Looking on the Bright Side: The Best Things about Finals Week

As the spring semester comes to a close, some students may feel that all the studying and packing to go home is driving them a little bit crazy. This means there can be temptation to procrastinate:

It doesn’t all have to be bad, though – finals week has a lot of silver linings, and procrastinating will only make it worse. Here are some reasons to power through.

You have an excuse to wear sweatpants all week.
There are no full-length classes and you’re spending most of your time cramming. No one expects you to look your best. Take advantage of it! Spend finals week in your comfiest clothes, and kick off the summer without a care.

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You can reward yourself with a Netflix binge.
You’ve sacrificed your social life to pass your classes. That warrants a reward, right? As soon as your finals are over, you can finally catch up on all those Netflix shows you’ve been meaning to watch, because you’ve earned it. Having that to look forward to is one of the best things about finals week.

At least the weather is nice!
Finals week in spring is way better than finals week in the winter. You can open the windows or study outside, as opposed to being cooped up in your dorm with dry skin and a cold.

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No nap is as sweet as the post-exam nap.
Although it doesn’t take much physical exertion to take an exam, it does take mental exertion, and that calls for a nap between classes. And that nap will be the most satisfying nap of your life.

This is the one week you don’t have to feel guilty about skipping the gym.
You feel guilty about skipping the gym 51 weeks of the year, but this week you get a free pass (even if you don’t usually go anyway). You can’t do everything at once, so go easy on yourself. And, hey, same goes for your diet. Sometimes, only a little sugar can get you through an all-nighter.

After finals comes summer!
Sure, you’ve got to make it through this last sprint, but once you make it through, it’s all downhill. You wouldn’t want to ruin that nice, easy summer all for a few days’ worth of procrastination, would you?

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Top Military Friendly Online Colleges

Military Friendly Online CollegesThanks to online college courses — or, as some like to call it, ‘distance learning,’ — it has now become possible to earn a college degree whether you can make it to the classroom or not. This means that more and more members of the military are able to earn degrees no matter where they’re stationed or how far their jobs take them. For this reason, most online colleges would be considered ‘military friendly,’ but there are a few in particular that go above and beyond for their enlisted students. Here are some of our top picks and an outline of their military benefits.

Bellevue University
Bellevue University caters specifically to its military students who are taking classes online through its Military Veterans Service Center. The staff at this center are available via Skype, instant messaging, and social media to answer questions and provide guidance whenever necessary. Bellevue also has a B.U.M.P. (Bellevue University Mentor Protege) program which is specifically put in place for its military students. This program is modeled after the ‘fireteams,’ small units of the infantry, in which the student is put into a group with a mentor protege and a BU graduate. The university also provides experiential learning credits and a discount to military students.

Grantham University

Since Grantham University was founded by a veteran of WWII, it’s only natural that it would offer exceptional opportunities to its military students. The school accepts awards credit for military work training and experience, allowing students to combine their education and their military experience. It also offers multiple scholarships to military students to help pay tuition costs. There are plenty of online resources for distance learning students, and Grantham keeps an up-to-date military blog as well.

University of Colorado
The staff at University of Colorado – Boulder are specifically trained to work with military students in a way that meets their needs. Being that the school has an ROTC program and an online chapter of Student Veterans of America, it’s easy to see why people consider this school to be so military-friendly. Military veterans, active duty service members, and their dependents are all eligible to receive scholarships as well, and the school also does offer course credits for military training.

St. Petersburg College
Not only does St. Petersburg has an online chapter of Student Veterans of America, but it also specifically caters to its online students by offering online tutoring and trains its staff with the needs of military students in mind. Active duty service members who are stationed in Florida or who have formerly lived in Florida are eligible for discounted tuition, and the school also offers a Veteran Tuition Waiver to honorably discharged veterans who do not qualify for residency. Multiple military-focused scholarships are available through the college.

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Online Degree Spotlight: Fashion Merchandising

Online Degree Spotlight  Fashion MerchandisingArt comes in many forms – visual, auditory, performance…and even art that can be worn. Those who have a love for fashion are artists in their own rite, and although some may try to tell you that your passion for spending money on clothes doesn’t exactly translate into making a living, that’s simply not true.

The field of fashion merchandising is fast-paced, ever-changing, and demanding of a knowledge of what’s on-trend. Best of all, a degree in the field can be acquired online. For this week’s degree spotlight, let’s go inside the field of fashion merchandising.

Potential Careers
Believe it or not, there are a lot of potential careers for someone who graduates with a fashion merchandising degree. You can become a consumer analyst who looks at consumer trends to decide what’s profitable – or predict what will be profitable – for manufacturers. You can be a buyer who chooses which items will be sold in department stores. You can even design or supervise the design of floor and window displays.

What it Takes
To acquire an online degree in fashion merchandising, you’ll need more than just a penchant for shopping. You need to be a good communicator and critical thinker, to be willing to put in the work to stay current, and to be technologically adept. Studying online means you can learn at your own pace, but once you’re in the field, your pace will be dictated by retailers, designers, manufacturers, and your colleagues.

Courses of Study
Studying fashion merchandising means you get a very well-rounded education. Not every course is about fashion trends – you’ll need to complete courses on retail management, visual merchandising, advertising, and event planning as well. Earning the degree also requires having a foundation of general courses, such as public speaking and art history, so graduates complete the program with a deep understanding of art as well as retail management and business technology.

Earning Expectations
Let’s delve into the topic everyone wants to learn more about: earning potential. As with any field, experience and specialization will be big determining factors for salary. However, retail buyers average between $36,000 and $65,000 per year, while buying managers averaged $69,000 to $118,000. Promotions managers had an average salary of $83,000. These tidbits can provide an idea about the industry’s potential.

There are many more potential career paths – such as personal styling and sales – that a person with a degree in fashion merchandising can pursue. However, this is a good sneak peek if you’re wondering what doors a love for fashion and some online college courses could open up for you.

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One Year Later: The Starbucks/ASU Partnership Thrives

starbucks_college_achievement_planNot too long ago, we discussed the fact that Starbucks began offering its employees an extremely steep discount on a college education at Arizona State University, thanks to a partnership between the coffee company and the institution. It’s been almost a year since the two shook hands, and now we’re checking in to see how it’s going.

It began as sort of a discount, and was only available to workers who enrolled with enough credits to be qualified as juniors or seniors at ASU. However, the offer has now expanded: Starbucks is now offering to foot the bill for four-year college degrees.

Almost 2,000 Starbucks employees have emphatically taken advantage of the offering, and there’s no signs of stopping. The company has stated it plans to spend up to $250 million to get at least 25,000 of its employees to graduate within ten years. After all, the majority of Starbucks employees (70%) have not yet earned degrees by any means.

Howard Schultz, founder and CEO of Starbucks, describes a four-year education as a “critical tool for lifelong opportunity,” and acknowledges that “too many Americans can no longer afford a college degree.” He adds, “We’re stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success.” He’s not wrong – today’s college graduates are often burdened with mountains of debt, but without degrees, earning potential is severely limited. Degree holders earn a median $1,101 per week to the $668 of non-degree holders. Unemployment rates of graduates are nearly half that of people with only high school diplomas.

ASU maintains that when accepting students into their programs, their standards remain the same in spite of the fact that Starbucks students apply through a separate portal. Students may only enroll in one of ASU’s 49 online degree programs, but rest assured that these offerings run the gamut. A wide variety of arts, sciences, and everything in-between is available. Furthermore, upon receiving the diploma, there is no difference between ASU’s online courses and degree programs completed on-campus.

Starbucks will only reimburse its students after they have completed 21 credits, but its students are under no obligation to continue working for the company after graduating. There are scholarships and federal aid offered, but any outstanding balance and loans are paid by Starbucks.

The president of ASU, Michael Crow, states: “The College Achievement Plan has been a powerful demonstration of what is possible when an enlightened and innovative corporation joins forces with a forward-thinking research university,”

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Free Online Classes to Expand your Brain

shutterstock_265374638We’ve discussed a lot of ways that the internet and technology are making life easier for college students or those looking to enroll in school. From LinkedIn adding tools to help prospective students choose schools to certain colleges making the move toward free online textbooks, it seems that a lot of aspects of learning are better than ever in the Internet Age.

The benefits of learning aren’t limited, though, to just college students and soon-to-be college students. Thanks to the World Wide Web, anyone can continue to flex their learning muscles, and they can do it for free! Here are a few interesting courses you might consider taking just for the fun of it, since learning is never a bad thing (and you’ve got nothing to lose).

Creative Writing: A Master Class
By now you should know that creative writing is an important skill not just for the next F. Scott Fitzgeralds of our generation, but for any professional. This class, taught through iTunes U, presents a great opportunity for anyone to hone those skills. It consists of almost 40 audio and video podcasts that offer insights on writing from various talented and well-known authors, allowing students to learn their methods and put them into practice. This is a great option for anyone who wants to become a better written communicator or wants to begin to write creatively.

Political, Economic, and Social Thought
Let’s face it: the various facets of politics should be understood by all of us, but the idea of learning them appeals to few of us. That’s why the University of Wisconsin – Madison offers this course through iTunes U. It’s a self-paced way to teach oneself these important ideologies with materials chosen by Professor Emeritus of Political Science Charles Anderson. The materials (mostly podcasts) of this course cover all the basics, from Plato to Marx, and help you to learn their important ideologies in an accessible way.

Learn 48 Languages
It’s never too late to learn a language, and being multilingual is an invaluable skill. Now, you can learn any widely-used language through free language lessons offered by Open Culture. Teach yourself any language from Arabic to Yiddish while you drive, take the train, or lie in bed.

Learn to Code
In today’s culture, few things look better on your resume than the ability to code. Luckily, there are lots of free courses online to teach you internet coding language and programming thanks to Code Academy. As our world goes more and more digital, it’s never a bad thing to understand the back-end of the web on at least a basic level, and it’s a really easy way to impress your employer.

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Scholly: The App that can Help you get a Scholarship

Scholly LogoIf there’s anything that notoriously deters people from going to school, it’s the money. Thanks to the ever-broadening availability of online college degree programs, even time constraints aren’t a concern for most people – but as soon as they see that five-digit price tag, many students turn the other way.

What these people don’t know is that they can easily apply for scholarships to help alleviate the costs, and that there are scholarships for just about everything under the sun. To make things even easier, there’s now an app to help you on your search for scholarships to apply to – and it even guides your application process!

The app is Scholly, available for both iPhone and Android, and it’s quickly become a sensation in the merged worlds of technology and education.

How does it work?
All you have to do is fill out a list of parameters – age, location, GPA, major, and others – to narrow down Scholly’s comprehensive list of available scholarships and find the ones that you qualify for. If it sounds incredibly simple, then the founder of Scholly has done his job. No one understands the collegiate struggle like the founder, after all – he himself is a 21-year-old junior at Drexel University, and his own experiences prompted the app’s development.

The parameters you enter filter the list immediately, and it happens all right on your phone. This means you can search for scholarships while you wait in the waiting room of a doctor’s office or kill time between classes. Today’s students love new and they love fast, and Scholly delivers on that promise.

What else does it have to offer?
One thing that the app offers that lots of scholarship database websites don’t is diversity. Many students find that they are underrepresented when it comes to the type of applicants scholarships are looking for. Gray aimed to put an end to that. Returning undergrads and grad students will have just as much success as the typical soon-to-be freshman. There are scholarships for students completing their degrees online as well.

Not only that, but it helps to ease the anxiety about applying. Most scholarships require that students write essays to enter, and, let’s face it, not every student is a regular Shakespeare. On the app, students can review real-life winning essays from scholarship applications and college applications. This helps them to get ideas and figure out what types of things colleges are looking for.

The future for students
As it stands, most students have smartphones and are prepared to use them. It’s no surprise that an app that’s inexpensive – only 99 cents –, easy to use, and comprehensive is a game-changer for college applicants. It’s only surprising that someone hasn’t thought of it first.

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Now Hiring: US States with Most Openings for College Graduates

Now HiringA lot of times, when college students are talked about in the news, the topic is negative. People seem to be concerned about how much debt today’s students are taking on, or how saturated the job market is. Let’s talk about something positive: the US states that have the most jobs available for college grads.

It may surprise you, but a recent study shows that it’s Massachusetts and Delaware that are currently prepared to hire the most college grads. The study, conducted by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, garnered this information through online job listings targeted at people with degrees. In 2015, 90% of open positions are advertised online.

Some might assume that states with highly concentrated populations, such as New York and California, would be the best places to flock for a worthy position. After all, these seem to be the places many students flock after earning their degrees. And while they do have the most openings, they also have higher concentrations of college-educated job-seekers, meaning the market is much more competitive. In other words, just because there are a lot of openings doesn’t mean your chances of being hired are improved in those areas.

Massachusetts and Delaware, along with runners-up Washington, Colorado, and Alaska, all have a relatively high number of job listings for people with bachelor’s degrees when the number of local eligible candidates is considered. Washington D.C. has a high concentration of openings per worker as well. In these areas, college-educated job-seekers are much more likely to have luck finding positions that correlate with their qualifications.

On the flip side, states like West Virginia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Hawaii have a very unfavorable job listing to candidate ratio. College grads in that area might consider relocating – though, luckily, it seems no one has to move far to find better job markets.

Aside from these findings, it’s the same old story when it comes to getting jobs for people with college degrees. There are managerial and STEM jobs aplenty – listings for these types of jobs dominate the market. Meanwhile, other fields have less than half as many listings. Hence, geography isn’t the only thing to consider if you’re concerned with how marketable your degree will make you post-graduation; concentration of study will always play the biggest role in your likelihood to get hired, even if you live in Delaware, Massachusetts, or Washington, D.C.

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Four Invaluable Tips for Selecting a College Course Schedule

Selecting a College Course ScheduleOne of the biggest differences between college and high school is that no one gives you a schedule. The choice is yours, which can be a blessing as well as a curse. Before you go in blind and select whatever courses appeal to you by name, it’s important to think about what sort of schedule this might mean for you. Here are a few sage words of advice for getting started.

If you know which course you want or need to take, peruse the different options.
In school, many general courses will be taught during multiple time slots and sometimes may even have multiple professors. If you have a course in mind, check to see what your options may be. Decide which time slot best fits your desired schedule (do you prefer morning or night classes?) or, if you have no preference, do some research on the different professors. RateMyProfessors.com is a widely-used resource among college students, though you should of course be taking the ratings with a grain of salt.

Strike a balance.
Don’t want to take classes on Fridays? That’s understandable, but that doesn’t mean you should be consolidating all your classes into Tuesdays and Thursdays. Having five days off per week does not necessarily mean your schedule will be more manageable. In fact, you might just wear yourself out. Feel free to set limits on which days and times you would and would not like to have classes, but remain flexible. Try to spread your courses out across multiple days, and give yourself breaks in-between classes if you’d like to study during the day. You could even consider taking some of your college courses online to give yourself a more freed-up schedule.

Know your requirements.
Every program has a set of requirements that need to be filled in order to graduate. It’s better to take all your prerequisites and get them out of the way so that you can get your upper-level courses in during your junior and senior years. Don’t front-load on the fun classes and electives – spread them out so that as you get into your more difficult courses, you don’t feel overwhelmed with work .Most importantly, get your necessary courses out of the way as soon as you have the opportunity to ensure you graduate on time.

Think critically about important skills.
See if you can fit in courses that aren’t your strong suit, even if you don’t necessarily need them. It’ll make you more well-rounded, and more likely to succeed in the rest of your college career, if you face your weak points head-on. You’ll need certain skills in your college career whether you like it or not.

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LinkedIn’s Latest Additions Help Guide Students on Education Paths

LinkedIn for CollegeThe popular social networking site for professional connections, LinkedIn, has just announced the addition of three new tools geared toward its student userbase: Decision Boards, University Outcome Rankings, and University Finder. As the names imply, the tools have been put in place as LinkedIn’s way of helping to guide high school and college students on the right educational and career-oriented paths.

Decision Boards
The first tool is geared more toward students who have narrowed their college/university search down to a few schools. It allows these students to post the schools they’re considering and share their thoughts and concerns as a way of garnering insight from advisors. If they’ve already chosen a school, they can use these boards to talk with current students and future classmates to discuss their institution of choice. It’s a great way for students to socialize, organize their thoughts, and invite knowledgeable advisors to offer their two cents – but it’s not much help if you’re still clueless as to where you’ll be studying.

University Outcome Rankings
One concern that many future students have about where they go to school is: Do the alumni of this school get hired? What does the future hold for graduates in my field of study? The University Outcome Rankings tool is designed to answer those questions. By using an algorithm that assesses millions of LinkedIn users’ profiles, the tool is able to show how certain schools – and certain disciplines within those schools – measure up against others in terms of getting hired. According to LinkedIn, this tool is the first of its kind, and it plans to broaden its horizons geographically and in terms of fields of study in the near future.

University Finder
Every student has extremely specific criteria when it comes to choosing what college they’re going to attend. It’s not all about the cost of tuition or the availability of on-campus housing; some students want to live in specific areas, end up in specific careers, or attend schools with online college courses. This tool helps the directionless student get personalized feedback about which schools he or she should attend. Thus, students can weed out schools that don’t meet their needs more easily.

LinkedIn’s attempt to minimize the number of students who are unemployed after college or who drop out is commendable. Far too many students end up in the wrong schools or degree programs and are stuck with the consequences of their decisions. With these smarter tools, hopefully students will consider the more nuanced aspects of their futures and make better decisions.

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Online College Degrees for Foodies

Online College Degrees for FoodiesAs the old saying goes, “Do what you love, love what you do.” If you’ve always considered yourself to be a foodie, you’re probably wondering what path of education you should take in order to procure a career that allows you to embrace your love for food. As an added challenge – how can you take those classes online?

In fact, there are plenty of ways you can turn your love for food into a career with an education that is pursued online, though you may have to get a bit creative. We have a few ideas.

The Obvious: Online Culinary Degrees
If you want to join the National Restaurant Association, you’re going to need schooling in the culinary arts. Believe it or not, there are plenty of schools that allow you to pursue culinary arts degrees online. With this training, you could make yourself more eligible for one of the estimated 2 million jobs that will open up in the culinary world over the next ten years. You’ll need this degree whether you want to become a chef, a restaurant manager, or an expert on pastries, so it’s a great place to start. If you’re already working in a restaurant and wish to advance, it may be in your best interest to get a culinary arts certification or degree as well.

Become a Food Photographer with an Online Photography Degree
If you’re artsy and have an eye for design, you could put a unique twist on your love for food by pursuing an online degree in photography. There are lots of nuances to any sort of photography – you have to work with a team of lighting technicians, dressers, and event coordinators – plus you’ve got to understand how to use fancy equipment and compose a good photo. If you’re good at it, your work could be featured on menus, in magazines, on advertisements, and more.

Open a Restaurant with an Online Hospitality Management Degree
You don’t have to be cooking or eating to be a foodie. You could be behind the scenes! Hospitality degrees equip you with the skills you need to operate a business and understand how restaurants, in particular, operate. You’ll begin to understand statistics, project management, culinary service, and more. It’s a very well-rounded field of study that opens up lots of opportunities from business ownership to co-management and more. Plus, you’ll get to learn a little about the food you love so much and share that love with your customers.

Become a Food Critic with an Online Journalism Degree
If you’ve got a knack for writing and want to taste as much food as possible, maybe consider becoming a food critic. Pursuing a degree in journalism will help you to polish up your writing skills, teach you how to think very critically, and give you the resources to start marketing your work to outlets such as blogs, magazines, newspapers, and books. Imagine being able to travel the country – or even the world – and write about the food you eat! It’s a dog-eat-dog industry, but if you’re dedicated, you could be very successful.

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