10 Incredibly Inspiring Self-Taught Scholars

Aug 31st, 2009

As a college student, you may sometimes wonder how valuable your formal education really is. Your tuition doesn’t just pay for classes, though: you’re also receiving valuable career training and the opportunity to explore different subjects before setting out on a professional path. These inspiring figures, however, accomplished a great deal with minimal or no formal education, becoming U.S. Presidents, well-known journalists, writers and scientists. Read on for our list of 10 incredibly inspiring self-taught scholars.

  1. Abraham Lincoln: As the 16th President of the United States who ended slavery and united the country after the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is widely recognized as one of the greatest leaders in American history. Lincoln, though, grew up humbly in a one-room log cabin in the early 1800s in Kentucky and Illinois. Lincoln’s mother died when he was very young, but he and his stepmother were close. Though Lincoln only had a few months of formal education in a small backwoods school, he is known as having been a voracious reader who devoured the Bible and Shakespeare while growing up. Even as a politician, Lincoln visited the Library of Congress to build up his education and read for his own personal and professional development.
  2. Albert Einstein: Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein is one of the most famous and admired scientists and scholars in the world, even after his death in 1955. Born in Ulm in the German Empire in 1879, Einstein is today credited with discovering the special theory of relativity, photon theory, quantum theory of atomic motion in solids, and many other important theories. But despite these genius contributions to science, Einstein had a difficult time being accepted at school. He attended primary and secondary school, though he first failed his entrance exam. During school, Einstein worked on his own projects and rejected the teaching styles that his schools adhered to. Einstein also ended up studying at the Polytechnic in Zurich, but was never completely accepted by his peers until much later in his career. Much of Einstein’s most significant learning milestones include theories he wrote himself or relationships he had with his parent’s friends.
  3. Walter Cronkite: Walter Cronkite, also known as "the most trusted man in America" during his 19-year tenure as CBS Evening News anchorman during the 1960s and 70s, is regarded as one of the most influential journalists in the United States. The Missouri-born Cronkite, who died in 2009, attended junior high and high school in Houston, TX, and attended the University of Texas for two years before dropping out in 1935. Cronkite learned journalism by working in the field himself, interviewing people for news and sports stories as a newspaperman and then working at a radio station in Oklahoma City. Cronkite later joined the U.S. Air Force during World War II and credited that part of his life as a significant learning experience.
  4. Walter Pitts: Walter Pitts was an important logician and mathematician who made significant contributions to the cognitive sciences, psychology, artificial intelligence, and the generative sciences. As a boy growing up in Detroit, Pitts read works like Principia Mathematica to learn logic and math, and he also taught himself Greek and Latin at just 10 years old. At 15, Pitts sat in on classes at the University of Chicago to listen to lectures by Principia Mathematica‘s author, Bertrand Russell. Pitts never enrolled as a student and eventually collaborated with Warren McCullouch and Norbert Wiener on developing their theories.
  5. Benjamin Franklin: As one of the most inspirational and influential figures in American history, Benjamin Franklin enjoyed a career in politics and political theory, science, international relations, writing and media, printing, city development, social justice and more. As a young boy growing up in Boston, Franklin was part of a huge family, and his parents could only afford to send him to school for two years. After withdrawing from the Boston Latin School, Franklin educated himself by reading and then becoming an apprentice to his brother in the printing business, at the age of 12.
  6. George Bernard Shaw: The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote many important plays, novels and short stories that influenced society, economics, politics, pop culture and the literary community. Some of his most famous works include Pygmalion, for which he won a Nobel Prize and an Oscar, Man and Superman, Saint Joan, and The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. Shaw grew up in a struggling family in Dublin. He attended three different grammar and day schools and disrespected the operations and style of formal education. When he was a teenager, Shaw’s mother moved to London with his sisters while he worked for his father as clerk in a real estate office. He eventually moved to London, where he frequented the British Museum and the public libraries to supplement his previous education.
  7. Charles Dickens: Considered one of the greatest and most popular authors in literary history, Charles Dickens authored many significant works like The Adventures of Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities, as well as many non-fiction works, short stories and plays. Dickens’s works are laced with biting social, political and economic satire, which commented on the restrictive attitudes of the Victorian era while pleasing his readers. Dickens was born into a large family in Hampshire, England, in 1812, and spent much of his boyhood either outdoors or reading. He attended school as a young boy in Chatham until his father was sent to debtor’s prison. Dickens began working at a a warehouse when he was just 12 years old.
  8. George Washington: The first President of the United States George Washington enjoyed a distinguished military career during the French and Indian War and American Revolution before being elected as president in 1789. Born in 1732 in Virginia, George Washington never went to school but was taught by his brother and father at home. As a teenager and young man, Washington worked as a surveyor for the Colony of Virginia, which proved very useful during his time as a military commander.
  9. Peter Jennings: Peter Jennings, a hugely popular and well-respected journalist and ABC World News Tonight anchorman during the 1980s through the early 2000s, was never fond of school and considers his time as a field reporter in the Middle East and Europe as his formal education. Jennings was born and raised in Ontario and was the son of Charles Jennings, a respected radio broadcaster for the CBC. Jennings never achieved academic success while in shool and dropped out of both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. He joined the media and broadcasting industry and ended up as ABC where he was the youngest anchor in the country. Jennings, however, wasn’t experienced enough and left the anchor seat to travel and work as a foreign correspondent for ABC until he was able to prove himself as an educated journalist.
  10. John Greenleaf Whittier: John Greenleaf Whittier, one of the Fireside Poets along with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and other New England poets, was vocally instrumental in the abolition movement during the 19th century. Born on a farm in Massachusetts, Whittier was raised a Quaker and worked to put himself through school. He graduated high school in two years, working as a teacher and shoemaker while also studying poetry. Whittier never attended college and instead began working as the editor of a Boston weekly paper. He continued in journalism and worked at the influential New England Weekly Review and was also a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

