Monthly Archives: September 2016

What Your Vote Could Mean for Higher Education

1. Loans and Debt

Hillary Clinton has plans to make debt-free college available to all Americans and has a vision for taking on student loan debt.  On her website, she outlines a plan for students of families who make less than $125,000 per year.  She says that by 2021, those families will pay no tuition at in-state four-year schools.  She also says that every student from a family making $85,000 or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public university without paying tuition.  In Clinton’s New College Compact, she argues for free tuition at all community colleges.  Clinton will also start a $25 billion fund to support historically black colleges and universities, in addition to largely Hispanic-serving institutions and other minority-serving institutions.

Clinton also plans to offer a 3-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers so that students can consolidate their loans, sign up for repayment programs, and figure out how to pay their monthly interest and fees.  She says that borrowers will be able to refinance loans at current rates and make it impossible for the federal government to profit from college student debt.  She claims that she will “crack down” on predatory schools, lenders, and bill collectors.

Donald Trump states that he’s “a tremendous believer in higher education” and wants to prioritize higher education opportunities for Americans. On his website, he says that he wants to “ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.”  He also says that he would fight proposals for debt-free and tuition-free public higher education.  He claims that he wants to move the government out of lending and restore that role to private banks. Trump argues that “local banks” should support “local students.”

Trump would also “consider” cutting the US Department of Education—and all of the services it provides.  While this affects many PreK-12 initiatives, it would also presumably affect the $29 billion in federal Pell Grants that help low-income students pay for college.  Trump’s party outlines its stance on higher education on pages 35-36 in its Republican Platform 2016 document.

 

 

2. STEM

Clinton’s technology plan will make an impact on both American and international students. Clinton’s College Compact will dedicate $10 billion in federal funding to allow students to participate in computer science and STEM programs, nanodegrees, computer coding, online learning, and other 21st century initiatives.  She will establish incentives for colleges and universities that will accept alternative learning programs as credits towards a degree.

Clinton will allow potential entrepreneurs in the tech sector to defer their student loan debt for up to three years while they start their own businesses.  She also proposes to offer loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 in student loan debt after five years for entrepreneurs working in distressed areas for the social good.

Trump also supports STEM initiatives for American graduates. On his website, he specifically states that a strong space program could encourage American children to pursue STEM in higher education, which would bring millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in investment to the country.

 

International Students

 

1. Visas

Clinton supports start-up visas, which would encourage international entrepreneurs to build their companies here—of course with some financial commitment from US investors.  She has specific incentives for attracting and retaining “top talent” from around the world who want to work in science and technology research and development.

Trump also has a stance on visas.  He wants to replace the J-1 visa with a program for inner city youth.  The J-1 visa currently­­ allows international students to work, study, and live in the US for a set amount of time.  If there’s no J-1 visa option for international students, American companies will not be able to hire international students.  Options for studying in an exchange program at a US school, working for a summer camp, au pairing, and interning would either be impossible or severely limited.

He also wants to impose restrictions on the H-1B visa, which is a permit that allows US employers to hire international professionals, so if you’re an international student who wants to stay in the US, or you recently graduated and want to work in the US, your chances of finding a job might be more difficult.

 

2. Immigration

Clinton’s policies support international students coming to the US to study and contribute to the global economy.  She says, in her campaign’s words, that she would “staple a green card to STEM masters and Ph.D. [students] from accredited institutions.”  This would allow international students who complete degrees in these fields to earn green cards.

Trump has a different view.  According to his website, he will “select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be self-sufficient.”  He also wants to participate in “extreme vetting” and proposes to “temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.”

Changing and smart professionals know that they need to adapt to new trends

1.    Consider your situation

Not all online degrees are created equal, so consider your life, responsibilities, and career goals when selecting a course. Some online degrees still include on-campus requirements, which may not be ideal for all students. And, according to Professor Geoff Smith, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Falmouth University, “the quality of technology available to today [means] there’s no reason why anyone should be excluded from accessing the best education on offer at the times and in the places that suit them.” Look for programs that offer options for flexibility and personalization. Ensure that you will have easy access to resources and adequate study support throughout the process.

2.    Compare value

Online degrees are more reputable than ever, but that doesn’t mean that every program or institution carries the same respect. When choosing an online graduate program, especially in the creative industries, consider the reputation and ranking of the university. Where your degree comes from will definitely matter to future employers. An online degree from a number one ranked creative university like Falmouth University will carry value that’s equivalent to that of an on-campus program. So make sure to choose a University with excellent credentials and a strong student support system.

 

3.    Check employability rates

Before enrolling, establish what type of degree will best improve your job prospects or enhance your career. Perhaps you’re looking to move up the career ladder within your field or are looking to move from marketing to advertising or vice versa? Look at industry requirements and talk with your mentors about the best study plan for developing your skills. It can be useful for professionals in marketing and advertising to gain more experience in both areas, so look for programs like the MA Advertising & Marketing at Falmouth University that allow students to build on existing experience and add to their knowledge in other areas. Then, consider the curriculum and employability of graduates from your favorite programs. You can approach universities’ alumni associations and confirm that they have a good reputation for graduate employment. Choose an institution like Falmouth University that customizes its curriculum and teaching to the market and has a 96.5 percent graduate employment rate, according to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey.

 

One Example of a high-level online degree: Falmouth University’s MA Advertising & Marketing

If you’re looking for a top ranked program that will give you more insight into both the marketing or advertising industries but need the flexibility of an online degree, consider the MA Advertising & Marketing from Falmouth University. Falmouth is the UK’s No. 1 Arts University on the Sunday Times League Table 2015 & 2016 and has the sixth highest graduate employment rate in the UK, with Falmouth graduates working in a variety of industries and sectors, with global brands or running their own companies.

At Falmouth, there’s no distinction between on-campus and on-line students. The program looks for applications from accomplished professionals who want to enhance their careers, and all students have access to experienced staff who are industry practitioners, and the MA Advertising & Marketing is built around industry connections. According to Lotte Mahon, Module Leader and Lecturer, “the online course is a natural extension” of the university’s reputation as a leader in creative advertising. Students have a chance to learn from experts and brands from around the world and come away with “a solid understanding of the marketing and brand strategies” that are used in major corporations.

Voting in Your State of Residence

Just because you’re voting in your state of residence doesn’t mean you can automatically expect to walk into your local polling place, grab a ballot, flip a few levers, and call it a day.

For starters, most states don’t even allow walk-in registration. Not only that, but registration deadlines vary from state to state. For example, voters in Alaska must be registered by October 9th regardless of whether they’re doing so online, via mail or in person, while voters in Vermont have nearly a full month longer to register. Furthermore, how you plan to register is also a factor with some state deadlines for registration methods varying by as much as a month.

Looking for information on your specific state? Lucky for you, the New York Times has assembled a comprehensive guide of state-by-state deadlines, which also includes handy information about supporting materials you’ll need to register. (Usually, a driver’s license or other state-issued form of identification will suffice.)

Additionally, the U.S. government’s website Vote.gov is a terrific starting point for determining how to register in your state, while Vote.org is also a useful portal for streamlining the registration process.

Not sure if you’re registered? Check here to find out.

Voting Outside Your State of Residence?

If you’re planning on being out of your state of residence on voting day, you can utilize Absentee Voting (also known as “mail-in voting” and “by-mail voting”) to cast your ballot.

Depending on the requirements of your state, you can register to receive an absentee ballot to fill out and return. Some even allow early voting and in-person absentee voting. While 21 states require that voters provide an excuse before being permitted to vote by absentee ballot, others — including Washington, D.C. — offer no-excuse absentee voting. (You can check out which category your state falls into here.)

In addition to students who are out of state, other valid excuses for being absent from polling sites on Election Day may include illness, physical disability, religious constraints, public service or membership in the military, age, and even vacation.

Again, the rules regarding absentee voting and early voting depend on the state. Taking time to educate yourself about Absentee Voting and Voting by Mail and Early Voting and In-Person Absentee Voting can help ensure your ability to make good on your constitutional right.

Voting from Overseas?

Overseas U.S. citizens and members of the military stationed overseas are also eligible to vote absentee. However, unlike stateside voters who being the process with their state or territorial election offices, overseas votes must use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to both request to vote and to receive their absentee ballot electronically. The best part? All it takes is filling out a single form to get started.

And while acting early can help you avoid last minute panic, if you do find yourself in the position of missing your state’s deadline for returning your absentee ballot, the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) may also be used as a backup. (However, you must have at least submitted an FPCA or registered to absentee vote by an alternate method in order to have your FWAB counted.)

Wondering what to use as your voting residence if you’re living outside the country? It’s surprisingly straightforward:  Whether or not you still own property in the state and even if you have no plans to return, your voting residence remains the U.S. address where you last resided prior to leaving. (Military members, meanwhile, should use the state listed on their Leave and Earnings Statement — even if it’s not their home of record.)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, you’re not alone. The Federal Voting Assistance Program website offers step-by-step guidance for overseas citizens, as well as a repository of links comprising all voting information in one central place.

Changing Higher Education

While some colleges are small enough to have human eyes looking over each and every application, others have historically been at the mercy of factors like grades and standardized test scores. But were these elements an accurate reflection of student success in college? Not necessarily, according to industry insiders.

This is why many colleges and universities are using new types of data collection when trying to determine which students will ultimately succeed and graduate. One, in particular, which might come as a surprise? Social media. According to one report from PBS NewsHour, some colleges are turning to social media data as an indicator of whether students were likely to enroll and graduate based on factors ranging from how many friends they made in online communities for applicants to whether or not they uploaded many profile photos.

The ultimate goal? To reap the largest yield with the lowest risk. Statistics also come into play here, with one university chief data officer telling NewsHour that each applicant is assigned a numerical probability of enrollment to help guide the school’s recruiting spending. The benefits, admissions counselors insist, are dual fold: schools get the largest ROI, while admitted students are more likely to be a good fit, stay on, graduate, and reap the lifelong benefits of a college or graduate degree.

 

 

Leveraging Data into Student Success

High turnover rates are costly to universities, but they’re also costly to students. As Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Executive Director Harvey Weingarten told The Globe and Mail, “For students, leaving is a failure. There is a loss of confidence, there is a psychological cost of failure.” But the costs are far from just psychological. College dropouts also do worse than their peers across everything from lifetime earnings to health and wellness.

In refining the admissions process, predictive analytics based on demographic and behavioral data also supports increased graduation rates. This allows universities not just to admit more appropriate candidates, but to better support them once they’re enrolled. Said Weingarten, “You accepted a student into your institution because you believed they could succeed, they would grow, thrive and develop. When it doesn’t work, you have an obligation to figure out what went wrong here.”

In addition to allowing universities to more proactively help struggling students, it can also be used to help teachers do their jobs better. Because feedback happens more quickly, teachers can more immediately take teaching actions in order to ultimately provide richer learning experiences for students.

And these techniques are working. Take results seen at the U.S.’s largest public university, Arizona State. Two years after implementing a new adaptive learning platform designed to assess, remediate and re-assess student progress in math readiness, pass rates skyrocketed from 64 percent to 75 percent with 45 percent of students finishing early. Drop-out rates, meanwhile, decreased by 56 percent.

 

 

Keeping Big Data in Check

While the potential advantages of big data for universities and students alike are profound, experts are quick to warn of the potential dangers, too. And stolen data is just the beginning when it comes to safeguarding student interests — particularly in a world in which personal information — and the insights they lead to, thanks to big data — is just a few clicks away.

Posits Stanford News, “Consider, for example, what might happen if data show that students who fit a certain profile struggle in a core course. Could those students be prevented from taking the class or pushed down a different path just because the data say they should?”

Enter a coalition helmed by Stanford University and nonprofit education consulting firm Ithaka S+R aimed at protecting student through responsible use of big data and the implementation of a new standard of care. The group’s recommendation? That the opportunities represented by big data be accompanied by a code of ethics comprising four core responsibilities, including the recognition of the limitations of big data and data collection; transparency across the data’s collection and analysis process; the use of big data to improve teaching; and the harnessing of data-driven insights for the benefit of students.

Take a Chance on Sweden

1. Study in English and Learn Swedish

Last year Sweden ranked first out of seventy countries for English Proficiency, and most universities offer programs and degrees in English. Of course, international students are still encouraged to learn Swedish, but they don’t need to be proficient to earn a degree. Marina, a grad student from Brazil studying Digital Media and Society in Uppsala, feels that this bilingualism “gives students a chance to learn a new language” while creating “a friendly and open environment since everyone can communicate.” This open environment isn’t just reflected in language. Sweden is committed to student mobility and offers more than 1000 degree programs in English.

 

2. Support for Creative, Innovative Research

Sweden ranks among the top five countries in the world for commitment to higher education and research, but the country also emphasizes autonomy and freedom within its universities and master’s students have a lot of time and support for independent learning and collaboration with other students. Satu, a computer science student from Indonesia studying at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, found “a lot of things [to] learn” in Sweden and was impressed with the country’s “support [for] start-up and innovation minded” students. For digital media student, Marina, Sweden offered infinite opportunities. “You can work with a Professor, do internships in amazing companies and do different courses.” Master’s students like Marina find that Sweden offers the freedom to think creatively and experiment with new ideas. With so much support and so many chances for hands-on experience, it’s no surprise that Sweden is one of the top nations in the world for innovation.

 

3. Soak up Swedish Culture

If your only experience with Swedish culture is Abba and Ikea meatballs, you’ve got a lot to learn. From the daily fika (coffee breaks that include tasty Swedish treats) to gender equality, Sweden exudes an individuality that is both subtle and distinct. In fact, Swedish culture could, perhaps, be summed up in one word – lagom – which means, ‘just enough’ and applies to everything from behavior and social responsibility, to sustainability and shopping. For Satu, the biggest advantage of studying at KTH is “Swedish culture itself.” Satu believes that Sweden’s culture has “many good things we can follow…[and] by living among this value, [he] believes [he] can get used to it, and bring it home and spread it to people in Indonesia.” International students in Sweden will find that the informal, inclusive university environment encourages the spread of ideas and an open dialog, and Swedish university student unions and nationer make campuses open and inviting.

 

4. Something for Everyone

Sweden is an obvious choice for winter sports enthusiasts, but this Nordic country is more than just a winter wonderland, and Brazilian student, Marina loves that “Sweden has so many different experiences to offer.” If you love soaking up sunshine by the sea, summer days in Sweden are almost never-ending and the country’s long coastline offers a variety of maritime activities. Sweden’s cities are full of art and culture, with music festivals, cafes, and a vibrant international feel. For the more forest-minded individuals, nearly 70 percent of the country is covered in forests and their pristine natural beauty should be a major draw. And there’s huge bonus if you’re the adventurous type – Sweden has codified the Right of Public Access into its constitution, which means that you can strap on your boots and pack, and explore Sweden’s wilderness without any obstructions. Plus, easy access isn’t limited to trails and camping – according to, Marina, it’s easy to “go around without any trouble and having public transportation with good quality around you is amazing.” So whether you want to spend, your days trekking the rugged tundra of Lapland, your nights dancing in Stockholm, or watch the sunset from a kayak along the rocky coasts of Götaland, you’ll find something to suit your taste and shape your future in Sweden.

The perfect destination for an international student

1. Natural Beauty

The entire country of Finland, barring a few islands of its southernmost coast, is located above the 60th parallel. Finland’s geographic location, as well as its stunning landscape, makes it an ideal location for students wanting to study and explore.  Head north in the summer when the sun doesn’t set and hike around any of Finland’s 168,000 lakes. In the winter, Finland turns into a winter wonderland with cross country ski trails through Helsinki’s central park and northern lights that dance across the sky.

 

2. Vibrant International Community

Finland has a small population (just under 5.5 million people), but the country has a diverse international community, and international students will find a warm welcome. The University of Helsinki, along with the rest of the country, has worked to establish an “attractive and internationally competitive” profile and international students have a strong network of support.

 

3. Strong Local Culture

Finnish people may seem very reserved, but once you get to know them, you’ll find a warm, friendly population and cities full of life. Finns drink more coffee than any other people on earth (around 12kg per person per year!) and the capital city of Helsinki is “full of cafes, culture and clubs.” Spend your weekends browsing flea markets and art galleries, and check out the city’s dynamic music scene featuring everything from classic operas to a rock culture that makes Finland a leader in yet another area – heavy metal bands!

 

4. World-Class Education

You can hardly open the news without hearing about Finland’s marvelous education system, but the country deserves its reputation. Finland repeatedly ranks in the top five for PISA scores, Finns borrow more library books than any other country in the world, and in the “latest Shanghai ranking, [the University of Helsinki was] #56.” The university is working its way to the top of the ranking and employs instructors who are also esteemed researchers, making it a smart choice for ambitious international students.

 

5. Safety

Apart from the occasional bear, the streets of Helsinki are relatively safe. The capital of Finland is the second safest city in the world and has been named the most livable city in the world. Outside the city crime rates are remarkably low, and the greatest risk to public safety comes from the wildlife – watch out for moose on the highways!

Excellent thesis will help you make a name for yourself

1. Schedule Daily Time to Write
The fact that your boss expects you to be at your internship everyday provides meaningful motivation to show up. Unfortunately, the same element of external accountability is missing from the thesis scenario. The unhappy result? It often ends up getting moved aside and pushed back — ultimately leaving you in a bind when the deadline is suddenly bearing down and you’re weeks behind where you’d hoped to be by now.

The best way to avoid the last minute rush? Rather than letting your thesis become the thing you do when don’t have anything else to do, make it your priority by establishing a regular writing routine. Not only will this help keep you on track, but it can also get your brain in the habit of writing. Like any other form of “exercise,” the more you write, the easier it becomes. In fact, in committing to write every day, you’re likely to experience all new levels of productivity.

 

2. Prioritize Your Productivity
Do you work best in the earlier hours of the morning while it’s still dark outside? Or perhaps you thrive in the wee hours after everyone else has gone to bed? Do you find working in a coffee shop surrounded by hordes of other people invigorating, or do you need a more solitary environment in order to concentrate?

Not everyone finds inspiration in the same environment. Understanding where you find yours is extremely beneficial when it comes to promoting peak productivity. After all, making time to write is only part of the “big picture.” Also critical? Maximizing that time.

 

3. Keep Your Employer In the Loop
One of the good things about internships is that they’re often designed to accommodate student schedules. In most cases, your employer will be more than happy to work with you to come up with a mutually agreeable work schedule which allows ample time for thesis writing, as well. If you end up in a position where you need to cut back on your internship hours to devote extra time to work on your thesis, open lines of communication are key. Just be upfront in expressing your needs from the start in order to avoid confusion and/or bad feelings in the future.

One additional thing to keep in mind? If you’re planning on continuing to work for your current employer after you graduate, the completion of your thesis — particularly if it’s germane to the work you’re doing — can add to your marketability.

 

4. Accept Multitasking as a Myth
While much has been made of the benefits of multitasking, a growing body of research not only suggests that doing multiple things at once may not only be all it’s cracked up to be, but may actually lead to decreased productivity.

A recent study from McGill University indicates that in constantly shifting from one task to the next, the body uses up its oxygenated glucose stores — the very same fuel which would otherwise be used to focus. Concludes researcher and professor of behavioral neuroscience Daniel Levitin, “That switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing.”

While multitasking may no longer be of use to you, something else can be: Scheduling regular 15-minute breaks. Stepping away from your work — whether during your internship or while writing your thesis — can actually help you be more productive, but only if you let your mind truly wander. Just don’t let it wander over to the internet, however, as research also shows that online distractions can be particularly destructive. The takeaway? In order to make the very best of your time, stop checking your social media and shut off all of your automatic notifications.