This is a guest post by Andrew Brosnan. A program director at San Francisco State Extended Learning who oversees a variety of professional development certificate programs. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Are you competitive? You should be. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California unemployment rates have dropped from 6.7% in February to a preliminary 6.2% in July. Assuming the trend continues, the competition for jobs and promotions will increase. If you’re looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, taking a course or professional certificate program is a cost effective and effective way to further your career. Do adults go back to school? According to the Digest of Education Statistics of 2013 (published May 2015), 987, 715 adults earned certificates nationally in 2011-2012, which was up 400,000 from 2001. Clearly, many are taking the opportunity to increase their skills and knowledge within a classroom setting, but going to school presents some challenges.
Some adults worry that everyone will be younger than they are and that they won’t fit in. Others can’t imagine getting time off work to attend classes during the day. Those who haven’t been in a classroom setting in a decade (or two) may fear the homework level and load.
For all these reasons, one often overlooked option for yourself are certificate programs. They are attended by individuals of a variety of ages and backgrounds, are typically held at night or on weekends, and is the coursework is practical for working adults so you can immediately bring your knowledge into your place of work.
If you decide taking a few courses is the route for you, here’s a few simple tips for you to make the most of the experience:
- Determine your availability and interests: those with more time and more interested in exploring concepts should research bachelor and master degree programs. Those with less time and/or a greater interest in immediately applying their knowledge should research certificate programs.
- Speak with staff, and if you have time, ask for an in-person appointment so you can evaluate the environment.
- When in a course, ask questions during and/or after the class. Show a true interest in the material and work to build rapport with the professor.
- Network with other students. In larger classes, get to know different students by shifting where you sit. Not only will you make new friends, but you might even find your next job or client.
- After each course, take review your notes. Also note, the tools you value most, and the top three resources from the course.
- At the end of a program, distill those course summaries into a usable two-page cheat sheet, so you continue to use the information and can pass it on to colleagues.
Schools in the area that offer academic degrees in or relating to marketing include City College of San Francisco (CCSF), Golden Gate University (GGU), and University of San Francisco (USF) . U.C. Berkeley Extension, USF, and GGU offer academic certificates. San Francisco State Extended Learning and California State University East Bay Continuing Education both offer non-academic certificates, with emphases in Social Media.
If you’re still unsure whether or not to commit to a program, try out one course as an experiment. It’s something most certificate programs allow. If you don’t give it a shot, you’ll never know whether traditional continuing education works for you.