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Dear Teacher - April 23, 2017

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By Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler

Question: What are some nontraditional college choices ­— ones that offer something different from four years of academic work on a college campus? Somehow this approach just doesn’t seem right for our son who is very interested in preparing for a career in technology while in school. — Something Different

Answer: Two programs that will help college students be well prepared to start a career right after college are co-ops and internships.

Both will give your son actual business experience. They also have the additional benefit of strengthening his resume when he goes job hunting after college. And since he will have his foot in the door of a company when he pursues a co-op program or internship, it could lead to an offer for full-time employment.

In a co-op program, students typically alternate study on campus with paid real work experiences in their chosen field.

Students are very enthused about this approach. Many schools, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute have co-op programs in technology.

Internships are temporary positions with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment, and they can be paid or unpaid. Many students do internships during the summer; however, some extend to or are during the school year. School placement offices are likely to list internships; college professors will know of some; and other intern opportunities can be found online. Students can also approach companies directly to see if they might have internship opportunities.

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Question: My toddler loves playing with technology gadgets. Which apps will really help him learn rather than just play? — For Education

Answer: The right app can definitely grab and hold the attention of young learners. If you go online and search for educational apps, you will find an amazing number of lists of these apps created by everyone from moms and dads to websites selling apps.

Most of these lists will be helpful. However, one list does stand out -- the list from Parents’ Choice (parentschoice.org).

This awards program honors the best material for children, including books, toys, music and storytelling, magazines, software, video games, websites and now apps.