Sunday, November 4, 2012

Funding Your College Education

The grumblings over the rising cost of college education are not without reason. According to College Board's annual survey on Trends in College Pricing, the average total tuition and fees paid by students at four-year public colleges and universities in 2006-07 was $5,836, while the average total tuition and fees at private colleges and universities was $22,218 for the same period. (
The bad news is that tuition fees are just the tip of the iceberg, as it constitutes only a fraction of the overall cost of college. The expense shoots up several notches if you add room and board to the total cost of attending college.
There are several other factors that can make college a financial burden for many. One of the biggest factors is juggling several responsibilities with education that prolongs graduation time for many students and adds to the overall cost.
But the good news is that help is available in the form of financial aid for college, especially if you're among those whose parents did not have the means to save money for college and have to depend on loans to finance higher education.
In fact, a lot of people delay going to college until they have built some savings to avoid taking loans. While it's admirable on their part to save up for college, there's a high probability that such individuals would never be able to go back to school as they get embroiled in the nitty-gritty of life.
College Financial Aid
If you want to graduate from college debt free or at least reduce it to the maximum extent possible, then it's important to explore all avenues of college financial aid. According to the College Board survey, full-time students of private four-year institutions receive an average of $9,000 of aid per year in the form of grants and tax benefits, whereas those enrolled in public four-year institutions receive $3,100 as financial aid for college. (
If this data is any indication, then grants play a very important role in helping students fund their education. Unlike loans that have to be paid back by students once they start earning, money for college provided by grants generally does not have to be repaid. These grants are primarily need-based or awarded on the basis of students meeting certain eligibility criteria.
A case in point is the Pell Grant, which is one of the most popular federal grants. The Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students who come from low-income backgrounds. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is also a federal grant available to undergrad freshman and sophomore students who demonstrate academic excellence and a propensity towards leadership and service.
In addition to these federal grants, several states also offer grants to students based on need, merit, or their chosen major. There are also other grants that are constituted especially for students belonging to certain ethnic or disadvantaged groups such as African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc. These grants could be administered by the government, universities and colleges, or ethnic organizations.
Scholarships are another source of financial aid for college. Unlike grants, scholarships are mainly merit-based and have to be competed for. Many individual colleges and universities also administer in-house scholarship programs that students can vie for.
So, if pursuing graduate or undergraduate programs from a college seems like an impossible dream, don't forget that financial aid can be an option for those that qualify. This might help you turn your dream into a beautiful reality!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

No to More Prisons, and Yes to More Education & Job Creation

Recently, the Jamaica Observer published an article: "Build new prisons to fight crime, says Wayne Chen." Immediately, I was compelled to respond to said article.
I don't think the US model is the best model for fighting/reducing crimes. Is Mr. Chen going to promote private (for profit) penitentiaries, too, for Jamaica? Yes, he's pushing for privatization of prisons. I recommend that Mr. Chen do further research - researching other countries' models (including those with a homogeneous culture/society); unless, of course, his findings are solely motivated by profits/personal gain versus the public good (Jamaica's).
Mr. Chen's ideas could easily lead to abuses such as the "jailing kids for cash" scandal that took place in Pennsylvania years ago.
We need to tackle the problem at its root, in part, the politics (or politricks). If not, Jamaica will end up becoming an island prison due to profitable prison expansions buoyed by foreign investments, of course. We have to find a way to pay (starting with the usurious interest rate) for the loans borrowed from IMF and the World Bank, don't we?
And, of course, Mr. Chen could research on how to create more jobs for the educated jobless youth of Jamaica. Jamaica needs more Penn States (plus job creation) than state pens. The US model is a fiscal failure since it takes more money to finance a prisoner than it would take to educate said prisoner at Harvard (see Prison Policy's "Education and Incarceration" thesis).
Jamaica - my Jamaica - the land of my birth deserves better than Mr. Chen's half-baked ideas; ideas floating around in New York and California by the growing private corrections business interest group (see Newsweek's "Classrooms or Prison Cells" & "How the Recession Hurts Private Prisons"). If I'm not mistaken, last February, Mr. Chen was invited to one of these conferences held in Los Angeles, California.
Moreover, according to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, "poverty is the mother of crime." Therefore, let's tackle the mother before tackling the child. If not, the mother will only produce another child and another child and another child. In other words, you tackle the mother with education and job creation, instead of tackling the child with incarceration (only).
Remember, a for profit prison system needs a steady stream of prisoners (year after year) to be successful and profitable for its shareholders. For the public good (Jamaica's good), we don't need a successful for profit corrections system with a very bright future - not in my Jamaica - the land of my birth.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Financial Education in Investment Basics

Never has a financial education in investment basics been more important. Since the financial crisis of 2008 it has been difficult to find attractive investment options. The question is: where to invest in 2010 and beyond. In answering that question, this article will start you on your road to a financial education by focusing on the investment basics that few average investors understand.
You have the same basic investment options that a big money manager with a financial education from one of the best universities in the country has. The difference is that he or she has to decide where to invest billions of dollars. The good news is that there are only four basic investment options out there. The bad news is that deciding where to invest in 2010 and beyond is not an easy task. Let's look at the four options, often referred to as asset classes: safe investments, bonds, stocks, and alternative investments.
SAFE INVESTMENTS are savings products and cash equivalents like: bank CDs, savings accounts, money market securities like U.S. T-bills, and money market mutual funds. These safe investments pay interest, but with interest rates near all-time lows, they don't pay much. Most safe investments are paying less than 1% a year in interest.
BONDS are long-term interest-paying investments. Today you can make over 5% in interest income a year in bonds and bond funds. This might make them sound attractive, but there's a catch here: interest rates are presently very low and are likely to go up in the future. When interest rates go up the price or value of bonds will fall. That's the investment basics of bond investing. It's called interest rate risk, and it is real.
STOCKS were the investment option of choice for the big money managers in 2009 and early 2010. Looking at the two above investment options you can see why. The big money went into stocks and this sent prices higher. Then, uncertainty returned to the international financial scene, and stock markets fell as a debt crisis in Europe took center stage. If stocks continue to fall, deciding where to invest in 2010 and beyond will get even tougher, with only one basic investment option left to consider.
ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS are the final frontier, and they are increasing getting attention from big money managers who manage pension funds and other large pools of money. Included in this asset class: gold, silver, other commodities, real estate, and natural resources like oil and natural gas. Virtually any other investment, or security that is traded on an organized exchange (other than the first three basic investment options discussed) could be classified as an alternative investment.
Given the state of today's financial markets, you can see why deciding where to invest in 2010 and beyond is a challenge. One more thing should be crystal clear. Without a financial education the cards are stacked against you. The best way for most people to invest in all of the above asset classes is through mutual funds. Invest in all four of the basic investment options with funds; and in times of high uncertainty like today... diversify, diversify, diversify.
A retired financial planner, James Leitz has an MBA (finance) and 35 years of investing experience. For 20 years he advised individual investors, working directly with them helping them to reach their financial goals.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Influence of Books on Children's Music Education

Using the well-known fact that music education raises a child's IQ by up to 40 percent, we can now consider how books and reading in general can help our "musical" children.
Presently, mankind, having achieved enormous strides in the field of technology, continues to invent new means of receiving and distributing information almost daily. Radios, TVs, computers, and the Internet are now a normal way of life. Do you know that all information received doubles every year and a half due to the general acceleration of technology?
These days, we and our children do not need to go to the bookstores and libraries. We can easily find the book we are looking for on the Internet. Moreover, if we have no time to sit and read, we can record the audio version of the book and listen to it while driving, walking, or doing any other activity that doesn't require much reflection. There are also video books. Certainly, these adaptable gadgets are very convenient and we should be grateful to people who invent things to make our lives easier and help us save precious time.
Our children, looking at us, try to copy the things we do. Receiving news in the "easier" version, for example from the TV, the new generation began to read less. On one hand it is normal. But if you want your child to play music without losing interest, he has to read a lot. While reading, a child increases his vocabulary and intelligence. Your imagination automatically "turns on" when you read something exciting.
Have you ever read books in which the author describes what his protagonists see around them? For example, dark-blue skies; dewdrops on a blade of grass; dense, white fog the colour of milk above the river in the early morning, etc. Some people omit such descriptive passages in books so as not to miss a string of events, action, adventure, and learn what happens next.
Every single small detail is important for our children during reading. Just after birth, a child is like a white, blank, pure sheet of paper. The person he grows up to be will depend on the information, knowledge, skills, and abilities that we, as adults, will teach and give him. Even the child's personality and habits are literary copied from the behavior of other people. And again, books play the huge role in this. The contents of the books are imperceptibly recorded and stored somewhere deep in human subconscious.
You might agree, but you might also wonder what this has to do with music education. I will ask you another question. Have you ever heard a piece of music that has deeply touched you? This piece can amuse you, make you pensive and even make you cry...
It happens because two very important moments coincided. First, the composer, who wrote the music, managed to convey with absolute precision not only his mood during the creation of this piece, but also a picture that he had in his mind. And second, the person, who played the piece, had these images available in a databank in his brain.
A child, who doesn't read much, can not open and express the beauty of a musical piece only because he memorizes the notes. There is a unique, direct connection between reading and the expression of feelings.
If you pay attention to people who read a lot, you will notice that their speech is more beautiful and rich in comparison with those who don't read much. The same is true for a child. The more he reads, the better his understanding of social surroundings and the easier it is for him to understand emotions and feelings and to express them in a musical piece.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Format For Writing a Newspaper Article

You basically have two choices when you want to become a news article writer. It's either you write for broadsheet or for tabloids. If you want to focus on more serious issues, broadsheets will suit your best. Here's how you can write articles for them:
1. Choose your stories wisely. As you're writing for broadsheets, that means that you're serving people with higher level of education. Your articles will most likely to be read by politicians, businessmen, and young professionals. As such, you need to be very careful when choosing your stories. Your audience generally does not care about local news and police reports. They'd rather spend their precious time reading stories about the government, the economy, sports, and news from around the globe.
2. Research your stories thoroughly. Your audience expects to get complete information and nothing less. So, research your stories thoroughly and make sure that you do not leave any stone unturned. Make time to interview all people who have something to say about your story. Then, verify the information you have gathered and make sure that they are all based on facts.
3. Use captivating headlines. Get your audience to read your news articles by using compelling headlines. Using as few words as possible, tell your readers what your article is all about. Whenever possible, use terms that can evoke action or those that can push the emotional hot buttons of your target audience.
4. Use the inverted pyramid technique. Give your readers the most valuable information that they're looking for on your first paragraph. Doing this will help you make sure that you'll still be able to educate or inform these people even if they choose not to read your articles until the end due to time constraints.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Online Education May Be Your Only Remaining Option

More and more folks are turning to online education these days and the reason is simple, and one only needs to look at the news headlines concerning education; "Universities cutting staff," and raising fees. Tuition increases by 15% to prevent state budget shortfalls. "Community Colleges Deleting Classes," and causing havoc with transfer units as students trying to fulfill their schedules to graduate on time cannot get the classes they need. Meanwhile, classes are thus, filling up as there are fewer classes available.
What options does anyone have?
Well, Online Education may just be your only remaining viable option. Seriously, things are getting pretty bad out there. Worse, many of the students that went to four-year Universities graduated with advanced degrees, only to find a job market that was not interested in their skills, knowledge or resume. Now all they have is a diploma and a load of student loan debt, which is accruing interest.
So, what is the alternative? About the only realistic opportunity for schooling is to go with online education and study at your own pace, but as fast as you can, so that you can get yourself ready for this rapidly coming economic expansion period. It surely makes sense to have that online degree in hand and have all that knowledge to back you up as you go job hunting, while all these large companies are trying to re-hire and ramp up their operations.
These days you can get an online education in just about anything, any subject or topic. So, isn't it about time you looked into propelling you future in this way? Please consider all this.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Education Crisis

Take a moment and think about that. One Hundred Fifty Million Dollars in one city, Chicago, and it barely made a dent. No matter what newspaper you read, TV news that you watch or radio talk show you listen to, the conclusion is always the same, "Spending more money on a broken system will not fix the problem, it will only make it bigger".
Interestingly enough most school districts in the United States offer more "Special Education" programs for students each year than the year before with very little improvement on the academic advancement of the students that these programs were created for.
The public school crisis in the United States has become much like the nursery rhyme entitled, "Humpty Dumpty". By adding a little twist, the ending could go like this, "All the legislators and all the tax money could not put the public school system together again". However, the problem does not end when a student leaves high school. Many states have had to establish programs to teach high school graduates basic educational and social skills to enable them to be assimilated into the work force. 
So what is the problem? Why is the public school system failing? There are several answers to these questions, but I want to address one issue that can have a great impact on the public school crisis, parenting. Parents must become responsible for their children. The public school system was established to help educate children not to be responsible for children.
One of the greatest mishaps that have happened in the United States especially among the "boomer" generation is the thought that more money makes for good family life. Their certainly is nothing wrong with parents pursuing a better life for themselves and their children, but money will never take the place of a parent devoting daily time interacting with their children. It is never too late to shut down the excessive television viewing or turn off the excessive video gaming and spend time interacting one on one with your children.
According to an October 1 2007, CBS News report, researchers found that children who watched more than two hours of television per day from age 2 1/2 until age 5 1/2 were more likely to develop sleep attention, have fewer social skills and develop aggressive behavior problems than those who watched less. The report also reveals that parents need to monitor their children's television use, especially during the early childhood years.To combat this problem parents must adjusting their children's play and free time with less TV and more parent child interaction.
Numerous studies reveal that the greatest impact upon a child's development happens between infancy and age 6. This means that when parent invest their time through daily interaction with their children between these ages, they will be providing them with the ability to successfully grow and learn. When you think about it, what parents are actually doing during this phase of a child's life is preparing them to become successful and productive adults.
What greater legacy than to see your little boy or girl become an adult more successful and more productive than you and to see them invest quality time into their children because of you. As more parents participate in the daily lives of their children, they will receive a far greater return on their investment than they will from their 401k plan
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