"Education is the most
powerful weapon which
you can use to change
the world".

-- Nelson Mandela



"Genius without education
is like silver in the mine."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Archive for August, 2010

Fredonia Killing Highlights Need for Law Enforcement Officials

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

A couple of years ago, my husband and I drove from southern Utah to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

On the way, we passed through the lovely, sparsely populated town of Fredonia, Arizona.

Quiet and quaint, Fredonia appeared to be the least likely setting for the recent ambush and killing of a Utah sheriff’s deputy.

Each day, we are reminded that senseless violence can happen anywhere. Even lesser crimes — like theft, assault and public drunkenness — emphasize the need for dedicated individuals to choose careers in law enforcement and criminal justice in order to help safeguard our society.

Hundreds of skilled law enforcement officials converged in Fredonia to comb the surrounding desert and picturesque mountains in pursuit of the ruthless perpetrator. Fortunately, the suspect surrendered peacefully near Kanab, which is just a few miles from Fredonia.

This tragic incident highlights the importance of maintaining a trained police force, even in a small town like Fredonia, which has a population of just over 1,100 people.

Fortunately, many entry-level law enforcement jobs do not require a college degree, including positions as police officers and radio dispatchers. However, earning online degrees in criminal justice may enhance resumes and increase the chances of being hired.

Online schools offer a vast selection of criminal justice classes. These are offered in a flexible distance-learning format, allowing working adults to complete classes at times that fit into busy schedules.

By taking one or two online classes at a time, students may train for high-demand public service careers — like police work — while earning a living.

Law enforcement officials in Fredonia displayed courage and keen investigative skills in capturing a killer who was a danger to the community at large.

Thanks to the Fredonia Police Force and surrounding cooperative law enforcement agencies, the town can begin healing, while remaining a tranquil gateway to its majestic neighbor — the Grand Canyon.

online classes, online schools, utah deputy, fredonia az, police officer, distance learning, working adults, online classes, jobs, criminal justice, careers

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Forecasted Drop in Unemployment Should Guide Job Seekers

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Leading economists of the Congressional Budget Office predict that unemployment will drop significantly, to 5.3%, by the year 2014.

But for those with vision and a willingness to make a change, this could be the best time to land a job — either by relocating or by enrolling in an online degree program to update or add job skills.

Although the unemployment rate continues to hover around 9.5%, 18 states reported a decrease in unemployment in July, while only 14 states reported an increase.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there was little or no change in the remaining 18 states.

What Does This Mean

These figures are good news for those who are able to plan ahead, but disappointing to those who need a job today.

For graduating high school seniors, this is a great time to train at colleges and universities for the specialized jobs slated to appear in the next few years. Working adults should maintain or upgrade job skills through online certificates or online degree programs in order to remain competitive.

Yet those who are out of work also have an advantage.  As they search job websites and newspaper classifieds, they must learn to read between the lines to decide the best route to suitable jobs.

Reading Between the Lines

The BLS employment summaries show that each state has its own rate of economic recovery, with some states faring significantly better than others.

For example, in July 2010, the state of North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate of 3.6%. The highest rate was in Nevada, at 14.3%.

Job seekers may need to decide whether to move to a state with better job opportunities, or whether to switch to a career that consistently generates new jobs, like health care.

Over the past year, the health care industry has added 231,000 jobs — including 27,000 added in July.

And although government jobs decreased significantly, especially with the layoff of 143,000 census workers, private industry added another 630,000 in 2010.

Other bright job spots include manufacturing and transportation.

Make a Plan to Snag a Job

The handwriting is on the wall for all to see. But job seekers must learn to decipher the jobs reports in order to successfully carve a path to a new job.

They must read the reports carefully, without bias from news interpretations. Then they will clearly see which occupations are lucrative, which states consistently offer the most jobs, and how jobs are shaping up for the future.

In order to snag a job, some may be willing to move to one of the low unemployment states — like North or South Dakota, Nebraska, or New Hampshire — in order to work. Others may choose to enroll in short online certificate programs, vocational programs, or 2-4 year online degree programs.

Job seekers will analyze their own situation, depending upon current job skills, available financial resources, family considerations, and career aspirations.

Some may find financial stability by relocating; but in states like North Dakota, adequate rental housing is difficult to acquire. Others could spend thousands of dollars on higher education, only to discover that jobs or salaries in the chosen field are declining.

So whatever choices job seekers make, they should be well-researched and well-planned.

Employment reports are helpful in getting a sense of the current and future job market, as well as determining how much to budget for additional higher education.

But ultimately, each job seeker must determine his or her own plan for success, as the economy inevitably moves toward the boom side of this cycle into prosperity and employment gains.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

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Education Horror Stories Reflect Need for Consumer Protection

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Not long ago, two private vocational/technical schools closed abruptly, taking millions of dollars in up-front tuition with them.

The horror stories and headlines have put a new focus on consumer protection when it comes to education. Private schools in most states are required to post a surety bond, which may help consumers get some of their money back.

But the recent closure of ComputerTraining.edu and Mile High Medical Academy illustrates why it’s important for prospective students to learn more about what safeguards, if any, are in place in the unlikely event their school goes belly up.

Computer Training Closes
A private computer skills school with 25 campuses, Maryland-based Computer Training shuttered in mid-December. More than 150 students in Pennsylvania had already paid about $2 million in tuition costs.

“Pennsylvania students paid anywhere from $13,000 to $25,000 for various computer training programs, only to be left out in the cold when Computer Training suddenly locked its doors in December”, Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a news release. “These students were trying to improve their skills and build careers - only to be abandoned to face substantial loans or debts, incomplete training and a long list of unanswered questions about their educational futures.”

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, which filed a lawsuit against the company, claims Computer Training repeatedly misled students about its financial status. The state is suing Computer Training for full restitution for each student plus civil penalties and costs.

Mile High Medical Academy
Meanwhile, pre-paid tuition for dozens of students in Denver is still in jeopardy after their private occupational school closed in late December. State officials stripped the school of its operating license after learning that an administrator had been convicted of fraud in other jurisdictions.

Given the recent spate of school closures, now is a good time for school administrators to review their financial safeguards and be prepared to address questions from concerned students and parents.

Moving Forward
At the same time, current and prospective students should do some homework and be prepared to ask tough questions of their school administrators. Share any concerns and try to get a clear picture of your school’s financial standing and potential consumer protections.

Online degree programs are an invaluable way for learners of all ages to obtain critical workplace and lifetime skills. But diploma mills and fly-by-night operators can inflict serious harm on a student’s long-term financial health.

To learn more about a particular school, consumers can check with their state’s Department of Education or Consumer Affairs/Consumer Protection agency. The National Association of Attorneys General also has an interactive map with contact information for each state’s Attorney General’s office.

Chris Birk, a guest blogger and principal at SuretyBonds.com, is a former newspaper and magazine writer and college professor. His work has appeared in more than two dozen newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Insurance Journal. You can reach him at: chris@suretybonds.com

online degree programs, tuition, vocational school, consumers, students, money back, private schools, surety bond, computer training, education

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Fake College Degrees Deal Death Blow to Jobs, Careers

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Diploma mill operators prey on the weaknesses of unwise individuals who are seeking a college shortcut to success.

Diploma mills draw in potential customers with a glossy website, friendly service and promises of a bright future with their official-looking fake college degrees.

Later, consumers often discover that the promised success was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The victim loses a job, career or reputation, while the diploma mills remain in business.

My neighbors have a beautiful dog that appears to be a Doberman/Rottweiler mix. The dog is friendly and personable — but she has a sneaky and threatening side that the owners do not see. When she is alone in the yard, she becomes aggressive and menacing toward us and our elderly dog. Her wagging tale returns when her owners reappear; but she is dangerous.

Similarly, diploma mill operators portray fake degrees as beautiful, wonderful products. They paint a lovely picture of the additional income, probable promotions and elevated social status that a fake college degree may help provide.

Diploma mill sales personnel downplay the negative news accounts of lost jobs, jail time or shame caused when fake online degrees are exposed. They don’t mention that the use of fake degrees is illegal in some states, or that the Internet makes it easy for employers to discover fraudulent college degrees.

As a result of the deception, consumers do not always recognize the dangers of a fake degree.

But a forfeited career, a fraud conviction and the accompanying fallout ultimately reveal to consumers the importance of recognizing the facts about fake degrees and discarding the superficial surface layer of hype.

Recently, our neighbors’ ’sweet, loving dog’ attacked and injured our blind, frail dog — resulting in a visit to the vet for wound and infection treatment.

So remember not to give in to the dreamy fairy tales and honey-smooth sales pitches of online diploma mill operators.

Otherwise, your fake degree could bite you where it hurts — in your job and career.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Online Schools Fill the Gaps for Students Seeking Classes

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Back to school sales signal the rush for students to gather supplies and take care of last-minute details.

But for college students, it may already be too late to enroll in popular online classes.

For example, West Los Angeles College (WLAC) has three times the number of students taking online courses than any other California community college. But with 12,000 students enrolled in online classes, online courses fill up quickly, leaving a trail of disappointed students.

Still, WLAC continues to offer fully online degree programs. But like other traditional schools that offer online courses, WLAC is unable to meet the high demand for online education.

Accredited online schools, however, offer a reprieve to those who missed registration deadlines or the opportunity to secure popular, computer-based courses.

While traditional colleges and universities offer a limited window of enrollment and registration, online schools generally incorporate a year-round policy. This allows students the luxury of scheduling college study conveniently around work, travel, family and health-related circumstances.

Online schools also offer a hefty selection of online classes, including some that are difficult to access at traditional schools.

So those who missed getting into desired online degree programs or classes should not fret.

They should simply enroll in one of the many accredited online colleges or universities to find everything necessary for a successful back to school experience.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Online Degrees: A Win-Win for Colleges and Students

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

As multimedia electronics and expanding WiFi access continue to transform the world, higher education institutions are seriously considering how they can meet the growing demand for online degrees.

