Top Tips for College Fairs

College fairs

Our #1 tip for students is to take advantage of college fairs at their high school and within their town or local area. These fairs provide an open, direct and FREE line to colleges and allow you to learn some of the basics BEFORE committing to a campus visit and all that entails. But first, as in most everything, do your homework and decide which schools are of interest, in range, (if you are a C student with low SAT scores why waste a visit to Harvard’s booth) then research what each school offers in your main area of academic interest.


Step 1: Inquiries

  • Check in with your high school guidance counselor to get information on college visit dates at your high school.
  • Other smaller college fairs that tour the U.S. that we suggest are:
    • Exploring College Options(Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, Penn, Stanford)
    • Exploring Educational Excellence(Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Rice)
    • Coast to Coast(Dartmouth, Northwestern, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt)
    • VTV Joint Travel (Vanderbilt, Tufts, Vassar)
    • Coalition App Joint Travel:(Colby College, University of Michigan, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis)

Step 2: Research

  • If your school doesn’t offer college fairs, reach out to admissions offices and ask if the appropriate rep will be in your area and try to meet for a cup of coffee. Ivies are not going to be receptive to this as they are simply too busy, but schools such as Emory, Vanderbilt, and smaller liberal arts schools likely will be. It doesn’t hurt to try.
    • If not,, and each have free virtual tours of most top colleges. Check out
  • Research schools before a college fair: Have an interest in Colgate, art history AND they are going to be at your school’s upcoming college fair. Take ten minutes to research the art history department. 
    • Be prepared with 1 or 2 clear questions about something specific and academic that points to your interests for when you meet the admissions rep (he/she is typically the one who will be reviewing your file when you apply) ask something like:“I’m so impressed with your art history department and the possibility of being involved …  do undergrads ever have the opportunity to curate at the Clifford Gallery at Colgate?”
    • OR more specifically: “I read about a student who worked with Professor Smith on a public installation. Are students often able to become involved in actual installations?

Step 3: Maintain Organization

  • Create a spreadsheet in advance to track everyone you meet, email or talk to who is connected with your targeted colleges.
    • Get business cards or at least email addresses, so you can send emails later if you have questions! These are typically the admissions reps who cover your school and will eventually be advocating for you or not in front of their committee.

Step 4: Be Memorable

  • Become familiar with how you present your “demonstrated interest” to your targeted colleges. “Demonstrated interest” is a way in which colleges assess a student’s interest in not just applying to a school, but in attending.
    • The concept of an applicant’s “demonstrated interest” has been widely discussed in recent years and most especially in the past few months. Many colleges now are tracking “touch points” –college visits, face to face connections at college fairs, signing up for a college’s mailing list or eNewsletter (here is the mailing list signup for Tufts to show you an 


  1. RESEARCH: Do your research in advance of meeting college reps at your school or at college fairs.
  2. GET ORGANIZED: Enter college fair dates and opportunities to meet campus reps at school into your personal calendar now. Register for fairs if there is the opportunity to do so.
  3. SIGN IN: Definitely sign up to visit with/see the presentations of schools of interest if they have a sign-in sheet as they track “demonstrated interest.” Bring those printed labels with your name, contact info, and high school including your graduation year to stick onto all sign-in sheets versus hand-writing.
  4. MORE ORGANIZATION: Create a spreadsheet for names and emails as well as points that stood out, etc.
  5. ASK AN INFORMED QUESTION: Hang back after presentations are over, and once the rep is free you can shake hands and let him or her know you are very interested in their school, in particular because of the art history department, etc….. Offer added details and ask pointed questions about the department you’ll apply to.
  6. CONTACTS: Get business cards for all of the admissions reps you meet for future reference.
  7. REACH OUT: Follow up with appropriate admissions officers with an email to thank them for chatting with you and maybe cite something you spoke about…”Thanks for filling me in on the opportunities to curate student art shows…. “





Sure, you’re bound to look better after you’ve become a boot camp regular. You’ll be en route to getting toned up and slimmed down, after all. Not only does our experience as a leader in fitness tell us you’ll feel fantastic after exercising outside, but science has found it will benefit your long-term health, too.

