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Want to Learn Something New? Give Student-Run Seminars a Try!

June 22, 2012

Want to Learn Something New? Give Student-Run Seminars a Try!

by Radha Jhatakia

One of the best ways for a student to learn something is to teach it. This is an ideology that many professors use by assigning students projects in which they must demonstrate something to their classmates. When these projects expand to outside the classroom and become open for any students to attend, it becomes a seminar and an opportunity for other students to learn something.

Student-run seminars are growing in popularity because they allow students an access to knowledge and allow other students to hone their teaching and presenting abilities. At SJSU, the College of Social Sciences hosts “COMM Week” – five days devoted to projects presented by students in seminars that are open for all students to attend. Professors in the communications department give students guidelines and the students have the entire semester to conduct research for their presentations. An example of one project was to design and market an app for a smartphone. Students conducted research on what apps were profitable and how to sell their app and then proceeded to create interfaces, pamphlets and websites to promote their ideas. (A few students even turned their innovative ideas into career opportunities, as these projects were presented at a trade show with investors from different companies.) Another project included conducting a training workshop for students to assist them learning something such as presenting, networking and other skills valued by employers. Companies pay trainers to teach employees different procedures and policies within a company so really, the students who were successful with their seminars could continue to train as a form of work.

Whenever students ask when or how they will use something they learned in the classroom in the real world, they should know that what they learn in school gives them skills to use in life after college. Any of these or other school projects can even be used to jumpstart a career!

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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Duncan to College Applicants: "Shop Around"

Ed Sec Says Comparing More Schools Will Lead to More Informed College Choices

July 3, 2012

Duncan to College Applicants: "Shop Around"

by Alexis Mattera

In the epic battle between quality versus quantity, it's the former that usually prevails but Arne Duncan has a slightly different proposal for soon-to-be college students: increase the quantity of schools you consider in order to find the best quality fit.

Though the annual Higher Education Research Institute survey reported that students are already employing that approach (just 12 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen applied to only one college in 2011), Education Secretary Duncan believes that too many students are making their college choices based on distance from home rather than price, majors and other factors vital to college completion and future success. He feels that if students apply to more schools and compare financial aid packages, they'll find the school and program that's right for them. But not everyone is buying into his "shop around" proposal. Lloyd Thacker, director of the admissions reform group Education Conservancy, said, "The problem with the admissions process is it's become too much like a transaction or consumer process, and less like an investment in education ... I'm not saying what he's doing is necessarily wrong but you need to be very thoughtful that good intentions are tied to sound research.”

Check out the full Inside Higher Ed article here and let us know what you think. Are you ready to go shopping with Duncan or will you be taking a different approach when applying to college?

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Determine Your Dream Job in Three Steps

July 6, 2012

Determine Your Dream Job in Three Steps

by Alexis Mattera

Whether your career aspirations include a large salary, a flexible schedule or an ethical employer, it’s up to you to turn those dreams into realities. Sure, high marks in your major classes, several internships and glowing recommendations from members of your field are excellent additions to your portfolio but that’s not all you can do to secure the job you desire most. Here are a few suggestions from U.S. News & World Report:

What are some other paths job seekers should take to find their ideal careers?

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Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

German University Sues Student for Graduating Too Fast

July 10, 2012

Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

by Suada Kolovic

For most students, graduating college in just four years is the ideal and not the norm. So when a student comes along and graduates with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only three semesters, one would assume a parade of some sort would be in order. The Essen, Germany-based School of Economics and Management went a different route: they sued the student who accomplished this feat.

Earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree should take a typical student about 11 semesters and 60 exams to complete, yet Marcel Pohl did it in just 20 months. How’d he do it? With the help of two friends, Pohl divvied up lectures and swapped notes. Did we mention that in that time, he also completed an apprenticeship in a bank? Well, he managed to fit that in, too! Now, the school is crying foul and claiming “income loss” and suing for $3,772 – a fraction of the tuition and fees Pohl would have paid had he completed the degrees in the customary amount of time. "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true," Pohl recently told the German tabloid, Bild. "Performance is supposed to be worth something."

With a college education as expensive as it is, can you ever really graduate too early? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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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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UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

November 9, 2012

UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Chicago has recently announced the launch of UChicago Promise, an initiative aimed at helping high school students in the city of Chicago gain admission, pay for and succeed in college. The cornerstone of the program is the commitment from the university to eliminate loans from financial aid packages of students from Chicago who are admitted.

“Chicago, from our pre-schools to our world-renowned universities, is committed to ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The step taken today by the University of Chicago is a creative step that will help many of Chicago’s own achieve their goals and graduate without a financial burden.”

In addition to replacing loans with grants and other nonrepayable student aid, UChicago Promise includes an automatic waiver of the University’s application fee and offers a wide array of support and mentoring programs for aspiring college students. The initiative will take effect for those applying this year and will not be available to students with existing loans or who have already matriculated.

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Rick Perry Pushes $10,000 College Degree

Texas Governor’s Initiative Just One Way to Keep College Costs in Check

November 27, 2012

Rick Perry Pushes $10,000 College Degree

by Suada Kolovic

Under a plan unveiled in 2011, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged institutions in his state to develop options for low-cost undergraduate degrees. Limiting the cost of a bachelor’s degree to no more than $10,000, 10 Texas colleges – which educate more than 50,000 students, or roughly 10-percent of the undergraduates at public universities in the state – have answered the call so far. "A $10,000 degree provides an opportunity for students to earn a low-cost, high-quality degree that will get them where they want to go in their careers and their lives," Perry said in a statement.

Most of the proposed inexpensive degree programs take advantage of community college and dual-enrollment high school credit options and are not available to student in most disciplines. When Perry issued his challenge last year, he wanted the state's universities to "leverage Web-based instruction, innovative teaching techniques and aggressive efficiency measures" to drive down the cost of a degree.

Although not affiliated with Perry’s initiative, Scholarships.com also gives students the opportunity to lower the cost of a college educaiton by obtaining scholarships and grants. As a leading scholarship search service and financial aid information resource, Scholarships.com plays a primary role in helping students make the decisions that shape their lives. On Scholarships.com, students are connected with tools to aid in researching and finding financial aid for college, as well as choosing a campus that's right for them. Our regularly updated proprietary database allows students to search 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion and quickly arrive at a list of awards for which they qualify. And it's all free. If you are interested in learning more about Rick Perry’s initiative or other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today.

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Cooper Union Students Protest Tuition Change

December 4, 2012

Cooper Union Students Protest Tuition Change

by Suada Kolovic

After more than 110 years of tuition-free education, Cooper Union will no longer grant each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship. The response? Eleven students have barricaded themselves inside the college for the past 24 hours to protest the school’s decision.

According to the New York blog Gothamist, 11 Cooper Union students and one student journalist from The New School have barricaded themselves inside Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. They unfurled a red banner from the eighth floor which read “Free Education To All” and released a list of demands that included the resignation of Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha, a public affirmation of “the college’s commitment to free education” and more transparency for the Board of Trustees. The school released a statement that while a decision has yet to be made on whether or not they would charge tuition, it was being considered in light of a waning endowment and rising costs. We should note that no matter what the trustees vote, all current students are grandfathered in so they won’t be retroactively charged tuition or be asked to pay for the rest of their time at Cooper.

Since 1902, each of Cooper Union’s 1,000 undergraduates have received a full scholarship, valued at approximately $150,000 as of 2012. As a result, it is one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate generally below 10 percent, with both the art and architecture school’s acceptance rates often below 5 percent. What do you think of the efforts made by these 11 students? Do you agree with their sit-in form of protest?

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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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Newberry College to Offer Social Media Major

December 14, 2012

Newberry College to Offer Social Media Major

by Suada Kolovic

For some students, opting for what one might consider a safe major like business or accounting just doesn’t have the allure as something as unique as puppetry, packaging (which boasts a 90-percent job placement rate, by the way) or tweeting. No need to adjust your screen folks, you read that right: Newberry College now offers both a major and minor in social media. Social media gurus rejoice!

Designed by Tania Sosiak, an associate professor of graphic design and social media at Newberry, the program blends existing classes from other disciplines such as graphic design, communications, business administration, psychology and statistics. Newberry President Dr. Maurice Scherrens said in a statement that they decided to start the new program due to a “long-term demand for college graduates in a rapidly expanding field.” Through these courses, students will explore the techniques of social media in addition to the development and direction of social media as a creative industry. Students will work to develop marketing and branding strategies for projects including corporate, non-profit, entertainment, sports, news and politics. Not everyone is a fan, though: Skeptics like Amora McDaniel at the Upstart Business Journal wrote, “This could be just another ploy to entice students to enroll in your schools without giving back anything of substance in return for their tuition money.”

What side of the fence are you on? Do you think that offering a social media major is progressive or do you think that schools are catering to students’ wants verses needs?

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