Forward-thinking college and university administrators recognize that the future of education is in distance learning — propelled by a unique generation of students who commonly use personal computers, multimedia phones, iPods  and an expanding array of digital tools.

Already, one in four college students is enrolled in at least one online class; and that number grows substantially each year, according to the Sloan Consortium.

Stanford, Cornell and the University of Southern California are just a few top schools that offer online master’s degrees. But many top-tier schools are still debating the pros and cons of offering fully online undergraduate degrees.

The University of California at Berkeley is currently developing plans to offer an online bachelor’s degree, following in the footsteps of schools like Indiana State University and Washington State University. These schools are leaders and pioneers in what is becoming the future of higher education.

Some argue that the ‘best’ schools will never allow fully online undergraduate degrees. However, most traditional schools already offer online classes; and many offer a growing selection of online degree programs.

As students find it increasingly difficult to afford the high tuition of most colleges, attending on-campus traditional colleges is becoming a luxury. So unless these schools expand their online degree offerings, they will undoubtedly take a financial hit as potential students seek flexible online degree options at other schools.

Traditional schools, except those that cater primarily to the wealthy, will not survive unless they give students the flexible education they need. Online degree programs provide flexibility and bring in hefty revenue without requiring additional land, buildings and classroom resources.

Thankfully, college administrators are getting the message. And if not, their bottom-line financial projections are lining up with conclusion that online education is a high-quality, efficient way for both colleges and students to prosper.

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Coyotes and Online Students Need Focus, Determination

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Recently, while driving up a dark, wooded road in the San Bernardino mountains, our car came to a sudden stop.

Within a few feet of the car, a coyote darted back and forth, chasing a mouse in the middle of the road.

Contrary to his nature, the coyote was so focused, he barely noticed us. In fact, he almost followed the mouse under our car, where it took refuge.

Abruptly, the coyote reconsidered and strolled off to the side of the road to await our departure. (The mouse was alive and well when we left, but no guarantees after that.)

Like the coyote, online students must have focus and determination. These are necessary attributes for success in any accredited online schools or online degree programs.

For some students, these attributes are contrary to their nature. Yet they can be developed in those who are sufficiently motivated.

Online students are motivated by a number of reasons — to train for a new career, to make more money, to qualify for a promotion, to gain job experience while earning an online degree, or to realize the dream of a college education.

Whatever the motivation, it is important to keep it close to the heart during the course of an online degree, certificate or vocational program.

After all, online students are required to work independently most of the time, with the guidance and support of course instructors close at hand. In order to meet assignment deadlines, reasonable adherence to a flexible study schedule is central to successful completion of online classes.

Those who lack the necessary motivation often become distracted and digress from their studies. But motivated students are ultimately rewarded for their diligence, focus and determination.

The end of the story is unknown as far as the coyote; but he ventured right back into the street when we left. Perhaps he grew weary and gave up on the mouse; or maybe he succeeded in his quest.

Yet success is just up the road for online degree students who persevere and do not quit.

However, they must remain motivated, focused and determined in order to reach their desired career goals and ‘catch’ their dreams.

online students, motivation, focus, determination, certificate, careers, jobs, online degree programs, online degree, coyote

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Federal Investigators Target Online Schools

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Once again, online schools are in the news.

This time, findings at 15 online schools threaten the reputations of approximately 2,000 online higher education institutions.

At the heart of the allegations are billions of dollars in federal student financial aid that are up for grabs.

The recent study was instigated by legislators and carried out by federal investigators at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Several investigators posed as potential students in order to check into the recruiting practices of a small sample of for-profit online schools.

They discovered that out of the approximately 2,000 online schools, 15 of them may be using high-pressure, deceptive sales tactics. The offending online schools allegedly provided misleading information to prospective students– primarily about future jobs earnings and the total cost of their education.

Some special-interest legislators are pushing to disqualify online schools from federal financial aid eligibility. Of course, if they are successful, online students could lose the option to shop around for their online education. They could be forced to choose from limited offerings at traditional colleges and universities.

The findings of the GAO are unfortunate; and offending online schools need to change their recruiting policies.

However, the allegations do challenge prospective students to do their homework before committing to any education program — either online or traditional.

Prospective students should:

  • Visit the web page of the chosen online school or on-campus institution and check out tuition rates, number of classes required for degree completion and additional fees that may be charged.
  • Compare the online degree programs of several online schools — especially costs and degree requirements.
  • Check out the accreditation details of each school and go to the Department of Education website to confirm that the college or university is legitimate.
  • If dealing with a college recruiter who is making promises that sound too good to be true, get the promises in writing. If the recruiter makes excuses for writing down  and signing the information, then the information should not be trusted.

Prospective students should also remember that problems with 15 online schools out of 2,000 do not accurately represent the entire online education community.

And hopefully, all colleges and universities will tweak their recruiting practices to insure that prospective students are thoroughly and accurately informed about all aspects of their degree programs.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida