After earning a degree, being encouraged and staying engaged are two keys to a successful future.

A smiling Walden graduate.Completing college—earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree—is truly an occasion to celebrate. Years of hard work and sacrifice culminate in the moment you receive that diploma. Or do they? It sounds like the end, but that momentous occasion usually marks the first day of the rest of your life, or so they say.

Whether earning your degree at a traditional university or opting to pursue your education online, that hard-earned diploma represents the key to your future. People seek higher education for many reasons—to earn more money, be more qualified, get promoted, change careers, expand their network, improve their lifestyle—and in the end, only they have the power to ensure they’re getting the most out of it.

Global research organization Gallup identified two must-haves for success in work and life: someone who encourages your development, and the opportunity to do what you do best every day.*

Throughout your educational journey, you may have been in contact with a professor, peer, manager, or someone else who encouraged you to be the best version of yourself. These mentors are important from a professional perspective as well; they help you focus on your strengths and develop them into usable skills to improve your career. If you haven’t found someone to fit this important role, it’s time to start looking. Gallup recommends finding someone who cares about you as a person, who wants to know your strengths, and who may have already helped develop others. Let mentors help guide you toward your goal.

One crucial choice after graduation may be which job to take. Should you go with the first offer or see what else is out there? Tough economic conditions may lead you to the safe, uninspiring choice--but if possible, hold out for a position that excites you and allows you to shine. Surprisingly, Gallup found that only about 30% of Americans strongly agree that they have a chance to do what they’re best at each day.*

When you are the best you and are doing what you love, you’re likely to be more engaged in life and at work. Gallup research indicates engaged workers tend to be more loyal, productive, and profitable than those who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged. Only 30% of Americans say they are engaged in their jobs.

For those who are already in the workforce and are not satisfied, changing careers is usually an option. A 2016 Gallup study on Walden University—an accredited university offering online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, with more than 107,000 alumni worldwide—found that among those who changed careers after earning their Walden graduate degree, 82% say their degree was important in granting them the ability to change their career or field of work. In addition, the vast majority of Walden graduates report being satisfied with their personal lives (88%) and feeling prepared for life outside of graduate school (60%).

In the end, regardless of whether you’re a recent graduate or long-time alumni, your education can provide endless opportunities that lead you to a goal many of us share—success in work and life.

Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life. Learn more about how Walden alumni compare with other national graduates at www.WaldenU.edu/gallup.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

*Gallup, The Two Most Important Questions for Graduates, on the Internet at www.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/183599/two-important-questions-graduates.aspx.

†Gallup, Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015, on the Internet at www.gallup.com/poll/188144/employee-engagement-stagnant-2015.aspx.

‡Gallup, 2016 Walden University Study: Career and Well-Being Outcomes, on the Internet at www.WaldenU.edu/-/media/Walden/files/newsroom/gallup-study/Walden-GPI-Report-Final-2016.pdf?la=en.

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