “I’m a student” is so much easier to say than I’m unemployed, even if you’re 40. Going to school makes you seem like someone with direction and purpose. A man with a plan. A woman on the rise.

A classroom may not be the best place for learning. Albert Einstein famously said, “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”  Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk or Brain Rules by John Medina illustrate this idea. Common sense indicates that colleges are increasingly expensive and decreasingly relevant. For more info, see Anya Kamanetz’ TEDxAtlanta talk or read her book, DIY U.

Make sure to check for degree requirements and don’t just assume you know what’s needed. For example, starting your own business does not require any degree at all—and for the record, most degrees in business administration emphasize skills needed to work in corporations, not skills for entrepreneurs.

  1. You need certification for your field – If you want to work in corporate America or government and advance to the management level, you probably need a degree. Depending on the position, you may need a specific degree, but maybe not. Degree requirements are typically written into the job description, and you won’t even be considered without the degree.
  2. You want to change fields – The loss of jobs in the auto and other industries cost Michigan 335,000 jobs. The state launched the No Worker Left Behind program in 2007 and has retrained 80,000 workers. The largest group trained for jobs in health care. When my friend Sheila decided in her early 50s to enter the ministry, she needed to go to seminary for a master’s of divinity degree to meet her church’s requirement. Before you sign up for college classes, however, make sure you really need additional education. You may be able to adapt your current skills to the new field.
  3. Fulfill a personal goal—My friend Pat had no burning desire to finish her degree, and as a small business owner, no need to do so. However, she learned that her father’s dream was for her to finish college, so she did. Sandy is going back to college because “I just love to learn. The exchange of ideas between the teacher and the students pushes me understand and consider the material in new ways.”
  4. Be a role model for your kids—“How can I expect my kids to go to college if I don’t?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from my adult students. Earning a degree will make your kids proud of your accomplishments and will show them that education is important throughout your life.
  5. Improve self confidence—I remember in my mid 20s going to parties where people would ask me where I went to school. Because I was smart, they were very surprised to learn that I hadn’t finished college. When I finally finished my degree at age 30, I breathed a sigh of relief that I could finally answer that question without cringing and I could stop the careful wording on my resume that, without lying, implied that I had a degree.

If you decide that college is right for you, go for it and good luck.

In Degree programs, Learning, Learning Tools on July 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Is college still a good investment?

That’s the question Warren Buffett was asked in a recent interview on ABC News. His answer (and I’m paraphrasing here) “it’s always a good idea to invest in yourself because nobody can take that away from you. But college isn’t right for everybody.”

A college education that has always been a given for those who want to climb the corporate ladder. These tough economic times present several problems in pursuing a degree in the traditional way.

  1. Colleges, without even a nod to the economic realities, continue to raise tuition and other costs out of the range of most people.
  2. People have less money and less inclination to go into debt even when loan money is available.
  3. While education costs more, the return on the investment is shrinking. Students graduating with $80-100,000 in debt are no longer guaranteed a decent job to help them pay off that debt.
  4. The world of knowledge grows and changes faster and faster every day and colleges have a difficult time keeping up. In the cutting edge fields, such as social marketing, college lag woefully behind the real world.
  5. The traditional education system occupies a shrinking portion of the total learning market. Many more options are available, including an explosion of online opportunities.

In case you were wondering, Warren Buffett holds a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University.

In Degree programs, degrees without debt on June 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm


Tuition free colleges in USA

With all the talk about the high (and rising) cost of college, I was surprised to learn that a few colleges right here in the USA offer free tuition for a real, accredited education. Ranging from small liberal arts schools to highly specialized programs in engineering and music, these schools can be very competitive. They include the U.S. military academies, which trade a prestigious education for a subsequent stint in the military.

Other tuition-free colleges, such as Cooper Union in NYC, subsidizes students through large endowments. And some, like the College of the Ozarks, require students to participate in work-study programs to pay for their education.

For a complete list of these schools and their admissions requirements, see this slide show at Business Week.

In Degree programs, degrees without debt on June 8, 2009 at 6:01 pm


Looking for free tuition? Go to Sweden.

One way to save money on a college degree is to attend college in Sweden. Why Sweden? The government is so eager to attract foreign students and create a multicultural student body that they fully subsidize tuition fees. That’s right—tuition is free.

Classes are held in English, including more than 600 master’s degree programs, and many are offered online. Sweden is known for academic excellence and innovation. Click here for more information.