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Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

One Million and Counting Sign Up for Free Virtual Courses

August 13, 2012

Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

by Alexis Mattera

Since its launch earlier this year, Coursera has attracted its fair share of attention in the higher ed sector: Not only has the company formed partnerships with high-profile schools such as Stanford, Michigan, Princeton and UPenn, roughly one million students in 196 countries have registered for the startup’s free online courses.

Though the numbers reported by Coursera (and also its competitor Udacity, which has more than 739,000 registered users in 203 countries) are impressive, they don’t represent the amount of learning actually taking place. Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng explained in an email interview that the number of active students is significantly lower because many registrations are for courses that have not yet begun and many sign up but don’t end up following through with the coursework. So are students interested in free online classes? Yes, but time will tell whether or not the registered students actually stick with the program.

Have you considered enrolling in the online classes offered by Coursera, Udacity and others or do you prefer the traditional classroom experience?

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Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

Why Taking a Technology Time-Out Isn’t the Worst Idea

August 14, 2012

Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

by Jessica Seals

How many of you have ever sent a six-page text message when it would have been easier (and less time consuming) to just call the person or speak to them face-to-face? I’ll admit I have...and I’ll also own up to the fact that I’ve sent a text to someone who was in the same building that I was in. Guilty as charged, thanks to technology!

One might say that rapid advances in technology are bringing us closer because it allows us to communicate with people all over the world at any time. Of course, this argument does prove to be true because technology has permitted us to share memorable information with loved ones and friends that we had lost touch with; however, having the power to get in touch with people at any time right at our fingertips can cause more harm than good if you become too obsessed with technology.

When I walk around my college campus, it’s rare for me to encounter a person who is not either talking on their phone, texting, listening to music on an iPod or surfing the Internet on their laptop or tablet. I can remember several days where I walked right past a friend without speaking because technology distracted us and instead of meeting back up later, we had a long conversation via text message. I have heard people say they would rather text someone than have a phone conversation or visit someone’s home – the situation has even gotten so bad that I’ve seen people go ballistic when something prohibits them from getting on the Internet or texting their friends!

Although new technology does allow us to keep in touch, it does have several downfalls. When you post something on the Internet or send a text message, you are jeopardizing your privacy and inviting friends, family and even strangers into your life. Some people post all of their activities online, which allows anyone to invade their privacy. Also, the era of the post office is fading away due to the fact that we can now send and receive emails whenever we need to. My recommendation? As a precaution, I think we should all take regular breaks from technology and spend time doing other activities that do not involve computers or phones before we end up completely withdrawn from one another.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. Jessica will be back at Memphis this fall to begin working toward her master’s degree in political science; she ultimately hopes to attend law school.

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Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

August 15, 2012

Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

by Alexis Mattera

An Olympic gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes but when you’ve managed to achieve this feat before even turning 18, what do you set as your next accomplishment? There are usually two options – attend college and perfect your craft or go pro and rack up endorsement deals – but figuring out the "right" choice is becoming more difficult for many up-and-coming student-athletes.

A perfect example is Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom who scored five medals at the London Olympics. She has made it clear that she wants to swim in college but if she does so, she will not be able to take advantage of the potentially millions of dollars in endorsements her Olympic success has afforded her. (The NCAA strictly prohibits athletes from accepting sponsorship and advertising money if they want to maintain their eligibility, though many athletes have petitioned this rule).

A recent article in The Atlantic details that going pro makes more sense for athletes in certain sports – for example, since the level of competition in collegiate gymnastics is lower, gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn’t hesitate to give up her amateur status...and sign a deal with Kellogg’s – but for Franklin, attending college would give her not only a chance to improve upon her already impressive swimming skills but earn a degree and have somewhat of a normal life after her time in the Olympic spotlight. Her choice? She hasn't announced it yet but it's her decision to make. "If Missy Franklin wants to go to school, bravo for her, and nobody who doesn't live inside her heart and mind should criticize it," said sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympians Brian Boitano and Kerri Strug to pros Troy Aikman and Steve Young.

What path do you think Franklin will follow? If you shared her situation, what would your choice be and why?

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How to Make the Most of Your Last Year in College

August 16, 2012

How to Make the Most of Your Last Year in College

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s already mid-August and I know for many of us, it feels like summer break just started yesterday. For the students entering their last year in college, however, this was the last true summer off they’ll have – if this sounds like you, how are you going to make the most of your final undergraduate year? What will you do differently? Here are my suggestions:

  • Live it up. I kept wondering why people would say enjoy your college years because all I could imagine was midterms, finals and 20-page research papers but after entering the full-time working world through my internship this summer, I can say I’m definitely going to be making the most of my last year (semester, rather, as I graduate in December) in college! I propose that we all “carpe diem” to the fullest.
  • Keep in touch. Being able to see friends and familiar faces every day is something that’s often taken for granted by college students. When you graduate and everyone’s schedules become more hectic, it’s difficult to catch up. Yes, right now many of us are on budgets but at least we have the time to do things that are fun. Whether it’s a campus event or just hanging out in your dorm with your roommates, cherish these times and foster your connections now before it’s too late.
  • Step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never done something before and want to try it out, now is the time! If there’s a class you’ve always wanted to take, sign up for it. If there’s an event or club that you haven’t explored, get involved! Do everything that you couldn’t do before so that when you graduate, you'll do so with no regrets.

Take the extra time to appreciate your surrounding and that college atmosphere because once you’re done with college, you will only have the memories – do everything in your power to ensure they’re the best ones!

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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California Legislators Approve Student Social Media Privacy Bill

August 23, 2012

California Legislators Approve Student Social Media Privacy Bill

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a college student, chances are you have a healthy social media presence that includes a Facebook, Twitter and maybe even a blog…or two! And with real-world responsibilities (like getting a job) just around the corner, most students understand the importance of adjusting their privacy settings and keeping prospective employers prying eyes from their personal life. Despite this self-policing, reports have surfaced that employers have asked students to provide their social media names and passwords mid-interview...privacy shmivacy, right? California legislators, however, have put an end to that: The California State Senate on Tuesday approved a bill protecting the privacy of college students who use social media sites.

The author of the bill, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), said he was alarmed by reports of employers and college officials asking for account information to monitor students’ online activity. Instances have included University of California coaches asking student athletes to "friend" them on Facebook to assess their online activity, said UC spokesman Steve Montiel but that would be prohibited under Yee's bill. The lawmaker said students often post personal information (think: religion and sexual orientation) on social networking sites and the information should not be required by employers, coaches or other college officials. "California is set to end this unacceptable invasion of personal privacy," said Yee. Similar legislation has also recently passed in other states.

Protecting a student’s privacy is all well and good but what about the rest of the social media population? Should the bill’s provisions be altered? Let us know what you think.

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The Accidental Career

August 30, 2012

The Accidental Career

by Radha Jhatakia

Accidental careers occur so often now-a-days that they hardly seem accidental at all. Some people start jobs assuming that they’re only temporary or a springboard into other jobs and they become unintended careers. This could be anything from a high school after-school job to an internship gone right – we often don’t realize that we’ve developed the career until we’re already in it, hence the "accidental" moniker.

Finding or even choosing a career that you had never intended on going into isn’t wrong. When it comes to choosing a career, there is no right or wrong as long as you are doing something you enjoy. On average, a person changes their career seven times over their lifespan. This can happen because the major you chose isn’t something you enjoy, because you want to advance in or change your field, or because you are trying something new. With such a diverse variety of options for different careers, the opportunities are endless.

Who knows, one day you might stumble upon a career without noticing and enjoy it! Recently, I found my potential career this way. This summer, I had an internship with a company I hadn’t pictured myself working at before but positive experience and in-depth exposure I received changed my mind. Throughout the course of the internship, I began to see it as less of a temporary job and more as a future career. Now when I graduate in December, I will have my own accidental career – something different than what I pictured myself doing and different than what I majored in. It just goes to show you can find your career anywhere...even when you’re not looking!

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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College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

September 13, 2012

College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

by Alexis Mattera

Though taking a gap year has yet to win mass societal approval, it is getting a pretty big endorsement from one NYC school: Admitted students who opt to take time off between high school and college will now earn a full year of academic credit.

Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts and Global Citizen Year have partnered to offer incoming students who have been admitted to both programs the opportunity to earn 30 college credits as they support development projects in other countries. Participating students will spend their seven-month "bridge year" living with local families and bettering their host communities by teaching English and working as peer mentors; instead of being one year behind students who started traditional classes the previous fall, they’ll enter Lang as full-fledged sophomores. "There are a lot of worthy learning experiences in life but we don’t give academic credit for them," said Stephanie Browner, the Lang dean overseeing participating students. "I think this is the right way to launch yourself into college."

Lang is the first school to join forces with Global Citizen Year but founder Abby Falik is eagerly anticipating the impact her program will have on college campuses across the country. Would you take advantage of this opportunity at your school? Why or why not?

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Earning Money AND Experience for College!

November 7, 2012

Earning Money AND Experience for College!

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Now that the semester is well underway, now might be a good time to start thinking about next semester, especially if you're worried about paying tuition. It’s not exactly a secret that college costs are continuing to rise so it’s in your best interest to find a job which will a) help you defray these expenses and b) pay a decent hourly wage. Admittedly, I thought a job which fulfills both those requirements was too much to ask for in this economy, and so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out about Education at Work.

Education at Work is an organization which requires you to be a college student and rewards your academic endeavors with tuition assistance and a competitive salary. Sure, you won’t make a ton more money than you would at a more traditional customer service job but you wouldn’t be going to college in the first place if you did, right? Plus, Education at Work supports a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, cable TV, utilities and more, giving even the pickiest of college students a chance to find a career which suits their interests. And of course, maintaining a job through Education at Work looks great on a résumé, as it shows future employers that you were committed to finishing your education from the start.

To apply for a position through Education at Work, click here to tell the organization more about your skills and complete a phone audition and typing test to ensure your customer skills are up to snuff. Make sure to block out about 45 minutes to complete the assessment in a private setting – after all, you don’t want to do a voice audition at a library! Education at Work positions are highly sought after so if you’re interested, apply today!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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Penn State Sorority in Hot Water Over Offensive Photo

December 5, 2012

Penn State Sorority in Hot Water Over Offensive Photo

by Suada Kolovic

Greek parties (and parties in general) have become synonymous with the presence of tasty treats, a few festive streamers, bonding, booze and ponchos. Wait, something about that last detail doesn’t seem right...too bad members of the Chi Omega sorority didn’t get the message: A Penn State sorority is facing an investigation after an offensive photo from a racially-themed costume party surfaced on Facebook.

The Mexican-themed party photo – which included girls wearing sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches and holding signs that said “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass, I smoke it” – was posted on Facebook, where the girls’ identities were discovered once they were tagged by other partygoers. The incident has led the Penn State Penhellenic Council to investigate the Nu Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega, according to The Daily Collegian. Jessica Ricardi, the sorority’s president, has issued an apology in the school’s newspaper, which in part read: “Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be.”

How do you think Penn State should handle the situation? Let us know the comments section.

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Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

December 13, 2012

Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in what seems like an endless slump, many have come to question the validity of a college education in disciplines that don’t guarantee definite career paths for students once they’ve graduated. Majors on the chopping block include those in the humanities and social sciences and universities across the country aren’t turning a deaf ear to the issue: Officials in Florida are considering reducing tuition in order to steer students towards majors that are in demand in the job market.

Governor Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers are urging Florida’s 12 state universities to nudge students toward job-friendly degrees and suggesting that universities freeze tuition rates for three years for majors in “strategic areas.” In theory, an undergraduate student would pay less for a degree in engineering or biotechnology – whose classes are among the most expensive – than for a degree in history or psychology. Financing from the state would be expected to make up for the tuition gap. Now while the initiative is popular among state officials, liberal arts devotees at the University of Florida have organized a protest petition which has gained signatures from across the state. They argue that the move would inevitably reduce the number of students who take humanities classes, further diminishing financing for those departments.

What do you think of Florida’s attempt to encourage students into certain majors with financial initiatives? Do you think steering students into fields that they have little interest or aptitude in just to save money could lead to discontent in their futures? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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