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Archive for July, 2009

Swine Flu Cases Multiply Rapidly As Colleges Prepare for Fall Students

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

As excited college students prepare to move into campus dorms, they look forward to meeting new roommates, fitting all their belongings into half of a dorm room and registering for classes.

They are not concerned about catching the flu.

That job belongs to health officials at the Centers for Disease Control who are, indeed, concerned.

Even as students and parents prepare to lug heavy boxes into dorm rooms all over the nation, the Centers for Disease Control epidemiologists are working feverishly to head off the potentially serious consequences of a fast-moving, unpredictable — yet still mild — flu virus.

The H1N1 virus, known as the swine flu, has already struck 43,771 Americans in confirmed cases (as of 7-24-09) and continues to move rapidly throughout the population during this unusual summer season. Normally, the summer is not a part of flu season.

Some CDC officials estimate the numbers of flu cases to be closer to a million; since most people who contract the current strain of H1N1 are not tested for it and are able to recover without serious complications.

But the scenario may change in the fall, when school children and college students cluster again together in close quarters.

Although there are only 302 confirmed deaths in the U.S. from the H1N1 virus (as of 7-24-09), the strain is poised to mutate into a more dangerous flu virus that could cause tens of thousands of deaths if not averted.

However, there are preventative steps that may limit serious repercussions of the swine flu:

  • Distributing antiviral drugs as needed,
  • Students opting for online classes, online schools and online degree programs instead of on-campus classes that force them to be exposed to sick people,
  • Educating the public about what to do if they become sick with the swine flu,
  • Avoiding crowds when sick or if in a high risk category, like having asthma or a compromised immune system,
  • Washing hands frequently to help prevent becoming sick with the flu,
  • Covering the nose and mouth with a clean tissue when sneezing or coughing,
  • Contacting a doctor if experiencing high fevers or breathing difficulties.

Flu season came early this year, with a head start on the students who will soon begin their college or university studies.

But those who opt for online education may find solace in the opportunity to study in the comfort and safety of their flu-free homes.

antiviral drugs, antiviral drugs, cdc, college, epidemiologist, flu season, h1n1 virus, online degree programs, online schools, students, summer season, swine flu

Popularity: 8% [?]

Posted by vida

New Education Benefits Arrive for Post 9/11 Military Veterans

Friday, July 24th, 2009

A brand new group of educational benefits arrive on August 1st, 2009, for military personnel who served a tour of duty after September 11th, 2001.

This financial windfall covers major expenses for post 9/11 soldiers and former soldiers who return to school to pursue a college degree or vocational certificate.

The Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 provides financial aid and support to active-duty military personnel and veterans who enroll in accredited online schools, traditional colleges and universities, and vocational schools.

Students will receive all or a portion of the costs for tuition, housing and books if they meet the selective eligibility criteria.

For eligible military members and veterans, the benefits will cover:

  • Full tuition up to the amount of the most expensive public college in the applicant’s state,
  • $1,000 a year stipend for books & supplies (for veterans only),
  • a monthly housing allowance equal to the basic allowance paid to a military E5 with dependents (for veterans only),
  • Tutorial assistance or up to $2,000 for one licensing or certification test,
  • The option, for some, to transfer these educational benefits to dependents.

Eligibility requirements for the new education benefits apply to those applicants:

  • who are still serving in the military or were honorably discharged after serving at least 90 consecutive active-duty days following 9/11;
  • who were released from active duty into a branch of the military reserves following 90 consecutive days of active duty after 9/11; or
  • who were honorably discharged after 30 consecutive active-duty days following a service-connected disability.

Additional criteria may apply; but students may enroll in military-approved online degrees, online vocational and certificate programs, and traditional college, university and vocational programs.

Costs incurred before August 1st, 2009, are not eligible for these particular benefits.

Benefits remain active for 15 years following the eligible military tour of duty and are payable for up to 36 months for those who meet all of the necessary criteria.

For further information, check out the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Posted by vida

E-learning Receives Boost in Proposed Higher Education Plan

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
President Barack Obama

The popularity of online education may soon receive a boost from the federal government — that is, if the President’s new higher education plan is approved.

Known as the American Graduation Initiative, the newly unveiled ten-year plan would set into motion a flurry of improvements to the nation’s community colleges in order to produce an American workforce armed with an additional 5 million college degrees and professional certificates.

