Archive | Education Options

Love of Learning is the Key to Success in the Jobless Future

lifelong-learning-jobless-futureBy Vivek Wadhwa
The Washington Post

Not long ago, schoolchildren chose what they wanted to be when they grew up, and later selected the best college they could gain admission to, spent years gaining proficiency in their fields, and joined a company that had a need for their skills. Careers lasted lifetimes.

Now, by my estimates, the half-life of a career is about 10 years. I expect that it will decrease, within a decade, to five years. Advancing technologies will cause so much disruption to almost every industry that entire professions will disappear. And then, in about 15—20 years from now, we will be facing a jobless future, in which most jobs are done by machines and the cost of basic necessities such as food, energy and health care is negligible — just as the costs of cellphone communications and information are today. We will be entering an era of abundance in which we no longer have to work to have our basic needs met. And we will gain the freedom to pursue creative endeavors and do the things that we really like.

I am not kidding. Change is happening so fast that our children may not even need to learn how to drive. By the late 2020s, self-driving cars will have proven to be so much safer than human-driven ones that we will be debating whether humans should be banned from public roads; and clean energies such as solar and wind will be able to provide for 100 percent of the planet’s energy needs and cost a fraction of what fossil fuel— and nuclear-based generation does today.

A question that parents often ask me is, given that these predictions are even remotely accurate, what careers their children should pursue: whether it is best to steer them into science, engineering, and technology (STEM) fields, because it is these disciplines that are making the advances happen. The STEM—humanities dichotomy has been a traditional difficulty for parents, because English, psychology, history, and arts majors have been at a financial disadvantage over the past few decades. Parents have encouraged their children to go into fields such as finance, engineering, law and medicine, because they’re where the big money has been. But that is changing.

I tell them not to do what our parents did, telling us what to study and causing us to treat education as a chore; that instead, they should encourage their children to pursue their passions and to love learning. It doesn’t matter whether they want to be artists, musicians, or plumbers; the key is for children to understand that education is a lifelong endeavor and to be ready to constantly reinvent themselves.

We will all need to be able to learn new skills, think critically, master new careers, and take advantage of the best opportunities that come our way.

Technology is now as important a skill as are reading, writing, and mathematics. Everyone needs to be able to use computers, search for information on the Internet, use word processors and spreadsheets, and download apps. These skills are now common and useful in every profession. People who master social media gain an advantage in sharing knowledge and connecting with others. Kids in Silicon Valley who can write code have an edge in starting technology companies.

But this too is changing, as it becomes possible for anyone to write apps and snap together industrial-strength computer systems using powerful new software-development tools.  For the foreseeable future, professions such as data science, software architecture and bioengineering will command premiums; but design and the soft sciences will gain increasing importance.

Steve Jobs built the world’s most valuable company by focusing on design. He showed that, though good engineering is important, what matters the most is great design. You can teach artists how to use software and graphics tools, but it’s much harder to turn engineers into artists.  An engineering degree is very valuable, but the sense of empathy that comes from music, arts, literature, and psychology provides a big advantage in design. A history major who has studied the Enlightenment or the rise and fall of the Roman Empire gains an insight into the human elements of technology and the importance of its usability. A psychologist is more likely to know how to motivate people and to understand what users want than is an engineer who has only worked in the technology trenches. A musician or artist is king in a world in which you can 3D-print anything that you can imagine.

Education will always be a platform on which to build success, but it really doesn’t matter what you study. My advice to students is to complete a bachelor’s degree, at the least, in fields in which they have the most interest. They should go to any good school and not obsess over joining expensive elite institutions that will burden them with debt and limit their life options. Through college, they will gain valuable social skills and learn how to interact and work with others; to compromise; and to deal with rejection, failure, and change. Most importantly, they will learn what they don’t know and where to find new knowledge when they need it. And we can hope that they will develop a deep passion for learning.

All of this uncertainty and change can seem unsettling.  As Peter Diamandis has said, “on the road to abundance there will be turbulence.”  The light at the end of this tunnel, however, may be a world in which the pursuit of enlightenment is more cherished than the pursuit of money.

