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Be Smart About Returning to School to Complete or Start a Degree. Presenter: Kathy Schrier, National Director The Actors Fund Work Program, Introduction.

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Be Smart About Returning to Schoolto Complete or Start a Degree

Presenter: Kathy Schrier, National Director The Actors Fund Work Program,

  • To navigate the presentation, use the buttons in the green area below. They are just like the buttons on your DVD player. To advance to the next slide, click the play button. You can also advance to the next slide by clicking the forward button. To pause, click the pause button. To go back, click the rewind button.
  • You can also click on any of the slide titles in the outline on the left to advance to that slide.
why are so many adults thinking of returning to school
Why Are So Many Adults Thinking of Returning to School?
  • A2012 Georgetown University StudyThe College Advantage showed that college graduates earn 84% more than high school graduates.
  • A February 2013 New York Times posting: College Premium: Better Pay, Better Prospects quotes the US Census, 2011 figures of a male college graduate earning 1.95 times what a high school male college graduate earns.
  • A February 2012 Forbes magazine article states that in 2011, as the total national unemployment rate begins to decrease, the rate for those with at least a BA degree was 4.9%; the rate for those with a high school diploma 9.4%
why should entertainment industry professionals enroll in higher education programs
Why Should Entertainment Industry Professionals Enroll in Higher Education Programs?

How Does One Decide to Return to School, and If so, What Course of Study, and at Which College or University?

in this presentation we will learn
In This Presentation We Will Learn:
  • How degrees relate to career plans
  • Through case scenarios, ways to assess whether returning to school will advance your career goal(s)
  • What steps you should take if you decide to go back to school
what is a career plan
What Is a Career Plan?

A career plan is a road map to identify a future career option and strategies to obtain work related to the career option.

career planning step 1
Career Planning: STEP 1

The first step in creating a career plan is self-assessment—or assessing ones interests, skills, personal values, income needs and experience and to match this information with specific occupations and industries.

The Actors Fund’s podcast Finding a Balance—Having a Performance Career and a Meaningful Parallel Career, the first in the series will give you steps to create a plan and other resources.

career planning step 2
Career Planning: STEP 2

The second step is to conduct labor market research for specific industries and or occupations to determine your potential for employment, wage rates and benefits. This research will also give you information about recruitment methods and strategies, work hours and whether work is part-time or full-time and the work environment (team work, working alone, etc.)

The second Actors Fund podcast Conducting Labor Market Research will give you more information about conducting labor market research.

career planning step 3
Career Planning: STEP 3

Develop an action plan based on the findings of steps one and two

careers where education is required
Careers Where Education is Required

Occupations that require a state license

or certification, for example

  • Teaching
  • Health care professions
  • Requirements vary by state, and usually are regulated by the State Department of Education
and what if a job seeker identifies a career that does not require licensing
And What If a Job Seeker Identifies a Career That Does Not Require Licensing?

Does It Make Sense for the Job Seeker to Return to School?


This is a complicated question and the answer depends on the job seeker’s work history, education, and connections and the answer to two questions:

1. Do jobs related to this career require a degree? And if so, what kind of degree?

2. Will a degree give the job seeker a competitive advantage?


Let’s give some examples related to entertainment industry professionals.

All of these stories represent issues that

have been presented to Actors Fund

Work Program staff.

joe s story
Joe’s Story

Career Planning: STEP 1

Teach acting on the college level

  • BFA degree and studied with well-respected teachers
  • Regional theater credits and day performer credits
  • Teaching artist experience

Joe’s Story

  • Career Planning: STEP 2
  • Joe’s Labor Market Findings
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education, the number one job site for all faculty positions.
  • A service of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) which lists theater faculty and administrative positions.
  • Reviewed cv’s, conducted informational interviews

And the Results of Joe’s Labor Market Research

  • Need an MFA and major industry credits
  • Experience teaching as an adjunct is an advantage
the conclusion for joe
The Conclusion for Joe

Action Plan: STEP 3

Because Joe does not have major performance credits, an MFA will probably not add to his competitiveness for university teaching positions but…

jane s story
Jane’s Story
  • Career Planning: STEP 1
  • Musician for over 10 years
  • Has worked as an office temp
  • Has excellent computer skills
  • Has completed one year of college
jane is thinking of completing her degree because
Jane Is Thinking of Completing Her Degree Because
  • She feels that not having a degree is “unfinished business.”
  • If she majors in computer science she can enhance her computer skills.
  • The temp agencies tell her they will be able to get her more and better work with a degree.
  • Placement offices at the local colleges have had excellent success in placing graduates in the computer science program in excellent jobs.
how is jane s story different from joe s
How Is Jane’s Story Different from Joe’s?
  • A bachelor’s degree will give Jane a competitive edge.
  • Jane’s choice, computer science has a higher demand (jobs) than supply (job seekers).
  • Joe’s chosen field, teaching drama on a college level is the opposite—lower demand (jobs) than supply (job seekers).
stacey s story
Stacey’s Story

How a degree relates to marketability is not as clear cut as either Joe’s or Jane’s.