President Obama’s plan emphasizes the use of distance learning, via online classes and online degree programs, in order to create a flexible path for adult learners who must continue to work while pursuing a college degree. As part of the plan, the President would commit portions of the proposed $12 billion in federal monies to:

  • improve e-learning software and create a new online skills laboratory,
  • expand Pell Grants and education tax credits to make college more affordable,
  • simplify the financial aid application (FAFSA) to make it easier for students to apply for loans and scholarships,
  • develop new training opportunities for workers who were laid-off,
  • improve the 529 savings plan to help families save for college,
  • expand the low-cost Perkins loan program for those who need to borrow beyond Stafford loan limits,
  • provide career guidance and education counseling to students to help them navigate the community college system, complete their college degree and secure a job.

A major advantage of the American Graduation Initiative is that it would be funded by cuts in excessive subsidies to banking institutions and the trimming of waste from the student loan program — not by the implementation of new taxes.

According to the White House fact sheet regarding the plan:

“Online educational software has the potential to help students learn more in less time than they would with traditional classroom instruction alone. Interactive software can tailor instruction to individual students like human tutors do, while simulations and multimedia software offer experiential learning.”

Soon, there may be a new day, as America rises again in technological innovation and prosperity. And this turnaround is slated to happen the way it often has in the past — by making higher education a national priority.

Read more about the American Graduation Initiative by clicking here.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Men and Women of the Road: Our Commercial Truck Drivers

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The nation’s highways are filled with commercial trucks that transport produce, meats, medical supplies, cars, cows, gasoline, lumber, chickens, manufactured houses and all sorts of products and necessities used by Americans every day.

Without the dedication of commercial trucker drivers who spend their lives on the road, grocery store shelves would become empty, gas stations would stop pumping gas and construction would come to a screeching halt.

We need our truckers — both local and long distance — to deliver the goods that sustain us, heal us, and enhance our lives in ways we rarely consider.

But who are these valiant men and women who travel the roads for our good?

They are moms and dads, married couples, high school graduates, college students, military veterans and a cornucopia of others. They represent a cross-section of America, hailing from almost every state and delivering our goods through all types of inclement weather — including rain, snow, sleet and hail. They heroically do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

And how do truckers enter this professional driving career?

Many enroll in vocational or trade schools to learn how to maneuver commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, over the most challenging road conditions and through the heaviest city traffic. They learn the fundamentals of light truck maintenance, how to insure the safety and integrity of their loads (and themselves), and all about the latest federal guidelines and laws concerning intrastate and interstate trucking.

Some commercial truckers own their own trucks. But most truck drivers use company big rigs and receive a salary that may be supplemented by overtime pay plus full benefits — including health and dental care, life insurance, pension, tuition reimbursement and more. Most trucking positions require applicants to be high school graduates who are over 21 years of age with clean driving records and no auto-related felonies.

Along the road, special gas stations and rest stops for truckers provide a host of amenities — including showers, hotels, grocery stores, medical clinics, health clubs restaurants, gift shops, WiFi and entertainment. Truckers are also perfect candidates for online degree programs, which they may complete while on the road. Online degrees give truckers the flexibility they need to earn their college diploma.

Commercial trucking is a noble profession with its share of perks and advantages, including the opportunity to travel around the beautiful United States with little supervision. But commercial truck drivers are strong, independent-minded self-starters with the skills to deliver what we need.

And we owe them a debt of gratitude for that.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Obama Posts Column Linking Future Jobs with College Degree

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

An interesting column in today’s Washington Post was written by an unexpected author — President Barack Obama.

In first-person chronology, the article, Rebuilding Something Better”, (July 12, 2009) covers the first six months of President Obama’s administration — what he wanted to accomplish, what he did accomplish and what he has yet to accomplish.

Of particular interest is his emphasis on the importance of a college education in accessing the bulk of future jobs. He says:

” . . . I’ll be talking about how we give our workers the skills they need to compete for these jobs of the future. In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate’s degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, it’s never been more essential to continue education and training after high school. That’s why we’ve set a goal of leading the world in college degrees by 2020.”

An associate’s degree, or 2-year college degree, is mentioned as the bare minimum requirement for most workers of the future. And now is the time for forward-thinking individuals to begin the 2-year trek that should enhance career opportunities down the road.

