Expert: Degrees don't really matter in College, just finish and get out!
Do your homework
Dr. Akerele, a graduate of Florida A & M University, believes HBCUs are a great environment for African American students to network and be encouraged. However, she points out that the experience should be financially rewarding in the long run. "My main goal is to make sure students don't have debt and don't feel like they're stuck after graduation," she says. "If you have a full scholarship to a predominantly white university, take it. Don't go to an HBCU if you have to take on debt there. There is no one size fits all."
Dr. Akerele recommends making sure not only that the price is right, but also that the university you choose is a place where you feel comfortable. She suggests talking to former students to learn from their experiences, especially when it comes to academic and career support. "Look for an environment that will support you in your career path, not just teach you how to write a resume or interview," she says. "You want to be in a place that connects you to the career you want, so make sure the customer service is right."
You don't have to get it right in college
According to Dr. Akerele, too many students waste valuable time and money in college because they can't decide what to study. Instead, Akerele suggests looking for certificate programs that will allow you to expand your skills after graduation. "Don't spend forever researching something. Just get out there," she says.
She also recommends networking to explore opportunities in other fields. Those relationships, she says, can connect you with an opportunity even if you don't have the education. "People change career paths all the time. And often they do it through relationships, not necessarily through the degree itself," she says.
Degrees aren't everything
Akerele says that easier access to college through student loans has led to degree inflation, so some people find that their degrees don't bring them the same level of success. "Over 40 percent of college graduates are working in fields that don't require a degree," she says. Students shouldn't feel that college is the only option.
If a four-year degree isn't an option, Akerele recommends looking for opportunities in the skilled trades, where you can earn more than your peers with a college degree. "I know there's a stigma attached to blue-collar jobs, but there are a lot of lucrative careers out there," she says. "People want the prestige of a college degree, but you can still go into a trade and potentially make more money.
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