Career Planning: STEP 1

  • Cameraperson for 17 years
  • BFA in film studies from UCLA
  • Union member
  • Work has been solely documentaries, commercials and industrials
  • Worked on two major films
  • Income from film and tv work has not been sufficient—has a part-time job managing a small apartment complex.
stacey s career planning
Stacey’s Career Planning

The first step in career planning was easy for Stacey, because she already has work experience in her chosen field.

Career Planning: STEP 2

Stacey’s labor market research

  • Median salaries for managers of commercial buildings is about double her current income and managers of rental buildings have a lower pay scale than managers of commercial buildings.
stacey s story1
Stacey’s Story
  • Career Planning: STEP 2(Market Research continued)
  • Review of job postings for managers of commercial buildings revealed
  • High demand job
  • Most common requirements
  • Experience
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Computer proficiency
  • Informational interviews revealed that the hiring process takes a long time.
  • And most important the education level of managers range from high school graduates to MBA’s in management or finance. One manager had a MPA in disaster management.
stacey s conclusion
Stacey’s Conclusion:
  • Stacey sees there are jobs that are of interest, and she has both appropriate experience and skills for the jobs.
  • However, Stacey is concerned about the fact that her experience has been solely managing small residential buildings.
  • She believes that returning to school for an advanced degree would make her more competitive and give her needed skills.
what do you think of stacey s reasoning
What Do You Think of Stacey’s Reasoning?
  • Stacey could pursue employment as a manager of commercial buildings without returning to school.
  • She is correct, however, that a degree will increase her competitive edge and help to improve her skills.
  • Student status is a great platform for networking—a key job search strategy.
  • Class projects, written papers, and perhaps internships will give Stacey the opportunity to get to know various commercial management companies and they will get to know her.
  • Stacey does need to do more research—before step 3, creating an action plan, what degree and what major would be best is still a question. Stacey needs to review various programs, meet with faculty and students/alumni in order to make an educated decision.
to summarize
To Summarize
  • For some careers returning to school is mandatory.
  • For some careers, a degree is a needed credential to enhance experience and knowledge.
  • For some job seekers returning to school may not be necessary to find work, but will give them a competitive edge and give them the skills need to advance on the job.
  • Finally, returning to school might not be needed to find a job, but will be of value to perform job duties and serve as an excellent networking vehicle.
let s say you decide to return to school look at your finances
Let’s Say You Decide to Return to School, Look at Your Finances

Probably the most important question is looking at your finances and the cost of returning to school. Another Actors Fund e-learning program, “Paying for Schooling and Managing Student Loans,” will address these issues but there are other considerations…

let s say you decide to return to school what are your next steps
Let’s Say You Decide to Return to School, What are Your Next Steps?

Do you want/need to return to school within commuting distance from your current home?

Do you plan to go to school full-time or part-time?

What is the program structure and requirements? How will it add to your resume?

jane s decision office technology vs internship how to decide
Jane’s Decision Office Technology vs. Internship. How to Decide?
  • Consult with local employers
  • Meet with career counselors at the two colleges
  • Research program faculty to decide if she wishes to study with them
let s return to our questions
Let’s Return to Our Questions

1. Do you want/need to return to school within commuting distance from your current home?

2. Do you plan to go to school fulltime or part-time?

3. Would you prefer a traditional or non-traditional program?

traditional programs
Traditional Programs

Majority of the learning is classroom based and students are usually assessed through term papers and/or written exams

Non-traditional, Often Called Adult Programs

May have independent study options, internships or co-op programs, deliver most or all courses on-line, and/or give credit for life experience

are private schools better than state schools
Are Private Schools Better Than State Schools?
  • There are quality universities, colleges and degree programs that are both private and public.
  • Attending a public university might not mean lower costs than attending a private university. Because of
    • Scholarships
    • Work study programs
    • Tuition discounts or waivers
    • Costs may be less at a private institution
    • Cost of schooling is another area that needs to be researched
we also learned
We Also Learned
  • Government regulated occupations have education/degree requirements.
  • Obtaining a degree maybe a component of a career plan, but usually experience is also needed.
  • Returning to school can be a great vehicle for building networks and gaining relevant work experience.
  • All programs and universities are not the same and it takes time and research to find the most appropriate course of study.
let s summarize what we ve learned
Let’s Summarize What We’ve Learned
  • Creating a career plan is critical to making a decision about obtaining a degree, and a career plan has three components:

Assessing one’s skills, interests, personal values and experience

Conducting labor market research

Utilizing information in steps one and two to create an action plan which includes assessing whether a degree relates to the plan

we hope you found this training helpful
We Hope You Found This Training Helpful

Coming Soon will be another session entitled “Paying for School and Managing Student Loans”