This article was written by Vivek Wadhwa from The Washington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning

Student Profile: From Retail Management to Leadership Author

American Public University Alumnus, Henry Jordan

American Public University Alumnus, Henry Jordan

Interview with APU Alumnus, Henry Jordan

The following profile is the second in a series of student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.

Degree earned: M.A., Management (2015), and B.A., Management (2013), American Public University

What have you been up to since earning your master’s degree in management at APU?

Since finishing my master’s degree at APU, I have been doing some long overdue travel with my wife Caroline, and promoting my new book – “Leading Through Relationship First.” We love to travel and find that experiencing other cultures around the world can improve our perspective and critical thinking skills. We recently returned from Australia where the people were just fantastic.

Tell us about your new book “Leading Through Relationship First.”

Several years ago, I realized a need for more discussion and emphasis on the topic of servant leadership. When I met Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart in the late 1980’s, it had a major impact on the type of leader I would seek to become.

I began my career at Walmart in 1985 as a part-time associate, and retired as a senior vice president in 2013. When I first met Sam Walton, I was a young assistant store manager. Mr. Sam pulled our small management team aside and sat us down for a cup of coffee. He spent time getting to know us before he began evaluating our business. He got down on one knee and talked to the associates as if he were just another member of our store’s team. Throughout my career, many people impacted my performance and the type of leadership style I would possess – one of them being Sam Walton.

“Leading Through Relationship First” walks through the critical elements of building, motivating, and empowering a great team – all under the umbrella of servant leadership. The book contains many best practices that can help any leader improve the results and effectiveness of their leadership style.

How did your studies at APU prepare you for your success in your career and in writing this book?

I have always enjoyed writing but needed more structure, discipline, and training on how to properly convey my message. As a student at APU, I was afforded the opportunity to get a great deal of practice with my writing. During my 28-year leadership career in retail, I gained many insights that I wanted to share in the form of a published work. When the time came to write my book, I felt confident, prepared, and inspired to begin the process. Not only did my education improve my technical writing skills, but it also helped me to broaden my perspective and more openly consider how various groups would perceive my message. Through continually hearing the thoughts of my peers on class related topics, I was able to develop an approach that would appeal to the majority of people – focusing more on what we all have in common as opposed to our differences.

My educational journey also helped me to realize that there was a future for me in the teaching field. As I worked with various professors and students throughout my courses, I found that I really enjoyed this environment and began to pursue my qualifications so that one day I could teach at the college academic level.

What are some key things a reader will learn from your book?

It places emphasis on people and relationships as the foundation for building a great team. Expectation setting is then built upon that foundation. Teaching, training, and employee development is discussed as part of aligning everyone on the team within the expectations that are agreed upon. The book also discusses the need for making critical adjustments within the team when necessary to ensure maximum potential is achieved.

It is my hope that the reader will be reminded that it takes relationships to establish trust, trust to establish commitment, and commitment to achieve great things through people.

What fundamentals of management, from the program, have you been able to take with you into your career?

Throughout my academic journey, we examined many aspects of management and leadership. Of particular interest to me was the presence of ongoing change in the world and in the environments that we as leaders function in each day. I was reminded throughout our studies how important it is to remember the fundamental values that never change, in spite of various shifting circumstances. Ethical behavior, kindness, thoughtful gestures, and humble attitudes have always been, and will always be, part of the characteristic of great leaders.

One of my professors, Dr. John Moore really inspired me. Dr. Moore’s teaching style is much like that of my own. Throughout my leadership career in business, I had frequent and numerous opportunities to engage others in a teaching environment. Dr. Moore helped me to realize that teaching others in the academic environment can be equally, if not more engaging. I thoroughly admire his approach and the manner in which he leads others in their academic objectives.

What is your favorite thing about online learning?

The online learning environment is extremely accessible. With the busy nature of life today, we all have more on our plate than we seem to be able to tackle. Online learning allows the student to access the classroom when and where it is best for them. This unlimited access is extremely valuable to me as a working professional and a student.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love the great outdoors and also enjoy traveling to new places. My wife Caroline and I are avid scuba divers and love the water. I also enjoy staying current with world events and technological trends that affect the manner in which people respond to  various leadership approaches.

Online education isn’t a one size fits all, but it’s a great opportunity for those looking to increase their knowledge in current areas of expertise, or to look at new avenues for growth. Our student profile series will give a face and personality to our dedicated online learners at the university. Interested in learning more about your online education options? Explore our schools and programs at APU.

Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning

Should You Choose a Minor or Certificate?

cert-minor-online-ed-advisingBy Amanda Riggs
Team Manager, Academic Advising at American Public University

At the time of this publication, APU offers 95 certificate options (52 for undergraduate students and 43 for graduates) and 23 minors. With so many options available, it can be challenging to narrow down your selection.

When you are deciding whether or not it would be advantageous to add a certificate or a minor to your degree, there are many factors to consider. To begin this discussion, let’s go over some of the specifics.

  • Undergraduate students pursuing an associate degree can add an undergraduate certificate to their program. However, this may add to the total length of a degree program and may not always be covered by certain types of funding.
  • Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree are able to add a minor or an undergraduate certificate, or both, to their program. However, this may add to the total length of a degree program and may not always be covered by certain types of funding.
  • Graduate students pursuing a master’s degree can add a graduate certificate to their program. Adding a graduate certificate will always increase the total length of a master’s program and may not be covered by certain types of funding. Minors cannot be added to any graduate degree.
  • If the course requirements of a minor or certificate overlap significantly with the student’s degree program, the academic advisor will be unable to add that credential.

Next, it is important to consider what type of program you are in, as well as what your personal and professional goals are now and in the future. Ask yourself:

  • Is your degree technical?
  • Are certificates or minors respected in your area of study?
  • Will a certificate or minor decrease your potential for future transfer credit?
  • Have you spoken with your Academic Advising Team?

It often seem as though a minor is the better fit for an undergraduate program since they seem to be more common than certificates in academia. A certificate may be a wise choice if you are preparing to do something specific, such as receive a promotion, or obtain a certain skill set. If you are pursuing a technical degree, a certificate may be the better option. A stand alone certificate program is also a great choice if you are looking to begin your college career but are not quite ready to tackle a full associate or bachelor’s degree as an undergraduate student.

It is important to note that APU certificates are not equivalent to industry certifications. Although in some circumstances our certificate programs may fulfill a prerequisite or deal with a portion of the material covered in a non-APU affiliated certification exam, we do not offer, endorse, or provide eligibility to take certification tests.

On the other hand, if receiving a degree quickly is your highest priority, then the addition of a minor to your bachelor’s program might be a more practical option. All of our minors are 18 credit hours, while some of our certificate programs require more coursework (the undergraduate certificate in United Nations requires 24 credit hours, for example).

A minor is also a shrewd choice if you are hoping to study an area of interest, not necessarily an area of practicality or need. Minors allow you to learn about a generalized area of study, such as history, English, or religion, while certificates relate to specific topics like infant and toddler care, IT Infrastructure Security, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness.

Lastly, when selecting a certificate or minor, you should be aware that your new coursework will be required as electives for your program. If you do not have enough elective room to accommodate your minor or certificate, then your total program length will need to extend. As with any change to your program, it is best to speak with your Academic Advising Team about what is best for your specific situation. There may be other circumstances that will be important for you to discuss with an advisor prior to making this choice. We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Ask an Advisor, Education Options, Email Newsletter

Dedicate Yourself to the Goal of an Online Degree

online-ed-goalsBy Robert Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University

Success means pushing toward a goal. Many first-year college students learn to be dedicated to the goal, not just involved. To understand dedication, consider a breakfast of eggs and bacon–the chicken was involved with breakfast, the pig was dedicated.

Success does not come easily. Even people touted by the media as overnight sensations have usually been honing their craft for years before making it big, laboring in obscurity before achieving notoriety. There is no shortcut when it comes to achievement at the highest levels.

Once an adult learner enrolls to earn an advanced degree, the hard work begins. A student must commit to attending class and having the persistence to earn a good grade. A top grade will not come just by showing up.

At an online university, students must not only read what is assigned and apply the information. Students must complete the assignments and participate in the forum discussions. Each class is another important achievement in the successful completion of a degree.

If a person stops one credit short of graduation, it is the same as never having started a degree. The difference between earning a degree and almost earning a degree is significant to employers.

Greatness comes to those that believe that they can achieve. Students must keep the goal of graduation alive to stay motivated to the end. Although this might seem daunting, students are not alone in the adventure of earning a degree.

Contacting the professor during office hours or finding a tutor can help make a difference. Friends and loved ones are also an important source of support.

As an online student, you may have to dig deep to find the resolve to finish your degree, but maintaining a passion for success will sustain you. Make the journey count so that success will feel all that much better in the end.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is the program director for the Reverse Logistics Management department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over 25 years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. Dr. Gordon earned his Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA.

Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning

How Online Classes Differ From Traditional Classes

traditional-vs-online-learningBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

Online learning has become much more popular due today’s technologically advanced world. There are numerous universities that are fully online, and pretty much every university in the country has at least a small online component in their curriculum. While traditional schools and online schools offer the same end game (i.e. a diploma, certificate, etc.), the actual classrooms have numerous differences. Online classes do require a different kind of learning style than traditional classes. Some of these differences are explained below.

  1. Online classrooms usually require more writing than traditional classrooms. You must be prepared to answer weekly forums, have essay-based midterms/finals, and respond to other students’ postings with written responses. In a traditional classroom, a lot of the discussions can be verbal. Obviously, that is a little more challenging with online learning, so online learners need to have satisfactory writing skills.
  2. Online classes are much more flexible than traditional classes. With online classes, you usually have the freedom to log in at any time during the week and submit assignments. There will always be deadlines, but you will not have to be present online from 1-2:15 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like you might have to in a traditional college setting.
  3. You must be able to self-motivate as an online learner. To succeed at any kind of college, you must have the motivation to be a great student, but it is crucial to be self-motivated while enrolled in online classes. The flexibility of the online classroom is nice, but it means that the structure of a traditional, schedule-based school is not present. This requires online learners to create their own schedule and stick with it for the entire duration of the class.
  4. Online universities offer flexibility, affordability, and self-paced learning. However, online schools cannot deliver the full “college experience” that a traditional school can. Online universities may have clubs, extracurricular activities, networking events, and graduation ceremonies, but they probably are not the best option for someone looking for the ambiance of a college campus.

There are major differences between online classrooms and traditional classrooms. It absolutely takes a different kind of learning style to succeed, but they are not mutually exclusive. There are many learners out there that can adapt to both styles. If you are planning on attending an online university, be aware that it will be different from your typical on-ground learning experience.

Posted in Education Options, Financial Aid Tips, Online Learning

Science Labs Delivered to Your Door

mobile-science-labs-apuBy David Brashinger
Faculty Member, Natural Sciences at American Public University

How do you take a laboratory-based science course when you don’t have access to a traditional campus-based laboratory? Have the laboratory delivered to your door!

American Public University (APU) is rolling out a series of new online courses in biology, chemistry, and physics that include laboratory activities that students perform where they live. This approach combines the flexibility of distance education with the hands-on learning goals of science laboratory education.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning, Scholar's Desk

Four Success Tips for New (and old) Online Learners

online-success-tipsBy Dr. Michael S. Miller
Part-time Faculty Member, Teaching Program, School of Education at American Public University

There is a great deal of information on the internet regarding how to be successful in an online course. One can find anything from tips for managing your time to staying organized. Much of what is written is done so by researchers and poll groups; little information exists from actual online professors. Having spent several years now teaching online, the following are some general guidelines from someone in the trenches. While this list may seem simple and “common sense,” you would be surprised at how few students actually follow them.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning, Scholar's Desk

An Academic Journey via Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss-steps-after-graduationBy Anna Sommer
Team Manager, Academic Advising at American Public University

The last few weeks have been hectic for many students. Final classes, final papers, final exams, graduation applications, and commencement ceremonies are some of the activities that have been taking place at colleges and universities across the country. It’s easy to get lost in the business and details of all this, or even want to quickly move on to whatever comes next. However, reflection is sometimes one of the best ways to gain perspective on everything that’s taken place, so I’d like to remind all students of why you were here, pursuing a degree, in the first place, and how this part of the journey is really the foundation for your next adventure. I draw my inspiration for inspiring students for their next step from Dr. Seuss’s memorable book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”

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Posted in Ask an Advisor, Education Options, Email Newsletter


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