Tag Archives: university

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.

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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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 to Apply to Graduate School in the U.S.

Geek!This is Mobile Scholar’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Many books have been written concerning this time-consuming and often-frustrating process. Yet, these books often miss important considerations inherent to the application process.. This guide provides a short review illustrating major themes to keep in mind while planning and completing your applications. It is intended primarily for those entering Masters programs or those going directly to Ph.D. programs and is biased toward the traditional arts and sciences disciplines, but may also provide useful information for those in other areas. Those students already possessing Masters degrees know enough to ignore my advice.

  1. Determine and understand the specific discipline which you wish to study. It is very important that you have a concrete vision of your career track while applying to graduate studies. The apathy of direction fostered by many liberal arts colleges will not aid you in your path toward graduate school. Research what schools offer the programs and concentrations you wish to study. Divine what faculty member or members you wish to study under, and determine if they will be accepting students for the next academic year. (For some students, the specific faculty member will drive the college choice and not the other way around.) Finally, become abreast with some of the modern controversies that touch your discipline. Read journals relevant to your discipline, attend professional conferences, and visit with your professors about your plans. The more you can confidently talk about your choice of study and how that fits with your choice of school and advisor, the better your application will sound. Contact the faculty members you wish to study under and tell them of yourself and your educational plans. Of course, familiarize yourself with the particular requirements of each program (often there are separate graduate college and department applications), especially deadlines. These are most easily found at the school’s website and run anywhere between December 1 and March 1 for Fall Semester admission.
  2. Prepare for and take the requisite graduate placement exams. Visit the relevant website for the test you will need to take as a part of your applications – GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT – for test schedules, practice questions, and tips. The weight each school, department, and faculty member place on standardized test scores varies widely. For some you only need reach above a particular bar (e.g. 650 or better on each half of the GRE); for others not only your admission but financial support lean on your competitive performance against your fellow applying students. Often a weaker performance on standardized tests can be supplemented by a strong written paper and recommendations. Studying well for the particular exam or exams (don’t forget you may have to take subject GRE tests) will help you raise your score and make you more comfortable with the exam process, but even specialized classes will not turn a horrible test-taker into an oval-filling guru.
  3. Compose or revise a writing sample. Often you may take a collegiate paper you have already written in the area in which you are applying and submit it incorporating any suggestions and corrections your class professor provide. Pass it by other professors in the department with whom you have taken classes as well. Your writing sample holds more influence than any other part of your application. Make it a good one. Also, compose a personal statement. If the writing sample is the most important part of your application, the personal statement runs a close second. Students who cannot express themselves and their goals clearly have little business attending graduate school. Use the knowledge gained through your research of the discipline to describe your educational background, what influenced you to choose this particular discipline, what you would like to study – if you have a thesis topic already, include it, but be attune to the suggestions of your advisor regarding its viability and content – and why you want to study it.
  4. Elicit letters of recommendation from undergraduate college professors who have a good opinion of you, your work, and your abilities. Although you will not be able to read the letter a professor will send – sealed – as a recommendation, you may ask whether the professor will be able to give you a “strong” recommendation. If one professor cannot, find another who can. Nothing trashes a graduate application faster than weak or lukewarm recommendations. A professor cannot give strong recommendations to students who have not taken a class with him or her. Keep things easy for your references. Provide them with an addressed and stamped envelope, a copy of your curriculum vitae – which is different from a resume – any and all forms that are necessary for the recommendation with any information you can fill in completed, a copy of your writing sample, and a schedule listing deadlines for the receipt of each letter.
  5. Order copies of transcripts and standardized test scores. Order transcripts from your high school and every college you have attended. Some colleges require one transcript for the graduate college and another for the department. Most departments will accept a photocopy of a transcript or test score for your application to meet your deadline so long as the official transcript or score arrives in a reasonable time. Transcripts from international institutions may need to be translated officially, and you may need to describe the scope of international programs that have differing requirements than those found in the US.
  6. Submit the application and wait. Most colleges provide and require you to complete your application online. (This is good as I cannot remember the last time I saw a typewriter.) Ensure that each school receives all parts of the application. Sometimes this means politely prompting your references to send their letters, and sometimes this means ordering another copy of transcripts or test scores that were waylaid in transit. The department secretaries can be very helpful in verifying that your application is complete. Treat them well as their comments about you can influence faculty members who may be on the applications committee.
  7. You may be contacted to have an interview either in person or on the phone. Present yourself well, demonstrating the grasp you have of the discipline, but don’t mention your divorce proceedings or other personal problems unless the other party brings them up first – perhaps clued in by your references. The interview itself merely serves to determine whether you appear nice and gracious and are well-spoken. Aside from this, you may wait, attending to other applications or your own continuing studies. The hard part is over.
  8. Reconcile and receive offers. A department’s selections are driven by politics as much as by the quality of the applicants. Some years feature a flood of excellent candidates while other years offer merely mediocre ones. Do not be discouraged if your top- or even middle-tier choices decline to admit you. It may not have been your professor’s year to have a new student. For those lucky enough to have multiple offers, there is a choice to be made. Weigh the advisor, the resources of the department and the wider school, and the financial package of each school against each other. If a graduate school does not offer you a graduate assistantship but still admitted you, they do not expect you to come.

Graduate schooling will be exhausting, sometimes frustrating, and often a financial struggle (who wants to eat more ramen after four years of it during undergrad?), but it has its own rewards. Scholarship is often carried forward on the backs of graduate researchers. You are on the road to becoming an expert, doing something that you love to do. After all, if you didn’t love your studies, why would you endure two to four more years of sleepless nights while attending experiments or composing papers?

Post your own graduate admissions experiences, suggestions, or questions in the comments section below.