Posts published in March, 2016

The Best Career Choices for the Next Decade

By Melissa Burns

Whether you are just starting out at college or are going to graduate this year, you should think carefully about what your future career is going to be. But probably not too carefully – we don’t live in the age of static jobs, so even if you make a wrong choice today, or made it some years before, it is never too late to change the course. Here is the list of careers that are going to be hot in the next decade – so keep an eye on them!

1.    Accountants/Auditors

It may not sound very exciting, but the fact is a fact – with the growing number of small businesses, self-employed people and entrepreneurship, the demand for professional accountants that can service a large number of independent businesses is going to grow as well. All these small firms and sole proprietors won’t be able to employ accountants and auditors full-time, and will need somebody to take care of their books and records.

2.    App Developers

Programming in general and app development in particular is a job of the future. This market has exploded in the course of the last few years, and ongoing research and development in such spheres as the Internet of Things, smart home systems, artificial intelligence and so on show that what we’ve seen so far is nothing but a tip of an iceberg. If you get a good education in this sphere, you will have no trouble finding a job with any firm from the list of the top iPhone development companies.

3.    Registered Nurses

The world’s population is getting older – the percentage of senior citizens, especially in developed countries, is growing steadily, and is going to noticeably change the world economy sooner than one may expect. All this aging population is going to need somebody to take care of them, and the number of registered nurses capable of doing so is already somewhat insufficient, which is reflected in rapidly growing demand for their services.

4.    Medical Specialists and Surgeons

Nursing is not the only sector of healthcare that is going to grow. High-end specialist physicians, and especially surgeons, are among the highest-paid jobs today, and this tendency isn’t going to alter any time soon. Their median pay is already very high and is only going to get higher – however, the level of education necessary to land such a job is not easily attainable as well. Not to mention that it requires a considerable initial investment.

5.    Veterinarians

Veterinarians do much more than simply treat dogs, cats and other domestic animals (although it is no small feat in its own right). They also inspect livestock, protect public health, keep our food supply from contamination and disease and in general have a far greater impact on our everyday life than one may think. In recent years, scientific advancements in veterinary medicine have created many new jobs, and their number is only going to expand in the years to come.

Of course, having a degree in one of these spheres doesn’t guarantee total job security, but it certainly is going to be higher than in most other areas.

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.


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College Performance Funding :Lessons From States

Lumina papers look at lessons of performance funding
Lumina Foundation released a second batch of white papers on performance-based funding in higher education, with a focus on lessons from states that have linked funding to metrics such as on-time graduation and the number of at-risk students who graduate. (Inside Higher Ed)

What Can You Really Do With Your College Major?

By Taylor Tomita

As a lot us are just dipping your toes into the college world, there are a plethora of factors that we must take into account throughout our lifetimes in the college realm. Working, frugality, and studying for the next big exam are just three of the many responsibilities for today’s college students – yet skipping out on the research to find what their degree can be applied to is often overlooked.

Many of us have aspirations of owning our own business, but did you know that obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration can also put you in the position to pursue a career as a market research analyst or as a human resource representative? There are a handful of career options that come with nearly every degree, and I wanted to outline a few of the key points to keep an eye on with a few of today’s college opportunities.

Medical Majors

Of course, one of the first occupations that comes to mind when we think of a PhD are positions alike surgeon, because it is something we hear rather frequently. While pursuing surgery is a fantastic career opportunity, acquiring a PhD in medicine opens career paths in a variety of medical fields that require little-to-no additional certification. This list outlines these careers with options, such as biomedical engineering or physical therapy, which are just a few of the lesser-known values of acquiring a PhD in the medical field.

Law Majors

At first glance, many individuals are turned away from pursuing law as a career. This is likely due to a noticeable decrease in career opportunities surrounding law surrounding the recession. However, those who have acquired (or are working towards acquiring) these degrees are flourishing. Recently, there has been a rather large influx in various uncommon cases surrounding law.  Medical malpractice, and social security cases are becoming more apparent as time goes on, and this has opened a rather large window into various types of careers for today’s individuals holding a degree in law.

Engineering Majors

The world of engineering has thrived over the last decade. As the popularity of oil field occupations grows, seeking an engineering degree can very well put you into the position to become a very wealthy individual. However, as technology continues to grow, there are many additional opportunities throughout the engineering world. These degrees open up possibilities for interested individuals to join the thriving world of robotics, which is growing at an alarming rate at both the industrial and consumer levels.