We can’t make you join us for a boot camp-style workout in the great outdoors, but, as you’ll see below, we really think you’d get more than a need for a new wardrobe out of it.


As you might imagine, physical exertion has a habit of burning fat and improving overall fitness. Boot camp-style work is definitely a great form of physical exertion. But, while fat loss and better stamina are great in and of themselves, they come with extra health kicks, too.

Improving your cardiovascular ability will lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease, says British Military Fitness Senior Training Tutor, Andy Kay. Reductions in diabetes are strongly correlated with exercise as well, according to the former Royal Marine.

“Particularly with high-intensity interval training, which is what the bulk of BMF sessions are based around,” comments Andy, “You’ll work hard for ‘x’ amount of time, recover and then go again. That style of training is very, very useful for all of those issues. And obviously, reducing body fat helps as well, which is directly correlated with a lot of health issues.”


Compared to exercising indoors, for example in a gym, breaking a sweat outside during a boot camp can leave you with a stronger sense of revitalisation, more energy and less confusion, anger, and depression. That’s according to a 2011 analysis published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

While the idea of doing sit-ups in grass might not appeal to everyone, in Andy’s experience, even the most mud-shy people can come to embrace the dirt. The Twickenham-based instructor says: “If someone’s never done it before you get a lot of, ‘I’m a bit scared,’ ‘Are you going to be mean?’; that sort of thing. ‘It’s cold, it’s wet,’ ‘I don’t want to get muddy.’ But nine times out of 10, people will get involved, start messing around, enjoy themselves, have a bit of fun and it just kind of outweighs everything. By the end, they’re not really bothered.”


Any kind of exercise can be great for stress relief, but it’s been discovered that exercising in the midst of nature can be a particularly powerful antidote. In particular, Japanese researchers found walking in the company of trees meant lower concentrations of cortisol, aka the stress hormone, than doing the same in an urban environment.

What it all suggests is that getting your exercise on in the wild, like you do with us, could not only lower your stress levels but help fight against all the negatives too much cortisol is thought to cause. Things such as more abdominal fat and an immune system less effective at repairing injuries and fighting infections could be partially remedied.


It’s not just the odd nagging injury that can be helped by stepping into nature, like you do with a boot camp. It seems tumours and virally-infected cells can also get a kicking. Another Japanese research team discovered walks in a forest field (not too far removed from the lush, leafy parks that we call home up and down the country) upped a particular breed of cells in participants which are known to battle both of those things.  This should tell you boot camp workouts might do more than just your waistline the world of good.


What if we told you that you could exercise harder and, in the process, burn more calories and build a better physique without feeling like you’ve spent the necessary energy? Sound too good to be true? Sounds like exercising outdoors to us.

A study by Oxford Brookes University undertaken in 2000 found exercising outside altered subjects’ perception of effort when it came to exercise. They apparently asked adults to “walk fast but without overexertion” both inside and out, discovering that heart rate was higher for outside but perceived exertion was similar.

The labcoats weren’t sure exactly why, but whatever the cause, it could mean boot camps, which involve nothing but working out in the fresh air, may leave you feeling as though you’ve burnt fewer calories and shed less sweat than you really have. Science says that’s something that a run-of-the-mill stint at an indoor gym just can’t do.

Paying For College: What’s a Divorced Parent to Do?

I’m a single parent. My ex-husband had no legal requirement to pay for college and did not contribute, outside of the joint savings we had in a Section 529 plan that existed before we separated. 

My son probably has about $45,000 in debt after college; he did work-study and had summer jobs most summers, although one summer instead of working he took an Intensive Hindi program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He attended Vassar College, which is a need-based school, so his aid was based on my income and it was substantial. Still, I had to chip in a good amount and part of the debt is a $20,000 private student loan which I am also obligated to pay if he can’t. 

