David Bakke is a contributor for MoneyCrashers.com, where he shares tips for college students and parents to finance their education and find ways to save.

It’s a fact that the number of nontraditional students attending college is on the rise. A survey conducted by US News and World Report showed that college attendance by students aged 40 to 64 increased by almost 20 percent in the last decade. What may be most impressive about this statistic is how much harder it is for older students to invest time and money in a college education. After all, there are mortgages to be paid, children to be cared for, and retirements to be funded.

Going back to college can involve some difficult choices and major sacrifices. But regardless of why you’re returning to academia, it’s often worth it. Here are four ways you can save money to pay for tuition…

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Why Math is a Must for Any Career

Dawn Papandrea | August 1, 2011

Today’s guest post comes from Laura Laing, the author of Math for Grownups, a humorous look at the ways we use math in everyday situations. Her weekly feature, Math at Work Mondays, appears on her blog www.mathforgrownups.com.

If even the thought of math makes your hands sweat, you may have chosen to pursue a career that requires no calculating at all. In that case, have a seat before reading further: as a grownup in any job, you will do math.

But there is some good news. No matter what you’ve been told or thought since you were first learning your multiplication tables, you can do math. And if you’re passionate about your career, you probably won’t even notice it. I promise.

Take a look at these examples:

1. Preschool teacher: Math for preschool teachers is all about teaching kids to count, right? Not so. If you’re serious about your work, you will probably be reading professional publications, which include educational studies. That means that a basic understanding of statistics will come in handy.  And then there’s the day-to-day stuff — like dividing kids into groups (factoring), assessing their academic abilities (percents) and even planning lessons (time management).

2. Wildlife manager: Whether working in a national forest or on a fish hatchery, wildlife managers use calculations regularly. When treating fish for parasites, a fish farmer needs to carefully calculate the amount of chemicals to be added to the water. And forest rangers use math to map out trails and even manage park visitors.

3. Graphic designer: Sure, you may have a great design sense, but artistry will only take you so far. Graphic designers use proportions to be sure that their pages are laid out in pleasing and effective ways. And the golden rectangle — a particularly proportioned shape — is the basis of most conventional layout designs. This pretty little thing is created with the constant 1.6180339887.

4.  Pastry chef: Turns out, much of baking is described with ratios or the comparison of two numbers. The basic ratio for bread is 5 parts flour to 3 parts water (5:3) with pinches of yeast and salt. Then there are all of the other calculations, including conversions, temperature and baking/rising/resting times.

5.  Entrepreneur: Trust me, when you own your own business, basic math will be your best friend. Finding the return on investment (ROI), project fees, percent of profit, payroll figures — all of these will help determine your success or failure. It’s a good idea to feel at least a little comfortable with numbers when your money is on the line.

Tell us how you use math in your everyday life.


Those With Fast-Changing Careers Must Keep Learning

Dawn Papandrea | November 4, 2010

This guest post is contributed by Louise Baker, a freelance writer and blogger who writes for the ZenCollegeLife blog, as well as car insurance comparisons at CarinsuranceComparison.org.

A wise person once said “The only thing that you can count on any more is change.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. Change is constantly happening all around us whether we want to admit it or not. Companies are outsourcing repetitive, predictable tasks overseas that can be done at a fraction of the cost. Competition and the bottom line drives and influences the decision making in the corporate world everyday. Companies are also quick to re-organize and restructure at lightning speed in order to keep pace and stay relevant with today’s technology.

So, how do you manage a career in the fast lane? What can you offer a company who also has their pick of fresh new graduates? Adaptation and innovation have never been more important, and they begin with continual learning and integration of new ideas into your expertise. This is why you must update your skill set and stay on top of the latest trends. Here are two fields in which staying on top of your game is vital…

Accounting
You might not realize it, but the world of accounting is constantly changing and evolving. Think about this fact: a good number of accounting professionals can still remember a time when accounting was done on a paper ledger. There was a time not too far in the distant past when converting your paper general ledger to computer software was seen as a risky and dangerous move. Accounting professionals that refused to become experts in various accounting applications became outdated rather quickly as their competitors applied the benefits of computer-assisted accounting to their business. Today, every accounting professional has to attend the latest classes in Excel, Access and specialized accounting software packages like Sage, and be aware of the newest additions and tools that can make their business more efficient or make their services more useful. Accounting is more than having a mind for numbers, and those who cannot incorporate computers in their work run the risk of being defeated by those who can.

Computer Programming
Recent statistics are now telling us that the pace of technological development is advancing faster than ever. If you are employed in a position even remotely related to modern technology, keeping your knowledge current is a necessity. Programmers should subscribe to blogs and magazines in an effort to stay abreast of the latest discoveries, trends, insights, and strategies. Training courses are also vital, and plenty of IT workers set aside a certain amount of time to study new programming languages or attend seminars or conferences outside of their normal working hours. What used to take an employment force of 35 can now be done by a good programmer and entrepreneur – but being that programmer means staying on top of the technology field, and making sure your net worth as an employee is very high. It is important for you to be ready when the top executives come to you about any new strategy or framework, otherwise they will go looking for the expertise elsewhere.

Many careers require a lifelong commitment to constant learning and development. With the speed of communication in the modern world, improvements to a particular field in one country can be transmitted and implemented in another country almost overnight. There is simply no room left for those who think that their education ends with their degree.

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