Take Your College Search Seriously

What is your college search like? If you’re too busy or not interested in undertaking a meticulous process, or if you don’t think there are a ton of alternatives, you are not alone.

A new survey of students prepared by Public Agenda for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that college selection is taken much less seriously by those who end up dropping out. The study, “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them,” found that turning into an unsuccessful student starts with being uninformed.

But you don’t have to face your college search like this. And finding the right school for you can be crucial in your quest to graduate.

Don’t start with where your friends are going or where your parents went to school, but instead think about your goals and what you want to do when you graduate from college.

You may not have a clue right now, but you can find out about the array of potential careers – including ones you may have never thought about – by looking at the profession overviews and job forecasts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or at CollegeSurfing.com. That way when you are looking at potential schools, you will be able to see if they offer degrees in a career field of interest to you.

When I was looking at colleges, I knew I was interested in journalism, and when I looked at potential colleges all over the U.S., I discovered that the University of Georgia was home to the Peabody Awards that recognized the best in electronic media.

Also look at what past students have gotten out of attending a certain college and what school may fit your character traits. Maybe you want a school where there’s not as much pressure to party. Or you might need a school that has a good handle on how to deal with students’ learning disabilities. Those and other schools are among Newsweek’s take on 25 colleges.

Taking another look at how you are looking at colleges could mean finding out what’s the best fit for you – and determine whether you’ll stay the course and graduate.

-Lori Johnston

How Much Does it Cost to Go to School for a Dental Hygienist?

Have you ever heard the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? As workers in a preventive dental care specialty, dental hygienists demonstrate that truth daily. And you can enter the profession with a relatively small down payment – just two years of dental hygienist school tuition.

Dental Hygiene Programs
In order to become a licensed dental hygienist, you must complete an undergraduate dental hygiene program. There are currently more than 300 entry-level (certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree) programs that are accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association, an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Dental hygiene master’s degree and degree completion programs are accredited by CODA as well.

An associate degree in dental hygiene requires about 86 credits (about 2,666 total clock hours of instruction) to complete, and a bachelor’s degree requires about 122 credits (about 3,093 total clock hours) to complete. The majority of dental hygiene programs are available in junior and community colleges, though four-year colleges and universities and vocational/technical schools also offer dental hygiene degrees.

The Cost of Dental Hygienist School
According to the American Dental Association and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association , the average estimated total cost of tuition and fees for an associate degree is $30,155; for a bachelor’s degree, $40,207; and a master’s degree, $23,133. Of course, you can find a small community college that charges just $5,000 for a degree program, or you could choose a program in a big city and pay upward of $70,000 for dental hygienist school tuition.

Typical dental hygienist school fees include uniforms, lab coats, shoes, professional association dues, computer fees, malpractice insurance, and licensing board exams. Textbooks also factor in to the cost of dental hygienist school, as do room and board if you choose to live on campus.
Other essential items that may not be included in the listed cost of dental hygienist school are instruments and clinical lab supplies. If you are required to purchase supplies on your own, they may include hand mirrors, hand magnifying-glass, cart with drawers, safety glasses, clipboards, disposable gloves and face masks/shields, handpiece, radiation badges, dental typodonts, and more.

Dental Hygienist School Cost-Saving Opportunities
If you don’t want to pay bachelor’s-level dental hygienist school tuition now, you can become a dental hygienist by completing a certificate or associate degree program and enrolling in a degree completion program in the future. Your bachelor’s degree can be in dental hygiene or a related area, such as health science or health services administration. CODA has accredited about 60 dental hygiene degree completion programs.

Another way to defray the cost of dental hygienist school is to pursue a bachelor’s degree that allows you to earn a certificate in dental hygiene first and then complete your four-year degree once you’re working and drawing a salary. Some bachelor’s degree programs are designed for this very purpose, with class schedules tailored to your work schedule.

And when you do earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, your bank account can benefit from opportunities to move beyond the dental office and work in dental hygiene education, administration, sales, and research.

If you want to prevent patients’ health problems and your own potential financial distress, pay the relatively low cost of dental hygienist school. That’s certainly something worth smiling about.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Nurse Practitioner School?

If you’re a registered nurse (RN) who wants to advance in your career and provide a high level of individualized care, start training to become a nurse practitioner. Want to know how much nurse practitioner school costs will set you back? Find out here.

Nurse Practitioner Programs
First, understand that most states require nurse practitioners to hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. To gain entrance to an MSN degree program for this advanced practice specialty, you’ll need a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) and/or at least one or two years of clinical RN experience. If you have a diploma or associate degree in nursing (ADN), you can enroll in a BSN-to-MSN program.

Once you complete an MSN degree, you may also choose to enroll in a post-graduate certificate program that will enable you to specialize in a particular area of nurse practitioner care (e.g., acute care, neonatal, women’s health, etc.).

Nurse Practitioner School Costs
Let’s break those degree program requirements into dollars and cents. A nurse practitioner master’s degree consists of about two years of full-time study, which translates into 40 to 60 credits. Post-graduate certificate programs consist of about 40 credits and charge tuition comparable to MSN degree costs.

Nurse practitioner tuition at a state university averages about $200 per credit for state residents and jumps to $500 per credit for out-of-state students. Total nurse practitioner tuition for a 60-credit program would then be $12,000 for in-state students and $30,000 for out-of-state students.

If your heart is set on a private university, be aware that these schools charge as much as $1,000 per credit – amounting to $60,000 for total nurse practitioner tuition.

Nurse Practitioner School Fees
That’s not all. Additional nurse practitioner school fees often include lab, library, student services, activity, and clinical placement fees. Plus, you need to factor liability insurance (on top of regular health insurance) as well as textbooks into your budget for each semester. And nursing textbooks tend to be pricier than liberal arts books.

Remember that you’ll be paying these nurse practitioner school costs on top of your BSN degree tuition. On the other hand, you may have fulfilled some of your MSN degree requirements during the course of your BSN program, in which case you’ll be able to save some money on nurse practitioner tuition.

Nurse Practitioner Financial Aid
Given the never-ending nursing shortage, nurse practitioner financial aid is widely available. Academic nurse practitioner scholarships are usually available through nursing schools and may be based on your standardized test scores and/or undergraduate GPA. Nurse practitioner scholarships based on financial need are available as well. Professional organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners also offer a number of nurse practitioner scholarships.

Employer tuition assistance is another common source of nurse practitioner financial aid. In light of the nationwide demand for skilled nursing care, many employers will bear the brunt of nurse practitioner school costs so that their RNs can put their training to use in their health care organization.

Finding money to pay nurse practitioner school costs can be as simple as talking to your boss or applying for a scholarship online. And the personal and professional fulfillment you’ll experience as a nurse practitioner will make your investment worthwhile.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Culinary School?

You may already know how to cook, but if you really want to make it in the culinary industry, culinary education is essential. Culinary schools offer invaluable instruction in cooking styles, advanced techniques, and menu planning but, as with any education program, it comes with a price. So how much dough are we talking about?

Culinary Programs
The cost of culinary school depends largely on program length, which can range from a couple of months to four years. Many culinary schools offer certificate and diploma programs, which are the least expensive option, requiring just two months to two years of training. Associate degrees take nine months to two years to complete, and bachelor’s degrees take four years. Culinary master’s and doctoral degree program are available as well.

Culinary Tuition
Culinary tuition often mirrors traditional college tuition, though specialized, long-term culinary institute costs can be much higher. Culinary tuition at a community college or vocational/technical school usually ranges from $2,000 to $5,000, while public universities charge anywhere from $3,000 to $18,000. At the other end of the spectrum, specialized culinary institute tuition ranges from $7,000 to $35,000. Of course, private universities are typically the most expensive option, with culinary tuition ranging from $14,000 all the way up to $45,000 per year.

Be aware that some culinary school costs are listed per semester rather than per year. Be sure to read the financial fine print because, if you’re not careful, your culinary tuition may be double what you planned for.

Culinary School Fees
The cost of culinary school may or may not include room, board, and other fees. Culinary school fees generally include application, registration, exam, student activity, and graduation fees. You will also have to pay for books, transportation, and insurance, and you will be responsible for purchasing uniforms and supplies such as culinary tool kits, knives, and more.

Offsetting Culinary School Costs
If the numbers seem scary, remember that you can get a variety of culinary scholarships through recipe contests and traditional academic achievement. Accredited culinary schools are eligible to offer federal scholarships, grants, and loans. Schools that have been regionally accredited offer culinary education at the bachelor’s degree level or higher. Schools that have been nationally accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, may offer all levels of culinary education as long as the program consists of more than 1,000 hours of theoretical and practical instruction.

Culinary organizations like ACF also offer their own culinary scholarships to high school students as well as current college students. Culinary scholarships may be applied to any accredited school, though some are designated for one school in particular.

Before committing to the cost of culinary school, make sure you’re serious about a culinary career. If you decide you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll find that culinary tuition is worth penny.