Archive for July, 2018

The world is in your hands: why you should study abroad

July 31st, 2018

BY ANTON LUCANUS

 Studying abroad is steadily gaining traction as a popular experience for students, but it is still not nearly as highly popular as it should be. While it can be more expensive than a student may like, the benefits speak for themselves and give students that have studied abroad new experiences and lessons that students that stay rooted in their home areas just don’t have access to. Students that study abroad come back with a new sense of direction, a newfound thirst for life, and a stronger, more confident perception of who they are and the world around them. A new awareness of the world in all its colours is invaluable for students, particularly because those students are then able to take that newfound knowledge and incorporate it into their mindset and their very being. This makes them prime candidates for jobs as they move into the real world after they graduate (or even before, for those students that take the initiative to do internships as they study).

Additionally, students that opt to study abroad in recent years have taken on remote internships, meaning that they can work from their laptops when they have time or even as they have layovers in airports on their way to new destinations. The world is now global, and more and more companies are embracing remote employees. Here’s the thing…if you study abroad now and work from your laptop as a passion project or to build up your CV and experience, later down the line you could do that for your career. You could literally live the dream and travel and work simultaneously, with nothing holding you anchored in one location. The reasons to start now are simple; even for entry-level jobs, most employers require experience (even if it is a blog or a vlog, for example). Start now – race ahead.

While there are thousands of students that have taken the big leap and studied abroad, the experience is still not as highly sought after and pursued as one might think. The appeal is highly popular, but the will to make the experience happen holds students back – specifically, the financial costs of studying abroad. It shouldn’t. You might think that the experience will cost you an arm and a leg, and if you do it without any forethought or searching around, it probably will. But there are so many ways for you to study abroad on a budget, and they are more easily accessible than you might think. The first thing that you usually book when you go overseas to study is your passport. That is easy. But then come the flights – that is more difficult. It is easy to go for the most direct route to your destination (and definitely less of a hassle). But if you don’t mind working from your laptop as you wait in airports for your next flight in six hours, then you can get the flights hundreds, even thousands, of dollars cheaper. It isn’t always about the destination – sometimes it is about the journey.

The second way to save big on studying abroad is by applying for International Student Status. Not many students have heard of this, but it is a diamond in the ruff when it comes to saving on studying abroad. Issued in over 130 countries, ISS gives students discounts on any product, service, or experience that is relevant to student life, as well as doubling as proof of student status (two birds with one stone!). It can be a long process, but when you are taking your online English classes from your room in downtown Brooklyn, a little outback town in Australia, the snowy mountains in Canada’s Banff, or a balcony overlooking the Tuscan countryside, it is entirely and wholeheartedly worth it.

The third (and perhaps most obvious) way to save big when considering studying abroad is to travel off the beaten path. Yes, the tourist hot spots are brilliant and yes, you should visit them at some point in your life. But instead of breaking the bank and spending your weekends travelling to all the most expensive tourist destinations around you, pepper in some hidden gems and unexpected adventures with some of your bucket list sights and experiences – you do not have to see the whole (expensive) world when you study abroad. Start with the big ticks, and the rest can come later when you revisit – after all, the travel bug never sleeps.

To put it simply; prospective employers go through countless applications when they are searching for the perfect new addition to their team. If every single applicant is from the area, and has only studied in the area, then chances are that they have worked similar jobs, had have similar hobbies and drives, and have all had similar life experiences. When every potential candidate has the same CV, it is nearly impossible to stand out among the masses. If you study abroad, you gain life experience and you learn lessons that you can speak with your interviewers about and pour into your career, making you better at your job and a more interesting, desirable candidate. Studying abroad exposes you to a world outside your little world, and it is undeniably one of the best, most worthwhile experiences that you can do for yourself now, and for your future self.

There are so many reasons to study abroad, to pack your suitcase and update the laptop and buy a plane ticket. Not only will you get to travel and study at the same time (if that isn’t living the dream, I don’t know what is), but you can gain life experience that truly makes you unique in employer’s eyes, and in your own identity. You will come back more confident, more strong, more well-rounded – and you will have the best stories to tell in any room. The world is big, the world is wide, why wait until you graduate to start exploring it? You have the whole wide world in your hands…take it and run with it. Run until you have no idea where you are. Run until you see the world through a new set of eyes. Run, and when you do, create experiences and stories that will set you apart – that is how you become the front runner for future jobs.

Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and

While most students expect to earn degrees in four years, fewer than half actually do

July 30th, 2018
Noah Williams and James Poirier, both sophomores, already know it will take them longer than four years to graduate from the University of Washington — Williams because there wasn’t any room in courses required for his major, and Poirier because he has to take more language courses, even though he plans to major in biology.

Noah Williams and James Poirier, both sophomores, already know it will take them longer than four years to graduate from the University of Washington — Williams because there wasn’t any room in courses required for his major, and Poirier because he has to take more language courses, even though he plans to major in biology. 

SEATTLE — Noah Williams’ college education was behind schedule before he even stepped foot in a classroom.

By the time Williams arrived at the University of Washington as a freshman, all the courses he needed for his major in biochemistry were full, pushing him back by at least a quarter.

Instead of chemistry, calculus, physics or biology, he ended up with an introductory astronomy course, an elective in nutrition, and no chance of graduating in the four years he’d hoped it would take.

The courses “were interesting but weren’t relevant to what I’m going to pursue, so it set me back,” Williams, who is now a sophomore, said outside the university’s Suzzallo Library, a Collegiate Gothic-style landmark often likened to the Hogwarts School of the Harry Potter novels. “It’s just the little things” that can derail students, he said

In addition to time, delays like this cost money, raising the cost of tuition even higher than the mounting sums many families already expect to

Yet while 86 percent of incoming freshmen said in an annual national survey conducted by a research institute at UCLA that they were confident they’d graduate in four years, only 41 percent at public and 61 percent at private four-year universities actually do, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks this.

Now higher-education institutions including the University of Washington, or UW, are working to help their students graduate on time.

Partly they’re concerned about the students. But financial and political realities are also forcing colleges and universities to focus on this longstanding problem in new and aggressive ways.

Related: Colleges confront the simple math that keeps students from graduating on time

Students who stick around for more than four years, after all, use up dwindling state subsidies, financial aid and housing, and legislatures are increasingly tying public universities’ budgets to the proportion of their students who graduate on time.

“There’s lots of debate about what faculty do and what universities do, so we’re in the political spotlight,” said Ed Taylor, UW’s vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs.

Brendon Fetsch, a student at the University of Washington, thinks such things as encouraging messages the university puts on its app are not particularly effective. “A lot of them were, like, ‘In order to be successful you should sign up for classes you can handle.’ Uh, yeah.”

Brendon Fetsch, a student at the University of Washington, thinks such things as encouraging messages the university puts on its app are not particularly effective. “A lot of them were, like, ‘In order to be successful you should sign up for classes you can handle.’ Uh, yeah.” 

The University of Texas at Austin, for example, promised to help more of its students finish in four years after then-Gov. Rick Perry complained publicly in 2012 that barely half were doing that, and that the rest were taking up seats and housing that could have accommodated another 1,000 freshmen per year. The university responded by promising that 70 percent of students would meet the four-year cutoff by 2016; it still hasn’t hit that target, graduating 66 percent last year, though it hopes to meet it this year.

“There is a big incentive for them to think of this in a different kind of way,” said Dhanfu Elston, vice president of Complete College America, which advocates for on-time graduation rates. “Institutions recognize that there’s a benefit to them. In the long run it’s going to save the institutions money, it’s going to save the students money, it’s going to save taxpayers money.”

Related: Worried about enrollment and judged on success, some colleges boost support

Other forces are driving this, too. “There’s greater pressure from students and their parents,” said Marisa Nickle, UW’s senior director of strategy and academic initiatives. “They’re shouldering more of the tuition … and there’s really a focus on return on investment.” Employers are also pushing. And students who finish in four years “become happy alumni, and you want that as well,” said Paul Francis, executive director of the Washington State Council of Presidents, which represents four-year public universities.

 The resulting work being done in Washington State and elsewhere to help students graduate on time is bringing new attention to how surprisingly difficult this is, how many hurdles stand in the way, and how complicated higher education is to navigate.

“We have a lot of processes at colleges and universities that are not geared toward the mindset and understanding of the students that they serve,” said Elston, who has worked at several higher-education institutions.

Piper Driskell is on track to graduate this spring from the University of Washington, but almost didn’t because she didn’t know she had to fill out a “graduation application.”

Piper Driskell is on track to graduate this spring from the University of Washington, but almost didn’t because she didn’t know she had to fill out a “graduation application.” 

Piper Driskell, for example, is scheduled to receive her bachelor’s degree from UW on time, this spring. But she almost didn’t — because she didn’t know she had to fill out a “graduation application” up to three quarters before and no later than the third Friday of the quarter in which she planned to graduate.

“No one really tells you” that was a requirement, said Driskell, whose roommate fortuitously mentioned it. “It doesn’t need to be this complicated.”

Williams’ friend and fellow sophomore James Poirier will take longer than four years to finish because he didn’t take enough Spanish in high school to meet UW’s language requirement — even though he’s majoring in biology.

“There’s always reasons why you might not be right on your stuff from the beginning,” Poirier said. His family is helping him pay for college, so he isn’t feeling money pressure, he said. “But I want to go to grad school and I want to get going on that and it’s just more hoops I have to jump through.”

The new attention to helping students graduate on time benefits from the increasing availability of data that can help universities see, in real time, when people start to flounder — if their grades fall, for instance, threatening a scholarship, or if they’re not taking enough credits per semester.

“We can do outreach easier than 10 or 15 years ago, when we had to wait for a printout,” said Dan Feetham, UW’s director of undergraduate academic affairs advising.

Related: Many state flagship universities leave black and Latino students behind

The University of Washington has improved its four-year graduation rate.

The University of Washington has improved its four-year graduation rate. 

The university has also hired more advisors, assigned students to advisors even before they start as freshmen, expanded the capacity of high-demand courses by adding teaching assistants and putting lectures online, and given priority for those courses to students who need to take them for their majors.

To overcome the isolation it found some students felt on the flagship campus of nearly 46,000, UW also offers first-year seminars led by upperclassmen, tying together people with similar interests; that has improved the number of students who return after their freshman year by 3 percent, administrators say. It’s created a how-to video called U101 for incoming freshmen, which 87 percent said in a survey made them feel more connected to the university. And it sends encouraging messages over the “MyUW” app, reminding students about deadlines and providing coping tools for stress.

“We don’t have an easy-to-describe silver bullet” to solve this problem, Nickle said. “What we’re really doing is what I would call silver buckshot.”

This fusillade of measures has so far helped UW slowly raise its four-year graduation rate from 54 percent in 2005 to 66 percent last year, the university reports. Eighty percent of students graduate within five years and 83 percent within six. All are substantially above the national average for four-year public universities.

Michael Troksa, a mechanical engineering major at the University of Washington, thinks students are on their own when it comes to graduating on time. “When it comes down to it, it’s about keeping yourself on track,” he says.

Michael Troksa, a mechanical engineering major at the University of Washington, thinks students are on their own when it comes to graduating on time. “When it comes down to it, it’s about keeping yourself on track,” he says. 

That’s helped allow undergraduate enrollment to increase from 31,086 to 40,832 in the last 10 years, and boosted the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded from 8,306 to 10,626 last year, the university says. It’s also a more efficient use of the $342 million-a-year taxpayer subsidy, which as in other states has been steadily declining but still accounts for about 18 percent of what UW spends on instruction.

Related: Worker shortage spurs uncharacteristic partnerships connecting colleges, business

Other schools are also working on this problem. The University of North Carolina at Asheville is offering free summer courses to help students make up time if they’re short of the credits they need to graduate in four years, something fewer than 39 percent of them now do. Buffalo State and other public universities in New York will let students finish their degrees for free if it takes them longer than four years and they meet certain other criteria; only 30 percent of students who began at Buffalo State in 2012 — the most recent starting point for which the figure is available — graduated within four years.

Those remain very long odds. Even at universities like UW and the University of Texas at Austin that have been more successful at helping students finish in four years, around one out of three of them still don’t.

Ed Taylor, University of Washington vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs, with Dan Feetham, director of undergraduate academic affairs advising, in the university’s Suzzallo Library. Both are involved in efforts to help students graduate in four years.

Ed Taylor, University of Washington vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs, with Dan Feetham, director of undergraduate academic affairs advising, in the university’s Suzzallo Library. Both are involved in efforts to help students graduate in four years. 

Part of that is on the students. Too few realize that if they don’t take 15 credits a semester at a four-year university, they can’t complete the 120 credits typically needed to finish on time, for instance.

In his previous jobs on campuses, said Elston, he would ask at freshman orientation how many students planned to take more than 12 credits per semester. Only about a tenth would raise their hands. Then he’d ask how many expected to graduate in four years “and every single hand went up.”

“No one had ever spelled it out for them” that taking only 12 credits meant they would be falling behind from Day One, Elston said. “When you come to college, you don’t know how to do college.”

Related: States connect students with degrees they don’t know they’ve earned

Yet most students say they depend on friends and other sources, not professional counselors, for information about staying on track, according to a Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey.

They also widely think that finishing in four years is up to them.

University of Washington freshman Jenica Tran says it’s mostly up to students to make sure they graduate on time. “You can get the help if you go out to seek it, but you have to do it on your own,” she says.

University of Washington freshman Jenica Tran says it’s mostly up to students to make sure they graduate on time. “You can get the help if you go out to seek it, but you have to do it on your own,” she says. 

“Students have to take the initiative,” said Jenica Tran, a UW freshman who was relaxing on the quad. “You can get the help if you go out to seek it, but you have to do it on your own.” Another student, Brendon Fetsch, said such things as reminders on an app aren’t particularly effective. “I think they were pretty obvious. A lot of them were, like, ‘In order to be successful you should sign up for classes you can handle.’ Uh, yeah.” (The university concedes that just over half of students read the messages, and only about a third of those try the suggestions, so it’s trying to make them more visually appealing.)

“When it comes down to it, it’s about keeping yourself on track,” said Michael Troksa, a mechanical engineering major who works in the summers designing web pages to help him pay for college. “Usually the people who are going to be falling behind are the people who are switching majors or get here without knowing which direction they’re going.”

There are also cultural issues, and large bureaucracies that encumber universities themselves. At UW, administrators created what they called the “Academic and Student Affairs Alliance,” formalizing a common purpose between two arms of the university that might have been expected to already have one.

“Although it seems like a no-brainer, there’s not always alignment” between universities’ student affairs and academic functions, Elston said drily.

Marisa Nickle, senior director of strategy and academic initiatives at the University of Washington. “There’s really a focus on return on investment,” Nickle says.

Marisa Nickle, senior director of strategy and academic initiatives at the University of Washington. “There’s really a focus on return on investment,” Nickle says. 

For Nickle, there’s not a question that these two branches serve the same values or vision. “It’s, are people talking to colleagues three buildings over about what they’re doing? That’s the challenge at a large university, if you really want to make a large change.”

So is anticipating demand for certain subjects, and making sure there are enough seats available for required courses. “It’s hard to keep up with the pace and anticipate the pace,” said Taylor. “It’s tricky in a system where we’ve got tenured faculty, where we’ve got commitments to certain models.”

Still, he said, “There’s only so much capacity in residence halls, there’s only so much capacity in classrooms, there’s only so much capacity for advising” to continue letting students stick around for longer than they should.

Students also complain about being expected to be certain, as 18-year-old newly minted high school graduates exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

“You have to come in your first quarter here really knowing what you want to do, and I don’t think that’s realistic,” Williams said. “There are a lot of pressures but there’s not a lot of time.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up here for our higher-education newsletter.

As Summer Ends, 4 Tips to Prepare for Life after College

July 26th, 2018

Entering the sophomore year in your college will give you thoughts on how much fun would it be. Your social calendar will be stuffed with routine on- and off-campus events, 21st birthday celebrations, and night out with friends. There is no harm in having the time of your life, after all the time and effort invested up till now throughout your academic tenure makes it worth it.

However, there are some others things as well that you are about to experience very soon, and preparing for the change is always appreciated.

Let’s examine the tips on how to prepare for life after college, something that is much more important than your current priorities and needs.

Is It a Career or Further Studies?

Most students today are more interested to pursue their masters after completing their undergraduate degree program. The sooner you realize where you want to head after stepping out of the college gate for the last time, the better. Understandably a hard choice, but it largely depends on your field.

If you have decided to continue further studies or masters, then you need to choose the right graduate school. On the other hand, if you decide to enter pursue your first job, then the considerations for choosing the right career will be entirely different.

Craft Your Resume

Something that goes without saying, but still an important reminder. Apparently, you might be unaware how to build a professional resume at this stage, a boarding pass to board the career plane, you can always consult professional resume makers to create you a perfect resume or do it yourself after a careful research.

Obviously, your qualifications, any jobs and voluntary activities until now, technical and soft skillset, etc. are some of the primary information you’ll input in your resume. Furthermore, also consider adding your college experiences, this displays a positive and active outlook on the student’s side in the market.

Consult Your Campus’s Career Counseling Center

It is time you enter the office of your institution’s career counselor. The professional employed will guide you through the process of deciding which career is best for you on the basis of your interests, preferences, market demands; what are the prerequisites in each field or post graduate degree programs; how to elevate your professional skillset; and much more to help you become a knowledgeable student ready to step in the practical life.

From your resume’s perspective, ask him/her about the red flags that you need to be careful with. The point is to acquire confidence and information prior to cementing your decision regarding the path in life you are going to walk on.

Besides a professional career counseling department, students can also consult accomplished do my assignment service providers to help them chose the right career path based on the results in their term-end, course-defining writing papers.

Inspect Your Classes

By the time you enter your final year, you must have decided the elective courses you will take to complete your major. There will be several courses offering a diverse skillset that might tempt you, but ask yourself if that is the right use of your tuition fee. Students need to be extra careful when selecting the electives for additional credit hours and specializations in their major. Choose courses that relevantly complements your field or area of expertise, courses that will strengthen your resume even further. Consider the classes that pushes you forward towards your career goals. For example:

  • Business management. There is no match to business management essentials for mastering your presentation and communication skills, something that really impresses managers and HR professionals in interviews, live demonstrations, etc.
  • Human resource. In the HR field, the student is going to spend more than ample time sitting in front of a system, hence, making MS Excel and PowerPoint a necessity. Learning data management gives you an edge over various administrative and other routine tasks so often assigned to newcomers in the industry.
  • Arts. Even if you have decided to pursue the arts field, still a course in basic business management and accounting can come handy. After spending years in the industry, there is a chance you may want to start your own business as an artist, hence, an entrepreneurial mindset will be what you have to give you a great jumpstart.
  • You might have taken a plethora of marketing courses, but what about the writing skills? Apparently, many sales jobs require the candidates to write emails and other correspondences for clients, customers, stakeholders, employees, etc. The same goes for writing promotional ad copies as well. Therefore, refining your writing skills prior to entering the industry is one powerful move.

The above example are just to name a few, while there are other various courses that might seem irrelevant and disconnected to your field, but equipping them can actually help you on your quest to acquire career excellence.

Author Bio

Alyssa William is a M.Ed. and a professional career counselor acquiring the experience of working under some of the biggest institutions worldwide. Besides her primary goal in life of helping college and university students uncover their best selves for a brighter future, Brian also provides quality academic writing services with a registered student base under her expertise.

Top 5 Personal Finance And Investment Rules for College Grads

July 25th, 2018

BY ANDREW HEIKKILA

If you’re like me, you’re a Millennial who’s been pretty good at saving. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you’ve also been holding onto that money in a bank account or under your mattress, instead of making that money work for you.

Investing is an intimidating idea for many, especially if they lived through the havoc wreaked by the 2008 recession. In fact, according to a recent Harris poll, 80 percent of Millennials aren’t invested in the stock market at all. The one thing Millennials have been good at putting money into? Their 401(k) plans, according to a study by Vanguard.

Nevertheless, Millennials are beginning to enter their prime earning years, and if the only thing stopping them from investing is fear of the unknown, they’re making a potentially expensive mistake. Here are the top 5 personal finance rules for Millennial investors.

1. Learn the Lingo

This advice holds true for whatever unknown you’re getting into. If you don’t know how to talk about investments, how will you ever be able to actually invest? Here are a couple of terms for you to start off with:

 

  • Assets and Asset Allocation: An asset is simply something that has the potential to earn you money. Assets can include cash (usually in the form of certificates of deposit, treasury bills, or money market accounts), stocks, bonds, commodities, or real estates. Asset allocation is simply how you’ve divided your assets, or your investment strategy. By choosing investments in different sectors, industries, and geographic locations, you’ll build up a diversified portfolio where your risk is spread out.
  • Ask and Bid: An “ask” is the lowest price that an owner of an asset is willing to sell it for. A “bid” is the highest price a buyer is willing to lay down on an investment. Nowadays, these asks and bids are often matched up on electronic platforms and exchanges.
  • Bull and Bear Market: A bull market is a market that is trending up, and that your investments are likely to grow in. If you are “bullish” or considered “a bull” that means you think the stock price will rise. A bear market is the opposite, when the market is trending downward, and a “bear” or “bearish” person is somebody who believes stock prices will drop.
  • Capital Gains and Losses: Capital gains or losses are the difference between what you buy an investment for and what you sell it for. If you incur a capital gain, you’ll be subject to taxation, while capital losses can be written off. Most investments mature over a long period of time, and long-term investments are subject to different capital gains taxes than short-term investments–more information on that here.
  • Dividends: In some cases, a company will offer some of its income to be divided amongst shareholders. Dividends are oftentimes paid regularly–monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually–but sometimes are offered as a one-time incentive.
  • Exchange: An exchange is a place where investments and assets are traded, bought, and sold. Some of the more famous stock exchanges are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the NASDAQ. Exchanges aren’t necessarily located in physical locations nowadays, as many exist online.
  • Yield: Yield is the ratio between stock prices and the dividends paid on those stocks. So let’s say you buy a certain amount of stock at $100 per share, with a dividend that ends up netting you $10 extra per year. This would amount to a 10 percent yield.

For even more beginner terms, you can check out this post by Miranda Marquit at investorjunkie.com.

2. Learn the Principles

According to Benjamin Graham, the mentor to one of the most successful investors of all time, Warren Buffett, there are tactics and principles to investing that one should follow. His ideas are recorded in his books “Security Analysis” (1934) and “The Intelligent Investor” (1949), and have been distilled by Investopedia into three principles.

 

  • Principle #1: Always Invest With a Margin of Safety – The idea of a “margin of safety” boils down to purchasing an asset at a significant discount to its intrinsic value. This allows you to make fewer risky investments but still enjoy higher returns.
  • Principle #2: Expect Volatility and Profit From It – Every market is volatile to some degree, and you may be hesitant to hold on to assets that seem to be tanking in value. However, the investor who lets their emotions (instead of their logic) control their actions is begging to lose money. Graham’s strategies for mitigating the unwanted effects of volatility are dollar-cost averaging and making investments in stocks and bonds.
  • Principle #3: Know What Kind of Investor You Are – You need to decide whether you’ll be an active or a passive investor (or “enterprising” vs “defensive” investor). The only difference is how involved you want to be with asset selection. If you do decide to be active, you might want to decide between “speculating” vs. “investing”.

3. Drop Your Bad Financial Habits

Beginning to invest represents adopting good financial habits, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’ve dropped the old, bad ones. At the very least you have some money to invest–but are you maximizing your financial potential? Chelsy Meyer writing for Fiscal Tiger mentions that five of the most common bad habits are:

 

  1. Paying Bills Late
  2. Ignoring Debt
  3. Overspending
  4. Spending Incorrectly
  5. Not Saving

This is obviously not an extensive list of bad financial habits, but all or a mixture of any of these are correctable and will benefit you in the long run. Nobody is perfect, and some people might miss a credit card payment here or there–but realize that these bad habits snowball. Nip them in the bud and your future self will thank you for it later.

4. Learn to Take Risks

This goes along with the principle of expecting volatility. Think of it this way: every time you get on a plane, you take a calculated risk. You realize that there’s a certain degree of danger and excitement, but the first sign of turbulence doesn’t make us jump out with a parachute, does it? No, we wait out the ride because we need to get where we’re going. Or here’s another one: many of us lived through the real estate crash in 2008, and Canadians were worrying that their housing market might just collapse earlier this year. Does that mean that none of us are going to buy homes, or invest in real estate ever again? Of course not. Renting is great, but buying property is an investment that expresses itself over time.

Nevertheless, when it comes to risk, it’s extremely important to be cautious, and knowledgeable. Fraudsters are out there, waiting to exploit your ignorance, and plenty of people have bet the farm based on bad information or an incomplete understanding of the facts — and lost. However, with the right asset diversification, information, and education, you can learn how to weather those risks and end up on the other side profitable. In fact, Arielle O’Shea’s article “5 Essential Investing Moves for Millennials” published via Forbes lists “say hello to risk” as its second move. “Risk is kind of like that friend who regularly cancels plans but always comes through in a pinch,” she writes. “There might be heartache in the day-to-day, but in the long run, you’ll be glad you stuck it out.”

5. It’s OK to Invest With Your Head AND Your Heart

Millennials simply think about personal finance differently. Writing for LendKey, Dave Rathmanner mentions that Millennials are characterized by a desire to make ethical financial decisions–not just profitable ones.

 

“In a recent survey on ethical investing, over 85 percent of millennials said that they were interested in engaging in this type of investing,” he writes, referring to the latest, annual U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth Survey. “That means that millennials would rather prioritize investing in companies that do good and are socially responsible than those that focus solely on creating the largest return for investors.”

Wall Street is beginning to cater to this trend in a bid to court more Millennial investors. Stick to your moral guns, and remember: a bed made of silk and gold is worthless if you can’t sleep at night.

These are the top five rules for Millennial investors, but they’re definitely not the only ones. If you think we forgot something or have an interesting tip to add yourself, mention it in the comments below.

Andrew Heikkila is a Millennial (whatever that means), a writer, an artist and musician, and a small business owner. He believes in the power of change and the power of people. By combining those two elements, he believes, anything is possible. Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyO_TheHammer

 

3 Crucial Financial Decisions To Make During And Soon After College

July 24th, 2018

BY SCOTT BAY

When you envision your future, it’s unlikely you imagine yourself living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to build up your savings account. Rather, you may picture yourself working in the field you’re truly passionate about, making a sizeable income, and saving a considerable amount of money in your retirement fund. It’s a dream to become both financially stable and independent while pursuing your career.

However, without continuous preparation and planning, your future ambitions may be at risk. At times, it may feel difficult to plan for the future, while striving for immediate success. Nonetheless, there are a few simple things you can do now to anticipate the exact future you want

 

  1. Reduce Your Insurance Rates

With tuition, textbook, and housing rates on the rise, you may feel that insurance is a luxury you can’t afford. However, many insurance carriers (including State Farm, Allstate, and Farmers) offer insurance discounts to full-time students who maintain high grade point averages. Many of these discounts can save you up to $300 a year.

Utilizing insurance discounts protects your income and assets against unexpected events, losses, or damages. For example, during the 2015-2016 school year, 79 percent of public schools reported one or more incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes. Students who were uninsured had to cover costs for medical treatment or property replacement themselves. Enrolling in an insurance plan may save you from going hundreds or thousands of dollars further into debt. Significant debt from unexpected events can damage your credit, which can affect your ability to qualify for housing or get an auto or home loan.

Taking advantage of reduced interest rates can benefit you even after you’ve graduated college as you may qualify for a great life insurance policy. Once you marry and begin a family, enrolling in a life insurance plan is vital as it ensures your loved ones are not left to settle your debts themselves should something happen to you.

  1. Get Out of Debt

Endless amounts of interest payments and an inability to improve your income level are only a few ways debt weighs you down. You may feel as though you’re trapped in an endless cycle of financial woes and have little-to-no control over your life. Getting out of debt allows you to regain control and become financially stable.

Getting out of debt leads to better job prospects and overall job satisfaction. The ability to freely spend your money instead of paying interest payments can motivate you to work harder and increase your efficiency level. Furthermore, regardless of your income level, there are many ways you can start paying off your debt now. Creating and sticking to a budget enables you to save more money each month, some of which you can use to get out of debt.

Becoming debt-free improves your credit score and enables you to build up your savings account. It also allows you to make major purchases with less stress (such as buying your first home). In fact, having little-to-no debt may qualify you for a lower monthly mortgage payment. Bottom line: a strong credit score and a balanced savings account are crucial for a successful future.

  1. File for Student Tax Credits

Despite the substantial financial burden of obtaining a secondary education, tax season can bring some monetary relief. Student tax credits and deductions can help increase your tax return and reduce the amount  deducted from your paychecks.

Tax credits like American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning cover up to $2,500 of education expenses. Tuition, student loan interest, and fee deductions can all reduce the amount of taxes you owe and maximize your return.

Utilizing tax credits and deductions enables you to lower your bill and build up your savings account with a higher tax return. Additionally, lowering the amount of taxes taken from your paychecks increases your income level. Each of these tactics may enable you to get out debt faster.The Takeaways

As you perceive your plausible future, it’s crucial to start preparing for it now. Continuous preparation enables you to minimize uncertainty and better anticipate your needs. Whether you are just beginning your college experience or have recently graduated, it is never too late to start strategically thinking about the future.

Regardless of your age or life experience, you should carefully consider each of these three tips when planning for the years after graduation. You’ll never know how much stress (both monetary and otherwise) you’ll save yourself.

Scott Bay is a digital journalist who covers technology, travel, and wellness — catch his latest

clips on Twitter.

Goal Setting And Creativity:Stay Focused In College

July 23rd, 2018

BY BRETT CLAWSON

Throughout the early stages of life, goals are often provided for human beings. They learn how to walk, talk and take on responsibilities at home. Then, they move into school where they have specific criteria to meet on essentially a daily basis. However, as individuals move into adulthood, determining what goals to meet and how to achieve them often become more difficult tasks.

The same old humdrum advice of making a list of your goals might not be working for you, especially when you want to express creativity. Instead of falling into a rut, combine goal setting and creativity in a powerful way to turn your dreams into a reality.

Doodle, Sketch and Scribble

To-do lists can feel overwhelming, particularly when they are filled with prodigious goals. However, bringing thoughts out of your mind and onto a piece of paper can help you to better manage and visualize them. Instead of using a boring routine, turn to an artistic path to breathe life into your visions. The value of free writing is no secret, and the Writer’s Digest supports that fact. Take out a piece of paper and draw images or write words that are related to your dreams. Work freely and without inhibitions. When you are finished, take a look at repeated words or images to get a sense of what your inner voice is trying to tell you.

Create Realistic Expectations

The thought of working toward goals might seem overwhelming to you because of troubles that you’ve had in the past. Part of the reason that you may have struggle to achieve goals previously is because you weren’t creating realistic expectations. For example, maybe you want to change your career and teach writing at the college level, and you decide that you are going to accomplish this year within one year. This time frame does not take into account the average length of degree programs. When you set realistic goals for yourself, you are more likely to actually achieve them.

Find a Time and Space to Work

Reaching your goals isn’t a task that you can just haphazardly do whenever you feel like it. You may need to teach yourself to get inspired. If exercising increases your energy or taking an art class makes you feel prolific, plan your goal-setting endeavors for after you pursue these passions. That extra energy can help you to reach and exceed your goals. Also, if you are working on a project, an assignment for a class or another task that helps you to achieve your goal, you need to allocate a quiet and calm place for doing so whether that is in a home office or through a virtual workspace.

Meditate

With all of the stress factors that come into fruition each day, you may find it incredibly difficult to focus. Allowing time for meditation can help you with this struggle, and it can allow your creativity to flow. In fact, Psychology Today notes how meditation can help you to focus better on tasks. Choosing a guided meditation can help you learn how to relieve anxieties, and it can allow you to better put your creative mind to work. You may want to engage in meditation at home or find a group.

Share Your Successes

You might feel as though it is easy to give up on your goals because you have no one to hold you accountable. While you do want to work on holding yourself accountable, sharing your successes can help in this journey. When people are eager to know how you are doing, their positive energy can help to inspire you. Also, if you are having a tough day, you can speak with a relative or friend for some guidance and advice. Even if they haven’t had the same goals as you do, they can likely offer encouragement about goal setting in general.

Setting goals is an important part of life. When you combine this pursuit with creativity, you will have a powerful blend.

Author:

Brett Clawson is a writer and entrepreneur with a degree in Business Management. He enjoys researching emerging business trends and sharing their impact on business and the industry as a whole. He believes that the best way to influence others and share his knowledge with the world is through his writing.

What Colleges Can Do For Visually Handicapped Students

July 20th, 2018

BY DANIKA KIMBALL

For college students with visual impairments, the college experience can prove to be quite different than that of students who don’t have vision impairments.

The Americans with Disability was enacted in 1990, meaning that colleges and professors across the nation are legally required to reasonably accommodate students who are disabled. For students who are blind, this can mean accessing a syllabus or finding a scribe for an exam, and helping them better navigate the classroom experience.

How Many Students Can This Affect?

According to the National Federation for the Blind, in 2015 there were 7.29 million adults who had some kind of visual disability. That year, the last for which this information is available, 42 percent of blind or visually impaired individuals were a part of the U.S. workforce, but only 15 percent of those individuals had earned a bachelor’s degree at an accredited higher learning institution. An alarming 25 percent of people who are visually impaired do not finish high school in the U.S.

This disparity can have severe consequences. According to these reports, 29 percent of people who are blind or significantly visually impaired currently live below the poverty line. The pathway to financial security in America has often been through college education, so what can colleges and universities do to better accommodate students who are blind or otherwise visually impaired, and what can students and parents do to prepare for higher education?

Defining Visual Impairment

While definitions for blindness are subjective, the National Federation for the Blind takes a broad view of the topic:

“We encourage people to consider themselves as blind if their sight is bad enough—even with corrective lenses—that they must use alternative methods to engage in any activity that persons with normal vision would do using their eyes,” they write.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), on the other hand defines vision impairment as “a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the better eye with best correction, or total field loss of 140 degrees.”

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children notes that visual impairment most commonly affects visual acuity, sharpness or clarity of vision, visual range, and color perception. The causes are varied and can include genetic conditions, in utero infections, birthing complications, disease, trauma, and age.

While some find relief from vision-related issues with corrective lenses, contacts, or through procedures like lasik surgery, visual impairments that affect those who experience blindness are typically incurable and degenerative.  

What Can Schools Do to Accommodate Students With Visual Disabilities

In order to create universally accessible courses for students with vision impairments, colleges and universities must take preliminary steps.

First, they must modify course instruction to meet the needs of each of their individual students in order to create a more inclusive classroom environment. For blind and visually impaired students, this means making auditory software, large-font presentations, and Braille materials available to those who might need them.

They must also allow exams and testing to exist in different formats, and offer students adaptive software, an aid, and/or additional time to complete assignments and tests so all students can be successful.

Colleges must also give students access to counselors, resource centers, and other on-campus services whose main purpose is to assist individuals with disabilities.

Some say that these classroom resources are not enough, however, and argue that part of what students pay for is the social aspect of the college experience.

“The resources are great, but they aren’t helping people who are blind navigate the college experience — they’re just helping them navigate the classroom experience, and that’s not what college is about,” Mickey Damelio, a teacher for the visually impaired at Florida State University, tells USA Today. “They do everything they can on the academic side, but leave all the life stuff aside. It’s just too messy,” Damelio says.

What Can Visually Impaired Students Do to Prepare for the College Environment?

There are a number of things that transitioning high school students can do to prepare for college life. One of them is to be sure to do their due diligence when applying for colleges in the first place.

“The number one factor to consider would be whether or not the school has an active office of disability services,” Robert Sabwami, a visually impaired student attending Wright State University says. “It is my assumption that many schools have services for people with disabilities, however, the nature of services provided divides apples from oranges. Some institutions provide quality services, whereas others only offer generic services.”

He goes on to say if you find a school with a larger percentage and better track record of accommodating students with disabilities, the more likely the school is to be a good fit for you.

“Another factor would be the number of people with disabilities attending the school,” Sabwami writes. “It is almost certain that schools with very few students with disabilities (or ones with none at all) will have basic to no services available. Indeed, it would be quite odd to find oneself as the only one with a disability out of an entire campus.”

Students with disabilities are often challenged when it comes to adjusting to college. With the right amount of preparation and research, and the proper accommodations, students who are blind or vision impaired can expect to be just as successful moving forward in a post-secondary environment.  

Danika is a writer and musician from the Northwest who sometimes takes a 30 minute break from feminism to enjoy a tv show. You can follow her on Twitter @sadwhitegrrl

How to Get Federal or State Student Financial Aid

July 18th, 2018

How to Get Federal or State Student Financial Aid?

State or federal student aid is the lifeline that supports a college degree for many students in the U.S. For example, according to the National Center for Education statistics, over 2 million college students relied on financial aid in the 2014-2015 school year.

Well, the college’s sticker price has been rising in the recent years, making accessing quality education more and more difficult for many young people. Fortunately, all students are eligible for at least one form of financial aid, so here’s how you can navigate this process and apply for all options.

Who Gets Student Financial Aid?

There are certain eligibility requirements that you must meet to get some type of financial aid. They include:

  • Proving the need for financial assistance (this sum is calculated by subtracting the amount of money your family can provide to pay for your education from the cost of attendance of the school you selected)
  • Showing that you’ve maintained satisfactory academic progress in college or another school
  • Being a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen
  • Having a valid Social Security number
  • Providing your high school diploma or another state-recognized equivalent.

How to Apply for Federal Aid

To unlock your access to college financial aid, you have to complete a special form at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

Keep in mind that you must submit it before the FAFSA school year deadlines. The FAFSA form for the 2018-2019, for example, become available on October 1, 2017, and will be open until June 30, 2019.

The first step in applying is to create your FSA ID.

To do that, you have to visit the FSA website and follow the instructions that the site gives you. Be prepared to provide your personal information. The purpose of creating the ID is to confirm your identity and electronically sign your financial aid-related online documents.

The second step is to complete the FAFSA application. The site recommends to do it as fast as possible to beat the deadlines and make corrections in an error is discovered in the application.

Now that you’ve provided all data needed to be considered for student financial aid, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. This report includes all information from the application as well as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a number that shows your eligibility.

The school you applied to will receive your EFC and review to assess your eligibility (you’re only eligible for financial assistance if your EFC is less than the cost of attendance of the schools you listed in your FAFSA application).

If you’re wondering what your EFC is, you can use Quick EFC calculator from FinAid to prepare an approximation.

How to Apply for State Financial Aid

“In addition to the federal government, there are many local organizations that provide a wide range of grants, scholarships, and other types of aid,” says Michelle Ingram, a scholarship advisor at Essayhilfe.

To see your options, visit the site of the National Association of Student Financial Aid (NASFA) and Administrators, click on your state (or the state where a school is located), and the system will redirect you to the list of available funding options.

For example, see the list of available state and federal grants and scholarships in Texas that was generated by the NASFA’s site.

Tips for Getting College Financial Aid

  1. Meet the Deadlines

This tip has already been mentioned above, but we just cannot overstate the importance of meeting deadlines to get student financial aid. Most colleges in the U.S. have limited aid budgets, so when they distribute the money among those who applied, there simply won’t be enough funds to continue. This means that a late application is a bad idea.

  1. Contact a College Financial Aid Counselor

He or she can assess your chances for getting the aid and give you some valuable tips for filling out documents.

  1. Focus Your Effort

The process of searching and applying for student financial aid can be tiring a bit, so you have to focus your effort to achieve your goal. Do paperwork and all other things required, and don’t expect everything to be easy and smooth.

  1. Research

Some students miss great opportunities to get financial aid because they haven’t done their homework. For example, it’s a common misconception that part-time students aren’t eligible for federal financial aid. They are, so contact the college you’re interested in and find out what funding options are available for you if you want to attend part-time.

Over to You

As you get ready for college, keep in mind that there are many federal and state student financial aid options available for you. You just need to do your best and be ready to go the extra mile to get what you need to afford the tuition bill. Good luck!

 

Tom Jager is professional blogger. He works at Studhilfe.  He has degree in Law and English literature. Tom has written numerous articles/online journals. You can reach him at G+  or  Facebook.

How to Balance Work and College

July 17th, 2018

BY MELISSA BURNS

Students get jobs for different reasons: for some, it is the way to earn a bit of extra cash, others do it for experience, for still others it is a matter of survival. One thing, however, remains the same no matter what your purpose is – balancing work, college and other activities can be too much. Without some determined organization effort, some parts of your life are going to suffer from neglect. There are ways to get it all to work together – and here we will talk about some of them.

1.    Capitalize on Workplace and College Flexibility

Both school and business today are refreshingly flexible and open to negotiation. Talk to your boss about reduced hours or flextime. Discuss your schedule to find a variant that will satisfy both of you. Ask about opportunities like job sharing or deferred pay. Don’t be afraid to ask and make suggestions – a reasonable employer will be ready to listen, and you don’t want to work for an unreasonable one.

The same goes for colleges – many of them offer programs aimed at people with part- or full-time jobs.

2.    Get Organized

If you think that with work and college you have too much on your plate, it is not because you have too much to deal with or because you are inherently incapable of doing it. It is because you are disorganized.

Note your work and study hours. Set a schedule and commit to following it religiously for the rest of your stay in college. Make sure you get enough sleep, that your place for some rest is comfortable and that you stick to the same sleeping and waking hours throughout the week – this alone can seriously influence your energy levels and ability to deal with challenges. Don’t put your plans off until tomorrow because you are too tired – tomorrow you will be just as tired, and there will be even more work to take care of.

3.    Set Priorities

Decide what is really important for you and stick to this decision. If your goals are ambitious and you are physically incapable of doing absolutely everything you are supposed to do, choose what gives you most results and drop what does the least. Be ready to forgo not just less important work but fun activities as well. It doesn’t mean that you should do nothing but work and study, but you should be able to firmly choose in favor of things that bring results when it is necessary.

4.    Study and Work Smarter, not Harder

There are plenty of ways to use study and work time for mutual benefit. Work situation can be a basis for an MBA project. Inevitable breaks during work can be used for short study sessions. Record your lectures and listen to them during your commute. You may call it inconvenient now, but in fact, it just means using your time to the fullest. After you get used to it, you will never believe how you could have wasted so much time before.

5.    Avoid Time Sinks

Try finding a job in a location that will minimize your commuting time. Try writing down everything you do with times when you started and ended each activity accurate to five minutes. Do it for a few days, and you will be horrified by the amount of time you waste on things that should be avoided completely. Find out what your greatest time sinks are (Facebook? Gaming? Surfing the Internet? Find what is relevant in your case) and allocate limited time to them. Chances are when this time comes you won’t even want to engage in these activities.

Juggling work and college may look like a daunting, even impossible task; but trust us, millions of people do it, and you can do it too.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at burns.melissaa@gmail.com

5 Most Common Time Management Mistakes Students Make

July 16th, 2018

BY DAVID GUTIERREZ

For most people college is the first time they acquire more or less complete freedom to do what they like with their time. Until then you live under control of your parents, teachers, and curriculum. In college, you are given not definite tasks but more of overarching goals and are allowed to pursue them as you see fit. Unfortunately, few of us learn any semblance of time management in high school, and given freedom tend to turn our lives into interchanging periods of slacking off and panicky sprints in an attempt to cram a term’s worth of textbooks in one night. Here we will cover the worst mistakes students do about controlling their time.

1.    They Don’t Have a Plan

Most students don’t have a plan beyond a list of assignments and deadlines by which they are supposed to be done. Many don’t even bother about this. Living in such a fashion simply calls for disaster: you will suddenly discover that you have three large assignments due tomorrow, that you’ve missed time to consult your tutor about something and run into all kinds of other problems.

You should always know what you are going to do today when the day starts. Ideally, you should have a good picture of your activities for a week or two ahead.

2.    They Pull All-Nighters before Exams

Science proves it time and again: pulling an all-nighter before a test or an exam is worse than useless. You will remember little of what you’ve tried to memorize, and your brain will work the next day sluggishly to boot. It is because of how our memory works: in order to hammer something into your grey cells and consistently find it to be still there when you look for it, you have to use spaced repetition: i.e., revising this information after gradually growing intervals. It may take a little organizing in the course of a semester and occupy more of your time, but it will ensure that you remember things when the test comes – and probably even after a couple of years. In other words, common sense plus healthy sleep beats all-nighters every time.

3.    Their Study Area Is a Mess

What does it have to do with time management? A lot, as it turns out. Having to study in a chaotic environment where you don’t know where everything is you not only waste time looking for what you need. You are easily distracted by the stuff that gets into your sight. You feel subconsciously reluctant to start studying because your environment is full of things that call for your attention.

Ideally, you shouldn’t have anything but the current object of your studies in front of you – this ensures maximum focus.

4.    They Don’t Know Their Most Productive Time

Each person is most and least productive during different periods of the day. Moreover, one can be more or less productive at different things during different times of day – what these periods are for you can only be discovered by trial and error. Try switching your schedule about – you may find that, for example, if you put your study hours before noon you manage to do twice as much in the same amount of time than when you do this work in the evening.

5.    They Don’t Set Priorities

We are not talking just about giving preference to studies over partying. 80 percent of results are achieved by 20 percent of effort. If you don’t have enough time to deal with your entire workload, concentrate your effort on what is really important and don’t try to do everything.

Avoid these blunders, and you find your college life much less stressful and more enjoyable.

David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.