Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

10 Tools for Writing a College Application Essay

February 12th, 2016



By Anna Olinger

Your college application essay is one of the most important essays you will ever write. Not only will it determine whether or not you are accepted into your choice college, but it also might affect scholarships and financial aid. It’s essential that you put a lot of time into the process. These websites will help you write a killer admissions essay!

  1. Shmoop: College 101

This collection of well-written college admissions essays is divided into categories like “emotional hardship,” “no one special,” and “Minority.” You can read through the essays to get an idea of how to structure your ideas or to gain inspiration.

  1. NY Times Admission Letter Advice

In this article, Martha C. Merrill, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Connecticut College, offers her professional insight to help you write a winning application and admission essay. Among her pieces of advice, she recommends that students write about themselves and focus on a mundane activity or event.

  1. Essays Capital

Essays Capital is a custom writing service that can help you write a great admissions essay. There are a lot of essay writing services to choose from. Essays Capital differentiates itself by incorporating your preferences and ideas into the text. They also take the time to get to know your writing style and tone, so the finished product sounds like you wrote it.

  1. The Writing Center

The Writing Center offers a step-by-step guide to writing a great college application. The site is broken into categories, beginning with how to select a thesis and basic research principles, and culminating in a conclusion that will leave an impact on the reader.

  1. Essays That Worked

John Hopkins University put out this list of the best admissions essays from the class of 2019. The eight essays vary widely by topic, but they are all engaging, interesting, and well-crafted.

  1. is a community for writers of all types. Create a profile, and upload your essay to get feedback from other members. You can also use the site to enter contests, and access writing tools and resources.

  1. College Papers For Sale

Are you stressing about writing your admissions essay? Would you like some assistance from a professional writing service? College Papers for Sale might be the answer. The service can provide a high-quality admissions essay based on the message you would like to share with the reader. Prices start at $19.99 for a one-page essay.

  1. Top 141 Successful College Essays

This comprehensive list of college admissions essays is a wonderful resource for anyone looking for inspiration or guidance. Each essay includes the school for which it was written. You could honestly spend hours on this site, captivated with the compelling stories contained within the essays. You’re bound to find something similar to your own story; you can start there and see where your imagination takes you.

  1. Spark Notes Sample Essays

In case you haven’t yet had your fill of winning college essays, you can find more of them here! These have the added benefit of including the original essay prompt as provided by the school.

  1. Writing The College Application Essay

This is an excellent guide to writing the perfect college admission essay. It divides the writing process into four steps: brainstorming, writing, revising for style, and revising for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It further expounds on each step to walk you through the process in a simple and easy to understand manner.

Now that you have the tools to help you succeed, it’s time to get started. Find a great study space, set aside a few hours, and get started on your outline. Your future is waiting!

Anna Olinger is a freelance content manager from Washington, DC. To learn more tips on content marketing, writing and social media follow Anna on Twitter and Linkedin.



High School Diplomas and Career and College Readiness: Time to Get Serious

February 11th, 2016

By Marc Tucker, education week

In my last blog, I said that I would begin a series of blogs intended for states that decide they want an education system second to none in the world. This blog lays out a proposal for a high school diploma that really means something, one that signifies that the graduate who holds that diploma is ready to succeed in the first year of most state two-year and four-year colleges, and is therefore ready for both college and career, since most serious career education these days takes place in our community colleges. I will also show how once this new high school diploma is in place, it can be used to build an accountability system that holds our schools accountable for student performance, holds our students accountable for taking tough courses and working hard in school, and includes features designed expressly to improve student performance across the board.

These two key policies embedded within my proposal, one dealing with what it takes to graduate from high school and the other with the accountability of both students and their teachers for their performance, are two sides of one coin.  One defines what adequate performance means in very clear terms and the other provides strong incentives for both faculty and students to perform at the required levels.  In my mind, the drive to create an education system set to global standards begins right here. You cannot design a high-performance system unless you know what it is intended to achieve.  Nor can any student reach the standard or any teacher help the student get there unless they know what the standard is. Get the standards and the incentives for reaching them right and you are halfway there.