100 Best Back-to-School Hacks

Aug 30th, 2009

Going back to college after your long summer break is sort of like the university student’s opportunity for New Year’s Resolutions. From organization to better study habits to making new friends to preparing for your career, you’ll want to make this year the most fun and the most productive. Check out our list of 100 best back-to-school hacks for more ideas.

Moving In

From redecorating to organizing your closet to cleaning your dorm or apartment, these hacks will turn what little personal space you have into your happy place.

  1. Get door hangers: Door organizers and hanging organizers give you more space to keep shoes, bags and accessories.
  2. Don’t pack so much this year: Especially if you live within driving distance of home, don’t pack clothes for the whole year.
  3. Split up chores: Come up with a chores worksheet and schedule with your roommate.
  4. Get a vacuum: Vacuum at least once a week to cut down on dust, allergens, and crumbs.
  5. Clean little by little: Clean up messes as they happen, and clean more often to avoid turning your apartment into a pigsty.
  6. Get more trash cans: College kids seem to produce lots of extra trash, so get more trash cans for every room.
  7. Pick out new bedding: A new throw pillow or new sheets will add punch to your room and give you a fresh start.
  8. Bunk your beds: Bunked beds give you lots of extra dorm room space.
  9. Set ground rules: Agree with your roommate on how and when your room or apartment should be used for parties, studying, and sleeping.
  10. Embrace DIY projects: Add more style to your room or apartment this year by embracing functional, fashionable DIY projects like making your own memo boards and more.

Organization

Start your year off right by being organized with your school work and your personal belongings. These hacks will make you more productive, help you make better grades, and minimize stress.

  1. Keep a master calendar: Take a planner with you wherever you go to record due dates, tests, meetings, study groups and more.
  2. Take better notes: Taking good notes during each class will help you stay on track with your classes and make you better organized when it’s time to study.
  3. Use a Computer Technician: Have a computer tech clean your computer of all extra programs and viruses so you don’t run into any problems once exam time kicks in.
  4. Pack your bag before you go to bed: To avoid leaving assignments and study materials at home, pack your bag at night when you’re less stressed and not as rushed.
  5. Don’t overload your schedule: Taking too many hours will make it that much harder to stay organized.
  6. Get better sleep: All-nighters and week night partying can hinder your performance and your focus the next day.
  7. Plan ahead: Don’t leave everything to the last minute: plan out how much time you need to spend on homework projects, meetings, extracurricular activities, commutes and everything in between.
  8. Use a web or text alert system: A tool like Remember the Milk can send you alerts when you’re late on deadlines or tasks.
  9. Find a job on campus: Campus offices are more willing to work around your schedule, and you’ll be able to save on commute times.
  10. Keep your room clean: It sounds juvenile, but a clean room makes it easier for you to find things and eases stress.

Study Habits

Pledge to become a more organized, productive student this year by taking better notes, staying on top of your homework, choosing the right study group and picking better classes.

  1. Keep in touch with teachers: Take advantage of office hours or just send your professor an email to show that you’re engaged and to clear up any questions you had from the lecture.
  2. Study every day: Review your notes from each class every day so that you’re actually learning the material instead of cramming at the last minute.
  3. Set your own deadlines: To help you stay on schedule and make sure you’re prepared, set your own deadlines before the professor’s due date.
  4. Find a study group that matches your study style: Not all study groups can help you study. Find a group of people who study the same way you do instead of working with students who talk too much, meet at odd hours or don’t take enough breaks.
  5. Use supplemental materials: Even if they’re not required, use the materials the professor hands out or recommends to supplement readings and lectures.
  6. Review before class: Your brain will be more likely to make connections and absorb new knowledge if it can easily recall notes from the last lecture.
  7. Take breaks: Study breaks allow your mind to process the material you just covered and rebuild energy.
  8. Pick interesting classes: The more you’re interested in the class material, the more you’ll be motivated to study and participate.
  9. Create summaries of your notes: By generating summaries, you’ll practice analyzing your notes and review the most important points.
  10. Go to class: Limit the number of times you skip class if you want to learn the material and get updates on tests and due dates.

Career Prep

Even if you’re an incoming freshman, these hacks can help you get a head start on searching for internships, discovering careers and more.

  1. Discover how your major applies to real-world skills: You don’t have to major in business to have a business-related career. Write down all the ways your major prepares you for a job in whatever field you want.
  2. Visit your career counselor: Career counselors can help you explore job options you never considered, so make an appointment, even if you’re an underclassman.
  3. Accept the fact that you’ll be doing the grunt work: Internships lead to exciting opportunities, but they don’t always start out as glamorous jobs. Accept that you’ll be fetching coffee and making copies.
  4. Know your transferable skills: Get help from a career counselor to make a list of transferable skills, or skills you’ve picked up from seemingly unrelated jobs that can help you win an internship or job after college.
  5. Have an objective: Figure out what you want out of your college experience, your part-time job and your internship before it’s too late.
  6. Get your references in order: Before applying for new jobs, and before leaving old ones, get your list of references organized.
  7. Pursue networking opportunities: Internships, career counseling offices and even campus jobs are great for building your professional network.

Campus Life

Get more involved this year by joining service organizations, culture clubs, Greek organizations or professional networking clubs. You’ll feel more connected to your fellow students and the university and will add to your resume and networking goals at the same time.

  1. Take on an officer position: You’ll learn valuable real-world skills that you can add to your resume, like event planning, fundraising or working with the public.
  2. Branch out: Join a club you never considered before to test yourself and find out if you have a hidden talent.
  3. Participate in dorm events: Dorms often organize sports competitions, recycling efforts, study breaks and other events that let you get to know the people in your hall.
  4. Start your own club: Become the president of a club to start out in a leadership position and network with student affairs officers, deans and other student presidents.
  5. Pick an activity that can help your career: Join the newspaper if you’d like to work as a journalist to get tangible experience, or join the school web development team if you want to be in computer forensics.
  6. Participate with your honor society’s activities: Don’t just save the certificate: take advantage of networking events and apply for a leadership position.
  7. Work alongside administrators and professors: This year, take a step beyond attending meetings and actually work alongside college administrators and professors –who will be happy to write you letters of recommendation — at campus events.
  8. Give yourself a break: Extracurricular activities can provide an outlet for you physically, emotionally, and socially while you take a break from your studies.
  9. Stay on campus more: Even if you live off campus, make a point to study at school, eat in the cafeteria, and stay in town on the weekends so that you feel more connected to campus.
  10. Attend all kinds of events: Support your classmates and your college name by attending all kinds of events, including swim meets, softball games, plays, art shows and more.

Budget

This year, try to stick to your budget without having to call home every couple of weeks or overdrafting your account.

  1. Find deals on textbooks: Look for used textbooks online or from someone who took the class the year before.
  2. Keep your grades up: Good grades can lower car insurance rates.
  3. Buy a frozen pizza: Spend $5 rather than $15 or $20 for delivery on late night snacking by buying it ahead of time.
  4. Use your student ID: Ask if your student ID will get you a discount at the movies, happy hour, coffee shop, bookstore or anywhere else.
  5. Keep your change: Collect all of your loose change and save it for vending machine purchases and laundry.
  6. Air dry your laundry: If you have the space, air dry laundry to cut your laundry bill in half.
  7. Use your dorm phone: Use your dorm phone for local calls and inter-campus calls to save your cell phone minutes.
  8. Write everything down: Tracking your expenses is a great way to see just how much you’re spending and figure out places you can cut back.
  9. Limit the majority of your spending to the weekends: Stay busy with extracurriculars and studying on campus during the week to cut down on spending.
  10. Avoid credit cards: Use cash when you can, and avoid using credit cards — or even signing up for them altogether.

Food and Health

As a college student, it’s easy to pick up bad eating habits, including late night grazing and fast food. But these healthy living hacks will keep up your energy and focus while helping you maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Cook more: Cooking is healthier and cheaper, so find a usable kitchen on campus to use every once in a while.
  2. Avoid fast food: Make a pledge to cut way back on fast food, especially in the middle of the night. Pack your freezer with healthier munchies instead.
  3. Stick to your meal plan: If your parents have already paid for your meal plan, don’t waste money on eating out. Stock up on snacks from the cafeteria to keep in your room for later.
  4. Use dishes: If you gained a lot of weight last year because you ate out of the box or carton, manage your portions this year by using plates and bowls.
  5. Monitor your stress levels: Take breaks, sleep well, drink a little less, and keep things in perspective to prevent over-stressing.
  6. Visit college counselors: College counselors are prepared to deal with the unique problems and situations facing students, including eating disorders, disorganization, bad grades, drinking, and social issues.
  7. Find healthier options for all foods and snacks: Try low-fat milk instead of whole milk, use whole-grain bread instead of white bread, choose water instead of calorie-packed drinks, and eat foods from every food group each day.
  8. Eat breakfast: Boost your focus, energy and metabolism by eating breakfast every day.
  9. Make time to exercise: Exercise keeps your weight in check, increases your energy, and provides you with a constructive outlet for stress management.
  10. Keep healthy foods available: Stock your fridge and backpack with healthy snacks and avoid buying junk food.

Party Hacks

Since we all know college isn’t just about studying, why not vow to become a better party planner this year, too?

  1. Throw a costume party: If you don’t have money for decorations or lots of extras, throw a random costume party to spice things up.
  2. Ask guests to chip in: Ask each guest to bring a bag of chips or a six-pack to help with cost.
  3. Invite more girls: A party that’s nothing but guys is lame, so invite more girls.
  4. Use your meal plan for snacks: If you’ll never use up all the money on your meal plan anyway, head to the student center for mixers, chips and cookies.
  5. Beer Stain Removal Hints: This recipe will show you how to get beer stains out.
  6. Pre-game: Pre-game before you go out to save money on alcohol.
  7. Make cheap "pretty" snacks: Make fancy looking snacks by simmering tiny weenies, laying out French bread and olive oil, or making your own queso.
  8. Buy a large trash can: Instead of worrying about trash overflow or taking trips out to the dumpster all night, buy a huge trash can to set up inside your kitchen.
  9. Throw a party with friends: Split the cost 10 ways and throw an even bigger, cooler party when you get 9 friends to help you out.
  10. Give your neighbors a heads up: Ask neighbors to call your cell phone instead of the police if things get too noisy.

Time Management

Learn how to schedule in meetings, study groups, sleep, homework and extracurricular activities with these hacks.

  1. Take shorter naps: A catnap is just as effective — if not more so — than a longer one, and you’ll still have time to get everything done.
  2. Do the hardest stuff first: Tackle the hard stuff when you have more energy, and save less important tasks for when you’re in the mood to multitask in front of the TV.
  3. Take your work with you: In case you have off time, you’ll always have something to work on while you wait.
  4. Ask for help: Whether it’s cleaning, trouble with a relationship, or homework problems, getting help from friends is more productive and will help you feel more confident.
  5. Keep meetings on track: When you have study group sessions and planning meetings, keep everyone on track. Otherwise, you’ll waste hours chatting.
  6. Just start working: Instead of worrying so much about doing a perfect job, just jump right into your project. You can always edit later.
  7. Make outlines: Make outlines for test reviews, research papers, and everything else.
  8. Brainstorm: Make a habit out of brainstorming before you start writing a paper or starting new project.
  9. Schedule something fun to do after you finish your work: This strategy keeps you motivated.
  10. Pack a study bag: Bring a sweater, water bottle, music, snacks and anything else that will keep you studying longer.

Miscellaneous

From dropping classes to saving gas, find even more back-to-school hacks here.

  1. Carpool: Save gas by sharing rides to campus or on errands.
  2. Understand your purpose for being at college: College isn’t just a time to goof off: understand that your time at school is preparing you for a successful, profitable, satisfying life, and you’ll become more efficient and goal-oriented.
  3. Figure out when to drop a class: You can make things easier on yourself by dropping a class if it turns out to be too complicated and you don’t need it to graduate.
  4. Visualize your college experience: Learn how to make better decisions and prepare for mistakes by visualizing things ahead of time.
  5. Set aside time to explore: College is the one time in your life that you have to take advantage of readily available resources and explore your interests, even if they seem a little out there.
  6. Study abroad: This year, make plans to study abroad to learn a new language, test yourself, and make new friends.
  7. Set short-term goals: For constant motivation, set short-term goals for the month, week or day for finishing homework, saving up, or looking for an internship.
  8. Stay in better touch with your parents: Call your parents more often, or at the very least, send them an email every couple of days to update them on your mood, classes and social life.
  9. Take advantage of free resources: Your tuition and boarding covers lots of freebies you won’t get after you graduate, like the pool, rec center and gym.
  10. Use your social media accounts more efficiently: If you’re going to spend half the night on Facebook or Twitter, at least spend some time to network with worthwhile contacts.
  11. Follow the news: It’s easy to get lost in your own bubble of homework, campus gossip and partying, so read the news every once in a while to supplement your formal education.
  12. Explore the city: Whether you live in a major city or a college town, it’s easy to stick too close to campus. Explore the city’s museums, lesser known districts and restaurants for a more fulfilling experience and a break from college life.
  13. Evaluate your goals and your grades mid-semester: Figure out which resolutions you’ve kept up and which you need to focus on again.

Genetic Research and the Possibility of Discrimination

Mar 23rd, 2009

By Courtney Phillips

For a number of years, scientists the world over have been working on the Human Genome Project, a massive concerted effort to identify every single gene in the human genetic code.  While this is an effort that is laudable for a wide variety of reasons, there are detractors out there who believe that this project will ultimately end up resulting in major cases of discrimination in the future.

Genetic research has come a long way, and those with sufficient capitol are already able to make decisions based on their children’s lives before they ever take their first breath.  Many people believe that this is the best way to the healthiest possible population in the future and that it is only a matter of time before we are able to completely eradicate illnesses that are attributed to genetic factors.

For detractors, this is the beginning of widespread discrimination.  With the ability to prevent genetic diseases and eliminate people with these diseases from existing in the first place, detractors believe that those still living and afflicted with genetic disorders will ultimately be viewed as second-class citizens.

Civil liberties groups also cite that privacy will be forever breached as we continue to gather data on individuals, even before they are born, without consent.  They believe that biological and genetic data are not public property and should not be treated as such.

Certainly, a great number of discoveries have been made because of the Human Genome Project.  Genetic studies in a wide variety of ailments from Diabetes to Crohn’s disease are still being studied and deliberated upon.  There are many out there who believe that this is a noble cause, but that actually engineering people with this knowledge is not ethical.

Naturally, there are two sides to this issue of ethics: one that believes it is morally wrong to alter human genetic code and that dire complications may arise from attempting to create a race free of genetic complication; the other believes that it would be unethical to not help resolve problems before they arise.

As the Human Genome Project continues to make significant headway in the field of genetics, there is no doubt that these types of debates will continue.  For now, scientists will keep trying to learn as much as they can while mapping human genetic code.

 

5 Ways to Promote Sustainable Reading

Mar 23rd, 2009

By Courtney Phillips

Reading is a gift that many people take for granted and the availability of books for the masses is something that wasn’t always the norm.  Over the course of many years, the book industry has made a significant dent in forests the world over.  Although it may be considered a noble cause, there are a few things you can do to help repair the damage or make sure that you aren’t adding to the problem.

