Why a Degree is More Important Than a Smartphone

Stop and share this news with your smartphone: More American adults (35 percent) own a smartphone than a bachelor’s degree (27.5 percent)!

I have both – a two-year-old Blackberry Storm (although I’m eagerly waiting for the new iPhone to give it a try), and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, which I earned in 1995.

I love my smartphone (oh, the instant access to e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, photos, TV shows, and more!) and my degree. So I figure that’s enough of a qualification to share my three reasons why a bachelor’s degree is more important than a smartphone.

1. A smartphone may make you feel smart, but a degree gives you a key credential to show potential employers.

It takes dedication and determination (not to mention a financial investment) to earn your bachelor’s degree. Once you have it, it shows employers that you have met the college’s requirements and have a strong aptitude for the subject. Sure, you may be able to quickly pull up restaurant reviews, the latest YouTube videos, and beat friends in Scrabble by using your smartphone, but I doubt any of those will impress an employer during a job interview.

2. A smartphone helps you be connected at all times, but a degree gives you potential connections for a rewarding career.

If you love the instant access to email, text messaging, photos, videos, and other information that you get from a smartphone, you’re likely the type of person who likes to be in the know and on top of the latest trends and news about your friends, celebrities, or things that you’re passionate about. A degree offers those same kind of connections. You’ll form relationships with professors and students who could lead to your first job or big career steps. You’ll learn about industry groups and major companies to follow (even by using Twitter on your smartphone) to find out about the latest trends in your field and make you a smarter employee or job candidate.

3. A smartphone’s battery life will lessen as you watch TV, movies, and video, and just use it on a daily basis, but a degree will boost your life professionally.

My biggest problem with a smartphone is how much just daily use sucks the life out of my battery, often causing my phone to die until I plug it in and resuscitate it. Earning your bachelor’s degree won’t harm any of your career aspirations, but will juice up your professional life, increasing your earning potential and allowing you to find a job in a field you love.

There’s one thing a smartphone and a bachelor’s degree have in common – it takes research when deciding what type of smartphone to purchase and what type of bachelor’s degree program you want to pursue. We can’t live without our smartphone, but if you’re only living with your smartphone, consider pursuing your bachelor’s degree, too!

-Lori Johnston

Students Give Thumbs Up to Social Media

If you’re headed back to the classroom and haven’t had the time for Facebook and Twitter or only use it to check up on your child or connect occasionally with old high school friends, now’s the time to learn how social networking can help you in school.

Social media can help college students make vital education and career connections, a recent Associated Press-Viacom poll found.

Seven out of 10 students reported that the social media sites are good for creating study groups, working with peers on assignments, and getting information about school activities or assignments.

We see it all the time. On Facebook, students discuss upcoming tests, what they missed if absent, and schedule times to meet up to quick study sessions or all-nighters. That way, you don’t have to try to call classmates to arrange a study group while your kids are wanting a snack or needing you to help them with their homework. Virtual connections are essential during a fast-paced semester!

Students also are using Twitter to keep connected with each other and their professors, some of whom use Twitter to fuel class discussions, too.

If you are unfamiliar with how to use those social media sites, you’ll want to brush up on using social media wisely. If you’re on Facebook, you may want to create a secure group that only your classmates can see to discuss a project or test. If you want to keep your schedule private, message a classmate to plan a study group instead of posting it on their wall. Also, realize that what you’re writing about a certain class could be seen by others (including possible employers), so watch what you’re sharing with all of your Facebook friends.

At the same time, 74 percent of students who responded to the poll say social media is a “good way to distract themselves,” the AP reported.

Keep watch of how much time you spend time on those sites. Jumping onto Facebook or Twitter could be a brief reward you earn after writing a paper or studying a couple of hours. But if you can’t resist checking out the sites every few minutes, you’ll need to come up with a plan for keeping in touch with classmates via social media without harming your GPA.

Are Young Versus Old Tribes on “Survivor” Like College?

“Survivor” is breaking this season’s contestants into two tribes – young versus old. During this week’s season premiere, it was the older team (called Espada and including contestants over 40) that got sent to tribal council in Nicaragua, sending 48-year-old Montana goat rancher Wendy away (through a graveyard, no less).

It struck me as the credits rolled that if you’re an adult student and going back to school, you may be feeling like there’s two tribes in your classes as well. While you may have been told that the younger students will respect you for your life experience and knowledge, you maybe can’t help but feel that the age gap divides you from your 20-something classmates.

But let’s think about how “Survivor” typically plays out. At one point, the tribes are going to merge. And at that point, usually the younger contestants realize they can learn from the older players because of their experience, maturity, and wisdom, and vice versa.

As host Jeff Probst told CBSNews.com: “You have young guys running around, young women running around, and they’re fit and they can do all these challenges. But can they think? And when you look at the older tribe, you see people who stop before they walk and say, ‘We should go this way.’”

In the meantime, here are some tips provided by the University College Community at Rutgers-New Brunswick for adult learners:

• Seek out organizations and honors societies with adult students participating

• Make time for special events geared toward nontraditional students

• Contribute to campus events, working alongside those younger than you, to make a difference on campus

• Participate in the classroom and in group discussions

The young versus old experiment that “Survivor” is doing also may give you some insight into how you can relate to younger classmates, too.

-Lori Johnston

Bella in Eclipse May Relate to Others Who Put Off College

The Twilight Saga’s third book and movie, Eclipse, may seem unrealistic, with its storylines of hot vampires and even hotter teen werewolves. But at the heart of the plot is the idea of making choices after high school graduation that can impact the future.

Maybe you’re a TwiMom proud of your addiction to the books, and it’s bringing back memories of decisions you made as a senior in high school. Maybe love caused you to put other desires ahead of college, like Bella’s main goal of becoming a vampire. Or maybe the idea of attending college wasn’t a choice due to financial or other obstacles.

No matter your reasons or decisions, the great thing is that the option to pursue a college degree is something you can do now, even as an older student.

Since you graduated high school, the options for getting a college education have exploded. Think about it: Even after Bella becomes a vampire, she could get her degree through online programs in everything from history (hey, she used her knack for history to determine that Edward was a vampire!) to criminal justice (maybe she could follow in the path of her dad, Charlie). And that way, she would track down any evil vampires going after her family.

Don’t let past decisions keep you from pursuing a degree now. You’ll want to start with determining your goals, whether it’s landing a new career or trying to get a promotion.

Also realize that more adults are going back to school, too, so you aren’t alone. And if you happen to walk into a classroom and realize you are the oldest student there, just use your Twilight knowledge to connect with the younger students who are fans, too. Maybe they’ll even look up to you for that!

-Lori Johnston