Are you a creative soul?

Do you have the ability to dream up new and useful ideas?

Recently Harvard researcher Roger Beaty and his colleagues made two mind-bending (pardon the pun) discoveries: 

The whole “left-brain, right-brain” idea we’ve been hearing for years is wrong.

It is very likely that creativity can be learned. We should not consider ourselves “stuck” if we aren’t as creative as we’d like to be.

Beaty’s group used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines to measure the strengths of connections between various networks in the brain. They found that these numbers corresponded to the originality of ideas! 

“This is a whole-brain endeavor,” Beaty said. In other words, creativity comes from different “wiring.” “People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together,” he explained, describing it as “flexibility.” The research shows that three subnetworks were involved in creative thought: the default mode network deals with memory and mental simulation; the salience network detects important information and appears to sort ideas; and the executive control network keeps people on task.

“It’s the synchrony between these systems that seems to be important for creativity,” Beaty concluded. Saying he hopes the study dispels common myths, Beaty emphasized that creativity is “not something where you have it or you don’t” and suggested that it might well be developed through training. 


The rise in non-traditional students worldwide

Going back to school after working a few years? You are part of a “mega-trend” shaping the world to come! A new report on international education predicts a total of 4.3 million more students over the age of 24 in higher education over the next 15 years. The non-traditional student is on the rise and may soon be the “new” tradition.

The StudyTrends report also anticipates a 56 percent growth of higher education enrollment. Education is becoming more accessible and job-oriented all over the world.

Trevor Holmes, vice president at Dublin City University in Ireland, emphasizes that schools must find more creative ways to serve the growing numbers of non-traditional enrollees. “Institutions will have to share resources and utilize emerging technologies like [massive open online courses] in a more creative fashion, utilizing globally but assessing locally,” he said. “This will require a greater creativity in curriculum and program development.”

Internationally, more schools are:

  • Advocating for lifelong learning
  • Adopting online/blended learning
  • Unbundling credentials
  • Emphasizing career outcomes
  • Specializing their institutions.

Increasing robotics and automation are opening up new opportunities for workers with “middle-level skills.” Researchers note, “technical and skilled manual work – i.e. electricians, plumbers, chefs – will be among the hardest to automate, while many degree-level occupations – e.g. law, accounting, routine computer programming, journalism, and data processing – are already being disrupted.”


Getting an associate of arts degree? You already upped your earning power!

Surprised? You don’t have to transfer to a four-year school in order to leverage your associate of arts (AA) degree. The under-reported fact is that a general education associate degree already shows you have many skills important to employers. 

Communications skills, writing abilities and an aptitude for problem-solving are in high demand for today’s jobs.  AA degree-holders are often highly proficient at these skills. Add Adobe Photoshop or JavaScript to the mix—and you are well on your way to a well-paying job.

For example, in 2016, more than 27,000 jobs were available to community college graduates with knowledge of the software Salesforce. These jobs paid, on average, $64,000 a year—$24,000 above the median salary for those with that added experience. Other sought-after skills which associate degree holders often possess include: project management, team management, business development or budgeting. In other words, combining skills you already mastered, coupled with an additional short-term credential or certificate may well be just the ticket.

The takeaway: Your skills, not degrees, are increasingly important in the changing job market.  

Source: Saving the Associate of Arts Degree.