Posts published in December, 2015

9 Websites College Students Should Know This Holiday Season

By Jane Hurst

Whether you are trying to get through the last few weeks of classes before the holiday break, or you are trying to get ready for the holiday season, chances are that you are going to be a bit rushed and flustered. After all, not only do you have to get through your exams, you also have to make plans to travel home for the holidays, buy gifts, and a whole lot more. Luckily, there are loads of great websites out there that can help you get organized, and stay organized. Here are our top picks.

  1. Wolfram Alpha– When you need to calculate a math problem, or get data on any number of things, this is the site to check out. You will find step-by-step answers to all math problems. The only downfall is that this site is no longer free to use. If you don’t want to spend any money, check out SymPy Gamma.
  2. StudentRate– Visit this site to find the best deals on everything from clothing to travel to electronics to textbooks and a whole lot more. This is a good site to use when buying holiday gifts and planning your trip home.
  3. Lynda– Here you will find a massive library that is loaded with video courses that will help you to learn loads of skills. The majority of these courses are based around media production and computing, and they are perfect for those who want to learn everything about computer software.
  4. Citation Machine– This tool will help you to create bibliographies and source citations automatically. You can use this tool to search for a variety of sources, and if your search is recognized, it often fills in the citation fields for you.
  5. Happy to Survive– If you are looking for a last minute gift for the prepper on your list this is an awesome site that is loaded with great gift ideas. Be sure to take some time to read a lot of the helpful articles yourself. You never know when you are going to need this information. In fact, some articles can help you to become more organized in your daily life, which is going to help you with your studies.
  6. Google Calendar– This site has awesome smartphone apps, and it is a tool you need for organizing your life. It has been around for many years, and it hasn’t changed much. After all, if it isn’t broken, why fix it? You can use Google Calendar from any browser.
  7. Stack Exchange– This is a great site to use when you have questions about any of the subjects you are studying. You can find a terrific collection of communities where there are loads of questions and answers, and you will likely get what you need right here. This is a great tool when you are confused about content just before an exam.
  8. Dropbox– This is a god app for syncing all of your files and keeping them updated and backed up across all of your devices. The browser interface has recently improved, and you can even preview most types of files right in your browser with no need to download anything.
  9. Mint– This tool lets you look at all of your banking information, credit cards, and other financial accounts in one location. You can track your spending, create budgets, and much more.


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!

50% Of Community College Students Struggle to Pay Food/ Housing

There is a breaking report, released this morning (Friday, Dec 4, 2015) by the HOPE Lab at the University of Wisconsin, reporting on a national survey of community college students.

Here is the report:

The authors explain some of their findings in a New York Times opinion page piece, also released this morning. “Hungry, Homeless and in College

States Vary In Growth Of Student Debt


Student Debt and the Class of 2014. By Debbie Cochrane, et al. The Institute for College Access and Success. Oct. 2015. 35 p.


“At the national level, 2014 graduates were a little more likely to have student debt than their peers in 2004 (69% of graduates compared to 65%), and those who borrowed left school with a lot more debt. Average debt at graduation rose 56%, from $18,550 to $28,950, more than double the rate of inflation (25%) over this 10-year period. The rate of growth varied widely between states. While the majority of states saw the average debt of new graduates with loans rise two to three times faster than inflation, in five states it grew even faster—at more than triple the inflation rate, and in four states the growth was at or below the inflation rate.” California is considered a “low-debt” state, with the average student debt level at $21,382.


Students: Make Your Own Website For Many Benefits

By Melissa Burns

During the last decades Internet access has become a basic need for college students. There are many everyday things all young people can’t live without and good old web surfing makes an essential part of a college student’s life. Just think about it: the education routine takes tons of time. In that case the Web is a great help. It allows the youth not only to cope with studies but also make some time for virtual chat with friends.

Meanwhile, the main question remains without the answer: why do students actually need the Web access? The most common reasons for college undergraduates to spend a few quick hours in the Internet are:

  • complete their homework;
  • listen to local podcast or recent lectures uploaded by thoughtful professors;
  • visit classes online;
  • stay in touch with relatives and chums;
  • for pure amusement: play online games, watch clips on YouTube, chat with like-minded people;
  • seeking job opportunities.

How about to create your personal brand?

It is widely believed that life after college is full of chances to do things we love… To get a dream job. Not likely! Right after graduation many young employees face big disappointment. The reason is: there’s no job for you, my dear unknown but promising graduate.

Still, as soon as you have some time before entering the cruel world of adults, you can take care about your future today, of course, using the power of the Web. Create your personal brand to make you more competitive in the job market. It doesn’t matter whether you lack hands-on experience or not. The main thing here is to let your potential employer see the best of you. The summary for you is: build your personal brand now and get hired later.

Create your very own website

Suppose, you got the point of online self-branding. Your next move is to create a personal website to make it a virtual showcase of your current and future works. Believe it or not, but many business owners while looking for fresh ideas, visit personal blogs and websites of young talents. This strategy is very efficient because it allows potential employers to exclude thousands of mediocrities and hire a person with great potentials. Sounds pretty inviting, doesn’t it? However, before dreaming about your very own website, you need to think about one more thing.

Get web hosting

As you perfectly know, your showcase-to-be needs a place in the Web. Fortunately, these days you can find tons of hosting providers ready to help people in getting a spot in the virtual area. And not only that! Places like offer free hosting guides containing the latest info about different hosting companies. All you need to do in order to find a place for your site is to visit one of those online reviewers and choose a company you like most of all. They say, the first step is the hardest. Well, it’s definitely not that case, folks!

The bottom line of the whole story is that your online activity is a key to opening the gates to a wide world of possibilities. No matter, whether it be just a one-page portfolio or a full-fledged website, every step to self-perfection brings you closer to a cherished career. Let people know about you. Let them talk about you in popular social networks. After all, an actual job offer will be the best reward for your efforts.

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.

Student Evaluations Of Professors Flawed

By Dan Berrett, Chronicle Of Higher Education

In the coming weeks, students will participate in a ritual as familiar as it is reviled: evaluating their instructors.

One of the latest and most visible critiques of these assessments came this year from Carl E. Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. He cast doubt on their validity and reliability, proposing that instead, professors complete an inventory of the research-based teaching practices they use. That would be more likely to promote learning than garden-variety evaluations do, Mr. Wieman wrote in a recent issue of the magazine Change. “Current methods,” he said, “fail to encourage, guide, or document teaching that leads to improved student learning outcomes.”

Is there a better tool out there? If student input matters, how can it be made meaningful?

The IDEA Center, a 40-year-old nonprofit that spun off from Kansas State University, thinks it has a student-ratings system that overcomes two chief critiques of most surveys: poorly designed questions and misused results. Its course-evaluation tool, which has been steadily gaining traction on campuses, is designed to help professors judge how well they’re meeting their own course goals. “It’s all about the improvement of teaching and learning,” says Ken Ryalls, the center’s president.

Still, IDEA says it’s a mistake to rely too much on any one factor to evaluate teaching. That should involve multiple measures: student feedback, peer observation, and instructors’ self-reflection. “We’re the first ones to say that student ratings are overemphasized,” says Mr. Ryalls.

Most of what’s wrong with typical evaluations, he says, is that administrators often take their results as numerical gospel. The difference in scores of, say, 4.3 and 4.4 becomes objective and meaningful. That’s like judging a researcher on one standard, the center says, like number of publications or grant money. “Neither by itself would signal quality research,” the center’s staff wrote in response to Mr. Wieman, “any more than an average student ratings score should be used as the only measure of teaching effectiveness.”