Journalism Majors

In the past, journalism degrees generally meant you had about two career options – either being a reporter for the local newspaper, or the television. As both of these options are sadly being whittled down with the rise of the internet, many students have stayed away from pursuing journalism careers. This decrease in interest, coupled with a large increase in journalism opportunities, have created a goldmine of career options for journalism majors. Becoming a content producer or a grant writer are now widely sought-after in today’s world

In Summary, it is vital to fully research every opportunity that can be pursued with your chosen college major. You will be surprised with what you find! Thank you for reading!

Author Bio:

Taylor Tomita is an Idaho-based writer for who enjoys writing about the education and entrepreneurial worlds. When not writing, you can find Taylor playing in the band Stepbrothers. Find him on Twitter (@trvshlvrd_rr).



AP Exams Increase Dramatically And So Do Passing Scores

By Nat Malkus, Real Clear Education

Students voluntarily sit through a grueling three-hour exam to try to prove that they learned enough in their Advanced Placement course to earn college credit or place out of lower-level college courses.

AP has grown dramatically over the past few decades, doubling the number of test takers between 1996 and 2006, and then doubling again by 2016. The program is run by a private company, the College Board, but it has become the default option for providing advanced coursework in public high schools across the country. As a result, over half a million more kids a year are taking more rigorous classes than were just a dozen years ago.

As the program has grown, however, it’s come under fire from two very different directions. One camp of critics argues AP is expanding too fast, funneling underprepared students to take classes above their level. Others argue that AP isn’t expanding fast enough to provide access tostudents of color and poor students who have low rates of participation. Both of those concerns are reasonable and well-intentioned. But both are off the mark.

Critics in the first camp believe AP’s rigor is being watered down to accommodate program expansion, primarily by allowing too many inadequately prepared students to participate. The most salacious among these critics call AP a “scam” designed to drive profits for the College Board. Such accusations are intuitively plausible, and typically based on anecdotal evidence and critic’s own experiences.

While this might be true in certain schools, it is false across the board. My research examined the test scores public school AP course-takers earned on the independent National Assessment of Educational Progress to take a good look at AP over time.

Between 2000 and 2009, AP participation jumped 35 percent, but participants’ test scores did not show the declines critics predicted. The test scores of graduates that did not participate in AP courses did drop during this period, slightly. That drop suggests AP has expanded by tapping deeper into a reserve of academically prepared students. Despite its limited influence on school programs, the College Board’s quality control efforts, including its AP course audits introduced in 2007, appear to have gained traction. Expanding at scale without sacrificing rigor is the rarest kind of success in public education, and AP is showing just that. Watering down AP may occur in some schools, but it isn’t rampant.

The second camp is rightly concerned with AP participation gaps by student race and class. While AP’s expansion has increased participation across race groups, the gaps are persistent and enormous­. For instance, 7 in 10 Asian public high school graduates earned AP course credits in 2013, compared to 4 of 10 white graduates and less than 3 in 10 black graduates. Race gaps are also pronounced in how many AP courses students take. In 2009, Asian graduates with AP credit had taken an average of four different courses, compared to three courses for white graduates and fewer for Black and Hispanic graduates.

Critics complain that these gaps are due to unequal access. But the fact is that about 90 percent of public high school students attend a school that offers AP. What’s more, those percentages hardly differ by students race, meaning simply expanding AP to all schools is an inadequate solution for closing race-based participation gaps. Critics also assert that these gaps stem from bias, explicit or implicit, within schools.  Such bias no doubt exists in some schools, and the College Board has taken steps, like its AP Potential program, to mitigate its effects on participation for underserved students.  However important it is to identify and stamp out that bias, it’s insufficient to explain the racial and class gaps in AP participation.

Focusing heavily on bias risks letting the bigger culprit off the hook. Across states, schools, and subjects, large and widespread achievement gaps by race are evident from Kindergarten through graduation. Those persistent achievement gaps are comparable to AP participation gaps. Dismantling bias in AP admissions at the point students arrive in high school can only do so much while glaring achievement gaps persist through early grades. These gaps are a major failing in American education, but not in Advanced Placement.

In fact, AP might be the single happiest education story of the century. AP’s dramatic growth has made it an indispensable part of public education, but the real feat has been maintaining quality at scale. AP programs have substantially increased access to advanced coursework for all public school students, and the College Board has made that access possible by taking concrete steps to maintain program quality and increase access to underserved students. The challenges and participation gaps that critics highlight remain, but they stem from the longstanding legacy of American public education, not from the rapidly expanding upstart that’s improving it.

Nat Malkus is a research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in K–12 education.