This sounds simple enough, but it is exactly opposite of how our system functions now.  Everyone, apparently, agrees that all students should leave high school ready for work and college.  But what does that mean?  Does “work” mean flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s or doing specialty welding?  Does “college” mean the local diploma mill, which will take the federal money of any student who brings it in or the state’s flagship university?  Did you know that many states leave it up to the local district to decide what criteria to use for granting a high school diploma?  Or that most require a certain number of years of math in high school, but that a high school course in algebra often has no algebra in it?  Or that few if any states require their students to have more than an 8th grade level of literacy to graduate?

College and work ready ought to mean leaving high school with at least the literacy levels needed to be successful in the first year of a community college program.  That’s because about half the students in our community colleges seeking some sort of degree or certificate are in programs designed to prepare them for the last two years of a four-year college program and the other half are there to get a two-year degree or certificate in a vocational area.  Our community colleges are the nation’s gateway to both college and work.

Here are some facts I would have you consider when thinking about what it might mean to be college and work ready.  The typical community college first year course text is written at the 12th-grade level, but the students cannot read it because the typical high school text is written at the 7th- or 8th-grade level.  Community college instructors report that they have to prepare PowerPoint summaries of the texts because their first year students cannot comprehend what they are reading.  They do not ask their students to write very much because they write very poorly and the community college instructors do not see themselves as teachers of beginning writing.  Very little knowledge of high school math is required to be successful in our community colleges, but the majority of incoming high school graduates cannot do the math that is taught in the first-year community college program, because they have a very poor command of middle school math.  We conclude that our high schools are graduating students in very large numbers who are not ready for a high school curriculum, never mind a college curriculum.

States need to create a new, performance-based, high school diploma that signifies that the holder is ready to be successful in the first year of a typical state two-year or four-year program.  That is admittedly a low standard, but it is a far higher standard than most high school diplomas are set to currently.  That standard should be expressed as the grades a student would have to get in their high school courses, the syllabi for which are issued by the state.  Those grades should be based on exams the state also sets, which should be based on the required courses.  These exams would be externally graded by teachers, but not by the student’s teachers.  The course sequences should be designed so that all the required coursework could be completed by students who were ready to take the exams by the end of their sophomore year, but all students in the high school would be expected to complete these courses with passing grades by the end of their senior year.

Students completing and passing the courses in the core curriculum would be well-prepared to take a very demanding academic program preparing them for admission to a selective college, like the International Baccalaureate, the Advanced Placement Diploma Program or the University of Cambridge “A” Level program.  Or the student could take a demanding vocational program after completing the core curriculum, either one offered in their high school or one offered by their community college in collaboration with their high school.  These vocational programs, unlike many now offered by our high schools, would not be for students with low academic skills, because these students’ academic skills would be much higher than those of today’s typical high school graduate, but for students who wanted an applied, hands-on kind of program that conveys high technical skills, the kind of program we see in the world’s top-performing vocational education systems such as Singapore and Switzerland.

In this system, a student could meet the college- and-work-ready standard at any time between the end of their sophomore year and the end of their senior year, depending mainly on how well prepared the student is coming into high school.  The standard is fixed and the time a student takes to reach it varies, the opposite of today’s system. High schools would be obligated to assess the skills of their entering first-year students and create programs for them designed to take them from wherever they start to the standard just described.  Some students who start out behind will need more time during the day and week than others to catch up.  Others might enter high school so far behind that it takes them three or even four years to get to the new diploma standard.  Either way, they would be leaving high school having met a standard far higher than the one they are expected to meet now, a standard that will open many doors now closed to them.

In this system, there would be no question about what it means to be college and work ready. All the evidence shows that when students know what they have to do to realize their own dream they will put in the effort needed to get there.  Many more students would be ready for selective colleges, but many more would also be ready for success in the state’s open admissions colleges and first-rate technical education programs.  We would be doing high school in high school, not in college, and therefore saving enormous amounts of money for both states and families.  We would have more brain surgeons and more specialty welders.  The middle class would swell and stop shrinking.  Employers would be much more likely to find the skilled labor they need.  Young people who now leave school with very bleak prospects would leave high ready for a full and rewarding life.

We should build a new accountability system around the new diploma.  High schools would be held accountable for the proportion of students who get the new diploma and how long it takes to get it; the proportion of students from protected populations who get it and how long it takes them to do so; the proportion of students who leave high school to go to community colleges who complete two-year degrees in four years and four-year degrees in six years; and the proportion of students who enroll in college prep programs and their success rate, as well as the proportion that actually get into college. All of these metrics would be reported in absolute terms, in terms that show year-to-year growth for students and for the school and in terms that allow the observer to compare the school to schools with similar student populations.  If you are a state that is serious about getting your students ready for careers and college, these are the things you should be measuring.

