Advancing Your Career with MOOCs

In February, the Career Center offered a seminar about MOOCs. In case you missed it, here are some of the main takeaways:

what is a mooc?

Imagine being able to go back to college – without all the expenses of tuition, room, and board. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are online college courses available to anyone with access to the internet. MOOCs can help you advance your career by learning in-demand skills. Many MOOCs are free – if you want to watch and learn. Many only charge fees if you want to earn a certificate or credential. MOOCs that allow you to earn a degree are more expensive – but even then they are less expensive than a degree program at most universities.

how can i use moocs to grow my career?

A growing number of businesses and companies recognize credentials from MOOCs. Many MOOCs are backed by prestigious universities and/or partner with prominent corporations. MOOCs can be an inexpensive way to learn new  skills that will help you grow in your own profession, or position yourself to transition to a new career. Here are a few tips to help your chances that an employer will appreciate your having taken a class.

  • Focus on courses that are clearly related to your field of work. For example, if you are a programmer, take courses on Python, rather than Tibetan Religion.
  • Earn a credential – such as a Certificate or Nanodegree or Series Specialization. These are usually not free but are still less expensive than tuition.
  • Take MOOC courses that are backed by prestigious universities. You can put the name of that university on your resume. For example: Verified Certificate of Business Leadership, Harvard School of Business (through Coursera), 2019

  • Make sure you can demonstrate the skills that the course teaches. Many MOOC courses or series of courses require you to turn in projects. What matters most to potential employers is that you can do it. If you take a MOOC course about Python programming, demonstrate that you can program in Python. Increasingly, employers care less about credentials and degrees, and more about what you can do.

the big five mooc companies

Coursera

Coursera is perhaps the most prominent. Courses are free for registered users, although there are fees for different course licenses. You can earn Course Certificates, a Specialization Certificate (after taking a series of courses), and even full degrees such as a Master of Business Administration, Master of Computer Science.

edX

EdX is another prominent MOOC. You can audit courses for free, or pay a modest fee to earn a certificate. You can earn a Certificate of Achievement, X-Series Certificate of Achievement, Micro-masters Course Credit, Professional Certificate, Micro-Bachelors, or even an Online Degree.

FutureLearn

Although FutureLearn is one of the more prominent MOOCs, it is based in Great Britain and not well recognized outside Europe. You can pay $199/year for unlimited access. You can earn Micro-credentials and even online degrees (bachelors, masters, or post-graduate certificates which are more common in Europe).

Udacity

Udacity is fairly well recognized because you can earn Nanodegrees (after taking a series of courses usually over 6-12 months). They are one of the more expensive MOOCs, charging $400/month or $1436 for four months.

Udemy

 

With Udemy you can earn Certificates of completion. They charge modest fees for each course.

Final thoughts

If you are interested in advancing your career with MOOCs, do some research. Find out about the reputation of different MOOCs, how much employers recognize them, and which kinds of programs they offer. A good website to do research about MOOCs is MoocLab. It has articles and discussion boards where people sometimes debate the worth of different MOOCs and the credentials they offer.

Written by Rick Wright and Lynnette Lee

Career Pathways Program Returns!

Would you like to go back to school for more career skills training, but you just can’t afford it?

Three years ago, we wrote a blogpost about the Urban League’s Career Pathways Program, an innovative program that provided participants funding for college and vocational school. Today, we are pleased to announce the return of the Career Pathways Program!

Who’s doing it?

The Career Pathways Program is sponsored by the Office of Workforce Development, a department of the Urban League of Louisiana, which is the local chapter of the nonprofit National Urban League.

What help do they offer?

  • Tuition assistance towards an associate’s degree or vocational certification from Baton Rouge Community College or a local accredited vocational school.
  • Meetings with a personal case manager to help you determine your career path and monitor your progress during the schooling.
  • In-depth job skills training on subjects like resume writing and job interviews to help you find a job in your new field once you graduate.

What kinds of degrees do they help with?

The program is only available for degrees/certifications in high-demand industries, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Computer & Information Technology
  • NCCER Construction
  • Customer Service
  • Retail

How do I register and qualify?

The Baton Rouge office is currently accepting applicants. To register, you can:

  • Pre-apply online at www.urbanleaguela.org/strive
  • Call (225) 831-1501
  • Visit them at 445 N. 12th St. in downtown Baton Rouge.

To qualify, you will need to:

  • Provide the following documentation: a state-issued ID, your Social Security card, your birth certificate, proof of residence, and proof of income.
  • Take a TABE assessment, which Urban League will provide.
  • Agree to complete 4 weeks of career readiness skills training at the Urban League office.

Written by Lynnette Lee

College Scholarships: What You Need to Know

The Career Center recently hosted a seminar on helpful tips when applying for scholarships. Guest presenter Meagan Davenport, an academic counselor with experience in college advising, offered insights about what she has learned throughout her experience of interacting with high school students. Here are some of the main takeaways in case you missed it:

why is this important?

Paying for college is a problem that has become all too common. Students are taking out more loans in order to get a degree that is needed in today’s workforce. In 2018, the average student graduated college with at least $37,000 in loans with an interest rate of 5%. Scholarships have become more necessary as the struggle to pay for college grows. Applying to scholarships can relieve some of the financial burdens of going to college.

When do I start looking for scholarships?

You should ideally start looking at scholarships at the beginning of your senior year. There are scholarships available at the beginning of the year that continue yearlong. The earlier you are able to start applying for scholarships, the more scholarships you will be able to apply to.

Helpful tips:

This is all a numbers game. The more scholarships you apply for, the more money you could potentially be awarded. It gets easier after your first 7 applications. Make a deadline list or calendar to keep track of all of the scholarship due dates. This will help you prioritize your scholarship applications.

Start with the easiest ones to fill out. There are some scholarships for which you only need to fill in your information without any essay, recommendation letter, or other attachments. These are less time consuming and can easily be completed in one sitting. When you are on a scholarship website, fill out the optional questions and use the filters. Students who do this are twice as likely to find more scholarships.

Do not be afraid of those small amount scholarships. These are less competitive scholarships, so you have a better chance of winning small amounts. Every dollar you receive in scholarships can help. Those small amounts can easily help pay for textbooks.

Apply to the essay scholarships! Considering a lot of students do not like to write essays, there is a smaller selection pool for these opportunities. This gives you a higher chance of earning money for college. The essay should fit the theme of the scholarship and should include personal aspects, such as achievements, issues you feel strongly about, academic plans or major of study, or mentors and influences in your life. Make the structure and foundation of your essay reusable so that you do not have to write a whole new essay for each scholarship.

Have a professional email address to use for scholarships as well as college applications. Clean up your social media as well. Although colleges may not look at your social media accounts, some of your college jobs or work study opportunities might. It is just good practice to have a clean social media account and email address.

online resources:

Beware of scam websites! You should never have to pay money to get scholarship money. These are not true scholarship websites. You can also connect with your school counselor about local scholarship opportunities.

Here are some legitimate scholarship websites that are very user-friendly and helpful:

Written by Meagan Davenport

Freshman Year for Free™

Do you want to get the equivalent of a year of college for free?

This might just be possible through the relatively new and innovative non-profit organization Modern States Education Alliance. Modern States is not a college and does not grant college credit directly. Instead they are taking advantage of the college credit by exam system, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP). https://modernstates.org/freshman-year-free/

how it works

Modern States partnered with top universities and created online courses that prepare students for the AP and CLEP exams. The online courses claim to teach in a few weeks what the same college courses would take one or two semesters to achieve. These online classes are basically test prep courses. However, it is entirely free to register and take them. After completing a class it is then up to the student to register for and take the respective AP or CLEP exam on their own. Through a voucher system Modern States will reimburse the exam fees. This way it is possible to take a year’s worth of college credit entirely for free. Take a look https://modernstates.org/about-us/who-we-are/

a word of caution

Modern States is open about not every college accepting AP and CLEP credits. They include a feature on the website where you can check which university accepts those credits, and, in the case of AP, what the minimum acceptable score is. https://modernstates.org/affiliated-universities/universities/  In any case it is recommended that you check with your college of choice directly also. While some colleges do accept CLEP and AP, they might be limiting the number of credits they are willing to honor. Or they might accept AP/CLEP for Biology but not for Calculus for example. The website will not go into such detail for each institution.

advantages

Regardless of the above concerns, this is a legitimate way for many students to start working towards a college degree. It can be useful to current high school students or recent grads, as well as adults who are looking to start college for the first time or continue their previously interrupted studies. Current college students who wish to get through their degree faster than the normal four years could benefit from this initiative as well.

If you are unsure where your college or career path will take you, the Career Center can help. You can call us at 225-231-3733 or visit in person at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. We also have a number of CLEP study guides available for checkout.

Written by Anne Nowak