When I reviewed the U.S. Department of Education’s Adult College Completion Tool Kit several weeks ago, I was surprised at the number of government websites designed to serve students.
Some of these sites are quite specific in the topics they cover, while others are more general in scope, but all offer free access to helpful information for those making decisions about higher education and career planning. In addition to some of the resources I mention frequently (i.e., Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupation Outlook Handbook), explore the following for more guidance:
- My Next Move: A service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, this site allows users to explore career options by keyword and industry, including an interactive tool to match interests and careers. Fields with fast projected growth, green careers, and apprenticeship opportunities are also featured. My Next Move for Veterans offers similar information, tailored to assisting service members transitioning out of the military. The system also helps translate military jobs to similar civilian careers and links to other veteran-specific sites (e.g., Veteran’s Job Bank, Veterans Retraining Assistance Program.)
- My Skills My Future: This collection of resources focuses on career transitions with information for those who have been laid off or are interested in changing careers. Use this site to find out how skills gained through past employment may be relevant in other fields. Occupational information, such as job descriptions, typical wage, and required education and training are included along with links to active job listings.
- Student Aid on the Web: This site provides links and instructions for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, as well as a host of resources related to exploring college options, understanding different kinds of student aid, qualifying for aid, and managing student loans. Among the more helpful aspects of this site is a series of repayment calculators that estimate monthly payments for different types of loans.
- Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC): Academic advising and career counseling are easy to access once you become a student, but what if you have questions before you enroll? EOCs offer free assistance in these areas, as well as additional services related to education and career success. Search for regional centers such as the ones in Syracuse, NY, and Denver, CO, which also provide online information about local resources.
- National Training and Education Resource (NTER): A project of the U.S. Department of Energy, the NTER is both an open source education platform that can be used to deliver courses and a collection of already developed online classes learners can access for professional development. Users creating a free profile can track their progress and even print a transcript.
- College Affordability and Transparency Center: This U.S. Department of Education site is relatively new and presents a set of tools for comparing various institutions and programs, especially where costs are concerned. Generate reports of schools with the highest and lowest tuition rates, find schools offering programs you are interested in pursuing by topic or major, and research the trends in tuition and net price for various higher education options.
- College Navigator: Similar to the College Affordability and Transparency Center described above, the College Navigator is a searchable database of higher education institutions. This site allows users to compare potential programs using a wide variety of criteria, including traditional and distance learning options.
- Vet Success: Provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this site addresses the needs of military service members, veterans, and their families. In addition to job search resources, users will also find a list of Vet Success on Campus links with state and local contacts to assist them in the transition from service to school.
- Career One Stop: This is the online component of the One-Stop Career Center system with physical offices located across the country. The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors these services, which range from career exploration activities to the job search process with specific pages dedicated to advice for students.
- USAJOBS: Maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, this is the official site for information about federal jobs, each one posted with details about qualifications and eligibility. In addition to a searchable database of current openings nationwide, there are resources for students and recent graduates that include internships and other special hiring programs. Federal jobs are also searchable by college major.
All together these sites offer a wealth of information, and include links to yet more reference materials. Current and prospective students should identify the sites that are most helpful and relevant to their needs, and add them to their research process when choosing an online program or new career path.
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