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Campus Vote Project to Help Students Overcome Voting Barriers

February 9, 2012

Campus Vote Project to Help Students Overcome Voting Barriers

by Alexis Mattera

For many college students, this is the first year that they’ll be able to vote in a presidential election...but do they know exactly how, where, when, why and for whom to cast their votes? One advocacy organization hopes to eliminate all doubt and increase student voter turnout in November.

The Fair Elections Legal Network kicked off the Campus Vote Project yesterday at George Washington University's Law School with the hope of creating campus-wide policies and programs that would make voting more accessible for students. College students are often unaware of voter registration rules, polling locations and, for students attending college away from home, how to meet proof-of-residency requirements and obtain the proper identification but the Project’s advisory board is already discussing the creation of election-awareness campaigns, college-centric voting websites, on-campus polling stations and even rewards programs to entice more students to register and cast their votes. "We have to re-energize schools and get them to be creative," said Robert Newsome, director of outreach and state relations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and a member of the advisory board. Newsome’s fellow advisory board member and president of the United States Student Association Victor Sánchez agreed, stating, "With help and guidance, there should be better ways to help go about increasing access to voter registration and increasing voters on campus."

Do you think the goals set forth by the Campus Vote Project will get more students to the polls?

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Minimesters Provide International Experience in Less Time

February 8, 2012

Minimesters Provide International Experience in Less Time

by Alexis Mattera

Spending a semester abroad may not be feasible for students with rigid major requirements or ones who are aiming to graduate in the shortest amount of time possible to save on tuition. Instead of having students miss out on what could be one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives, schools like the University of Maryland are offering truncated programs called minimesters to foster international travel.

This winter alone, UMD’s study abroad office offered 42 short-term programs to destinations including Costa Rica, Mexico and Thailand with courses covering government and politics, art history, architecture, education, geography and more. These trips are usually about three weeks in length and students (including the article’s author, Elizabeth Roberts, who completed two minimesters to Chile and Brazil) have reported it’s plenty of time to immerse themselves in the culture without sacrificing school, work and other obligations back home. This time abroad even causes some students to alter their educational directions: One UMD senior's minimester in South Africa last winter sparked an interest in health issues and has since translated into an internship with the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

Do you think a minimester is a good way to interact with the age of globalization without compromising progress toward graduation?

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Simple Saving Solutions for Students

February 9, 2012

Simple Saving Solutions for Students

by Angela Andaloro

The last few weeks of the fall semester are a stressful time with finals, travel and the holidays to handle but you survived – congratulations! You may have made it into 2012 in one piece but your checking account may not be so lucky. The good news is that there are many ways for college students to save money and make living on a tight budget feel downright comfortable.

Discover discounts. You would be surprised at how many restaurants, clothing stores, hair salons and other businesses have special offers for students! Even some cell phone carriers offer student discounts, which is perfect for the college student who can’t live without his or her phone.

Plan ahead. Mapping out your week – specifically planning your meals – will help you save a lot of money: Stopping at convenience stores and fast food restaurants for snacks adds up fast!

Get a Student Advantage Card.. For $20 a year, the Student Advantage Card gets you extra discounts of up to 25% at a variety of retailers including textbook rental sites and movie theaters.

Enjoy student perks. You can often get free pens and USB drives from companies visiting campus for career fairs. Speaking of campus events, they are often stocked with free food and other swag – what’s better than getting to meet new people and grabbing a bite at no cost? If you can’t make it but still want to take advantage of gratis goods, grab your smartphone or comp to snatch up some samples of your favorite products from sites like SampleStuff.com.

Saving money in college is very important but we would also like to have money to do the things we want. These tips will get you on track to having a few extra bucks when you need them and learn valuable money management skills for your future.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.

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How to Network Like a Professional

February 10, 2012

How to Network Like a Professional

by Jacquelene Bennett

One of the nice things about growing older and getting further along in your college career is that you start to network and make connections that will help outside of college. Throughout the academic year, universities hold networking events that allow current students to connect with alumni and professionals in different career fields but remember, these events are a privilege to attend and there is a proper way to act and present yourself.

Dress appropriately. You don’t want to show up to these functions in jeans and a t-shirt – dress in a business casual fashion instead. It’s not necessary to wear a suit or anything but you want to dress to impress so some nice slacks (or a skirt for women) with a button-down shirt or blouse will do the trick.

Don’t get drunk. A lot of these events serve alcohol, which can be nice and fun (if you are over 21!) but you shouldn’t take it too far. This is a business event with professors and professionals, not a Saturday night party with your friends; if you do decide to imbibe, limit yourself to just one or two glasses of wine.

Talk to everyone. The point of these functions is to network and meet people. Don’t stand in a corner or only talk with the people you came with – interact with everyone there! People expect you to come up to them at these events so don’t feel embarrassed or rude doing so. Universities organize these events for people to make connections and if you don’t do that by talking to every person you can, it will be a waste of time.

Like I said at the beginning, these events are a privilege to attend so follow these simple guidelines and you will take full advantage of these experiences...and maybe even a job!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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SOPA, College and the Future of Online Content

February 13, 2012

SOPA, College and the Future of Online Content

by Kara Coleman

The Web was abuzz last month with talk of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Most people were probably aware that sites like Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out in protest on January 18th but what is SOPA and why should it matter to the average American? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stop online piracy, right? It depends.

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) authored SOPA and introduced it to the House in October 2011. (The bill’s complete title is “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes” -H.R. 3261.) While protecting ideas that belong to the States from plagiarism by people outside the U.S. jurisdiction certainly sounds like a noble cause, dealing with the Web is a tricky demographic: If SOPA comes into effect, the U.S. Department of Justice will be able to seek court orders against sites generated in foreign countries that they believe are violating copyright laws and American sites would no longer even be allowed to conduct business with or be linked to these sites.

The Motion Picture Association of America is a proponent of the bill, citing protection of creative ideas. Other supporters of SOPA say that it will help the pharmaceutical industry in America by preventing counterfeit drugs from being shipped in inexpensively from other countries. Opponents of the bill fear that their First Amendment rights are being encroached upon, as user-generated sites would likely feel the biggest sting. If a small minority of users violated copyright laws, would sites like YouTube or Flickr be shut down for everyone?

Two days after the online blackout/protest, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) announced that the decision to consider SOPA was being postponed due to the negative response from the sites who protested and the citizens who supported them for doing so. Is this the last we will hear of SOPA or is it set to be an ongoing battle? And finally, how would SOPA affect college students? While most professors don’t consider Wikipedia to be a valid source of information to cite on a research paper, it does give students a good overview of a topic and provide valuable links to scholarly websites that would be good resources. Social networking sites could be affected, too...need I say more? SOPA is not just talk that will stay on Capitol Hill – it could potentially change the way Americans use (or don’t use) the Internet forever.

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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Hearst Lawsuit Holds Unpaid Internships in the Balance

February 15, 2012

Hearst Lawsuit Holds Unpaid Internships in the Balance

by Angela Andaloro

College students are always being reminded of the importance of internships. Anyone who has taken a serious look into what’s out there knows that many of the internships offered are unpaid and though students may receive college credit or a stipend, it’s rare that they are actually paid hourly wages. While many students accept these conditions for the opportunity to break into their chosen industry, one former intern is taking a stand.

From August to December 2011, Xuedan "Diana" Wang was an intern at Harper’s Bazaar and is now suing the magazine’s publisher, Hearst Corporation, for improper compensation for her internship in which she was working anywhere from 40 to 55 hours a week. Her lawyers believe that Wang is among many interns who are working for an opportunity and being taken advantage of because if these interns were not doing the work they do, companies would be forced to hire someone to do the work. They reason that interns are not only losing out on money by working under these practices but benefits including Social Security contributions, the ability to collect unemployment and workers' compensation as well. Wang’s claims are grabbing the attention of many as her lawyers are looking to turn her case into a class action lawsuit. According to the New York Times, the lawsuit states that “Employers’ failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.”

So what does this mean for unpaid internships nationwide? Will employers cave under pressure and start paying interns for their work? It’s hard to say at this stage but the fact is that many employers hire interns to provide a learning experience for students and because they cannot afford to hire entry-level employees to do that work. This could lead to a decrease in the number of internship opportunities available to students, making them more coveted and prestigious positions when attained. The qualifications to be hired for an internship would be higher than ever. Whether this would be a good thing for students or a bad thing depends on a number of factors. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.

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Respecting the Beliefs of Others

February 16, 2012

Respecting the Beliefs of Others

by Radha Jhatakia

No two people are alike and neither are their beliefs. People have similarities and differences, grow up in different environments and have diverse experiences which shape their beliefs; when we are in college, people with diverse beliefs are brought together and thus students must be tolerant and respectful of the beliefs of others. It is not right to ridicule the beliefs of others or to impress our own beliefs upon them.