Confusion About General Education For Undergrads


Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed

General education programs at their best impart to undergraduates basic knowledge in — or at least exposure to — a variety of disciplines, and provide some sense of how to study and live in a thoughtful way. Their iterations on different campuses are also supposed to embody the values of a particular institution. But how often do they meet that mark? Two institutions concerned that their general education programs were somehow falling short — Harvard and Duke Universities — have initiated the massive undertaking of reform.

At both institutions, a major concern is that students don’t have much sense of what general education is supposed to be accomplishing — a concern at many colleges nationally. Arecent survey of provosts by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, for example, found that while many institutions were moving beyond basic distribution requirements in their general education designs, just 9 percent of respondents said they believed all students were aware of their desired learning outcomes.

Varying Visions of Gen Ed at Harvard

Harvard’s revamped program, which was recently approved by its Faculty of Arts and Sciences, aims to honor the various ways in which professors think about a liberal arts education, and increase student buy-in.

“While many students and faculty highlight the success of specific gen-ed courses, the gen-ed program at Harvard has not yet established a clear and consistent identity among our students and faculty,” reads a Harvard program review committee’s interim report from 2015. “Moreover, despite its prominence in every student’s curricular experience, it plays no defining role in the identity of Harvard College. Most students agree that a well-executed gen-ed program would be valuable, but they are confused about the goals and purposes of the current program.”

Faculty members, by contrast, “are more divided about the value of gen ed, some preferring a straight distribution requirement instead,” the report continues. “But these results are tenuous in both cases, since much of our discussion with students and faculty revealed confusion about what a general-education requirement aims to be and how it differs from a distribution requirement. … Confusion about this distinction at Harvard stems from the fact that in practice our program is a chimera: it has the head of a gen-ed requirement with the body of a distribution requirement.”

Harvard’s only had three general-education programs in its history, and the current program was adopted in 2009. The university didn’t plan to create a new program so soon (and arguably still hasn’t) but found significant flaws in the first five-year review. Interviews with hundreds of faculty members and students revealed that there was little enthusiasm about the program.

How to Help More College Students Graduate

Susan Dynarski, New York Times, University of Michigan

The Associated Press

The United States has a dropout crisis. Sixty percent of people go to college these days, but just half of the college students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Some people earn a shorter, two-year associate’s degree. But more than a quarter of those who start college drop out with no credential.

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6 Useful Websites / Apps Persisting and Avoiding College Burnout

By Robert Parmer

It’s that time of year again; the latter half of second semester. The time when Spring Break is so closely approaching us, that the week of freedom ahead is a borderline distraction. And what’s more, the recuperation period also known as summer, is right around the corner.

Ending the term on a high note can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Especially when burnt out, drained emotions start to set in. The longing for a time without the rigid structure of university life gets increasingly heavy as sunshine and good times start to badger our mindsets.

Now is the time, to be well versed in all the things that will help you overcome student fatigue. After reading a recent College Puzzle post titled 5 Must Have Academic Apps for Students, I was inspired to curate my own list of useful websites and apps for college students. If you aren’t already using–or at least familiar with–the following websites and applications, do yourself a favor and explore all of these options. You may find each and every one to be helpful in their own unique ways.

Good and Cheap Cookbook

Life after high school graduation is a strange time for many students living on their own for the first time. A foundational piece of the college puzzle is learning how to keep yourself properly nourished. Minimal cooking experience and often times less than ideal food budgets get in the way of this basic endeavor. If you opted out of a cafeteria meal ticket, there is still hope!

Leanne Brown is the mastermind behind the most cost effective cookbook I’ve ever read. Brown’s cookbook, appropriately titled Good and Cheap, has hundreds of recipes designed to be simple and cost efficient.

Best of all it is free to download. The recipes in this cookbook were originally created for those on food stamps (a $4 a day budget per person, on average). But it definitely doesn’t skimp on creativity or tastiness! Good and Cheap focuses on simple, easy to prepare meals, that college student’s wallets and stomachs can agree with.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is one of the best places for digging deep into research efforts, but is also an excellent tipping-off point. One of the main reasons why Google delivers such perfect search results so instantaneously, is because the entity has indexed the majority of the internet and Google Scholar certainly follows suit.

Google Scholar is an even more refined version of its big brother. It generates searches results that are composed of highly authoritative, scholarly articles. The vast majority of these are written by professors themselves, so the authority is unmatched. This is an easy way for college students to sift through all the less credible ‘noise’ of the internet.


Mint is a personal finance tracking application by the company Intuit (creators of the recognizable QuickBooks and TurboTax software). This is particularly useful for those attending college because as we all know, budgeting is not easy when you’re typically broke in first place.

