Posts published in August, 2016

Too Many Public Colleges are Dropout Factories

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky & Tamara Hiler, Third Way via RealClearEducation


Public colleges and universities play an essential role in unlocking the doors of higher education for many Americans. Today, more than 6.8 million students attend four-year public institutions, making up nearly two-thirds of the entire bachelor’s degree-seeking population in the United States.1 Close to two-thirds of all students attending these schools take out student loans in order to finance their education, with the average loan-holding student finding themselves more than $20,000 in debt four years later.2 And American taxpayers spend more than $10 billion dollars a year on federal Pell grants to help more than 2.7 million low- and moderate-income students attending these institutions afford a postsecondary education.3


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How to Prepare Yourself for Taking Online Classes

By Robert Parmer

As summer comes to a close and students enroll in courses for the upcoming semester, a modern phenomenon opens a window of opportunity. For students seeking flexibility through technology, online education is the ideal method of learning.

While online schooling at both high school and college levels has actually been around for decades, it was popularized in the 2000’s as corollary technology centered around convenience. In the digitally engulfed world of today, online education is literally everywhere! Fully virtual high schools, online homeschooling, and of course, online college are all models for education that have become societal norms.

But what if you’ve never taken an online course before? It may feel intimidating at first, however when a rhythm and balance are established the benefits of e-learning are widespread and advantageous.

When I took my first online and hybrid courses, I honestly struggled quite a bit. I felt as though I entered the online learning world blindly. This was due to a lack of foresight and improper planning. Since then I’ve gained the insight that’s helped me be successful in recent online learning endeavors.

Develop Self-Motivation Skills

A first step to making sure you succeed in online learning is preparing mentally. This includes determining how you plan to flourish in online learning, and how setting yourself up for success by developing self-motivation skills.

You must hold yourself accountable for your own success, and discipline yourself in a way that naturally works well. Common ways of doing this are by creating incentives/rewards, staying as organized as possible, and forming connections with your online peers.

Just remember, preparation is everything!

Craft An Ideal Schedule

Creating and holding yourself accountable to a schedule is also very important. Balancing your schedule in a way that leaves plenty of time for your classes is a must! It’s a smart idea to overcompensate time at the beginning so you can accurately gauge how much time will be necessary in the long run.

A resource by University of Alabama Birmingham Online offers some excellent advice on planning a schedule for e-learning:

“As you gain an understanding of the expectations for your class, create a schedule for yourself. How much time you need to spend each day doing coursework? Do you need to spend time participating on discussion boards commenting on class readings? Put it all in your calendar and make sure you have enough time to complete assignments by spreading them out instead of trying to complete them all the day before they’re due.”

Make Sure Your Computer Is Up to Date

It may seem obvious but taking online courses requires a computer that is not out of date. You absolutely must be comfortable with your computer, its software, and the internet in order to be successful with online classes.

It’s also crucially important to make sure that you have a reliable internet connection at all times–you don’t want to get kicked out of an important assignment or test!

Furthermore, you’ll also need to develop excellent communication skills through email. It’s important to understand the in’s and out’s of digital communication.

Related: Online Tools for College Students


Make Sure You Don’t Have Unanswered Questions

And lastly, be sure to clear up any questions you may have about the course and it’s protocol before classes start. Turn to your advisors and knowledgeable peers. Make sure to exchange some emails with your professors as soon as possible, and engage in classes’ forums or discussion boards.

While online classes may require a little bit of adjusting they ultimately give students an immense amount of freedom and flexibility. If you have taken online classes, your input is valuable and potentially helpful to others. Share your best lessons learned, and your biggest pitfalls and prominent conquering moments in the comments below.

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


The Continuing Myth of Free College

Jeffrey J. Selingo, Washington Post

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

During the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton proposed the idea of debt-free college to counter a popular refrain from Bernie Sanders that public colleges become tuition-free. Since she claimed the nomination, Clinton has been moving closer to some of Sanders’ proposals from their primary fight in an effort to reach his voters. One of those ideas includes free college, with some tweaks on the Sanders plan (namely, an income cutoff of $125,000).


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Top 10 Safety Tips for College

By Jane Hurst

For many first-year college students, this is the first time they will be living away from home. This can be a scary time for many, because there are going to be so many new things to learn, and a whole new home and even a new city to get used to living in. Your college experience can be a great and safe one, as long as you are following these 10 safety tips.

  • Know the Campus Emergency System Areas – On most campuses, you will find phones or emergency call buttons that you can use in case of an emergency. Look for them around the campus and familiarize yourself on where they all are.
  • Carry Pepper Spray – As long as it is legal in the area you are living, it is a good idea to carry pepper spray. This is a weapon that you can use from a distance. If you are not allowed to carry pepper spray, other options include a small can of hairspray, a personal alarm such as a rape whistle, and insect sprays.
  • Carry Emergency Money – Whenever you leave your dorm room or apartment, make sure that you have some emergency money with you. You never know when you may run into a situation when you are stranded and have to pay for transportation home.
  • Don’t Drink and Drive – It is of the utmost importance that you never drink and drive. Not only is there the risk that you could injure or kill yourself or someone else, you could also end up with some hefty fines and a criminal record for driving while under the influence. If you do get charged with drinking and driving, you will need legal help. Visit Mace Law to learn more.
  • Carry a Cell Phone – Any time you are out, it is a good idea to have a cell phone or other similar type of device with you. That way, if you are in a situation where you need someone to come and get you, it will be easy to contact them. Otherwise, you will have to look for a phone, which isn’t always easy to find.
  • No Means No – If you are in a situation where you could end up engaging in sexual activity, remember, no matter how far things go, no always means no. On the other hand, if you don’t say no, then you are giving your consent. Make sure that your partner has a chance to say yes or no, and that they are not so intoxicated that they can’t make a responsible decision about having sex.
  • Secure Your Dorm Room – Even if your RA encourages you to leave your door open so people can stop in, don’t do it. Your dorm room needs to be a place where you can feel safe and secure. If you are there, sure, keep the door unlocked so others can visit. If you are out, make sure that the door is locked at all times.
  • Leave Parties when Your Friends Leave – If you are at a party where you don’t know a lot of people, always be sure to leave when your friends do. You don’t want to end up in a house filled with strangers and end up in a situation that is out of your control.
  • Don’t Drink too Much – Sure, you are going to be drinking at parties. This doesn’t mean that you have to drink so much that you lose control. Make sure that you are always aware of what you are doing, what others are doing, and of your surroundings.
  • Never Walk Alone at Night – This is particularly important for women. It is always important to make sure that you have someone to walk with. A person alone is a great target for a robber or rapist. When you have someone with you, a criminal is going to think twice about attacking you.


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

Graduating Soon? Getting Hired Amidst Much Market Disruption


 Students graduating college in today’s world have to deal with big time change. These students are some of the first digital natives, growing up around technology that has been constantly changing. From flip phones in adolescence to iPhones in their teenage years, this age group has watched technology change the world around them, and, in turn, change how business is done. Such rapid change on this economic scale hasn’t been seen since the Industrial Revolution, and we owe it all to what experts are calling “disruption.”


What is Disruption?

 Disruption occurs when a new way of doing things completely topples and replaces the old way of doing things. This generally coincides with the introduction of new technologies, leading many to associate “disruption” with “digital disruption,” and while commonly the same thing, they are not always. A great example of disruption in action is when Netflix came out with movies on-delivery and eventually streaming movies on-demand. Video movie rental chain Blockbuster didn’t want to accept the fact that the industry was facing massive disruption, and, like many others in their situation, died instead of adapted.

In effect, employees of today’s economy need to be just as prepared to handle disruption as businesses do. Increasing chances of hireability in a constantly shifting landscape shaped by change isn’t easy, but there are a couple of pointers you can follow.

 Make Sure You Understand Technology

As stated above, most disruption occurs as a result of technological change. Understanding the technology that drives these changes means that you’ll be better prepared to adapt to them. In particular, internet browsers and connected chat devices would be great to look into. Skype, Slack, and other types of unified communications are driving a new wave of remote workers and participants in the gig economy. You don’t have to know these systems inside and out, but familiarizing yourself with chat systems and the like will better prepare you for the world of cyber-communications.

Embrace Brand “You”

To that same end, you’ll want to actively manage your online presence. There’s no escaping the fact that nowadays your digital “self” is your actual “self” and people will actually trust you less if you don’t have an online profile. This further supports the idea that business is becoming more and more digital and comfortable with work-from-home gigs–or at least part-time work. Entrepreneurs and employees would both do well to heed this advice, as any egregious online infraction can lose you your job. Read the story of Justine Sacco if you don’t believe me.

Get Ready to Upskill

One interesting disruptive piece of technology that promises to change the world is automation. While many pieces have been written on the subject, what can’t be ignored is that automated services will replace many of the rote, mundane tasks that humans are doing today. Staying viable in an economy of automated robots and software will require upskilling, or “improving the current skill sets of employees so that they can thrive in an environment where automation handles most low-skill duties,” according to Unit4 head of global product marketing, Tom Dobbe. What this means is that no matter how much training you may have received in college, be ready to train even more. Jobs of the future will require constant revision of training, and employees that can commit to that via upskilling.

Study the Rules and Regulations

As history marches forward, rules and regulations are usually created and added to rather than repealed. In today’s age, it’s up to employers and employees alike to know and understand the rules and regulations that govern their industry. Those in the medical industry need to know and understand HIPAA, while e-commerce and business IT types need to be familiar with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS for short. While these are both clearly rules and regulations driven by technological change, new social consciousness movements are also driving disruption, with new standards all around the world for bullying and sexual harassment popping up in the early 2010’s. Beyond increasing hireability by knowing more about a specific industry, it’s always an individual’s responsibility to be aware of these conditions, even if they are constantly changing.

 Always Be Adaptable

The most important thing to remember is to always be adaptable. Disruption is driven by change, and the better you can adapt to that change, the easier it will be for an employer to justify hiring you. In the past, being a Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades wasn’t necessarily seen as desirable. Today, however, it’s almost a necessary trait. Businesses are trying to be as adaptable as possible themselves, which is why hiring adaptable employees makes sense to them. Stay sharp, and know as much about your job as you can–because you never know how it’s going to change.

Ultimately if you follow these guidelines, you can ensure that you’ll be that much more hireable in a world ruled by disruption. As Heraclitus once said: “Change is the only constant.”



3 Ways to Finance Your UK College Education


College education provides you with the knowledge necessary to build a successful future. Of course, you can learn on your own by studying books, but there are important lessons that only attending a college will provide. The guidance you get from professors can help you break down the limitations of ‘formal knowledge’ and develop your creativity.

Sounds great, right?

However, achieving all this is possible only if you find a way to finance your college education. This may not be easy, but if you know where to look, you will be able to fund your studies and get a good start in your professional life.

There are many types of higher education financing available to aspiring students in the UK. Each option has its own pros and cons that you’ll need to consider in order to pick the one that would be best in your particular case. Note that some of them are available to international students as well as UK residents.

Three most efficient college education financing methods are:

1.      UK Scholarships

You can find many UK scholarships offered by a variety of organizations. They differ greatly, so you’ll have to study the terms of each very carefully.

Note that only some of the scholarships are full (tuition fees +accommodation +allowance). Even if they are, you will be provided with a detailed list of items they cover, such as textbooks, educational trips, etc. Some of them come with highly restrictive terms that you will need to obey in order to keep the financing.


  • You get free money to fund your college education.
  • Being a scholarship student ups your social status on the campus.
  • You might get other benefits in different educational programs.


  • Requirements for scholarship eligibility are very high.
  • You must meet high standards of grades and some additional requirements to keep your scholarship.
  • You have to research dozens of scholarship options personally.
  • You must be accepted by the educational establishment that offers the funding.

2.      Loans

Please note that you don’t have to look for specialized student financing as there are some great short term loans you can use to fund your college education. This would be a great option for those who plan to work as well as study and don’t want to get into a huge debt.

The greatest benefit of this financing type is the freedom you get with the funds. You decide how much money you need and how you want to use it. You also don’t have to stick to one specific college or course.

Of course, you’ll have to pay back the loan, but smart financial planning can make this a relatively easy task.


  • You can use the money however you see fit.
  • You don’t have to meet high eligibility standards or have some special talent.
  • You don’t need to keep your grades and achievements high.


  • You have to give the money back with interest.
  • You need to be eligible for a loan.
    (Requirements for students are rather lenient)

3.      Grants

UK student grants are another useful type of college education financing that you won’t have to pay back. However, like scholarships, obtaining these funds won’t be easy.

You’ll need to apply to the financing organization directly and prove that you are a ‘deserving case’. This does not necessarily mean that you have a financial need. You also need to show that you have talent and have already achieved some outstanding results in your chosen field.


  • The money is free and you won’t get into debt.
  • Some grants are large and allow certain flexibility with how to use the funds.


  • Eligibility requirements are extremely high.
  • You may have to provide special reports on how the money is used and deal with other paperwork.
  • Financing can be reviewed and withdrawn if you fail to show the required results.


Author’s bio:

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 7 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and beta-testing. This writer chose news about the increasing role of IT usage in colleges and schools as the most common topic for her articles.

Digital Badges Grow To Display Student Skills

Student Success

Digital, Verified and Less Open
Digital badges aren’t replacing the bachelor’s degree any time soon. But a growing number of colleges are working with vendors to use badges as an add-on to degrees, to help students display skills and accomplishments that transcripts fail to capture. (Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 9) via ECS

Urgent Need to Redefine ‘college and career ready’

Ted Dintersmith & Tony Wagner, Prepared for  Market Watch

Well-intentioned national K-12 education goals are jeopardizing the futures of millions of kids. Our stated goal is making all kids “college and career ready.” The reality, though, is that we’ve turned schools into college prep factories, leaving the vast majority of kids ill-prepared for career or life.

Our society views college as the gateway to the American Dream — something all kids should aspire to. From the words of our presidents to our T-shirts and hats, we equate college attainment with success. The better the college, the better the person. No college degree, and you’re a second-class citizen. Reflecting these biases, college readiness now dominates high-school curriculum, K-12 standards, and standard-of- learning assessments.

But here’s the problem. The content our kids study to become “college ready” is largely useless in careers, or life. We push them to perform tasks in the curriculum to make it easy to rank order them for college placement.

This all-consuming focus leaves little time for learning the competencies needed for career or citizenship. Even worse, the majority of kids who trust our advice to pursue college are getting disappointing outcomes.

The content our kids study to become “college ready” is largely useless in careers, or life.

In our science classes, core concepts get lost in a sea of definitions and formulas. Kids study electricity by memorizing Ohm’s Law (a staple of AP Physics) without understanding the science. Consider the hapless MIT students who, at their college graduation, couldn’t take a lightbulb, wire, and battery and light up the bulb. Huh? What if all kids — not just those in Career/Technical Education — learned electricity by taking apart fuse boxes, helping a master electrician wire a house, and building a wind turbine to produce electricity for the local grid? This learning is valuable to everyone, whether they become master electricians, Ph.D. research scientists, or normal adults coping with home electrical issues.

But hands-on learning doesn’t lend itself to standardized testing, and is viewed by academic elites as a grubby, blue-collar distraction. So Ohm’s Law it is.

High school math revolves around drilling on the low-level procedures (think factoring polynomials, trig identities, integrals by hand) that permeate the SAT and ACT tests. If we relegated these tasks to a smartphone app, students could learn math with real career value, like statistics, data analytics, estimation, math modeling, algorithm development, financial literacy, social media optimization, and computer programming. Our priorities have consequential career opportunity costs for all kids. And it’s tragic when algebra (something few adults ever use) keeps someone from getting their high-school diploma and they end up homeless or in jail.

In English classes, far too much time is spent memorizing the parts of speech, grammar rules, and the terms and techniques for the kinds of “literary analysis” done in college. None of these activities help students to learn to organize their thoughts, write well in a variety of genres, and deliver effective oral presentations. Yet these are the skills that employers tell us are most lacking among young adults.

For much of the last century, college was an affordable path to a good job.

But today’s world is different. For every 100 kids who start college, just 25 get degrees and attractive jobs. Some 45 drop out, and another 30 graduate but end up under- or unemployed, reaching the end of the college rainbow only to find a pot of rejection letters and debt. But our unquestioned embrace of colleges has given them carte blanche to jack up tuition for courses stuck in the Dark Ages. Meanwhile, millions of high-quality jobs in our country go unfilled, as our schools churn out “college ready” kids with no employable skills.

Employers are recognizing the disconnect between college and career readiness. Google, for instance, changed its hiring strategies after Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations, analyzed their data and found no correlation between job performance and an employee’s GPA, SAT’s, or college pedigree. Google now considers an applicant’s ability to collaborate and to perform authentic job-related challenges. Now, they hire many new employees who never went to college.

Our education goals have lost touch with what matters most — helping students develop essential skills, competencies, and character traits. It’s time to reimagine the goals for U.S. education, and hold all schools — from kindergarten through college — accountable for teaching the skills and nurturing the dispositions most needed for learning, work, and citizenship.

Let’s set our overarching goal as producing students who are “life-ready,” and treat colleges as one potential means to this end.

Ted Dintersmith has a Ph.D in engineering from Stanford, was a top-ranked venture capitalist, executive produced the acclaimed film “Most Likely To Succeed,” and went to all 50 states in the last year advocating for education change. Tony Wagner is an Expert In Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab and a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute. They are co-authors of “Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era.”

9 Tips For College Students with Disabilities



Back to school time is just around the corner, which means that it is the perfect time to start preparing for what’s ahead! Tangram life coaches have assembled the following tips to make the transition to college seamless for students with disabilities.


  1. Determine if college is the best option for you. Sometimes traditional 4-year college is perceived as the only option for young people to be successful, but the truth is that college isn’t always the best option, and certainly not the only option. Depending on your learning style, existing skills and interests, and your goals, you may consider alternatives like community college, trade schools, apprenticeships, or 2-year programs.
  2. Do your research. When looking at colleges, be sure to learn about the disability services offered at each potential school. Some colleges may have paid programs that offer additional support for students who sign up for the service. If you plan to do a college visit, call the school’s Office of Disability Services in advance of your visit to schedule a meeting with a counselor so you can learn what steps need to be taken and what paperwork needs to be filed to take advantage of the available resources. Knowing about the resources offered by each potential school will help you make the best decision.
  3. Assemble your support team before you leave for college. College may be all about independence, but all students need support systems in order to succeed, no matter their ability. Who will be on your support team? Parents? Siblings? Reliable friends? A professional, such as a life coach or therapist? Be sure to have these key players in place so your transition to college will be smooth.
  4. Enroll in Vocational Rehabilitation. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a state-administered program that supports people with disabilities in preparing for, obtaining, and retaining employment. While the name and processes may vary from state to state, each state has a similar operation. If you are enrolled in VR services in your state, be sure to tell your counselor if you are heading to college. VR may cover the cost of some supports at the college level. Once you graduate, be sure to inform your counselor if you intend to seek employment so they can get you on the right track as far as support goes.
  5. Get to know FERPA. FERPA is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. This is important to know because it defines what information can be disclosed about students, and to whom the information can be disclosed. Under FERPA, a parent’s rights to view educational records transfer to a student once the student turns 18. Colleges may require signed releases from the student giving permission to share educational records with certain persons. More information on FERPA can be found from the U.S. Department of Education.
  6. Communicate your needs. To receive services offered by the Office of Disability Services at your college, you will need to have a diagnosis. Once you have registered with this office, the college will tell you what accommodations they offer and what you’re eligible for. It’s the student’s responsibility to take advantage of these accommodations and to communicate with professors about the accommodations they are receiving. Make appointments to speak with each of your professors during the first week of school. They can help you understand what the class will be like so you can determine what types of supports will be necessary for you to succeed. Don’t wait until you hit a bump in the road to communicate your needs.
  7. Use technology to your advantage. There are hundreds of excellent tools that exist for students, many of them free. Look into websites, apps, smart pens, and other adaptive technology that can assist with taking notes, reading text, studying, and meeting deadlines.
  8. Learn about available resources. Not only will the Office of Disability Services at your school offer plenty of handy resources, but there will also be resources offered through other campus entities as well. Schools typically offer free tutoring through their different departments and also may have a writing center where you can get help writing papers. Colleges want their students to be successful, which is why they offer an abundance of resources to make that a reality. Academic advisors and disability services counselors should be able to point you in the right direction for both on- and off-campus resources.
  9. There’s more to college than academics. Academics are definitely an important part of the college experience, but don’t forget that college is also about preparing for adulthood in other ways—building independent living skills, earning real-world experience through internships, fostering relationships and connections by joining interest groups on campus, and so on. Identify opportunities that will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and grow as a person.


About Megan Lauman 

Megan Lauman is a behavior consultant for Tangram Life Coaching, where she provides behavioral support services to individuals with disabilities.  She assists in the implementation of services for young adults with learning differences, such as ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, social anxiety and other challenges. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Indianapolis and a master’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University. She is a licensed social worker and has spent her career working primarily with children and young adults.


How Be Successful In College While In Foster Care


Everyone should have equal chances to obtain higher education. Children that grow up in foster care often lack knowledge about their rights and special opportunities, thus losing their chance to continue their studies after high school. Bear in mind five tips, mentioned here – and you will reach your goals in higher education and become a successful student in college. Let’s start:

Reason #1: You Can Get Special Government Scholarships

You might not know it, but there are many scholarship opportunities for foster youth. Scholarships do help a lot when it comes to the higher education. However, not many potential students know where to find them. Among the most popular foster children scholarship programs one could name Horatio Alger Scholarships, Foster Care to Success and Sponsored Scholarship Program – and though these funds and programs mostly provide partial scholarship, their financial aid could still be of use for those who really want to study.  Are you one of those who live in foster care? U.S. Department of Education released a Foster Care Transition Toolkit that allows foster youth to find out the ways of getting higher education and build a successful career afterwards.

Reason #2: You Can Find Mentors

Financial aid is not enough when it comes to achieving important life goals. Proper emotional support is also very important as well as a smart advice, offered in time. That is when mentors and mentoring organizations come in handy. As an example, one could name Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Reach out – and you will be surprised how easier your life will be with someone experienced and willing to help nearby.

Reason #3: You Can Join Clubs

Remember, once you are finally enrolled in university or college, one of the most exciting parts of your life just begins. And though the studying process itself is quite complex and interesting, college is not just about education. It’s also about communication and getting friends for the whole life. That is why it could be a wise choice to join a club or a fraternity. Here you can find some ideas where to start from.

Reason #4: Seek Opportunities

Perhaps, if you were fostered, it was a child custody lawyer that changed your life once, but now it’s all in your hands. You would be surprised to find out how many programs from US Department of Education (Upward Bound, Gear Up, Talent Search) are there that can help you with your college admission. If you apply for one of these programs, you will become much more skillful when it comes to writing essays and CVs for your admission process.

Reason #5: You Can Make Use of Additional Sources

Nowadays higher education became much more available due to the overwhelming amount of information in open access. Online libraries, offline libraries, special websites with professional data – make use of them while you study and there won’t be any troubles. Of course, it is also important to learn how to find sources that can be trusted, but this skill comes along with experience.

Author’s bio:

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 7 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and beta-testing. This writer chose news about the increasing role of IT usage in colleges and schools as the most common topic for her articles.