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Monthly Archives: February 2017

How to Stay In Touch From Abroad

A trick and an App…

1. Type your emails whenever you want and save them as drafts.  When you get to WiFi, all you have to do is hit “send.”  Huge timesaver. (That’s the trick).

2.      Have you met Boingo?  Boingo Wi-finder is an app that helps you find thousands of free WiFi and Boingo hotspots around the world.  Easily.  You don’t have to wait until the internet café opens or until you pass advertised WiFi.  Boingo tells you where to go.  It’s reasonably priced, and you don’t have to buy a plan for a year.  You can buy one of their “AsYouGo” plans for an hour, a week, a day, a month if you want, and have access to free WiFi and Boingo hotspots to connect with your family and friends. (That’s the app).

If you do have a data plan

It’s a beautiful thing: you can send emails any time you want.  That’s not a trick.  That’s a reality.

Fun Apps to consider:

1. Skype

Probably the most well-known and it works well.  It’s a free download for phones, tablets, and computers, and you can also call cell phones and land lines (what are those?!) for a small fee.  Biggest plus?  Lots of folks already have accounts and use it.  It boasts free Skype-Skype video and voice calls.  You can instant message, screen share, and operate from a Mac or PC phone, tablet, or computer.

2. Viber

For starters, the app is free.  Everything is free if your family and friends have Viber, too.  For a small fee, you can contact non-Viber users, too.  You can call, text, and photo message, and you can use it from your phone, tablet, or computer.  Mac or PC?  Doesn’t matter.

3. WhatsApp

Avoid SMS fees by messaging friends and family for free.  You can also talk internationally for free, and have free face-face conversations.  You don’t use your cell plan’s voice minutes, but you may have to pay for data.  Double check your plan if you don’t want the “hidden” data charges to show up on your bill.

4. Facetime

Make video or audio calls from an iOS device.  Super easy to use—but the folks you contact also need to have iOS devices.

If you have none of the above…

Write a letter.  Get out paper and your favorite pen and have at it.  No, it’s not as “instant” as everything else.  The act of writing is slower than typing and swiping.  That can be a good thing.  Writing a letter home will force you to pause and reflect, think before you write, share something truly thoughtful with your family and friends—and give them the benefit of having a physical thing.  From you.  Plus, there’s the added joy of finding an envelope in their mailbox—and it’s not a bill or an ad.

Why an Accelerated Degree Can Save You Time (and Money)

What is an Accelerated Degree Program?

An accelerated degree program is exactly what it sounds like: this non-traditional course of study offers students the same degree in a particular field of study in a shortened period of time — as little as half when compared to conventional degrees. Available at a number of different academic levels, accelerated degree programs usually come with more stringent admissions requirements, including a minimum GPA, course credits, work experience, professional certification, and/or completion of a lower-level degree program.

In addition to bachelor’s degree programs, other popular accelerated degrees include nursing, business, law and medicine. For each, admissions requirements, course format, and completion time vary depending on the school. Additionally, many accelerated degree programs are dual in nature, meaning enrolled students can work simultaneously toward a bachelor’s and advanced degree. (This avenue may also allow accepted students to bypass graduate admissions tests, and the fees that go along with them.)

Four Reasons to Consider an Accelerated Degree

1. You’ll save time while learning as much.

While most conventional degree programs are structured according to semesters, accelerated degree programs typically utilize shorter periods, such as terms or quarters. Additionally, accelerated degree program courses usually run continuously without lengthy breaks in between terms. The result? Students can pack in the same amount of learning in a significantly shorter amount of time. Yes, this means the demands are high. But if your goal is to graduate and enter the workforce sooner, accelerated degree programs deliver in a uniquely exciting way.

2. You’ll enjoy numerous financial benefits.

It makes sense that the less time you spend in school, the less money you’ll spend on tuition. But how much will you pocket in an accelerated degree program? According to Investopedia, an undergraduate who trims six months off of his/her degree stands to save more than $15,000. Similar savings apply to upper-level degrees, as well.

Students enrolled in dual degree programs, meanwhile, may find that their undergraduate scholarship funding also covers their graduate level coursework.

But the financial benefits don’t end there. In entering the workforce with an accelerated degree, you minimize lost income and start earning soon — more likely than not with a lighter debt burden.

If you choose an overseas program, meanwhile, you may also enjoy a lower cost of living, depending on the country in which you choose to study. (An added benefit of doing an international accelerated degree? A global education will make you a more attractive job candidate in today’s borderless business environment.)

3. You’ll climb the ladder faster.

Not only does entering the workforce sooner mean you start earning earlier, but it also gives you an inside edge in today’s competitive job market. As Australia’s Bond University Director of International Student Recruitment Cheryl Jolliffe told US News & World Report, accelerated degree programs offer students a “career head start [that] puts them on a promotional fast track.”  According to Jolliffe many graduates of accelerated degree programs go on to land high-ranking administrative positions and even coveted partnership status within a decade of graduating.

Think all of this sounds too good to be true? You’re right: There is a catch. By nature, accelerated degree programs are inherently challenging. Not only do most programs have rigorous admissions requirements, but the expectations remain intense throughout the length of the program. (After all, students do get the same education in half the time. Did you really think it would be easy?) Given all of the advantages of accelerated degree programs, difficulty level isn’t reason enough to stay away. However, it is reason enough to make sure you’re fully motivated, committed and focused before deciding to pursue an accelerated degree.

Work-Life Balance and Work-Life Integration: What’s the Difference?

1. Work-Life Balance

What is it, you wonder?  Achieve something at work.  Enjoy something at work.  Achieve something at home.  Enjoy something at home. For the mathematically inclined:

Aw + Ew + Ah + Eh = Work Life Balance.

What does this mean?  Working and living are never truly balanced—there are no coefficients or constants to guide you through the process.  Sometimes you’ll achieve and enjoy something more at work than you will at home.  What’s important is that all aspects of achievement and enjoyment in work and life happen throughout the day.  Some days—as you know—are harder than others.

Here’s an example: you might have a fantastic interaction with a persnickety coworker (achievement) and then laugh at a joke at a board meeting (enjoyment), followed by not tripping over a pile of laundry in the middle of the floor when you get home (achievement) and meeting a friend for dinner (enjoyment).  These achievements and enjoyments do not have the same weights.  That great conversation with that persnickety coworker might be the biggest achievement because you know he’ll probably invite you to work on that project you’ve been wanting to work on with him.  You probably enjoyed that dinner with your friend the most.

The big idea?  You unplug.  You achieve and enjoy something in both parts of your life—working and not working—and there’s a clear boundary between the two. Over time, achievement and enjoyment will balance each other out.  It’s the day-to-day that can be a bit tricky.

2. Work-Life Integration

This is way trendier.  Thanks to the gig economy that’s sprung up in the past decade, integrating what you do and how you live have become a necessity for some.  Even in bigger businesses, there’s this idea that living and working in the same place are desirable attributes for living.

Let’s look at a few examples.  Consider Silicon Valley—companies like Google have on-campus apartments, child care centers, organic gardens with staff cafeterias, and buses for those who don’t live where they work.  The idea is simple: integrate your work into your life.    For others, technology has allowed people to live their lives—exercise, take their kids to school, go food shopping—and work full-time. No one decided that all work needs to happen between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.  If you can meet your deadlines, show up for your meetings (even virtually), and live your daily life, then all is well.

What’s different here?  Discipline.  Strategy.  Knowing when to unplug.  And a stick-to-it attitude.  With work-life balance, the “unplug” is pre-set.  You’re done with work for the day, you leave.  With work-life integration, you plan on when you’re doing your work, meet all your job’s expectations, and still show up for touch football, or your volunteer work at that organization whose mission you love.

Is one approach better than the other?  Nope.   It depends on the kind of work you want to do and the kind of life you want to live.  If you need a strict schedule and need to know when you’re “on” and when you’re “off,” integrating your work into your life could be tough.  You might opt for a more traditional job with traditional hours.  If you feel constrained by that, you might want to integrate your work into your life and have more “flexibility” during the day—this is especially helpful if you have a family.

Whatever you decide: your work and your life should bring you joy—not all the time, but enough so that it all balances out in the end.  L’chaim!

5 Reasons to Consider a Degree in Indigenous Studies

1. Indigenous studies offer a more comprehensive and honest representation of history. 

Indigenous people have been marginalized in countries across the globe for many years. In most cases, they’re still being marginalized today.

According to Danielle Lorenz, a PhD candidate in educational policy studies, the best way to remedy ongoing ignorance and stereotypes about indigenous people is through indigenous studies. In addition to fascinating coursework in diverse areas ranging from literature to traditional ecological knowledge, Lorenz points out that there are more general takeaways for students in this field: “They can learn about the accomplishments and contributions Indigenous peoples have made to global society, they can learn that Indigenous peoples in North America survived the world’s worst holocaust, they can learn about the true history of Canada – not as peaceful (or dull) as commonly thought, and they can learn that, today, while challenges exist – Indigenous peoples are more than just their ‘issues.’”

2. Indigenous studies are interdisciplinary.

Indigenous studies comprise a breadth and depth of academic fields the humanities, social sciences and beyond. Not only do students learn how to integrate this information in order to broaden their worldviews, but in doing so they also hone and refine their critical thinking skills.

These skills aren’t just applicable to directly related work in areas like indigenous governance, indigenous literature, and indigenous social work, they’re also transferrable — and highly valued by employers.

3. They are a necessary part of achieving reconciliation.

Many national history curricula overlook the stories of indigenous people. In Australia, for example, while Aboriginal people created a unique and impactful civilization, it is largely disregarded today. Why? Because according to an article in The Conversation, “It does not easily fit with the colonial mythologies around which popular histories of Australia have traditionally been constructed. Indeed the very use of the term ‘civilisation’ in relation to Aboriginal Australia will no doubt confound some readers. Perhaps the most insidious myth perpetuated about Aboriginal society is the idea it was ‘primitive’, ‘stone age’, ‘nomadic’, or ‘unevolved’. This type of thinking feeds racist stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes which continue to marginalize and disassociate Aboriginal Australians from the national identity. The archaeology of our continent directly refutes this type of thinking, but until recently the monuments and achievements of ancient Australia have remained largely invisible to the mainstream public.”

The Conversation goes on to propose that expanding a society’s historical viewpoint not only “offers a path to new understanding,” but to achieving reconciliation.

4. It helps preserve indigenous cultures.

According to a recent New Yorker piece, “On every continent, people are forsaking their ancestral tongues for the dominant language of their region’s majority. Assimilation confers inarguable benefits, especially as Internet use proliferates and rural youth gravitate to cities. But the loss of languages passed down for millennia, along with their unique arts and cosmologies, may have consequences that won’t be understood until it is too late to reverse them.”

The proliferation of indigenous language coursework, in particular, is viewed as paramount. “Without language, we are empty vessels,” indigenous language master’s student Bob Badger told THE. “Within our languages, we have a deep understanding of the world around us. We make connections between the traditional cultural teachings and our place in the world. The language is alive and the language has a spirit.”

It is because of its vital importance that the Canadian government has proposed the Canadian Indigenous Languages Act, which will grant equal rights and privileges to nine indigenous languages in addition to English and France.

5. It promotes better citizenship.

According to The Conversation, “One of the most important skills promoted by historical inquiry is that of empathy, a feeling of sympathy and engagement for other people from different time periods and cultures….If students can develop the knowledge of why cultures are different it will help develop empathy and encourage an appreciation for diversity, and hopefully, undermine growth of racist viewpoints” while simultaneously supporting the development of a “more comprehensive appreciation of our humanity.”

In other words, is there any better way to improve upon our collective citizenship than by improving upon our collective understanding of each other?

Indigenous studies have been deemed so valuable, in fact, that there is a movement to make coursework in this field a mandatory component in university curricula — alongside English, math and other core requirements. By pursuing a degree in this vital field, you won’t just walk away with an enriched (and more accurate) perspective, but you’ll also be positioned to take on a leading role in righting the past towards a more equitable and tolerant future.