Pop Quiz on Your Education: Five questions to ask yourself

09.18.2014Competency Based Learning

As you explore this website, you’ll see lots of good reasons to consider a competency-based program to achieve your goals—both in your education and in your career. But the biggest reason of all is you: who you are, the life you live, and the way you learn. Before you embark on a degree program, you have five important questions to ask yourself.

Do you want a diploma, or an education?

Consider the time and expense you will be investing in your degree. On the surface, a diploma is simply a tool to get your career to the next level—but then what? Industries shift, workplaces change; choosing the right education prepares you, not just for what’s now, but for what’s next. Other considerations: does your program cultivate communication and research skills, and encourage innovation and leadership? Be sure that the program you select prepares you for the job you want right now, and the person you want to become tomorrow.

What’s the smartest way to get smarter?

If a traditional, immersive school experience has always been where you’ve thrived, then consider a program that takes you down that path. But if your availability to attend class and study will be balanced against work and family, you’ll have to be strategic about how you apply your smarts. Be sure that every minute that you’ll spend in your degree program counts as progress toward your goals—because every one of those minutes is at the cost of something else.

Are you ready to work for it?

Competency-based programs are not dial-in degrees. They are designed to take maximum advantage of innovation and technology, to ensure that students gain a true depth of understanding. Rigorous assessments along the way check that the right skills and knowledge are being acquired—skills and knowledge that employers have identified as crucial for long-term success. It’s not an easy path, but you’ll have a team of people there to help you succeed thanks to preparation, support, and follow-through.

Who decides what’s important to learn?

Say you’re getting your master’s degree in education. Do you want your curriculum to be developed by academicians who have been teaching teachers for 20 years—but not in the trenches like you’ve been? Or, would you prefer a program that integrates feedback from professionals like you, doing work that you want to be doing? Spend time researching different programs and finding out how the curriculum was developed, and who was involved to ensure that the right tools and skillsets are a part of your learning.

What’s your end goal?

Generalized programs are great if you’re looking for a broad-based education, but if you’re looking for a specific outcome, like a promotion at your current work or a new career path altogether, seek out a degree that has direct, applicable and identifiable skillsets. After (and even during) competency-based degree programs, you’ll be able to speak directly to the competencies you’ve gained. Being able to identify—and tell an employer about—the skill sets that you’ll acquire makes it easier to know what program is right for you, and exactly what you’ll get out of it.

For every student out there, there’s an educational path. If competency-based learning is the right fit for you—because you’re committed to furthering your education and elevating your career—there’s no time like the present to start your journey.