Study Courses for Developing Practical Skills

College tuition, ludicrously high, and rising fast, makes it vital that our expenditures pay off. While it is lovely to be able to study something interesting but impractical, it may not be feasible in today’s economy.

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Almost any subject in the computer field is likely to increase your employability, such as programming, software development, and network systems and data communications analysis. An Associate’s degree may be adequate, but this is a field where practical experience is crucial. A part-time job in a computer store would be a boost as well, for two reasons. For one thing, the field is changing so fast that if you are not working with the cutting edge equipment, you are already behind the curve. Also, in the computer field, experience working with the issues and problems of the field is well-respected and often required for employment.

As a bonus, taking computer courses that address the basic design of the machines, and the way that they ‘think”, can also help you understand your computer, and save untold hours of frustration. Considering that most courses require the use of a computer, this can be a substantial boost for your other studies.

Knowing how databases are set up is helpful in the most unexpected ways; for example, if you know that EndNotes, the proprietary bibliographic tool sold by Reuters, is constructed as a database, rather than as an adjunct to word processing software, the way that the bibliographic tool embedded in Word is, it is much easier to figure it out. When you have to turn in a paper NOW, this is useful! This can help you even if you never work in the computer field.

Another kind of course that has applicability to real life is anything involving teaching or dealing with speakers of English as a second language/foreign language. If you are ever working in a linguistically diverse setting, you will benefit from an understanding of how languages are acquired. This subject, a hot one these days, will be available in many departments of Education because this is one of the areas in education where there are a continuing need and the political will for funding such positions since it is often required by regulation or legislation.

If you wish to learn practical skills, you may be better off at a community college. These generally offer two-year programs leading to an Associate’s degree. As an example, Montgomery College, in Maryland, offers a variety of programs in the building trades (as well as automotive technology, fire science, and polysomnography: http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/edu/tertiary2.aspx?urlid=9 ). These can involve upwards of 30+plus credit hours in such areas as carpentry and include preliminary distribution requirements in the familiar English and Math.

A more specialized institution would be the Building Trades Institute in Columbus, Ohio (http://www.buildingtradesinstitute.com/). Such schools may allow registration for just one or two courses, but they are oriented towards people who are going for a certification. As an example of how such training can enhance life, consider the case of a Wharton Graduate School MBA candidate who took building courses at a local trade school during summer break. He used these skills to augment his modest and always insecure teaching salary at a Midwestern college (and pay off his Ph.D. tuition), through renovating and renting out a growing real estate portfolio.

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Another direction to take in terms of instantly practical skills is the foodservice industry. The Culinary Institute of America, in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York State, or the Napa Valley of California (http://www.ciachef.edu/), and the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (http://www.walnuthillcollege.edu/Content1.aspx?cid=1.1) both offer highly professional training that prepares students to work in any food-related setting. Students run restaurants inside the school that are destinations for diners from their whole regions. In the case of the Restaurant School, the design, theme, and menu of the student-run restaurant change every few weeks, to give students a chance to participate in the process of creating a new restaurant concept on their own.

Both these institutions offer non-credit courses that introduce enthusiastic amateurs to the hot and steamy world of the restaurant kitchen. There are local cooking schools in most areas, and many community colleges offer this training as well. Will taking one or two courses in omelet-making or wine-matching ready you for a real job? The likelihood is that they won’t but restaurants are generally run by idiosyncratic entrepreneurs, and one never knows what will strike a restaurateur positively when hiring.

Large land-grant universities have Cooperative Extension Services. These often offer classes in growing vegetables, canning your produce, cooking the old fashioned way, making sound nutritional choices, and other useful subjects. While it is doubtful that such instruction will get secure a job, it will certainly help you save money and remain healthy over the long term.

If you are looking for practical education, that goal should ideally be articulated from the moment you begin looking at colleges. It is much easier to construct a course of vocational study from the ground up than to add a class here or thereafter you have already started working towards a major in Klingon opera. However, even if you are more or less committed to a liberal arts degree, there are options. Your state’s universities, community colleges, free-standing commercial and state-affiliated trade schools, and Cooperative Extension services are all available to provide individual courses or whole programs of study that relate to real life. (There may indeed exist a college that offers a major in Klingon opera: let us know if you find one!)

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 30). Study Courses for Developing Practical Skills. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/study-courses-for-developing-practical-skills/

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1. StudyCorgi. "Study Courses for Developing Practical Skills." January 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/study-courses-for-developing-practical-skills/.


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StudyCorgi. "Study Courses for Developing Practical Skills." January 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/study-courses-for-developing-practical-skills/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Study Courses for Developing Practical Skills." January 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/study-courses-for-developing-practical-skills/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Study Courses for Developing Practical Skills'. 30 January.

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