I  hired a friend who has a business helping parents with financial aid to fill out the forms for me (the College Board Profile is a nightmare to fill out) and he gave me an opinion on my son’s financial aid packages. (He helped from the beginning, in terms of helping me fill out the FAFSA and College Board Profile and evaluating financial aid offers.) That was helpful and not that expensive. I think help like that, if you can afford it, is useful in a situation like evaluating financial aid offers.

The financial aid package was completely need-based, so it depended on my income from year to year (I’m self-employed). If my income was higher, he would get less financial aid. We had some idea of how much debt he would have to take on, but had hoped it would be confined to federal loans. The private loan total balance is a bit lower now from monthly payments. There is no other debt besides various Federal Loans (Stafford and Perkins).

I honestly don’t know what I could have done differently so that my son wouldn’t have so much college debt. 

I would have liked to have helped him more financially, but I probably helped him more than I should have given the state of my financial resources and other obligations. 

Amy, PA 




DIY College Rankings Expert

Michelle Kretzschmar created the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet , which contains information on over 1,500 colleges that families can use to identify  the best schools for them. She has also created a 50-50 list of colleges that accept at least 50% of their applicants and have at least a 50% graduation rate. 

Michelle Kretzschmar responds:

There’s a major difference between what the mother could have done when her son was applying to school and what parents can do now, and that’s to use the school’s Net Price Calculator (NPC). Colleges have only been required to have them since 2011 so it wasn’t an available option when her son applied. In most cases, these can provide a reasonable estimate of the expected financial aid. 

What hasn’t changed is a family’s ability to apply to affordable schools. While Vassar is known for meeting 100% of financial need, it is up to Vassar to define the need. Vassar is one of the PROFILE schools that require the non-custodial parent to submit a financial aid form. Divorced parents should take this into consideration if they can’t rely on help from the non-custodial parent. You can see which schools require the Noncustodial PROFILE on the College Board Website. While the state can’t require a parent to pay for college, it is the college’s money and therefore gets to define financial need. 

I think the mother did a smart thing by hiring someone to help with the FAFSA and PROFILE. People get help with their taxes all of the time, financial aid forms are no different. I do wonder about the $20,000 in private debt. I don’t recommend anyone taking out more than what they can borrow through federal loans. Students can take out $27,000 is Direct (Stafford) loans without including the Perkins. Since the mother’s income varies, perhaps the financial aid package was better one year so the student didn’t have to take out any loans. 

The short answer to this question is that the student shouldn’t have gone to Vassar. However, that would have required the student applying to more affordable schools. Families need to take seriously the need for financial safety schools that the student would want to attend. Using Net Price Calculators and other available information, families can make sure students apply to schools that meet both academic and financial needs.


Felicia GoPaul


Felicia Gopaul, Certified Financial Planning and College Funding Specialist and founder of College Funding Resource. 

Felicia Gopaul responds:

This parent did many things right.  First, she tried to keep her/and her son’s student loan balances low,  He was willing to work while in school which kept the balances from being larger.  

No state can mandate that a parent is required to pay for college. In a divorce, it can be negotiated into a settlement agreement, but it’s not mandatory. In fact, a previous guest on my College Expert Talk podcast says that if an attorney includes it, he should be sued for malpractice.  

While it’s not a option for everyone, getting paid help completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile makes sense.  While both forms are easier today than in year’s past, both can be confusing. Also since there is no standardization with financial aid award letter. getting help comparing financial aid awards can be especially helpful to parents.  A colleague thought it was funny that colleges call work-study financial aid because it just means his daughter was working while in school!

 The one thing I would suggest is being careful helping your kid’s go to college. Especially if it leaves you in a perilous situation.  I do realize this is easier said than done. My role as a Certified Financial Planner professional has just seen the results when parents don’t hold to this rule.

Finally, my continuing mantra is start earlier to look for information on the college financing piece. Many parents wait until their child’s junior or senior in college to find out about the financial part of the college application process. Starting your planning in the 8th grade gives you more options.

Ultimately, I would say well done to this parent. A degree from Vassar will open many doors. She got her son through college with a degree. And It bucks the trend of too many students of lots of debt and no degree.  

How to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp

 There are advocates and naysayers who develop increasingly strong opinions on whether coding bootcamps are effective. Advocates tout benefits such as accelerated learning of relevant technologies, low cost, accessibility, and flexibility. These benefits give inspiring Coders the ability to learn quickly and gain employment sooner, all while paying less than the cost of traditional learning. Naysayers, on the other hand, cite non-traditional learning methods and a lack of government oversight as areas of concern. While both sides of this debate can be correct, there is a strategy for succeeding in a coding program like Code Ninja's.

Create a dedicated workspace, and make it awesome!

A dedicated workspace does not require a huge amount of cash. As an inspiring Code Ninja you’ll learn from home most of the time. You must find a space that’s quiet, clean, and allows for ergonomic amenities. You can find high-quality furniture at IKEA, or buy used from a site like Craigslist. Consider using a standing desk, or treat yourself to an ergonomic keyboard. Better yet, you can buy a sitting desk and create a standing desk, so you can stand or sit.

After your setup is done, build the rest of the are around them. Hang pictures or inspirational wording and buy a small bookshelf to fill with books. Save your cash for the most expensive stuff, like a laptop and extra monitors. It’s essential that you have a good laptop, and I recommend splurging on a good monitor or two. You’ll need to have multiple windows open from time to time, and a large monitor provides the screen size to do this.

Finally, if you live with others, ask them to respect your space. A clean, organized, and comfortable space will set you on the right path for succeeding in our coding programs.

Immerse yourself

When you take an in-person program, immersion in the topic is a given. You’re physically near your fellow Code Ninjas which means that you’re likely to discuss the program and share information. As an online student, immersion is not necessarily a given – you have to make the effort. Your program will probably have a community – forums, chat rooms and email lists – and while those are good places to chat, you can not stop there. Subscribe to blogs and webinars and find people to follow on Twitter. Get to know the lingo, and some of its key features. Check out Stack Overflow and see what problems people face and how they are solving them. It doesn’t matter if you understand everything immediately, it’s important to become comfortable with a the “language” you’re learning. A few extra steps go a long way 

Code Everyday

Immersion programs impose a routine of coding because you have to go to a single location at specific times. No matter what type of program you are taking, you have to create a routine. Without a consistent and disciplined routine of coding, you will not succeed in learning and growing. Whether you spend 30 minutes or 4 hours coding, you must code every single day. Develop a habit for yourself. How long it takes to form a habit depends on the individual, but you’ll know once you develop it because it will feel wrong not to code. Make sure that your coding time is scheduled when you are at your mental best, and not when you’re tired or easily distracted. Find a method that helps you get into a focused zone, and make sure you schedule your coding time around it.

Find Peer Groups

The fact that you have a classroom does not mean you should avoid other people. An online program offers less benefits over an in-person program, and interactions are something it can not offer. Fortunately, there are many options for meeting your peers.

For example, if you’re inspired to become a JavaScript web developer, there is almost certainly a JavaScript meet-up in your area. Or join use at one of our community events, where you can discuss your goals with others, tell them what you’re working on and what you’re having trouble with. You’ll learn a lot from these events, and often in ways that are hard to duplicate virtually

Celebrate Your Awesomeness!

No matter how great your cohort is or how many events you attend, as a Code Ninja you’ll spend most of your time in front of a computer. It’s easy to forget how much you’ve learned when nobody is there to show you. You must make it a habit to remind yourself. At the end of every day, you should celebrate your awesomeness! That is, think about what you learned, compared to the prior day. Think about the problem you’ve been having, and that you finally solved. Even though these may seem like small wins, celebrate them! Treat yourself to a beer, order a pizza, or do something to spoil yourself for every little awesome win.

Celebrating your wins is as important as confronting your fears. If you focus too much on either, you’ll derail your progress. Develop a balanced mindset for both, and you’ll create momentum, and a grit to push you through problems.

Is a coding program right for you?

It certainly can be, but whether it does or not depends on your commitment, consistency, and discipline. The strategy outlined in this article will help you succeed in your journey to becoming a developer, but you have to embrace every part. If you feel these points speak to who you are, we challenge you to apply to our Code Ninja programs where we will provide you with the skills needed for one of the highest paying and most demanded career fields, at a fraction of the cost and time required at a traditional school.



Boot Camp benefits!



Forget the idea of military-style training and hellish assault courses that leave you crumpled in an unfit heap after the end of a grueling session. And dismiss any notions you have of terrifying and confidence-knocking instructors screaming at your lack of physical prowess. Consider instead the real Boot Camp benefits. For this is an exercise program that can go a long way to improving your fitness levels

If you’ve no idea what Boot Camp involves then your first step is to find out, as session structure, intensity and goals can change between different fitness facilities. The key is to not be afraid to ask what to expect and what benefits you can get from joining. If you turn up to a Boot Camp without not knowing what you are getting yourself into, you may find yourself not quite able to keep up with your classmates.

Once you have an idea about what Boot Camp is, you might want to understand what some of the plus points are. This can help if you’re wavering on the edge and not entirely sure if you want to take the Boot Camp plunge. So what are some of the benefits?#

  • Concentrated focus – If you already keep active and fit with regular exercise then your attention is already geared towards health and fitness. However, at times, if you want to make big changes, such as to lose weight and tone up quickly and effectively, you may need to up the ante and focus in on your goal. Boot Camp is an ideal way to help you reach your target by honing in on what you want and offering intense exercise sessions to make sure you get there.
  • Creates healthy expectations – Fitness classes which you can easily dip in and out of might offer a relaxed way of keeping in shape, but they don’t necessarily generate a sense of personal responsibility. A Boot Camp where you’re expected to show effort and determination, as well as commitment, can really inspire you to put healthy pressure on yourself. This, in turn, means that you’re more involved and more motivated to not let down your trainer, the others around you and most importantly, yourself.
  • Motivates you to examine your lifestyle – Because of the focus on fitness in a Boot Camp environment, you naturally start to look at your life as a whole and how healthy you are. Assessments of your fitness levels, monitoring and working toward a goal, really highlight how exercise, diet, and nutrition are linked, as well as all your other lifestyle choices. You might not get the same sense of interconnectedness from classes or sessions where you simply drop in and view as separate from the rest of your life.
  • Dynamic workout – Many people lose focus and motivation because they get bored. The whole point of Boot Camp is that it is as diverse as it is intense. If you add in the fact that you will be progressing and changing along the way, then you have an interesting exercise mix that should keep you engaged enough to realize your exercise goals.
  • Like-minded exercisers – Some people take up activities for the social scene, others because they are firmly fixed on a goal. A real positive about Boot Camp is that because of what it stands for, you are going to meet other people similar to yourself who want to seriously improve their lives. However, this shared goal means that there is a sense of camaraderie and support which is not always found in other exercise sessions.
  • Faster results – Boot Camp is effective at identifying ways of reaching health and fitness goals in a faster way. Left to your own devices you might struggle to get there at all and classes or sessions which repeat one style of exercise might not deliver the right results on time either.

Boot Camp may be a challenge but because it is something you can really get to grips with the benefits are greater than the sum of each training session. Find out about what Boot Camp can do for your body, mind and life!

Instructing Boot Camp Fitness Training


The aim of this qualification is to provide you with the knowledge and understanding required to plan and deliver safe and effective boot camp fitness training sessions that incorporate the use of natural resources, natural features, and temporary structures.

You need to have achieved one of the following prerequisite qualifications: Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (QCF) in any of the following disciplines: Level 2 Fitness Instructor. Exercise to Music Instructor, Water Based Exercise Instructor or Children's Fitness Instructor.

The units covered are:

1. The benefits of Boot Camp fitness training and exercising in the outdoors
2. Methods of minimising the health and safety risks associated with Boot Camp fitness training
3. Environmental considerations associated with Boot Camp fitness training
4. The importance of considering other users of the outdoor environment during Boot Camp fitness training
5. How to plan and deliver safe and effective boot camp fitness training
6. Ways of motivating participants during ‘extreme’ Boot Camp fitness training sessions

Help your students take the next step in their education


During their four years of high school, students have many teachers, coaches and role models. However, as a school counselor, you are the one person who sees the entire picture of a student's high school career and can bring all the information together.

Some of the things you can do to give students the best chance of being accepted by the college of their choice include:

  • Help to plan a challenging course schedule.
  • Keep records of classes and grades.
  • Track graduation requirements.
  • Suggest which college admission tests to take and when to take them.
  • Connect students to information on various colleges, majors and careers. 
  • Recommend colleges to match academic profiles and career goals.
  • Advise on "safety," "probable" and "reach" colleges.
  • Make sure transcripts are sent to colleges.
  • Write letters of recommendation.
  • Explain how aid awards and financial aid work, and connect students to local scholarship opportunities.

As a counselor, your encouragement plays a critical role in helping students prepare for college. Your students rely on you to ensure that they are prepared for the college admission process. Your goal is to convince your students that college is within their grasp.

Course selection

College admission requirements are typically more stringent than high school graduation requirements. They

often require a higher level of demonstrated competence in mathematics and science, and may even require a minimum number of years of foreign-language study. Make sure that all your students have the opportunity to participate in a college-prep academic program. Share with them what courses colleges expect to see on their transcripts.

In addition to course topics, it is important that you encourage all students to take the most rigorous and challenging courses suitable for their academic level. The Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) provides

willing and academically prepared high school students with the opportunity to study and learn at the college level. Successfully completing these courses — and doing well on the exams — demonstrates to colleges that students are capable of success at the college level.

Standardized tests

A strong performance on standardized tests also helps students convince colleges that they are ready for the challenge. Encourage your students to take the PSAT. This experience gives them the chance to practice for important college admission tests such as the SAT®. It also links them to practice resources on Khan Academy, AP coursework, and college planning resources.


Colleges also expect students to have interests outside of academics. Sports and other extracurricular activities show admission officers that students are well-rounded and can contribute to life on campus. Volunteering or working part-time also indicates a sense of duty and commitment, further proof that students are ready for the responsibilities college entails.

Essential tips before your boot camp trip


There is a lot to consider when booking a stay at a fitness, weight loss or a yoga retreat. We have compiled a few pieces of advice and tips.

Fitness or Yoga Checklist

Download our essentials checklist to ensure you are fully prepared for your fitness or weight loss retreat. This our list of items that you may require to ensure you get the best out of your time away.


Often our personal banks add mark-ups to their exchange rates or high charges to transfer money abroad; making the process unnecessarily expensive. We recommend using Transferwise to transfer any money (including paying for your boot camp). The easy to use site displays all fees and offers excellent exchange rates.


A large part of the cost in attending a boot camp or retreat is the flight to your destination. Compare the flights available to ensure you get the best deal for what you are looking for at convenient times, from a suitable location or just at the best price.

We recommend using Skyscanner. One of the largest comparison sites online of all the flight options available.

Travel Insurance

Whilst purchasing travel insurance is not compulsory, it is certainly advisable. Cover can vary and with the many different policy types, but comprehensive cover will usually provide you: medical treatment, emergency repatriation, theft, cancellation, loss of baggage and public liability.

Boot Camp or On Campus: Where to Study

Is user experience design calling your name? Not only is the skill set in high demand, but its combination of design, technology, research, and psychology also make it appealing to people from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. Beyond a world of opportunity, 

There is no one right way to study UX design either. Unlike some disciplines, UX designers often enter the field from other careers entirely. They use the tools they’ve learned as graphic designers, marketers, psychologists, developers and so on to create amazing user experiences. Some UX designers are self-taught, while others learn from a more formal education. How do you know what’s right for you?

In this piece, we look at some of the differences between college, university, boot camp and hybrid UX design programs in America.

UX Boot Camps

UX boot camps are often perceived as one of the quickest gateways into a career In UX design. With no governing board, each program offers something different. They each have their own curriculum, focus on specific tools and skills, vary in the caliber of the professors and the learning environment, and offer different formats (typically immersive, part-time or full-time) at various costs and for various lengths of time.

Some boot camps partner with local organizations and businesses to provide students with real world experience. Others focus on their history of placing graduates in jobs and market their ability to adapt their curriculum at any time to suit contemporary UX design issues and trends. Some of these programs churn out rock star designers. Others do not.

Bootcamps are popular choices for people who are looking to transition into a new career, or who have some related experience but want to learn more about how UX design works and what it looks like to put things together.

Some notable boot camps and certificate programs include:

However, says Dylan Wilbanks, founder of design consultancy Hêtre, too many graduates of boot camps expect to immediately find success as a UX designer.

“All a boot camp is meant to do, in the old army parlance, is to turn somebody from a civilian into a soldier. It’s not about making you a General. It’s about making you someone who is a soldier,” he said.

“I think too many people go into these boot camps with the belief that they’re going to come out as Generals. It just doesn’t work that way. You’re going to be a grunt and you’re going to have to work bottom up. You’re always going to be in some ways behind people who have more experience and more education, so how are you going to fight through that?”

Wilbanks, who sometimes consults teachers at General Assembly, says these programs are great for a certain kind of person, one who, to borrow from Hamilton, is “young, scrappy and hungry.” They’re not for everyone though, and he encourages would-be UX designers to do their research not just into the programs themselves, but also into what you hope to get out of the program.

“Know what you want. Be willing to do the practice necessary to learn what you want, what you need and what you love,” Wilbanks said.

University or College

For those who are either just beginning their careers or who don’t already have a four-year degree under their belts, university or college is often the natural choice. Many academic programs are nationally recognized with established curriculums and reputations for producing high-caliber designers with both soft and hard skills.

However, you may be hard pressed to find a program with “user experience design” explicitly stated on the diploma (though, there are a few).

These are just a few examples. Often it is through these programs that many first discover user experience design, while others will choose electives and specializations strategically aligned with UX.

University degrees carry weight in the job market and show a commitment to learning a craft. According to Wilbanks, many people find deeper fulfillment from these programs. He recommends pursuing a degree if you don’t yet have one, though again this is a personal choice that may or may not be right for you.

Postgraduate Level UX Certificates

Additionally, many colleges offer postgraduate level certificates in user experience design. If you like the college-style of learning, already have a degree in something, or need something that aligns better with your schedule, this option might be for you.

Many of these programs require students to complete a handful of mandatory courses as well as several electives, allowing you to choose the courses that interest you most. The certificate program at Bentley University, for example, has electives in three streams: user experience design, user research and assessment, and human behavior. There is a wide variety of options for students to choose from, allowing for a more customizable education.

Some other notable certificates from universities include:

  • California State University, Fullerton (UX and Customer-Centered Design)
  • San Francisco State University (Mobile UX/UI Design Intensive)
  • University of Baltimore (UX Design)
  • University of Washington (User Centered Design)
  • UC San Diego (UX Design)
  • Pratt (UX/UI Mobile Design)

Boot camps have the flexibility of updating their curriculums as they go due to the fact that they don’t have to go through rigorous and lengthy approval processes. Many postgraduate programs share this flexibility, but also maintain the tried and true methodologies of academic institutions.

Unique UX Programs

Somewhere in the middle of a boot camp and a university sits Center Centre, a two-year, full-time UX design school based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Co-founded by Jared Spool and Leslie Jensen-Inman, Center Centre is an authorized post-secondary institution currently in its first cohort. After interviewing hundreds of hiring managers and UX professionals, the curriculum was built to generate “industry-ready” professionals that are ready to take on a job upon graduation. It is tailored to feel more like a job than a traditional university experience, and the projects the students work on come directly from real organizations. Each student graduates with their own portfolio comprised of projects that take weeks and sometimes months to execute, giving students something tangible to show potential employers.

The program has attracted what Spool calls “career shifters.” Since design experience is not required, many students have never worked in technology before, though some do come from illustration or graphic design backgrounds.

“For the most part the students we attract are people who don’t like the way their current career is going, are looking for something new, and have heard that UX design is a cool place to do that and want to become really awesome at that,” he said.

Center Centre is becoming well known in the design community for its innovative approach to UX education. Other unique programs are slowly popping up too, including the one-year Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship program offered at the Austin Center for Design. With so many different programs, how does one decide which path is right for them?

“What you’re really doing is you’re making a bet,” Spool said. “You’re making a bet on, is this education going to give me a job that will then give me a salary that will give me a quality of life that allows me to easily pay for this education? You’re betting on your future. That’s different than say, buying a car. I’m going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a car, but at the end of the day it’s just transportation and most of the time it’s going to sit in our garage or a parking lot. It’s not going to be used. But your education is something that is fundamentally going to change your life if you make the bet right.”

Questions to ask about any UX program:

Before betting on your education, the experts interviewed for this piece recommended asking the following questions:

  • What is the program’s success record in terms of graduate employment?
  • What do successful graduates of this program look like one, three, five and ten years down the line?
  • What sort of industry connections does the program have?
  • How does the program leverage, complement and expand your skills set?
  • What specific skills, programs and issues does the program concentrate on?
  • Who are the teachers and of what caliber is their expertise?
  • How much does the program cost, what funding opportunities are available, and how long will it take to pay back?
  • What is your goal upon graduation of the program and how can the program help get you there?

As UX grows in demand and popularity, UX design enthusiasts will have more to choose from in terms of education. At the end of the day though, employers want to see that you can do the work. No matter which route you take, make sure it’s the one that will take you wherever it is you want to go.

How To Run Faster


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If you don’t run very fast in practice, you won’t be able to run very fast in races.

At the University of Copenhagen, Danish scientists studied experienced runners who had been running 60 miles a week at a fast pace. One group was told to cut their mileage in half to only 30 miles a week, but to run a series of around 50 to 100 yard dashes as fast as they could. The other group continued running 60 miles a week at a fast pace. Runners who ran fewer miles at a faster pace had a 7 percent improvement in their body’s maximal ability to take in and use oxygen.

Runners who did not increase their speed in practice did not improve, even though they ran twice as many miles. Jogging slowly reduces your chance of injury, but it won’t help you to run fast. You can race only as fast as you run in practice, but don’t try to run fast every day. Intense exercise damages muscles. Try to run fast once or twice a week, never on consecutive days and don’t run fast when your legs feel heavy or hurt.

When I trained seriously for marathon running, I thought that the runner who ran the most miles would be the best. I didn’t become a great runner, but I did become an expert on injuries. My patients seldom come to me with a running injury that I haven’t had.

Many top runners run more than 100 miles a week because their bodies have the genetic ability to withstand such abuse, but the vast majority of runners will never be able to run 100 miles a week without being injured frequently. Furthermore, running a lot of miles slowly will slow you in races. The ability to run fast in races depends more on how fast you run in practice than on how many miles you run each week. However, every time you run fast, your muscles are damaged and feel sore on the next day, and it takes at least 48 hours for your muscles to heal enough to allow you to run comfortably again at a very-fast pace. After every workout in which you run very fast, take the next day off or run at a much slower pace. Most top athletes plan their workouts so they run very fast only two days a week. The same principles apply to any endurance sport.