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The Berlin Wall and Veterans Day: A Remembrance

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

As the celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall continue in Germany, we once again commemorate the members of our armed forces on Veterans Day.

Almost 50 years ago, the city of Berlin was divided by a formidable wall that remained standing for almost 30 years.

East German soldiers patrolled the east side of the wall; and American, British and French soldiers guarded the west side.

My father was a soldier stationed in Germany in the late 1960’s; so I remember the Berlin Wall.

I will never forget traveling into East Berlin as a ‘military brat’ on holiday with my family. We boarded a bus in West Berlin and arrived at Checkpoint Charlie.

There, our paperwork was checked out by U.S. soldiers; and we were given explicit instructions about what to expect on the trip — and how to conduct ourselves. Then the bus drove into East Berlin.

Just a little past the Berlin Wall, the bus stopped.

When I glanced out of the bus window, I saw a mean-looking, well-trained group of uniformed soldiers march up and surround our bus. A few quickly crawled beneath the bus for an inspection, while others walked around it and visually inspected every nook and cranny.

Then, several of them came onboard; and I was suddenly afraid.

They were not friendly fellows. They did not smile, and they certainly did not make small talk.

Instead, they took each person’s passport and stared intensely at the person, then at the passport picture, and again at the person. When it was my turn, I hoped the cold, penetrating stare would not cause me to make any observable misstep.

But I must have done okay; because the soldier moved on and eventually got off the bus with his comrades.

An East German guide boarded the bus and coolly relayed more instructions. The rest of the trip was interesting and uneventful; though we saw only what they wanted us to see — including the majestic Brandenburg Gate.

We were not allowed to talk with any East German citizens, we could not wander off alone, and our bus could not make any deviations from the scheduled tour.

We went through another thorough inspection of the bus before being allowed to cross back into West Berlin; and it was only then that I noticed the tiny crosses that lined the western side of the Berlin Wall — most with flowers, but all standing out as reminders of those who were shot and killed trying to escape into West Germany.

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. By the time it began to fall on November 9th, 1989, it stretched nearly 100 miles and was topped with barbed wire.

Historians should continue to remind us of this and other significant events. Without historians, naysayers would attempt to erase or sugarcoat history, in order to promote their own agendas.

Students who major in history should be proud of that choice. And if they can, they should travel to some of the places where key historical events took place.

If they enroll in online degree programs, it will be easier to travel. But online schools and online classes, though convenient, are just one way to pursue a history degree. Community colleges and traditional universities offer additional options.

The Berlin Wall is now gone, thank goodness, but we should remember those soldiers — past and present — who earned the freedoms that America, western Europe and some other countries continue to enjoy.

Soldiers of the U.S. military deserve our highest respect and gratitude, on Veterans Day and every day of our lives, for their generous actions on our behalf.

american, berlin wall, checkpoint charlie, europe, freedom, gratitude, history degree, online classes, online degree programs, online schools, soldiers, us military, veterans day

Popularity: 9% [?]

Posted by vida

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

Ten Ways to Cruise on the Cheap While Taking Online Classes

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Summer has arrived; and adult learners may be wondering how to take a cheap vacation without skipping a beat in online classes.

Thankfully, the travel industry is happy to oblige by offering great deals on just about everything. Still, cruising may be among the best ways to save money on a vacation while continuing with online degree studies.

For the price of gas, food, a couple of nights in a mid-range hotel and activities, e-learners and their families or friends could sail away on the vacation of a lifetime.

Just check out these facts about cruising to an online degree:

  1. The costs for a 4-day cruise this summer begin as low as $184 per person (before taxes and fees) from Florida, New Orleans or Long Beach, according to today’s 90-day ticker from Vacations to Go, a  website that lists the best cruise deals, especially last-minute bargains. Additional special discounts may apply for past passengers and those over age 55.
  2. Cruise costs cover a bundle – ship transportation to exotic ports, 24-hour food, some beverages, lavish entertainment for adults and children, room service, twice-daily cabin cleaning and more.
  3. For 4 people staying in the same cabin, the 3rd and 4th persons pay just a fraction of the full fare, generally between 40-60% less. This is a kid-friendly deal for families, but also works well for family gatherings, friends and co-workers.
  4. Onboard credits are free money that is offered by travel agents, credit card companies or the cruise line. These are valuable because they are applied to the onboard account and may cover tipping fees, excursions, alcoholic drinks, shopping or other additional costs. A good travel agent can help explore this option.
  5. Most ports can be explored without purchasing expensive excursions from the ship. A good guide book from the library can give excellent tips about saving money while seeing the sights on your own.
  6. Most ships offer onboard Internet cafes and designated public WiFi hotspots. Some ships, like the new Celebrity Solstice series, offer data ports for Internet access in individual cabins, which is great for online students. Some Princess ships offer the use of individual laptops for the duration of the cruise on a first-come, first served basis. Discounted Internet plans offer cheaper rates then paying by the minute.
  7. To save money on Internet rates, online students may opt to gather web research ahead of time. Then on the ship, they can work offline and connect to the Internet only to turn in assignments or email instructors.
  8. Tipping is generally not mandatory on the ship; although there are suggested amounts per day to cover cabin stewards, waiters, head waiters, and other staff. Even when the tipping fees are automatically deducted from the onboard account, passengers may raise or lower the tipping amount at their own discretion. However, after observing how diligently the staff works on their behalf, the suggested tips — totaling about $10 per adult passenger per day — often appear to be reasonable to most cruisers.
  9. The 3,634-passenger ship, Independence of the Seas, not only provides extensive Internet access, it also offers rock-climbing, a water park, a surf park, ice skating, youth clubs, a full-size boxing ring and sports court, miniature golf, a fitness center, a casino, shopping — plus a multitude of other diversions for those who need extra study time to devote to online classes while family or friends literally dive into the fun onboard.
  10. Retirees, homeschooling families and others may find deeper discounts in the fall and winter, as vacationers return to school and jobs. And most cruises that are more than 90 days off usually require only a modest down payment, with the balance due at a later date. Also, bargains extend to world cruises and, amazingly, an online student could travel the world by sea while earning an online degree.

Of course, it is important to ask questions during booking about cancellation policies, passport requirements, taxes, port fees, the minimum travel age for an infant, and what is covered or not covered in cruise fees.

Still, cruising is a wonderful opportunity for online degree students to enjoy a vacation and stay on track with online school, In fact, it may be the perfect way to enhance one’s career while making loved ones happy.

adults, career, children, cruising, elearning, free, internet, kid friendly, kids, on the cheap, online classes, online degrees, online school, save money, ship, summer, travel, vacation, wifi

Popularity: 12% [?]

Posted by vida

High-Tech is Great for E-learners, Bad for Information Highway

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Recent techno-buzz indicates that Microsoft’s new Windows 7 program simplifies online tasks, utilizes fewer clicks and incorporates touch capability, or so says PC Magazine’s article, “Touching the Future” (4-30-09).

At the same time, 3G technology continues to increase the options available to multimedia cell phone users.

And somewhere in the mix, online degree students once again reap the benefits of improved distance learning technology.

In fact, e-learners enjoy a fresh menu of efficient ways to transmit homework, contact instructors and access online research sources.

But the rapid evolution of computer and cellular technology also strains networks like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless; because these and other companies face the monumental challenge of transmitting all of that information over telecommunication lines that are bulging with data overload.

According to Time Magazine’s article, “The Failure of 3G Hurts Apple and Its Competition” (5-11-09), the newest computing, cellular and mp3 technologies are rarely, if ever, fully experienced by consumers because of limitations in the underlying networks that carry data from their numerous sources to multi-billions of destinations.

And although the boon in online schools, online degree programs and online certificate programs has increased student use of the Internet, the culprits that jam transmission lines are often the latest technology devices used by the masses for “downloading and web-browsing”.

Consumers who purchase these information highway hogs may be disappointed when they attempt to use all of the promised multimedia features of their devices; yet e-learners continue to enjoy the fullness of technology that enhances their distance learning experience.

It will be interesting to see what happens when 4G and Microsoft 8 arrive on the scene one day. But maybe that is eons from now; and maybe the current problems will be nothing but a memory.

Just maybe.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

Online Schools Provide Lifeline for Community College Shut-Outs

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Thousands of students in California are experiencing the disappointment of being shut out of community college classes due to steep budget cuts and record enrollments.

High school grads and unemployed workers are flocking to inexpensive 2-year colleges at a time when California state schools are struggling to meet higher demand with skimpier resources.

For example, according to a recent article in the San Jose Mercury, “Community college enrollment growth outpaces resources, shutting out students”, by Lisa M. Krieger, one-third of DeAnza College’s 24,000 students were unable to register for the classes they needed in order to graduate or transfer to 4-year colleges and universities.

But there is another option for those students to consider: online schools.

Students may be surprised to learn that thousands of accredited online schools offer tens of thousands of online degrees and classes — including the foundational courses needed to transfer to traditional institutions of higher learning.

So rather than suffer the stresses of junior college budget woes, community college shut-outs may want to do themselves a favor and invest in online schools that offer what they need.

In addition, tuition bargains do exist among e-learning schools; and students will likely find a price tag that meets their budget requirements, especially if the cost is absorbed by generous financial aid. It is important that potential e-learning students contact several online schools and gather the information that is necessary to make an informed decision about enrollment.

Potential students should also contact any university or college to which they may transfer, confirming that the online school’s classes are transferable to that specific school.

Frustrated students do not have to live with the ups and downs of public college cutbacks — including limited class choices and extended graduation timelines.

They can choose to be proactive and use reputable online schools to fill their educational needs.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

A Gathering of High-Tech ‘Fun and Games’ Professionals

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Millions of people rush home every day from work or school to play video games, while others play obsessively online.

This behavior has spawned a booming, international, multi-billion dollar industry that continues to flourish — even during a bad economy.

And that is why, during a week of beautiful weather in a city known for its world-famous bridge, thousands of video game professionals gathered to check out the latest trends and newest technology in interactive video games.

Video game enthusiasts converged on picturesque San Francisco Bay this week, March 23-27, to attend the 2009 Game Developers Conference - a conference that drew over 18,000 people at the Moscone Center last year. They met to learn, be inspired and network with others who have a passion and love for video games.

Within a hop, skip and jump from the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge and picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf, game software designers, computer programmers, visual artists, sound designers and others immersed themselves in a generous buffet of all there is to know about the video and digital games industry.

Over 400 workshops, a hands-on expo, and an insider’s peek at the newest, not-yet-on-the-market gaming consoles drew professionals and students to the video gaming industry’s largest annual event. Round table discussions, networking opportunities and several awards shows — including the 9th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards — were sprinkled throughout the week.

Students who desire a career in the video game field were also present at the conference. Many jobs in the field require a college degree; and accredited traditional and online degree programs fill the bill with majors in graphic design, fine arts (drawing, animation, music), software engineering, business management, fashion design, sound engineering and others offering entrance into a fun, satisfying and diverse field.

Career opportunities were highlighted during the conference, with representatives of top companies like Microsoft, Sony, LucasArts, Blizzard, and Activision on hand to recruit and interact with aspiring attendees.

For those who love video games and want to work in this field, San Francisco was definitely the place to be.

online degree, bad economy, career, digital games, job, latest trends, picturesque, play games, play online, san francisco, sf bay, video game, game developers

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Where the Jobs Are: States & Careers That Are Hiring

Monday, February 9th, 2009

In an economic climate where all news appears to be bad news, it is refreshing to learn that positive job reports do exist.

According to USA Today, jobs are available in specific states and careers. And stimulus or no stimulus, employment forecasts reveal that more people should begin working by the end of the year.

Six states expect to lose only 1% or less of their workers in 2009, according to Moody’s Economy.com, and may even do some hiring. Those states are:

  1. Colorado
  2. Nebraska
  3. New Mexico
  4. North Dakota
  5. Texas
  6. Washington, D.C.

And though 2009 may end with a loss of 2.8 million jobs in the nation, the situation should begin to turn around by the end of the year. It may take several years for employment to match pre-recession numbers; but job growth is imminent, according to economic experts.

In the midst of today’s job losses, at least three employment sectors are expected to show positive hiring gain in 2009:

  • education
  • health services
  • government

Many who have lost jobs are enrolled in online education classes for study in these and other hot careers, including accounting, dental assistant, nursing and other health care, business, computer science, criminal justice and more.

Online schools continue to roll out the red carpet to welcome the newly unemployed who want to be ready for when hiring picks up speed. Through these schools and traditional colleges and universities, unemployed workers hope to be at the front of the line for the influx of new jobs, whenever they appear.

Workers are cautioned against packing up their families to start a new life in a new place, unless proper research, planning and preparation reveal the presence of adequate work and economical housing.

But while staying put, it is advisable for individuals to utilize free monies and low-interest student loans to improve job skills, learn the ropes of a new career or earn an online degree or professional certificate.

Read full USA Today article

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Popularity: 13% [?]

Posted by vida

Seven Reasons Why Actors Are Successful in Politics

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Ronald Reagan did it — so did Arnold Schwartzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Sonny Bono, and Shirley Temple Black. They were actors who became politicians.

And now Val Kilmer may want a piece of the action.

Speaking of action, we are talking about the same Val Kilmer who played Batman, Iceman (Top Gun) and Doc Holiday (Tombstone) on the big screen — three of his most memorable roles. And now he is sending out feelers about the possible role of governor of New Mexico in 2010.

Some may chuckle at the thought; but there are some pretty compelling reasons why a successful acting career might lend itself to politics. Here are seven of them:

  1. Actors already have a connection with the public. Their movies reach millions of people; and many of us feel that we know something about them. So they have a head start in politics.
  2. Actors know how to sell themselves. They are charming salespeople with a knack for manipulating the media and the public. They sell their movies on talk shows, on billboards and in print ads. Then we, their targeted buyers, reward them by showing up at movie theaters in droves.
  3. Actors are excellent communicators. They are accustomed to studying and memorizing scripts, then projecting their voices while filming in front of an entire cast and crew. Giving speeches during a campaign is a piece of cake.
  4. Actors look great. Their appearance is money in the bank for them in the movie business; and successful actors take great care of their bodies. Voters love a politician with substance and good looks — we call it the “whole package”. And some studies show that many employers tend to favor attractive job applicants.
  5. Actors exude confidence, which gives John Q. Public confidence in them as well. Whatever they say, we want to believe them. After all, would Batman lie to us?
  6. Actors have rich and powerful friends and acquaintances. And these friends help fund their campaigns, speak on their behalf, and get out the vote.
  7. Actors are no stranger to patience, perseverance and hard work. After all, who can make it in the movie business without all of those qualities?

But what does all of this have to do with distance education or online schools?

To be honest, actors-turned-politicians are similar to adult learners who decide to enroll in school and begin a journey toward an online degree or professional certificate. Both are willing to choose a new path, take a risk, and learn new skills in an honorable pursuit.

It takes courage for the actor; and it takes courage for the adult e-learner.

Just one question: In the future, will it be President Val Kilmer? Who knows? But for now, let’s just take one step at a time.

val kilmer, online schools, distance education, online degrees, elearning, actor, politician, new mexico, arnold, top gun, eastwood, hollywood, movie, careers, adult learners

Popularity: 7% [?]

Posted by vida

$15,000 Tax Credit Is Welcome Boost for Real Estate Pros

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

The housing market is poised for a huge boost from a $15,000 tax credit for 2009 home buyers. A whole new world may open up for those individuals and for real estate professionals.

  • An amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R.1) just passed the Senate and is expected to cross President Obama’s desk fairly soon for his expected approval.
  • Once the legislation becomes law, non-investors who buy a house this year may be able to claim 10% of a home’s purchase price — up to a $15,000 tax credit — on their 2009 tax return. They may also have an option to split the tax credit between 2 consecutive tax years.

A previous blog, Hot Career as a Real Estate Appraiser Expected to Sizzle in Future, discussed the projected future demand for real estate appraisers, which is just one of the careers that may be affected by this legislation. Students pursuing this field may choose online schools for their training. Real estate agents, mortgage loan officers, and paralegals are a few others for which online classes and training are available.

E-learning is popular with adult learners who yearn to return to school for an online degree or certificate program in order to obtain the knowledge and credentials necessary to become a successful real estate professional. And thankfully, there is no reason to belabor lost time when education options like online school are readily available for self-improvement.

This is a time to watch with hope, as this and other welcome changes infuse the economy like hot air giving rise to a soaring balloon.

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Popularity: 7% [?]

Posted by vida