In a recent blog post, the New York Times stated that while a traditional four-year degree from an Ivy League school “gives you a great foundation,” a “college degree may not be worth what you pay for it.” The blog post went on to advise students to “focus on general education courses online,” because “[t]he days of paying for a four-year degree in marketing that doesn’t give you enough job skills are over.”
While a four-year degree in traditional fashion can give you the necessary foundation for a successful career in marketing, anyone who has gone through the process of finding a job after graduation knows that a ‘traditional’ degree alone is no longer enough. With so much of the working world shifting to online courses and platforms, earning a degree isn’t as necessary as it used to be if you want to secure a job in marketing.
General education courses aren’t typically factored into a C.V. or resume, but they are necessary to being a well-rounded person. These are the courses that prepare you for life beyond college, whether you are attending or have already graduated. They aren’t limited to your major, either; many students take general education courses for their minor as well.
What Should You Study?
General education courses are typically categorized into three groups:
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Natural Sciences
- Applied Sciences
The first group – Humanities and Social Sciences – are further sub-divided into History, Art, and Literature. These are the general subject matter classes that allow you to study various aspects of culture and teach you how to think critically. While Critical Thinking and Problem Solving are essential skills for any marketer, any person who pursues a degree in the humanities and social sciences will have the opportunity to specialize in these areas.
The second group – Natural Sciences – study the natural world and its laws. The sub-divisions within this group are Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. These classes allow you to explore various aspects of life and apply what you learn to solve practical problems. For example, you might take Biology and use the information you learn about life cycles to create a marketing plan for a company that produces baby food.
The third group – Applied Sciences – includes classes such as Computer Science, which focuses on using applications to solve problems and make everyday life easier. Many students in this category gain employment in software development or web design because of their specialization in these areas. However, just as with the other two groups of classes, anyone who pursues a degree in the applied sciences will have the opportunity to specialize in a different area and apply what they learn in the workplace.
Choosing Major Specialties
Just as with choosing a minor specialty, your advisor can help you decide what degree program to pursue based on your interests. Your advisor will be able to point you in the direction of the various options available and help you choose the right one for your personal needs. They can also help you prepare a solid application that will catch the attention of the admissions staff.
When Should You Apply?
You should apply for admission to the Marketing Major as soon as possible, even if you have not yet decided exactly what degree to pursue. The good news is that you can switch your major at any time during your studies – there are no requirements that you must complete any of the core courses before you can change your major.
If you are interested in pursuing a degree in medicine or dentistry, you will have to complete the required prerequisites before you can declare your major. However, you are not required to complete any of the prerequisites for the Applied Sciences or the Humanities and Social Sciences degrees – and, in fact, many students do not. It is important to remember that while your major may change the general course of your studies, it does not impact your eligibility to graduate or whether or not you will be accepted into a graduate program. This is why you should not let your major be the only factor that determines your choice of graduate school.
The Downsides of an Online Degree
While a degree from an online university doesn’t have the same prestige as one from a traditional university, earning an online degree does have some clear advantages. One major plus is that you can pursue your studies at your own pace, while being able to complete your degree in the timeframe you have available. Another advantage is that you can keep your current job while you pursue your studies, as the world of work is shifting to online education – and you don’t necessarily have to look for a new job once you’ve finished your studies. Many well-known companies like Google and Apple provide extensive online resources that can help you find your feet in the working world.
On the downside, not all universities are created equal, so you should do your research before you make a decision about where to study. It is not always the case that the online university you select has the same qualities that the traditional university you rejected had. For example, many of the universities that provide online degrees are not accredited by any recognized agency. This means that – in theory, at least – you could receive a degree that is difficult to verify. Always do your research before you apply, so you can be sure that the degree you are earning is from a reputable university.
Additionally, while graduate school may not be necessary for a career in marketing, it can certainly be beneficial. While you are studying towards your degree, you will have the opportunity to specialize in various areas and take classes that can provide you with a greater understanding of the field. You may also have the chance to network with professors and other students who are also pursuing a degree in the same field. In a nutshell, graduate school can help you polish your skills and gain valuable job experience.
Tips for Students
So you’re headed to university (or already there!), what should you do? As you’ve probably guessed, there are a number of tips and tricks that can make your time at university meaningful and help you study as effectively as possible. While much of this advice may be common sense, it is never more important to remember it than when you’re studying for exams or trying to keep your GPA up.
First and foremost, make sure you’re prepared. The last thing you need is to be struggling with a textbook six weeks before the exam. Instead, try and find a textbook that is digital and e-booked, so you can download it onto your electronic reading device, such as an iPad or Kindle. If you cannot find one that is suitable for electronic reading, then ask your instructor if you can get a digital copy or go old-school and read the book on paper. Remember: nobody likes getting a bad grade because they didn’t prepare adequately for the class – so do your best to study and make sure you’re not wasting your time.
Another important tip is to be organized. Just because your textbook is digital doesn’t mean that you have to be organized differently than you would if the book was physical – in fact, you can use the same organizational tools that you would with a standard textbook. For example, if you’re taking a class with thirty students in it, chances are you’ll need to use a study group to get through the work. Your study group can be a good spot to keep all your resources, such as notes, bookmarks, and articles that you need for the class. You should also set aside a specific area of your desk or a folder on your laptop for all your classwork – this will make it much easier to find what you need when you need it. Make sure you always have a pen and pencil by your side, in case you need to make notes during class – especially helpful if you have trouble remembering things otherwise!
A great way to improve your study skills is to take a class on Cognitive Loading. This refers to the mental load that your studies place on your brain – typically, students in Cognitive Loading classes are told to study a certain amount of material each week, and then are tested on what they’ve learned. Some schools offer these classes online, so you can take them from the comfort of your home. The key is to find a cognitive load class that doesn’t stress you out too much – if it’s too hard, you won’t be able to focus on anything else, and that’s the last thing you want when it comes to studying. It’s all about finding the right mix of work and learning to keep your mental faculties engaged while you’re studying.