In college, people will have many different issues they are passionate about and we will take classes with these students and interact with them on a daily basis throughout our time in school. People will practice and believe in whatever is best for them and no one has the right to dictate otherwise. We may not believe in another religion over our own but does that make someone else’s lesser? No, it does not and as citizens of a country where freedom is valued, people must respect that. People must be tolerant of is sexuality; homosexuality may not be your orientation but your beliefs should not cause others to suffer. Whether you believe the same or not isn't the issue and this mindset is especially useful when living on campus for the first time: Your roommate or neighbor could be 100-percent your opposite but respect for their beliefs and lifestyle will make for a more comfortable living arrangement and maybe even a lasting friendship.

In a time when the world is at odds and there are wars over petty issues, respecting beliefs of others is more important than ever. Can you imagine how many conflicts would end tomorrow if those fighting simply followed this advice? Argue for what you believe in – everyone is entitled to their own opinion – but just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean you have the right to disrespect it. Be respectful of those around you and their beliefs – sometimes it’s all we have.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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The RESPECT Program: Will Its Selectivity Increase Teacher Effectiveness?

February 23, 2012

The RESPECT Program: Will Its Selectivity Increase Teacher Effectiveness?

by Alexis Mattera

We’ve all had at least one teacher that has impacted our lives in a positive way. Whether their passion for the subject they were teaching led you down a new educational path or the skills they imparted are still ones you use today, more educators like that are needed and a newly-funded program may make that possible.

The Obama administration showed its support in increasing teacher effectiveness with a budget proposal for a $5 billion grant competition to reward states and districts in a variety of ways including making teacher education programs as selective as their law, medical and business counterparts. While the Department of Education has not revealed full details about the endeavor known as the RESPECT Program, some colleges fear some of the requirements may actually negate the anticipated outcome: The feeling is that exemplary high school grades and standardized test scores are not the only traits that make great teachers and increased selectivity could exclude many studentsadult students looking for career changes or students from disadvantaged backgrounds, for example – who could excel at teaching. “We’re in education because we believe that education matters, and that people can grow and learn given the right experiences,” Virginia McLaughlin, dean of the School of Education at the College of William and Mary, told Inside Higher Ed. She continued to explain that future teachers should be evaluated regularly and judged on their progress, including how well they master both knowledge of the subjects they will teach and the techniques they will use in the classroom.

Do you think the RESPECT Program will produce better teachers or could it keep some of the most capable would-be educators out of the classroom?

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Should You Commute to College?

February 24, 2012

Should You Commute to College?

by Kara Coleman

Traditionally, most college students live in dorms or apartments on or near their campuses to get the full “college experience.” But before you sign that rental agreement, you might want to consider living at home and commuting to school.

We’re all familiar with the stereotypical college student – eating Ramen noodles for every meal and taking out student loans to pay for books and tuition – but that doesn’t have to be you! My goal is to graduate from college debt-free so I live at home with my parents and commute to a university about 30 minutes away. Because I live at home, I am able to save myself rent and utility expenses and use the money I earn from my job to pay cash for my tuition and books. Some students prefer the feeling of independence that comes with living on your own (I mean, if you live in your parents’ house, you live by their rules!) but not taking out student loans will mean financial freedom after I graduate and get a real job.

The downside to living so far off-campus is that I’m not as connected to events and happenings at school as the students who live there are. It’s not always easy to make it to meetings and events when commuting from the next county but by no means does it deprive me of the college experience: I still attend football games, plays and seminars at my university, and hang out with friends between classes.

Is living home and commuting right for you? While it’s certainly not for everyone, it’s definitely an option that I encourage students to consider while making housing plans for the upcoming school year.

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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Memes Sweep College Campuses Nationwide

February 24, 2012

Memes Sweep College Campuses Nationwide

by Alexis Mattera

There could be a 15-page research paper deadline, a monster exam and an internship shift tomorrow but if you think a college student isn’t going to take even a few minutes to destress or have a laugh, you’re crazy. My go-tos were Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Snood and UCTV but today, it’s all about college-centric memes.

According to Time (and Richard Dawkins), a meme is essentially an idea that replicates and evolves through imitation – a process the Internet makes almost too easy. Since October, schools like Florida International University, McGill, Appalachian State, UT, Duke, Northwestern and BU have all jumped aboard the meme train and the viral school spirit shows no sign of slowing: More student-created takes on Success Kid, Uber Frosh and others keep popping up on Facebook every day.

Have you caught college meme fever or do you think the meme trend has already worn out its welcome?

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