Many states are now considering using the SAT or ACT as their state test to determine college and work readiness. Such a system is no substitute for the kind of system I have just described.  One of the powerful features of this system is the way it is based on specific course designs.  Students know just what they have to study to succeed.  If the exams are essay-based, as they should be, the state should release the test questions every year as well as examples of student responses that earned high marks.  The real standard is not just the statement about what the student is expected to learn that appears in the course syllabus, but also the vivid examples of what good student work looks like.  In this system, students know what they have to do to get high grades, their teachers know where they are strong and weak and can help the students improve where they have to improve.  When you get SAT and ACT scores, they tell you nothing about the kind of work that gets high marks, what good work looks like, where the student did well and where she did badly.  It is all a mystery.  The best accountability systems are not designed primarily to administer punishments.  They are designed to improve student performance.  That is exactly what this one is designed to do.

How to Start Learning Better and Faster In College

February 10th, 2016

By Andrew Howe

 The educational process needs both time and efforts, so most students give up studying. The problem is they don’t know how to boost productivity and inspiration, and if you are among them, it’s high time to understand how to start learning better and faster.

Here are several productivity tips for students:

 Stick to a Schedule

 By communicating with recent graduates, you can learn what helped them succeed in education. And, believe it or not, but most graduates would agree that schedule helps a lot in the educational process organization. Although you have your lessons scheduled, you might forget about the need to stick to a schedule while studying at home.

Remember: it’s nearly impossible to stay focused when you don’t have time limits for completing tasks. Thus, sticking to a schedule is a must. For example, you can get rid of different distractions (social media, TV, calls, etc.), and dedicate 2-3 hours to learning. Once your tasks are done, you can relax and spend time with friends. It boosts not only productivity but motivation as well.

 Workplace Organization

Being a student means trying to succeed in education and personal communication. Although most students sacrifice the quality of their education, trying to find time to spend with friends, and workplace organization can help to save both time and efforts.

If your writing desk has no distractions, it’s more likely you can study faster and complete tasks on a high level. Just form a habit to clean your desk daily and find a place for every item you use daily: hide notes, put books on bookshelves, throw away drafts, and keep utensils in one place.

Make the Most Out of Devices

 Living in the digital era, the educational process has changed, so students spend most of the time doing home assignments with the digital technologies. There is no need to say that students write essays, read books, and even keep on learning online. However, not so many of them use all modern gadgets that might save time and help them become more productive.

To start learning better and faster, pay attention to the following devices:


  • A smartpen. It helps to transfer handwritten texts into digital copies. Plus, it can be used as a calculator or an audio recorder if needed.


  • An E-reader. Nowadays there is no need to carry heavy books with you. Download it to your E-reader and start reading it! Now you can read books, articles, and notes wherever you are.


  • Noise-canceling headphones. To get rid of distractions, it’s enough to take noise-canceling headphones that reduce ambient sounds. It helps students study better.


E-Learning and M-Learning

Although MOOCs are becoming more popular nowadays, people start thinking about m-learning as well. Let’s be real: being an iPhone owner, it’s easy to get different educational tools and apps that might help you succeed in education. Plus, you can use it wherever you are. M-Learning has a range of reasons, so the number of students who are involved is getting higher.

Actually, online education helps to save time, efforts, and money. Once you pick a course or an app, start learning something new. It’s easier than never.

To learn more about the best apps for your iPhone, check out a list of apps for college students.

Collaboration with Other Students

 Although some teachers are against such ‘tasks sharing’, it’s important to remember that students learn how to act as a team and, therefore, it’s a great team-building tool. Collaborating with other students, you can share your knowledge, get an insight, broaden the mind, and get things done faster.

Plus, while some students are afraid of asking additional questions to teachers, they can rely on their group mates to understand the material better. All in all, it helps to deeper learning and understanding, so you start learning better.

Final Thoughts

 Being productive, you can achieve success in education and, therefore, start living a better life. There is one important thing for you to remember and keep in mind while studying: it’s you who need to obtain strong knowledge, so roll up your sleeves and boost productivity once and for all!

 Author’s bio: Andrew Howe is a student at Queens University of Charlotte where he studies language and literature. He has developed a useful tool Adverbless to give students a chance to improve their writing skills.

Contact Andrew via email:


Community Colleges Collaborating to Improve Student Success

February 9th, 2016

As the national movement to increase community college access continues to gain momentum, a new report from Higher Ed for Higher Standards suggests that these efforts will be much more successful if they include clear strategies for increasing college readiness so students are better prepared for success.

Produced in partnership with American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), this action-oriented report outlines key steps community colleges can take to improve college readiness and completion rates by leveraging the more ambitious K-12 standards & assessments most states have adopted.

The report bases its recommendations on examples of community colleges around the country that have adopted innovative approaches to working with their local high schools to increase college readiness rates, while also changing their approaches to placement and first year course design to improve student success. The recommendations cover three critical areas:

  • Precollege interventions to help students speed up and catch up
  •  Streamlined placement policies to smooth student transitions
  • Redesigned freshman year experiences to meet student needs and maximize their chances for success

Money-Saving Habits to Develop in College For The Real World

February 8th, 2016

By Jane Hurst

College life is great, and many young people really want to live it up and get all that they can out of the college experience. What many people don’t realize is that they are not actually getting all that they could be getting out of the experience. Sure, this is a great time to party, but it is also a time to learn, and not just about the subjects you are studying. These are the years that are going to prepare you for life in the real world. Real life is expensive, so now is the time to take advantage of learning money-saving habits now that will help you in the real world.

  • Choose the Best College for Your Money – You can choose from any college, but they are not all the same. They don’t all offer the same curriculum, and they don’t offer the same tuition rates. What you need to do is sit down and figure out which college is going to give you the most bang for your buck. One school may have a course you really want to take, but if the tuition is out of this world, is it really going to be worth it to you when you are looking at many years of student loan payments?
  • Look for Free Food and other Deals – As a student, it’s not like you are going to have a lot of extra spending money. You will likely be living on a tight budget, so you will need to look for ways to stretch your budget. Take advantage of free food offers, student discounts, and anything else that will help you save money. This will help you in the future, because you will be skilled at finding the best deals.
  • Buy Knockoffs – If you really want to have that great audio/visual system or designer handbag, look for knockoffs that are a lot cheaper. This approach can work for items you actually need, too. Here’s an example: say you ran over a pothole, damaged your rim and need to  replace it. The dealership charges an arm and a leg, so you go online and find the same replacement replica rim at a fraction of the cost. Bottom line: When you want to buy something, see if there’s a quality alternative that will save you money.
  • Make Money from Old Textbooks – The textbooks you need are expensive, and chances are, after you are finished a semester, you will never open that semester’s books again. You can recoup some of the money you spend on your textbooks, and use it for books for the next semester and other things you need, or put it into savings for the future. You can choose to rent your textbooks, or sell them outright.
  • Hone Your Research Skills – You may think that you are wasting your time researching subjects until the wee hours. But, not only is this going to help you get better grades, it is also helping to prepare you for the real world. For instance, there will likely come a time when you want to purchase a home. You will need to do a lot of research to make sure you get the right home at the right price, and the research skills you learn now will come into play.
  • Get Roommates – It isn’t uncommon at all for college students to live together in order to save money. There is also absolutely no reason not to continue doing this once you are out of college. Sure, you don’t have complete privacy, but with all of your experience in college, you will know the little tricks you can use to be able to live comfortably with others.



Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter!

5 Tips to Succeed After College

February 5th, 2016

By Taylor Tomita

Careful planning and critical thinking are vastly essential as we traverse through the college world. Pinpointing which professional field to major in, surviving the college life on miniscule incomes, and allowing yourself to take on new opportunities are all tasks that require these characteristics in order to succeed.

The truth is, things are not much different after college. Venturing out and succeeding within the “after college” world holds a strong calling for these characteristics. It is vital to carry them as you venture out within the world. Thankfully there are many tips and tricks to aid you on this journey.

Here are the 5 best pieces of advice I have heard for individuals aiming for success in the after college world.

Ask for Help

Asking your peers for help is a tactic that is often overlooked. There are a number of successful individuals within the working world who were once in the same position you may be – lost. It is important to understand that there are numerous opportunities to gain insights and knowledge from industry experts and colleagues, and these people are almost always willing to help. Seeking guidance shows that you are dedicated to mastering the field in which you work, and is often encouraged by employers throughout the world.

Be Presentable

As you venture out into the job-seeking world, it is highly important to make yourself presentable on both a physical and emotional level. This means, not only should you dress for the job you want, but you should focus on being respectful and charismatic so you can overcome these tough interview questions that have hindered many job seeker’s interview attempts in the past.

Take Risks

Many fresh college graduates miss out on a vast majority of opportunities due to being too nervous or scared to take risks. Enormous opportunities often arise from taking risks like relocating to a more prosperous city or even taking a chance by working for a growing startup company. It is important to take a step back and understand that this time of our lives is meant for taking risks. If things do not work out, there are a plethora of other opportunities waiting for our arrival.

Keep Learning

No matter what you have majored in, it is vital to continue taking in new information about the industry. Many individuals seem to plateau their learning after graduating, but this severely hinders their ability to move forward. There are always opportunities to expand your education and many employers will be impressed to see you have earned a degree, but have also taken initiative to be certified in various other aspects of the career. It never hurts to take in more information, and who knows, perhaps doing so will help land another position within your current career or help expand further into new opportunities.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Often times, college graduates fall under the mercy of bad employment deals, because they are not confident in their ability to factor their needs into their job. Of course, we all have high expectations of how our futures and careers will pan out, but an enormous factor in this success is knowing how to negotiate salaries and understanding that good employers encourage this to help you stay motivated. The sky is the limit, but you are going to have to put the effort in.


Overall, the after college world can be a rollercoaster ride, but being able to stay motivated and striving to succeed will open many opportunities along the way.

Thank you for reading. Let’s keep the conversation going. What tips do you have to succeed after college?


Author Bio: Taylor Tomita is a creative writer residing in Boise, Idaho. Focusing on various angles of education and business, Taylor has been able to help many individuals overcome concerns within these fields. When not writing, you can find Taylor playing in the band Stepbrothers or hanging out with his cat at home. Follow him on Twitter (@Trvshlvrd_rr)!




How to Continue Education after College

February 4th, 2016

By Melissa Burns

Many students perceive their years at college as a surefire ticket into the adult life and a high-paying job. Never again are they going to study – serious work and career achievements is what awaits them.

Nothing can be further from the truth – at least if you really want any achievements. Education shouldn’t necessarily be formal and result in a diploma, but without ongoing self-improvement nobody can amount to much nowadays. So let’s talk about how you can get this self-improvement.

1.      Listen to Local Lectures and Readings

If you keep your eyes peeled you will find no end of open lectures, readings, conferences, appearances of well-known speakers, professors and authors in your vicinity. Sign up for the newsletters on the websites of local universities, bookstores, companies working in the industry you are interested in, writers and artists you want to hear. There are always interesting events to attend, so make sure you know of them.

2.      Online Education

There is a lot to say in support of online education and not really much to find fault with, as its negative aspects are quickly being rectified with the development of new methods and technologies. Even large companies, notoriously conservative in everything that concerns the education of their employees, more and more often choose online education in favor of any other approach as it shows itself to be more efficient, occupying less time, easier to arrange and faster to take hold. Click here to learn more.

3.      Find a Mentor

Learning from other people is probably the most effective way to find out new things. If you make it your rule to talk with specialists on unfamiliar topics from time to time, you will be amazed how much you can learn in a couple of hours by simply talking and listening.

Don’t know where to find a mentor? Ask around. One of your friends, relatives or acquaintances may turn out to be an expert in an unexpected field or know somebody who will be happy to chat with you on a topic you are interested in. But you have to ask – mentors don’t just appear, you have to actively look for them.

4.      Read

Reading may not be very popular in our age of five-second attention spans, but in all its history humankind is yet to find a better way to store and transfer knowledge than text. Reading is equally useful no matter what area you work on. If you want to learn more about the industry of your choice, read a non-fiction book on it. If you work in a creative field, read some fiction or poetry to get inspiration.

5.      Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts like Radiolab are ideal for these periods when we are performing some kind of mechanical, unthinking activity, like driving, jogging or cleaning up your place. They let you find out about all kinds of things you had no idea of without changing the routine of your day.

Learning after college is a must; it enhances your career, enriches your life and opens up new vistas for further development – and, as you may see, it doesn’t necessarily take up the lion share of your time.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented. – See more at:


– See more at:

Should We Encourage Students To Take 15 Credits Per Semester?

February 3rd, 2016

By Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

 The Obama administration recently joined a campaign to encourage students to take at least 15 credits per semester, following several statewide higher education systems and a growing number of individual public colleges.

The idea behind the “15 to Finish” push is that students who take on course loads of that size or larger have more academic success and, not surprisingly, are more likely to earn a degree on time.

Many students assume that taking 12 credits per semester is enough for them to earn an associate degree in two years, or a bachelor’s degree in four years, said Dhanfu Elston, vice president for Complete College America, a nonprofit advocacy group that has played a prominent role in the campaign. That assumption is wrong, however, unless students take courses during the summer. For example, a 12-credit course load works out to 48 credits after two years — well short of a 60-credit associate degree. And some degree programs require more than 30 credits per year.

Low-income students who receive federal Pell Grants often cannot use that aid money for summer courses. And many grant recipients get the same amount of Pell money for 24 credits a year as they would for 30 credits.

The White House wants to change that, however. Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Education proposed the restoration of the so-called year-round Pell, which would allow students to use the grants to help pay for summer courses. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress eliminated that eligibility four years ago.

At the same time, the department proposed an annual bonus of $300 for Pell recipients who take at least 15 credits. Both that new idea, dubbed the “on-track Pell bonus,” and the year-round Pell proposal would require congressional action to become reality.

The department said the bonus would help students graduate on time.

“Finishing faster means more students will complete their education at a lower cost and likely with less student debt,” the department said in a written statement. “This proposal would help an estimated 2.3 million students next year as they work to finish their degrees faster.”

Advocates for community colleges and lower-income students mostly welcomed the bonus concept, describing it as well-intentioned. But the proposal also made some within higher education nervous.

For one thing, many students work while attending college and don’t have time to take 15 credits per semester. And students who are less prepared academically might falter if encouraged to stretch themselves too thin, some experts have argued. Or students might add courses that don’t count toward their majors to try to get to 15 credits.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of education policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, published an essay arguing that the bonus poses a risk to lower-income students.

“Research clearly indicates that giving them more grant aid will help them complete degrees at higher rates. The money is necessary,” she wrote. “But what will happen if it comes at an additional price associated with being pushed to take more credits than they otherwise would have? Is this positive motivation, or a punitive approach driven by political requirements to ration financial aid?”

Long Hours

Little new federal money is flowing into higher education these days. And year-round Pell is the top priority for community colleges, said Karen Stout, the new president and CEO of Achieving the Dream and former president of Montgomery County Community College, in Pennsylvania.

“They might not all get funded,” she said of the Obama administration’s Pell plans.

Even more ominous, said Stout and others, is the prospect that Congress would at some point try to make a 15-credit course load some form of minimum requirement for Pell Grants or other types of federal aid. To be defined as a full-time student (and to receive the maximum annual award of $5,775) under Pell, recipients currently must take at least 12 credits per semester.

There is no serious push to change that definition. Complete College America isn’t calling for it. Yet a budget-slashing Congress could seize on the idea. So could state lawmakers who are looking to change the eligibility requirements for state aid grants.

“I just worry,” said Stout, adding that such a change is “more of a danger at the state level.”

The department said its proposal would not harm Pell recipients.

“We need to be clear that this is a bonus, so it does not change the Pell Grant value for any student who is taking 12 units or nine units. What this does is that it provides a $300 bonus to students who choose to take 15 units or more,” Ted Mitchell, the department’s under secretary, said in a phone call with reporters.

Five statewide higher education systems and colleges in more than 15 other states have begun 15-to-Finish campaigns,according to Complete College America. Those efforts typically feature web advertisements and other forms of marketing to raise students’ awareness about the benefits of taking more credits. None of the campaigns include requirements for students to take more credits. State aid requirements aren’t on the table, either.

The goal, said Elston, is “sending signals to students about what it’s going to take to get to on-time graduation.”

Some of the informational campaigns, which first began at the University of Hawaii system, have shown impressive results.

For example, Elston previously worked at Purdue University’s Calumet campus, where one-third of students receive Pell Grants. In 2012 just 27 percent of first-time, full-time students at the university took at least 15 credits during their first semester. Two years later, after the university started its outreach for 15 to Finish, 66 percent of incoming students had course loads of at least 15 credits.

Stout said Montgomery County Community College also has worked to change student perceptions about course loads.

“We were trying to get to 15 credits as the default,” she said.

The department’s bonus proposal is an intriguing idea, Stout said, adding that it probably would fit into an ideally structured version of the Pell Grant program. However, she said data are thin about whether such an approach would work.

“There’s this big assumption that 15 credits will lead to better completion,” she said, but “we just don’t know.”

Some experts, however, said there is solid research showing that 15-credit course loads can improve completion rates.

Tod Massa, policy research and data warehousing director for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, wrote about 15 to Finish on the council’s blog. He used data from the state to show that 74 percent of students who take at least 15 credits at Virginia’s public, four-year institutions will complete a degree within six years. That percentage falls to 63 percent for students who take 12 to 14.5 credits.

However, Massa cautioned that policies to encourage 15-credit course loads must be thoughtfully constructed to prevent unintended consequences.

“For some students, credit load is a function of overall affordability, particularly of their flexible or indirect costs such as textbooks and commuting costs,” he wrote. “Also, not every class is three credits, and sometimes schedules stack in such a way that a student’s choice is not between 12 and 15, but between 14 and 17.”

Student who work while in college also may be better off with a more balanced schedule, Massa said.

The National Study on Collegiate Financial Wellness has numbers to back up that assertion, having found that the work-college balance is a serious challenge for many students. Ohio State University runs the large survey in collaboration with several other institutions that represent a broad swath of higher education.

Among community college students who responded, fully one-third said the primary reason they were taking extra time to complete their degrees was because they had to take fewer classes in order to work more. Sixteen percent of students at public, four-year universities gave that answer, as did 18.2 percent of students overall.

Many students are working long hours, too. About 40 percent of community college students said they work more than 36 hours a week, the survey found. And almost half (47.2) of all respondents — meaning across all types of colleges — said they were working more than 20 hours a week.

For many of these students, taking 15 credits might help them get to graduation on time. But taking five courses while working long hours at a job is a tall order.

Instagram as an Educational Tool for College Students

February 2nd, 2016

Instagram as an Educational Tool for Students

  Instagram is the most important social network for American teens, and the number of registered youth is growing rapidly. While most teens use Instagram for posting their photos and videos, it’s not just about your selfies, food and fitness photos, and likes/reposts.

As the Internet makes the educational process more interesting than ever, teachers should jump at the opportunity to get the most out of this progress. Thus, it’s a great idea to start using social networks in the classroom.


Instagram can become a great educational tool that makes the educational process unique, interesting, and insightful.

If you want to develop (or improve) some useful skills, start using Instagram right now.

Here comes a list of reasons why using Instagram is beneficial:

Develop creativity  Most Instagram users want to surprise their audience with great images, so they start making different photos, editing them, and publishing on the web. If you use Instagram, you might notice that there are many spammy photos. However, people do their best to become unique, and it helps to develop creativity.

Become tech-savvy. The Internet has become a main source of information and the best communication tool. It gives so many opportunity to tech-savvy users that it’s nearly impossible to stop using it. Thus, students should learn how to be tech-savvy, and using social networks is a way to become a proficient user as well.

 Learn from gurus. Nowadays most gurus in all niches have their accounts on Instagram. They share not only personal photos but their stories and tips as well. Thus, students can find a person who is a source of inspiration and start following this profile.

 Online studying. Students prefer interesting ways of studying, and Instagram helps to make the educational process unique. Teachers can give creative assignments that can be evaluated via Instagram (attending galleries, creating photo essays, making videos, etc.). Once a home assignment is done, ask a student to tag a teacher to get a mark.

 Team building. No matter how big your group is, you can create a class account where all educational moments would be represented. Make photos, share tasks, write comments and keep in touch with your class even when you are on holidays. It helps to build a strong team as it shows group’s membership.

Does the number of followers matter?

Most Instagram users want to get more and more followers. They even start cheating to attract more readers, but it won’t work.

Obviously, the more followers you have, the more likely your content will be shared. However, quantity is over quantity, so having just the number is not enough. People should be interested in what you’re publishing. So, you need to attract relevant followers only.

Once you decided it’s high time to increase the number of likes on your profile, find out 5 easy ways to boost your followers on Instagram.

The Best Accounts to Follow

 Finding inspiration on Instagram is a great thing to do. If you want to get motivation, you can search for images, using relevant hashtags (#students, #student_life, #college, etc.), but don’t forget to follow those accounts that inspire you the most. Here are top 3 accounts that can give you a motivation boost.

@coryrichard  a National Geographic photographer and adventurer who loves traveling, filming, and climbing. His photos show the beauty of our world and, therefore, inspire.


reasons to follow: see the world, get inspiration.

@edutopia – if you want to get an insight or find out interesting tips on learning, you need to start following this account. It is useful for both students and teachers.

reasons to follow: boost motivation, life hacks, useful tips.

@amnh – even if you believe that you know almost everything about history, you need to start following the official Instagram page of the American Museum of Natural History.

reasons to follow: learn history, discover interesting facts and things about the history.

Living in the digital era, teachers and students cannot stop technological progress, and being in a trend is important. Next time you log in your Instagram account, look for insights on the web to broaden your mind. The educational process should be interesting, funny, and motivational, so don’t miss a chance to start learning better.

P.S. Although most people have watched this video parody about typical Instagram users, it’s still funny. Enjoy and keep in mind that Instagram is much more than mediocre photos people post daily.

Author’s bio: Andrew Howe is a student at Queens University of Charlotte where he studies language and literature. He has developed a useful tool Adverbless to give students a chance to improve their writing skills.

10 Dorm Room Tips, Tricks, and Hacks every College Student needs to Know

February 1st, 2016

By Jane Hurst

Going to college is likely going to be the first major change in your life, and for many people, it can be pretty overwhelming. But, if you are fully prepared, you can easily make the transition from home to college life. Take advantage of the following 10 tips to help you get through your college years.

  1. Stay Organized – If you are disorganized, you are never going to accomplish anything. The better you are at organizing, and we mean organizing everything, the easier your life, and your college career, are going to be. Keep a weekly planner and write down every important thing that you need to do, from studying for exams to keeping appointments and then some.
  2. Use Your Resources – While you are in college, you will have loads of resources available to you, from tutoring to library services to clubs to counseling and more. Take advantage of as many of these resources as possible.
  3. Get Involved – While it is never a good idea to take on too much, especially in your first year, you should check out some of the campus clubs and organizations to see what interests you. This is a great way to make new friends, make connections for future employment, etc.
  4. Get Cheap Textbooks – Textbooks are ridiculously expensive, but there are plenty of ways to get them without having to pay full price. Check out websites like, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Don’t forget to ask students if they are selling their old textbooks, and look for other ways to get used textbooks.
  5. Follow Campus Rules – While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are a lot of people who will try and push the boundaries, because they are on their own for the first time. Remember, you are paying good money for your college education. The last thing you want is to get kicked out because you weren’t following campus rules.
  6. Take Care of Your Pets – Because studies show that students often perform better when they have pets in their lives, more and more campuses are allowing students to keep small pets in their dorm rooms. If you have a pet, make sure that you take care of its health by having good insurance (start with comparing pet insurance at Pet Insurance University) to pay for vet care.
  7. Take Advantage of Your Student Discount – There are loads of places that will offer student discounts, and you can save a lot of money by taking advantage of these discounts. Use as many as are available to you, for everything from school supplies to meals to electronic devices and more.
  8. Get a Mattress Topper – Dorm beds aren’t necessarily the most comfortable beds in the world, but you need to get plenty of sleep to do your best in college. You can make your dorm bed a lot more comfortable by investing in a good mattress topper. The more comfortable you are, the more sleep you are going to get, and the more alert you are going to be in classes and when you are studying.
  9. Check Out Internships – If you want to see if you are going to like a career path, an internship is a great way to do it. You get to meet people in the industry, and you will learn a lot. Some companies even offer paid internships. Ask the guidance counsellor about internship programs in the area.
  10. Relax and Enjoy Yourself – Obviously, your main goal is to graduate and go on to a great career. But, don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by study. You also need to take time out for yourself, so you can relax and do things that you enjoy. If you let yourself get burned out with study and don’t have fun, things may not go as well as you had planned.


Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter!