Category Archives: Education

Is Online Education Any Good?

Madison is curious about her education options:

Are online classes and degrees just as good as a traditional classroom setting?

It really depends on the school and the person. There are many excellent online programs from reputable schools. When looking for one, do your research and be sure they’re accredited and have good feedback from others.

As far as you – there are many people who have thrived in online classes. You have to be intelligent, of course, and easily able to grasp the content without the benefit of one-on-one instruction.

You also have to be highly disciplined in order to make yourself study and complete assignments when you should. With online classes, students have a lot of temptation to blow off what they should be doing for classwork to do any number of other things, either around the house or out in the world.

Make a decision as to whether you feel YOU are prepared for the challenges of online classes. If you are convinced you are, then look for a reputable school that has the program you’re looking for. Good luck!

Is Online Education Any Good?

How Do You Study?

Blake asked:

My preliminary exams are coming up soon and l need some tips studying. At the moment I’m just reading over my notes and reading text books that are revelent to my subjects. What more can I do?

There are several different things you can do to study. One idea is to take notes of the things you think are most important on note cards. On one side, write a question about the subject and the other side holds the answer. When you’ve written them all, lay them question side up on a table, pick one and try to answer it.

Some people find it helpful to make notes and/or outlines as they read through a chapter. Others feel it is important to quiz themselves on vocabulary words. There are many different methods. Most important is to find the one that works for you.

What about all of you? How do YOU study for exams? Give Blake your best tips!

How Do You Study?

How Can You Appeal a Denied College Application?

Gamer1025 writes:

I have applied to a college and I was denied because of my GPA of 2.0. I have emailed the school, stating that I really want to go there and I asked what I could do to get in. I was told that I can write an appeal letter, stating reasons why I want to go to that school and what my future goals would be. How can I write an appeal letter that is good? Do you think it’s even worth trying to appeal?

It’s definitely possible to change their minds, providing you take the time to write a great appeal letter. Obviously, you’ll want to practice good PUGS. More important, though, don’t focus overly on your high school GPA. Instead, play up the reasons you know you can make a college career work.

Why do you want to go to this particular school? Be real, and let your passion for attending shine through. What do you hope to accomplish? How will you ensure that you don’t just barely pass again? What will you change about your study habits in order to help yourself be successful? The college will want answers to things such as this. It’ll be most focused on how you plan to make this work for you; why should the school take a chance on you?

If the college still doesn’t accept you due to your low GPA, you could always attend a community college for two years. Work hard, study hard, and then reapply to your four-year school of choice. If you do well at that level, your HS GPA won’t really matter anymore.

Good luck!

How Can You Appeal a Denied College Application?

Would You Change Careers or Majors if You Could?

Reece Langham asked:

If you were to go to university or college now, what would you study? What would your student life be like and what tips would you give to yourself and fellow students?

I honestly don’t know.

And, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know even when I was in college back in the day when the Internet was first spinning up.

I might have gone into something that would allow me to cherry pick classes from different disciplines – and I would have opted to find classes that were taught by well respected educators.

My student life would probably be just as studious, but I’d be looking to align myself with an apprenticeship in an area I felt I was strongest in.

Quite honestly, I’m so far removed from outmoded constructs of what a “major” is… I don’t even know what I’d be best suited for today, or how I would have learned in the classroom what I’ve learned independent of the classroom.

Tips? If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t leave people hanging, and don’t lie to yourself. Discipline and honesty are lifelong skills which will rarely (if ever) let you down.

Would You Change Careers or Majors if You Could?

Should Programming Be Taught in Schools?

Oliver Earl asks:

Do you encourage schemes to get kids into programming at school? Do you think it should be taught as part of IT curricula at school?

While I think it’s a great idea to encourage kids to learn to program, I don’t believe it should be required. Let’s face it: the number of jobs out there in the world which would require this particular skill set is relatively small. You can argue that those jobs are growing in number, and you’d be correct. However, I just feel that this should be offered as an elective. Leave the required classes to the basics our country is so desperately in need of: Reading. Writing. Math. Science.

What Did You Learn from Your First Job?

Bryan Helmle asked:

What was your first “real” job that you had, and what is the most important thing you learned from it?

I don’t know how you choose to define “real,” but I’ve always taken my assigned tasks seriously. Even if I was ever a small link in the chain, I always felt my role was essential for the operation of any endeavor.

The amalgamation of experiences, from first to last, has only reinforced my belief that I can take direction… but ultimately need to be the one to drive my own career.

I used to sell old stuff out of a wagon to kids around my neighborhood… and that was every bit a job as my first official paycheck. Just a different kind of job. Heck, I’ve even been known to rent my chest out on occasion!

What did each of my jobs teach me along the way? Responsibility and resoluteness.

What Should I Major In?

Israel Carter asked:

I’m a senior in high school trying to decide what I should major in, computer engineering or software programming. Any advice?

Thanks for asking for advice from the community, Israel! While I cannot possibly tell you what you “should” major in, I do have a couple of thoughts. First of all, have you talked with a career counselor at your high school or college about this? She or he will be able to give you some insight as to what the potential job market and field growth looks like right now. They will also likely point you towards the Myers-Briggs Assessment guide. I definitely think you should check into taking this assessment!

Most importantly, though: which do YOU prefer? Are you happier doing one than the other? Do you have any skills related to either field at this point, or will this all be new to you? These are some things you should be thinking about.

Remember: it’s not only about making money. You need to be passionate about what you’re doing and enjoy it every day. If you love what you do, you’ll never actually “work” again.

You could – of course – simply pray for everyone and their dog to tell you exactly what you “should” do, instead of choosing for yourself. ;-)

Why is Education so Expensive?

When I was going to college, everything cost what felt like an arm and a leg. Textbooks were one of the larger burdons students didn’t always see coming as the semester grew closer. In some cases, these books made up a larger amount of your initial investment than housing (for the first month of the semester). Things haven’t really changed since then, except that tuition fees, books, and housing all come with a higher price tag.

According to College Board, books can make up over $1,000 of your yearly college investment. Tuition at two-year public schools clock in at around $2,400 per year with private four-year institutions charging tuition and fees scaling up to over $25,000 in one year alone. This means that if you don’t have an impressive scholarship or some other form of serious financial backing, you’re likely to get stuck with an oppressive amount of debt from student loans.

If you decide to take on student loans, you’re likely going to have to pay them off over the course of your career. Some students opt to join military or volunteer organizations that promise to assist with paying off student loans in exchange for service. If you decide to dive in to your career of choice, you may find the financial advantage of the diploma won’t come in handy until years down the line when you’ve eliminated the debt caused by getting the degree in the first place.

Education is an absolute must for any society to further itself technologically or academically. For too many students the focus of the best years of their lives is spent wondering how they’re going to pay for their education, and not how they’re going to benefit from it in the long-term. As much of an importance as we place on education as a society, we seem to do little to prevent it from being out of reach for so many of our young citizens.

We have the technology, and many schools are beginning to offer online courses that reduce the overhead of the campus and allow good professors the ability to teach important lessons to a larger audience in a way we never could when I attended, or anyone from generations prior. Instead of reducing the costs for their students as a result, universities seem to be pressing even harder and asking for more from a student body that rarely has anything left to give.

Here is some response to this post by the community on Google+:

Craig Clawson – My brother had to purchase a virology textbook that cost $978 dollars. that is just greed, pure and simple.

Erin Fox – It’s expensive because it’s meant to be exclusive. As my Philosophy professor said, “We can’t educate everybody. Who would clean toilets?”

Shane Corning – I began at a University after High School. Scholarship, the whole nine. Guess what? They didn’t have any practical classes, and some of the Profs were barely qualified to teach a H.S. class. So I went to Community College and actually learned skills I could use in jobs.

Why Education is Still Important

Education is incredibly important, even in this world of technology where knowledge is just a few keystrokes away. Students today are being taught differently than they were when I went to school. Assignments that had to be completed using a No. 2 pencil with every step of my process represented in notes are now being turned in electronically through email in a growing number of cases. This shift in education has allowed for more relevant and targeted lessons to be presented to students. It can also allow for a few extra shortcuts which some argue may negatively impact a student’s ability to learn.

I’d be the last to say that technology isn’t improving our lives by simplifying otherwise difficult tasks. Services like Wolfram Alpha have enabled users to access answers to problems in a speed unheard of just years ago. However, even with these powerful tools at our fingertips, there is no substitute for knowledge. Being able to find a solution to a problem in times when technology isn’t at hand can be the difference between an opportunity seized and one lost.

English is a subject easily overlooked for its importance in life after school. A dependency on spelling and grammar checkers can lead to a terrible impression on those you attempt to communicate with on a day-to-day basis. Believe it or not, there are people that make a good living checking grammar and spelling for public figures, executives, and celebrities simply so they can avoid the occasional embarrassing typo from going out to the public. In the world of business, having strong written and verbal communication skills is paramount to success.

Computer skills are also extremely important, and learning them while you’re still in school can make a big difference on your professional life once you graduate. Knowing how to type, use basic office applications, and navigate common operating systems is no longer a handy extra skill, but a requirement for most modern jobs. This is one area where the introduction of more technology in classrooms can be a lasting benefit to students.

Math, science, and social studies are often difficult subjects for students. The question as to whether or not these subjects are still relevant to life after graduation comes up more often than educators would prefer. The fact of the matter is, unless you know exactly what lies ahead in your life (which you very likely don’t), you never know when something you picked up in class might actually have a big impact on your future.

Successful entrepreneurs, inventors, software developers, and just about anyone not in an entry-level position benefits from a certain amount of knowledge inside and outside of their field. If Steve Wozniak didn’t spend some time studying engineering as a youth, the personal computer might never have taken form in the way that it has. This innovation could have failed to see fruition for years – and the bounty would have fallen in the hands of another, more knowledgable individual.

Even with all the technology we have today, there is no substitute for knowledge.

How to Cook Like a Single Geek

Many of the single geek guys I know are not very handy in the kitchen. They tend to live on pizza, ramen and things eaten straight out of the can. I know that I’ve been guilty of these same habits for far too long. I’m beginning to learn that cooking isn’t all that difficult – even for those of you whose brain is wrapped around some piece of code.

Have you heard of a slow cooker? Who knew these things could literally save lives? It takes about five minutes to throw something in there and turn it on. You can then go back to your work (or games!) for 6-8 hours. Pull yourself away, dump the food onto a plate and its time for noms! I’m not kidding, guys. This is pure genius.

Are you a fan of cheese? Take a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (yes, you can use the frozen kind) and put them in the crock pot. Dump in two cans of nacho cheese soup and two cans of cream of chicken soup. Mix it all up and let it cook for about six hours on low settings. You don’t need to add any seasonings or other ingredients. This cheesy fabrication will fill you up and keep you happy for hours.

Again for chicken fans – cook some chicken breasts with your favorite salsa. When it’s finished, it will be a snap to shred the meat up and use it on sammiches or on top of a mound of mashed taters. Good gravy this is simple.

Speaking of gravy – did you know that the store usually carries a roast ready to go into the slow cooker? Check the meat section… they’ll have a roast, the seasoning packet AND the veggies in one tidy little package. Dump the roast in the pot, add some water and the seasonings and start cooking. A few hours later, you can toss in the veggies and let them roast another couple of hours. Voila! You have just made one hell of an awesome meal. (This one is an excellent way to impress a *girl*)

What ways do you keep yourselves fed, guys… NOT counting the pizza, top ramen and canned junk?

Webgrrls Empowers Women in Technology

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Webgrrls International is a forum to exchange job and business leads, network, form strategic alliances, mentor and teach, intern and learn the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly technical workplace and world. In this interview with Nelly Yusupova during BlogWorld, we discuss the challenges women face in business, and how Webgrrls helps women to get ahead in business through networking and technology.

Webgrrls helps women to leverage the power of technology and tools to empower themselves. Even if you’re not completely geeky, there are still many benefits to you. The organization has been in existence since 1995, and has members from every walk of life, age, race and technology background. The organizers and other members can help teach you the tech you need to know to succeed and reach your goals.

I was shocked and happy to see the number of women walking around the floors during BlogWorld. Nelly says that it’s almost a “non-question” these days. The tech sector is not just dedicated to men. More and more women are coming forward and proving that they are just as highly capable as their male counterparts. She’s quick to point out that women have a lot of potential power as developers, even, and need to stop being afraid to show it.

As the CTO of Webgrrls, Nelly says her biggest challenge is keeping up with everything and everyone. You need to have a strategy, and hold yourself back from jumping ahead too quickly. It’s better to do fewer things the right way than to try to go after too many things just to be on the “cutting edge.”

Blogging has transformed female-oriented communities and helped give them the power to step forward. Webgrrls has over 30,000 members and is rapidly expanding to include more females from around the world. There is strength in numbers – even when it comes to helping women connect and conquer the tech scene.

Jealousy Will Eat You Alive

No matter what line of work you choose, there will always be someone who does it better than you. You will find more prolific writers, smarter code monkeys and better designers. Finding someone to look up to is good, as is a little healthy competition. Jealousy, however, can eat you alive – even online – just as it did back in high school. That despicable green-eyed monster will do nothing more than bring you down and incapacitate you.

I don’t care how good you are, there are people out there who are better. It’s a fact of life. You’re never going to be “the” best, no matter how hard you try. You can – and should – strive to be the best you possible. Pushing yourself is a good thing. Trying to go beyond any limits you see yourself as having is fantastic. Striving to be exactly like the guy on the next blog – or better than him – is a complete waste of your time.

Who wants to read something that is already being done elsewhere? I know it’s insanely hard to find something unique and different to write, design or create every single day. Take something you find interesting and build on that. Add your own spin to it and do so in a way that brings it to life even more. Allow others to see your personal touch in everything you do, instead of thinking “oh, that’s exactly what I saw on Johnny’s site earlier.”

Being jealous of those who do things differently or better is plain ridiculous. What good will that do you? I see this happening constantly, even within our own community at times. So what if Sally writes better than you do? Are you putting forth your best effort? What more can you possibly ask of yourself?

The beautiful thing is that you don’t have to be Sally or Johnny. No one expects you to be the best, so you’re disappointing no one but you. We already know that there will always be more and “better,” so we don’t expect perfection everywhere we go. You’re the one putting that pressure on yoruself. It’s certainly not us.

The next time you feel yourself becoming jealous of what someone else does or has, remember that the only one who matters is you. When you look into the mirror at night, are you happy with what you see? If the answer is no, then reevaluate what YOU are doing, how you’re doing it and what you can do to make things better. Measuring yourself against everyone else isn’t going to cut it. You are the man (or woman!) in the mirror.