Donate to Ecolibris

Over the course of your life, you have no doubt read hundreds of books and periodicals.  Ecolibris can help you by taking your donations to help repopulate forests so that we have renewable resources with which to print more books in the future.  We cannot keep taking without giving back.  Each dollar that you donate helps plant one tree—and you can track the progress of the saplings planted by fellow donors on the blog.

Buy Used Books

Whether it’s at your local used bookstore or online at Amazon or Half.com, there are millions of books out there just waiting to find a good home.  Often, people simply read the books once (or not at all) and sell them for a fraction of the price or donate them.  Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army have books as well, and the proceeds go toward helping people in your community.

Trade

With meet-ups becoming the newest segue between the web 2.0 and the real world, there are many groups forming regarding books.  From discussion groups to trading circles, people are getting together because of books.  Check in your community for meet-up spots and other boo-related groups.  You don’t always have to trade for good, but be willing to share and you may find something new that suits your interests as well.

Libraries

Remember those places filled with nooks that are increasingly empty because of the web?  Libraries tend to carry the latest books and are usual full of classics and hidden treasures.  In larger cities, branch libraries abound and there are many adventures to be had among the stacks.  Some libraries sell old or donated books as well.  Go get your card renewed and start checking out what’s available.

EBooks

Everything else is available on the internet, and books are no exception.  Downloading eBooks is easy, less expensive than a first-edition hardback, and doesn’t use any paper whatsoever.  Amazon.com even has an eBook reader called a Kindle that is low-glare and supposedly just as easy as reading a book.  While eBooks may not have the same aesthetic qualities, they certainly do contribute to sustainability. 

 

An Education in Education Reforms that Matter

Feb 6th, 2009

By Holly McCarthy

There are few things in life that matter as much as a good education does. And that is why parents place so much emphasis on going to school initially and to college thereafter. For those of you who argue that life is the best teacher and that experience is the best lesson one could learn, I won’t disagree with your way of thinking. But there are things that a formal education can teach, not the least of which is good communication skills and the ability to get along with your peers, superiors and juniors alike. 

The grouse that most people have against formal education and the reforms that are supposedly taking place in it is that the reforms don’t seem to be having their intended effect. We want to build a nation of talented youngsters who are not just academically brilliant, but also critical thinkers, independent achievers, and most important of all, morally upright and upstanding citizens. 

Unfortunately, our educational system is not convivial to encouraging us to push our brains beyond a certain limit, to explore new options even though they are difficult or to keep trying until we succeed. Instead, there’s an unbearable pressure to score high grades at any cost, so much so that many students resort to unethical means to achieve their ends. And so we hear of students cheating in tests and assignments, students using their wiles and guiles on susceptible teachers, and even students outsourcing their homework and assignments to other countries where professional writers or brilliant students from Eastern countries make a few bucks out of the process.

Is the focus on high grades making cheats out of us all? If so, what kind of reforms can be effected to ensure that education pertains to all-round development rather than just a question of high grades? How can we move from an assessment based on grades to one that’s based on the qualities that do matter? And the most important and difficult question of all – how do we quantify the qualities that really matter? 

Practical tests are a solution, but then, the assessments are based on the perceptions of the examiners. And this means we need teachers and examiners who are exceptionally good at what they do. With education not being as lucrative as many other fields, it’s hard to find dedicated teachers who value their calling more than the money it pays. 

At the end of the day, it’s the students who are really interested in improving themselves who gain all-round skills and are able to analyze critical problems and take decisive action. The rest just do as they’re told because they want the grades or, in the case of the majority, they just want to get through high school! 

 

Recession-Proof Your Future When You’re in College

Feb 6th, 2009

By Holly McCarthy

A college student’s life is a mixed bag – it’s filled with studies, fun, friends and a whole lot of other things depending on your personality and circumstances. Some of us have to contend with homesickness if it’s our first time away from home, others have to deal with financial woes as they try to handle a part-time job and student loans, and yet others have to make sacrifices to pursue the education they’ve dreamed of since childhood. The recession has added a new ingredient to the potpourri that’s in the bag – an uncertain future. If you’re a college student who’s wise enough to understand the downturn the economy’s taken, here’s how you can plan for your future in spite of the current market situation:

    * If you’re worried about not being able to find a job: because of the thousands who are being laid off, focus on your studies with more concentration than ever before. Your grades are going to matter more than ever now, and if you slack off, you have only yourself to blame. No matter how many people get fired, companies are always willing and looking to hire talented youngsters. Make sure you’re one of them.
    * If you’re worried about rising expenses: cut back on frivolous expenses for a while. Start saving every penny that you can and work part time if you have to. Earn money as a freelancer in your spare time. Remember, every dollar you make counts. It may be a little difficult when you’re not able to party or enjoy nights out like the others but it’s worth it if you don’t have to borrow to make your way through college. Debts are burdens that linger long after you’ve earned your degree, and you don’t want to start out in the red with a personal loan.
    * If you’re worried about repaying your student loan: consider services like loan forgiveness programs that allow you to skip repayment in exchange for your services in low-income and backward areas. Check this site to see if you qualify. If you don’t qualify or if you have no inclination to take up such jobs, look for employment, any kind, immediately after college. You don’t have to wait for the job of your dreams, all you need is one that puts money in your bank account and lets you repay your loans as soon as possible.
    * If you’re not satisfied with working for peanuts: continue looking for your preferred kind of job even as you stick at one that pays. You need to put food on your table and gas in your car besides being able to pay off any loans or debts that you have. Defaulting is not an option as it ruins your credit score for good.
    * If you’re running low on money: consider moving back with your parents for a while, if they’ll have you that is. Most parents are willing to do anything to support their children till they find their footing in the real world. Living with mom and dad may not be the coolest option, but it beats paying rent and shelling out money for groceries when you’re broke.

 

It’s going to be a tough road to walk, but if you plan ahead and stick to your plan, beating the recession and setting the stage for a secure future is not an impossible task. 
 
 

Instant Class Feedback from iPhones

Dec 17th, 2008

Instant Class Feedback from iPhones
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Image# 6051265

A new iPhone application allows professors to receive instant feedback from all of their students. A teacher can pose a question and, instead of getting a single response, can view answers from all of the students in the class.

The Wired Campus reports:

"The application lets professors set up instant polls in various formats. They can ask true-or-false questions or multiple-choice questions, and they can allow for free-form responses. The software can quickly sort and display the answers so that a professor can view responses privately or share them with the class by projecting them on a screen."

This iPhone technology may prove to be very useful for online settings, particularly classes that are conducted via video conference.

Over 100 Free Online Classes

Dec 16th, 2008

Over 100 Free Online Classes
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Image# 6017362
I’ve recently finished compiling a massive list of top-rated free online classes over at About.com. Here’s a blurb:

"Taking a free online class is a smart way to learn a new skill, increase your knowledge, or give virtual learning a risk-free try. The no-cost courses in this directory offer top-notch study materials such as lecture transcripts, streaming videos, mp3 lessons, and interactive exercises."

Take a look to find free classes in subjects such as HTML, dancing,

drafting school

, finances,

criminal justice online degrees

, languages,

OpenCourseWare

, and more.

Is Online College the Solution to School Financing Issues?

Dec 12th, 2008

Is Online College the Solution to School Financing Issues?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Gary Alvis

Over the past few decades, college tuition has been raised exponentially. When compared to current incomes, it's less affordable than ever.

The New York Times reports:

"The rising cost of college – even before the recession – threatens to put higher education out of reach for most Americans, according to the biennial report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Over all, the report found, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007 while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families."

Online education may be the solution for some students. Although not all virtual programs are less expensive, some do charge significantly less. Without the need to build a campus or maintain the grounds, a lot of completely online colleges are able to pass the savings on to students.

The Best Advice for Online Graduates

Dec 10th, 2008

The Best Advice for Online Graduates
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Image# 6080483

Moving from college to the workforce can be a huge adjustment. But, there's a lot of good advice out there for online graduates.

The Open Education Database recently published a list of 100 helpful lists for those with new degrees. They explain:

"Recent college graduates tend to be anxious and excited about the new adventures that face them, but even the most capable grads can have a hard time adjusting to moving across the country alone, dealing with rejection on the job front, and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle after school. To help them out, we've put together 100 lifehack lists that feature countless tips on staying fit, eating right, keeping track of a sensible budget and more."

The lists include advice on topics such as networking, considering graduate school, finding employment, and eliminating debt.