Are you trying to keep up with your spending but manage to stay so busy with school that you don’t have time to sort it all out? Mint helps you track your spending in numerous ways because it creates easy to follow budgets, tracks transactions, and can surprisingly even check your credit.

Roger Hub’s Final Grade Calculator

That moment when it all comes down to the final. You’re riding the pass/fail line hard, and stress is piling up because you aren’t even sure if it’s possible to get out of the hole you’ve started to dig yourself into. Most college students have experienced this at least once in their blossoming college careers.

That’s why Roger Hub’s final grade calculator is so helpful. It’s a website that allows students to quickly and transparently input three key pieces of information to see what their final grade will be, before the term is closed.


The premise of this app is simple: a tag is inserted into emails you choose to track using MailTrack. This tag is invisible to the receiver, but allows you to view some crucially important information about the status of your sent email. Has the receiver read your email? If so, how many times has it been read, and on what type of device? Mailtrack answers all of these questions and gives you detailed and current information regarding the emails you send.

People typically don’t want to seem overbearing through an email, and the MailTrack application helps eliminate this. Is it time to follow up on that email you sent about a possible internship next year? MailTrack helps paint a picture of the unknown. It helps you make these decisions.


While I love writing, I sometimes don’t remember the more intricate grammar rules. Grammarly helps me clear up any confusion, without hunting down grammar rules. It’s essentially the modern day equivalent of when spell check was introduced. Thankfully, we no longer need to sift through the pages of a dictionary to spell a word correctly. Now you don’t have to search the internet about every question pertaining to grammar: use Grammarly instead!

Robert Parmer is a freelance web writer and student of Boise State University. Outside of writing and reading adamantly he enjoys creating and recording music, caring for his pet cat, and commuting by bicycle whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @robparmer




Prevention of Sexual Assault on Campus

By Jane Hurst

Unfortunately, sexual assaults on college campuses are at an all-time high, and this doesn’t seem to be coming to an end any time soon. So, with this in mind, it is important that all college students, both female and male, know what to do in order to protect themselves from ending up in a sexual assault situation. Here are some things that you, as a student, need to keep in mind in order to stay safe, get a great education, and enjoy your college years.

  • Resources – When you first arrive at college, learn about all of the resources available, including the campus health center, the campus police station, and others. Find out if there is a sexual assault counsellor, where the emergency telephones are located, and make sure that the campus security number is programmed into your mobile phone.
  • Be Alert – Attacks happen when one isn’t alert to their surroundings. No matter where you are, be it on campus or at the mall, know your surroundings. Bring a friend along with you when walking at night, or ask someone from campus security to escort you home or to your vehicle. Don’t wear headphones in both ears so you can hear everything that is going on around you.
  • Don’t Post Your Location – Social media is a great thing, but it can also be dangerous. Be careful about what you are posting. Don’t post where you are going to be, and turn off any geolocation functions on your devices.
  • Mind Your Own Actions – Sadly, sometimes the most innocent of actions can be taken as much more serious, and you could find yourself being charged with sexual assault. If this happens, be sure to hire Greater Houston Defense attorneys.
  • Be Careful with Alcohol – It is very important to know your limits when it comes to alcohol. Sadly, many sexual assaults happen because the victim is too out of it to be able to say “no”, or know what is going on.
  • Keep an Eye on Your Drinks – Even if you only plan on having a drink or two, you could end up in a dangerous situation if you don’t watch your drinks every second. If you turn your back on your drink, even for a couple of seconds, someone can slip in a date rape drug. If you have to walk away from your drink, have a trusted friend watch it for you. Avoid drinking anything from a punch bowl because you have no idea what is really in it.
  • Trust Your Own Intuition – We all get that feeling that we are in a bad situation or place at times. Listen to your intuition, because it is probably right. If something doesn’t feel right, there is usually a reason for it. If you feel like something is off, or like you are being followed, pretend to talk loudly on your phone, so the person who is following will think that there is someone who can call the police for you.
  • Take Self-Defense Classes – It never hurts to know how to defend yourself in any situation, and most college campuses offer self-defense classes for women and men. You will find that after taking these classes that you are much more confident in yourself, and you will know that you can protect yourself if you are attacked.
  • Stick with Your Friends – When you are with a group of friends, it is much less likely that you are going to be attacked. Attackers tend to look for people who are alone and vulnerable. Whenever you go anywhere, try to be with at least one or two friends. You will all be much safer that way.


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!