In spite of the timetable of an economy that is struggling to recover, no future job seeker should gamble with their own future by taking a wait-and-see attitude. Instead, it is important for high school grads and adult learners to seek advice on enrollment and financial aid from college counselors at community colleges, online schools and traditional universities.

The flexibility of online degree programs makes it possible to keep earning a living while completing an associate’s or higher education degree.

Yes, President Obama is moving forward to help make a way for future job-seekers to have a college education.

But hopefully, motivated individuals will not wait for additional help from the government. They will take the initiative to secure their own future by plowing ahead with determination and a desire to be among the first wave of college graduates who fill the new jobs of a future that may come sooner than we think.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Discouraged Workers Should Snag Health Care Careers

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

Thousands of people who lost jobs during the recession have given up and are no longer even looking for a job.

After months of sending out resumes and making phone calls, they grew discouraged and stopped. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) counted 793,000 of these ‘discouraged workers’ in June 2009. But there may be a brighter day coming for those who choose it.

And who can blame these folks; unemployment is high and employee morale is low. On top of that, the BLS has painted a bleak picture of joblessness in this weak, but slowly recovering, economy.

Yet many employment sectors are losing jobs at a slower rate, which gives hope to those who are banking on a better economy not too far down the road.

And surprisingly, one major industry continues beat the odds by adding new jobs each month.

For June 2009, lost jobs included:

  • 136,000 in manufacturing
  • 79,000 in construction
  • 335,000 in motor vehicles and parts
  • 8,000 in mining
  • 118,000 in professional and business services
  • 21,000 in retail trade
  • 27,000 in financial activities
  • 21,000 in the information industry

However, there was good news for one major employment sector;

  • 21,000 new jobs were added to health care

The BLS reports that the health care industry added an average of 21,000 jobs a month throughout 2009. And in 2008, during some of the worse days of the recession, they added approximately 30,000 jobs a month.

So now, a message to those ‘discouraged workers’. This time off from work may be the best opportunity to consider switching career fields to the one that has remained a bright spot in an otherwise dim economy — health care.

It has proven itself to be a reliable and consistent career area; and a future in this field is promising for those who return to school to train for health care jobs, especially as registered nurses.

To top things off, preparation for some health care careers involves a short investment of as little as 12 months in a traditional or online degree program Рfor example, the training  to become a licensed vocational or licensed practical nurses takes about a year.

Other health care careers may take an even shorter time to complete — just a few months of classes before snagging a job in a hospital or convalescent home as a nurse’s aide, surgical technician, medical billing clerk, medical receptionist, emergency medical technician or phlebotomist (a health care worker trained to draw blood). Then, while working one of these jobs, workers can continue their education online, with employers often footing the bill.

Low cost tuition fees, federal grants and private scholarships are available for qualified students who have lost their jobs; so affordability is not always a problem.

If you are without a job, now is the time to check into some of these accredited programs for your ticket to a promising job in the growing health care industry.

Then you will be a discouraged worker no more.

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Posted by vida

E-learning: Nothing Can Beat It for Flexibility and Convenience

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Do you remember the time before computer use became an ‘off the wall’ international pastime?

Those were the days when distance learning communication relied solely upon U.S. mail, which was irreverently coined as “snail mail”.

In comparing then and now, you may as well choose between black or white, night or day, desert or ocean — the strides in technology have been just that drastic.

The Sloan Consortium reports that in 2007, at least 3.9 million students were enrolled in at least one online class. Online education enrollment grew at a phenomenal rate of 12.9% that year, while traditional higher education showed a disappointing 1.2% growth rate.

However, the smooth transition from snail mail to e-mail has been difficult for some reluctant folks who often feel that relying on computers for so much sets a dangerous precedent.

Yet millions of thankful e-learners who are earning a high-tech online degree realize that nothing can beat it as far as flexibility and convenience. It affords online students the opportunity to keep their full-time jobs, take vacations with the family, and pursue a new career without alerting the current employer.

Still, human nature beckons us to seek greener grass; and as it happens, researchers continue the race for better, more efficient distance learning software and technology. Online schools are here to stay.

Today’s research discoveries become tomorrow’s mainstream normalcy. And even bad press regarding addicted computer users will not stem the flow of technological genius.

So enjoy the fruits of a transforming wave of online learning — earn your online college degree today.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida