Tag Archives: college

What Back-To-School Software do You Need?

School bells will once again be ringing in the very near future. These days, kids of all ages need to have the best tools, gadgets and software to help them be a success. Over on Lockergnome, PixelPirate asked what types of school software is recommended for Linux. That, of course, made me think of students using all types of operating systems, and the types of software they may soon need.

One service (or software, depending on which version works best for you) that I keep hearing recommended is DropBox. I actually use this myself to get videos and documents to my assistant when she needs them. It’s a great way to help you sync data between computers at little to no cost. Beyond this, everyone seems to have a different opinion.

What software (or service) do you feel students today MUST have in order to help them do their very best in their classes?

You can always grab the hottest software titles available – at the hottest prices – from our download center.

Let CampusBooks Find the Best Prices on College Texts

Attending college is insanely expensive. Add the cost of books to your tuition and you’re likely having panic attacks on a regular basis. Lawmakers sympathize with you and have created a new law (effective July, 2010) that will help you save money when buying all of the texts you need. The law requires colleges to list the course materials (including retail pricing and ISBN numbers) for every class in their online schedule. In order to give you more options, many schools are offering textbook rentals and eBooks instead of traditional hard-cover tomes you have to purchase. However, not all colleges have made this leap as of yet. This is why CampusBooks is going to be a lifesaver for you this semester – and beyond.

You can choose to use the web interface, iPhone app or the Android application to help locate all of your books at the best prices possible. Using CampusBooks, you can compare prices on inventory at local bookstores, college campus bookstores and libraries. Using any iPhone or Android powered device, a student can scan the barcode of a textbook, then use the phone’s geo-location features to find the book’s price and availability at bookstores and libraries in their immediate area.

“Our students want choice, it is that simple,” says Jeff Cohen, CEO of CampusBooks. “By partnering with local bookstores, students are no longer confined to only considering online options. Those who prefer the convenience, easy return policies or need to get their books immediately can now find the best prices at local bookstores and even find out if their textbook can be borrowed from the library for free.”

When you type in a book’s ISBN number, CampusBooks will give you a summary of the lowest prices in each category – including international editions, eBooks, used, new and even rentals. You’ll find the seller information, price and shipping cost. The application will then redirect you to the vendor’s site when you are ready to purchase (or rent). The application (and web interface) is exceedingly easy to navigate – you won’t end up lost in never-never land while looking for that obscure book some English instructor is requiring.

Hey… we all need to save money these days. College students likely need to cut corners more than any other group I can think of. This service (and the apps) is completely free, so why the heck haven’t you tried it out yet?

Social Media in Education

This is a guest blog post written by my assistant and Community Manager, Kat Armstrong.

After spending the past few days writing about the new iPhone, my brain was absolutely shot. Approximately 90% of what I write every day deals with technology news, gadgets and companies. About an hour ago, I hit a brick wall. I had zero ideas floating around in my noggin. I couldn’t bring myself to write about the iPhone yet again. I sat here staring at the screen as I frantically casted about for a subject – any subject – to talk about next.

I decided to fire up my handy-dandy TweetDeck application. Reaching out to my followers, I asked for ideas. One good friend suggested I talk about the uses of social media in education. That sounded interesting, and my mind began to churn. I fired off another tweet, asking “STUDENTS: How has/does the use of social media help your education (NOT your social life!)?” I also repeated the question in Chris’ live chat room.

The replies poured in, and I was dismayed. I heard from nearly one hundred students of all ages and education levels. I haven’t done the math, but I’d feel safe in guessing that approximately 5% of those answering claim that they make use of social media in their educational lives. The rest of them said they only use it to catch up with friends, chat about their day and play games.

In the age of Web 2.0, why aren’t students using social media in the classroom? We already know that Twitter is the fastest way to find information on breaking news stories. Blogs can be used to encourage creative writing and proper grammar skills. Cramster is a Q&A board much like our new Lockergnome site. However, its sole purpose lies in bringing together pupils of all ages to help each other with homework and research. Sites such as Box and Dropbox allow learners and educators to share files together quickly and easily.

At the very least, sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even (*shudder*) MySpace can be used to create discussion in the classroom. Teachers can pull news stories from any of those sources. Students can ask questions and facilitate deeper discussion after reading something on one of the thousands of SM sites. Professors can institute peer reviews on writing projects. Kids can locate an expert in a field they are interested in, and “shadow” them on the Web. Geotagging can be used to target and find information about places that are being studied.

The possibilities are, quite honestly, endless. I certainly hope that my quick Twitter poll is not indicative of the use (or rather – the lack) of social media in an educational setting. Will someone prove me wrong? I’d love to hear your stories of how your school or college has been incorporating the use of social media into the curriculum.

Kat can be found in any number of places around the Web. You can catch her on Twitter, Facebook, and of course on every site in our community. If you’re lucky, you may even find her occasionally rambling about something on her personal blog.

College Advice

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked this question, I’d have paid off my student loans 10x over:

My Name is Daniel, but go I by the name Nico. Everyone asks me how i got that nickname but i honestly do not know why my percents started calling me that. I am Filipino, currently living in the Philippines, and a senior in high school. I’ve been watching your videos for a long time now, and what you do really interests me. I, like you, love technology.

I am going to the US for college to take up industrial design. I’m emailing you because I was hoping you would be able to give me some advice. My parents are spending almost double for my college tuition than what they spent for my older siblings for their college education – and I really want to figure out a way to help pay for it, or find a way to pay them back eventually. There will be added costs as a need to purchase a laptop, hopefully a Mac, for the major I’m planning to take, and I think I’m going to constantly buy materials for my classes. I really, really want to pay for as much of all of this as I can.

One thing that I think I have some talent with is photography, and this may be a way I can generate some money. I am very passionate about photography. I post some of my photographs on my flickr. I take photos of almost everything. I’m heavily involved with my school yearbook, both as a photographer and a layout editor, and the school magazine. I’m hoping to eventually make some money with my photos, but don’t know how to start. It would be great if you could give me some tips on maybe starting my own website and how to generate some money out of it. Any other advice on selling photographs online would be great. I’m not expecting to make tons of money, and I don’t expect it to happen overnight, but I am willing to work hard and be patient for it.

Let me first say that I’m impressed with your ability to communicate in a fairly coherent fashion; 90% of the emails I receive from U.S. students are sloppy (not to mention, beyond illegible). I’m not sure if English is your primary or secondary language, but your literary skills will be what spells success in your initial and continued endeavors.

Hell, most American adults can’t even grasp the concept that Apple’s “Mac” computer isn’t written as “MAC” (which is a store brand for cosmetics).

That, and your personal responsibility for finances should also be a lesson to the lazy.

You likely have a certain set skills which are valuable to others. It’s now your responsibility to find the intersection between what you can do and who can pay you to do what you do. You’ll figure out the “how” after seeing what works (and, more importantly, what doesn’t work).

There are near-infinite ways for you to make a Web site and countless opportunities to sell your photo work. Remember, however, that tools are merely the means to an end – and you’re not the only person using them to achieve your goals.

The information is out there on how to do anything – but nothing will ever teach you as much about a task as figuring it out for yourself. If I have a single tip for you, it’s simply: DO IT.

You’ll figure “it” out.

Of course, I’m sure people will have specific recommendations for you – but good advice is relative, and (still) only valuable if you apply it to your set of circumstances.

Do Computer Majors Mean Anything Anymore?


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The job market is always changing. Computer program majors often find themselves having a tough time after graduation. It may sound insane due to the number of computer-related fields that are are there. Much of it depends on where you live, and what your exact area of focus is.

You cannot possibly try to get a “general” computer degree anymore. Pick a specific area that you are good at or interested and focus on that. If you’re a developer, go develop! If you’re more of a networking whiz, you know what you need to do. There are SO MANY hundreds of possibilities. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by choosing too broad of a major.

A consulting route isn’t a bad idea, but you honestly have to be REALLY good at what you’re trying to do. However, becoming a developer is where it’s at right now in MY mind. The other areas won’t disappear any time soon, no. But look at all of the dev opportunities out there right now. That’s the hottest and most in-demand area.

Network like crazy every chance you get. I say that about pretty much any type of career, but it holds even more true of us Geeks. Social connections enable you to find the path before the path is eliminated.

Most importantly, love what you do. Don’t choose an area of study just because you think you’ll make good money. Sure, that’s an important consideration. You have to support yourself. But if you hate what you do, you’re not going to do it for long. Know where your passions lie, and choose your path based off of them.

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Education is the Key

I was happy to read on Geeks today that community member Steve has obtained his GED. I’ve often talked in the past about how important an education is. These days, you cannot get any type of job if you’re over 18 years old and don’t possess a high school diploma or GED. There are college graduates who hold a Bachelor’s degree competing for the same entry-level positions that everyone else is hoping to land.

The economy sucks, plain and simple. People who have had job security for many years are suddenly finding themselves at the front of the proverbial unemployment line. These are hard working people who have many years’ worth of experience doing whatever it is they do. Yet, they’re out there pounding the pavement because their company – and job – has dried up.

Having an education is more critical now than ever. Even if you feel you aren’t the “school type”, I urge you to go. Get a degree. Research what jobs are hiring in your area, and focus on that. Look at what types of jobs are trending in the country you live in, and build on that (and your talents!). Whatever you do – stay in school, or get your GED.

Congratulations, Steve! Our whole community is proud of you.

The team in our downloads center have come up with some excellent deals on programs for Windows today! Make sure you check back daily to see what they’ve uncovered next!

Where to Buy College Textbooks


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Not only is tuition insanely expensive, so are the books you need to buy. I remember when I went to college, I had to take out student loans, just to pay for all the books and manuals. Then, of course, you go to the bookstore to try and sell them at the end of the semester. You’re lucky at that point to get a couple of dollars for each book. They’ll claim the book has writing in it, or that it’s now out-of-date! Argh!!! We all know that when you’re going to college, every single penny counts.

I wanted to tell you about a site that can help you save big money on textbooks! CampusBooks is a site that can help you locate and buy your books for a fraction of what it would normally cost you on your physical college campus.

CampusBooks compares textbook prices for new and used textbooks including tax, shipping, coupons and promotions from dozens of bookstores. They make it easy for you to buy college textbooks and make sure that you get the best deal for the upcoming term. Some books can be bought for up to a whopping 90% off of the normal list price!!!

It’s so easy to start saving money with CampusBooks. Simply type in a book title, keyword(s) or even the ISBN number and search. You’ll be given a list of books, places to buy from, prices with tax and shipping and more!

Alternately to searching, you can follow @campusbooks on Twitter. Send them a DM with the ISBN number of the book you need, and they’ll send you a DM back with a link to exactly where you can buy your book for the best price!!! Word has it they’re also busy working on an iPhone App!

You can also sell your used books, as well! Simply register for the site and start selling. You’ll make more money than you would by “giving” them back to your campus bookstore, that’s for sure.

Shop easy and smart this year. Save yourself a wad of money, and don’t use it all on pizza!!

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Is Traditional School a ‘Must’?

Earlier tonight, I uploaded a video where I discussed the advantages of homeschooling, and the K12 program in particular. The response has been overwhelming in a very short time. For instance, my assistant Kat homeschooled her daughter last year for a semester. She researched tons of different programs, and ended up creating her own. You see, homeschooling using an accredited course is quite expensive. Her daughter returned to public school this year to attend 8th grade. However, they’ve been looking and researching ways to homeschool again through high school. K12 offers her a perfect way to do so! Kat was really excited by this, knowing this is a great program and something she can afford.

This raises the question of why she is so set on homeschooling. Why are so many thousands of others turning to non-traditional means of education these days? In many cases, it’s not a matter of the public schools not being up to par. It has to do with the fact that the schools and teachers are limited in what they can teach, and for how long. There are strictures placed on kids who learn slowly – and ones who are much faster. There isn’t always an “accelerated” or “gifted” program available in smaller, rural communities.

So, we turn to non-traditional means. I’ve always been able to learn better and more outside of a classroom environment than in it. I know there are thousands and thousands of other kids who are the same way. I was forced to start thinking more about whether attending a traditional school is a must after receiving this email tonight from Om:

I am 18 years old, and I dropped out in grade 10. I have never been happier in my life. I now run my own business as a technical support guy – and am doing great! Since I started my business, I have been offered a job by an ISP and another computer repair company.

I have heard a thousand times from friends and family members that I “need” to go to school or I will end up with a bad job. Had I finished school, I wouldn’t have started my own business – and would not be living the almost perfect life (not to brag).

Now I’m not saying that traditional schooling is bad. I just think that is certainly isn’t for everyone. I also believe that traditional schooling needs a lot of redesigning. They’re still teaching the same basic courses that they did some 300 years ago. I think a class on how to run a computer would be more important that something like history or grade 12 math.

So my advice now to people is, instead of going to school and then figuring out what you want to do – figure out what you want to do, then go to school if you find it fits your needs.

What’s your thoughts on this? Is it imperative that kids attend a “traditional” school? If so, for how long? Do you believe that some non-traditional methods just may be even better for them in both the short term and in the long run? Let’s hear what you have to say!

How Young Were You When You Finished College?


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I was a college student once, but I don’t think I would want to repeat the experience now as an adult. I’m learning so much at this point on a daily basis, I don’t think I’d learn as much in a classroom. But if a college degree is important to you, it doesn’t matter what age you are. You should go for it. Chat member TuxedoJericho recently did. He started back to college at the age of 31, and sent these tips to share with all of you.

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions – If you don’t understand, don’t feel embarrassed to ask a question. The younger people in there, think that if no one ask questions, they can get out of class early. They love it when someone else ask the questions about things they don’t know, but they don’t want to do it themselves.
  • Do not fall into the trap of the computer labs or rec rooms – Those two things can derail a youngster, fresh out of high school, quicker than a train. Just imagine if it were to happen to you.
  • Professors love to help, when they can – If you know your professor is not teaching a class, go to them and ask for their help. They love to help, and love it more when students come to them. It shows you want to learn, and trust them enough to let them help you, even when you have free time.
  • Don’t fret if you are the oldest person in your class – In high school, that was a mark of dishonor, but in college, the younger students admire their older counterparts for saying, “I’m doing it! I’m doing to get my degree!” They know it’s harder for the older folk to grab ideas, but when you show that you know the info, they admire you, and might even ask you for assistance at times.
  • Don’t feel bad when an instructor is younger than you are – Just like students, they admire you for trying college, and trying to make a better life for yourself. If you show that you are attentive in class, they are going to be ready to help you if they know you need it.
  • Bonus Tip! If you are in a computer class, and you have the excessive need to ask the people who are next to you for help, just don’t be annoying about it. If they are busy, don’t keep asking them. if you are polite and unannoying, they are more apt to help you. Also, if you are taking a Windows Server class, and you don’t know the fist thing about how to hook up a USB hard drive, you may be taking the wrong class.

So there you have it… some tips on how to help you settle into college as an older adult student. If you have the desire, you WILL succeed.

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Stay in School

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The best day out of school in the entire year is the last day. It’s that feeling of freedom. Here are some excellent tips sent in to help you get to (and stay IN) school when you need to.

  • Set your clock ten minutes fast. This will make you think you may have overslept, but will instead give you a few extra minutes to get woken up.
  • Get your backpack ready the night before. Most people wait until the last minute. By packing your bag at night, you’re more careful and tend to not forget things.
  • Get your clothes ready the night before. You’ll know you have clean clothes ready, and will increase time for other things in the morning.
  • Do what you need to do first. Don’t go check your email until after you have done the essential things.
  • Keep track of time. This may seem simple, but is not for some people. Try to put your watch on first thing in the morning, and have an alarm set on it to let you know when it’s about time to leave.

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