The Real Price of College

Nancy Kendall & Sara Goldrick-Rab,
The high price of college is the subject of media headlines, policy debates, and dinner table conversations because of its implications for educational opportunities, student and family pocketbooks, and the economy.1 Some people caution against giving too much weight to the advertised price of a college education, pointing out that the availability of financial aid means that college is not as expensive as people think it is.2 But they overlook a substantial problem: for many students, the real price of college is much higher than what recruitment literature, conventional wisdom, and even official statistics convey. Our research indicates that the current approach to higher education financing too often leaves low-income students facing unexpected, and sometimes untenable, expenses.
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The Real Price of College

Increasing Your Competitiveness in the Job Market

By Melissa Burns

Getting the job that you really want in the current employment environment requires strategic action and initiative — graduating with the “right degree” is no longer enough. Unfortunately, high levels of student loan debt often force job applicants to take an undesirable position just to pay their new bills. This ineffective strategy is likely to be compounded by a weak job market in a growing number of fields.

What should you do? One prudent strategy is to increase your competitiveness in the job market by “standing out” — doing things that the average job candidate is not likely to do. While suggestions like this can seem vague at times, here are five specific and practical actions that you can accomplish as part of your single-minded strategy to not only survives but to also thrive in the current job market:


  1. Never stop acquiring new skills.
  2. Do more than you are paid to do.
  3. Always be creative.
  4. Learn new languages.
  5. Exhibit initiative in everything.

Additional insights about each of these strategic actions are provided in the following paragraphs. This straightforward course of action can help you find a job — and also help you to keep your current job.

1 — The Need for New Skills — Both for You and Employers

The concept of career-long job security seems to have left the building many years ago. In part this is due to employers seeking more ways to improve the bottom line by reducing wages however they can. This approach has effectively created a new industry — outsourcing. Employers can now choose to outsource many tasks to global outsourcing companies such as Back Office Pro.

While some companies use an outsourcing strategy to save money, many others do so because their current employees lack one or more specialized skills. Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to acquire new skills that make it less likely for you to be laid off or replaced by someone with skills you don’t have. As an additional bonus, this action will also help you to qualify for more new jobs in the employment marketplace if you do lose your current job. At a minimum, think of it as a viable “Plan B” for your career.

2 — Stop Doing Just the Minimum Required to Get By

One of your “go to” strategies for standing out as either a job candidate or a current employee is to make yourself indispensable — someone that a department manager or business owner would never even think of replacing or running the business without. On the other hand, many employees seem determined to do as little work as possible. In many cases, this takes the form of “not doing more than you are paid to do” or attitudes represented by saying “that’s not my job.”

Regardless of peer pressure, your mission should always be to do more than your fair share of work. This might involve working overtime, taking on new responsibilities that exceed your current job description or helping your company get new workers and business funding. These qualities tend to be noticed positively by individuals who make hiring and firing decisions in most companies.

3 — Being Creative, Unique and Original

Being unique and creative is an important component of surviving and thriving in a competitive job market. Think of the goal to “be creative” as the opposite of doing your job mechanically. Try to find new, faster and better ways of getting your tasks done. Don’t accept the common wisdom of doing something a certain way because “we’ve always done it that way.”

To provide positive momentum to your current or prospective career, the mission in being creative is to ensure that you cannot be easily replaced by just any other employee. The career wisdom of this strategy was astutely observed by Coco Chanel — “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

4 — Speaking and Writing More Than One Language

The ability to communicate proficiently in English continues to be an important element in global business communication. However, to survive and thrive in an international marketplace increasingly involves speaking other languages and local dialects. For example, another reason that companies use Back Office Pro and other outsourcing companies is due to a pressing need to have foreign language experts who are proficient in multiple languages.

By having one or more foreign language skills, it will be easier for you stand out in a crowd of current employees or job applicants who possess similar professional skills — but in one language only. Your primary career mission is to decide which languages can play the most instrumental role in moving your career forward.

5 — Taking the Initiative: Proactive vs Reactive

Anticipating what needs to be done and then doing it before someone tells you to do it is the essence of taking initiative. In many cases, this means the ability to prepare for possible future problems by taking problem-solving steps to prevent difficulties before they occur.

The ability to channel initiative in a positive fashion will often provide the impetus for promotions to leadership roles in many organizations. Whether you think of it as proactive management or other concepts like contingency planning, taking the initiative will move you into the forefront when hiring and job retention decisions are made by employers. Your practical mission is to be proactive rather than reactive.

Conclusions — Creating More Career Value

By doing your best to pursue the five practical career action steps suggested above, both new graduates looking for jobs and employees trying to survive in a current job can have a similar desirable outcome — enhanced value for careers. This will rarely be an easy path to follow, so be prepared to invest in yourself by working hard. As Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

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.